Still Life from Quimper

Still Life from Quimper
A shot of an almost-completed still life needlepoint

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Sunday, April 29, 2012

My Little Fairy is Getting Her Wings

First, of course, she got her face.  I promised you a while back that she had a face (at least on the paper design), and this fall and spring I have stitched her face and hair and accompanying bits of vines and berries.  Here she is with her face (not yet backstitched, as I prefer to do that in-hand and not on a frame):

Fairy Flora with long-anticipated face

It was interesting coming back to the face tones - I found them more challenging to stitch than the bottom parts of her gown, intricate as they were.  Or maybe not; the gown sections were blocks of color and if you stitched one side of a color, it was easy to add in the additional colors to the side of your first block.  I've included a re-print of her skirt detail below:

Skirt detail with "blocks" of color

So you can see that once a color went in place, the remaining colors went around it and above it and filled in with it.

One would think it would be easy to stitch a face with the same detail and stitching abilities, right?

Not really, no.

Maybe it was the length of time I was separated from my fairy.  They are, after all, amoral creatures and don't take too kindly to neglect.  One always gives the Wee Folk bits of cream, shiny pennies, and the like so as not to fall out of their good graces.  Perhaps I should have taken this advice when I returned to stitch her face after an absence of about a year?  Because you see, I had to stitch her neck twice in order to make her neck swan-like and not boxer-like, and to ensure that her face lined up with other stitching points of reference.  Like her hair.  Or the vines around her brow.  Or . . . you get the picture!

And no, I did not take pictures of said ooopses!  I'm sure many of you reading this blog have had your share of rips outs, starting with the realization that your neck doesn't look right . . . then the bargaining that you do to see if your face will align anyway . . . then the denial that it really won't matter if someone sees it . . . then the anger that, in fact, a delicate fairy does not need a boxer's bull neck . . . and finally the acceptance that results when you pour yourself a glass of your favorite beverage that you need to take the edge off, and begin to rip all that work out.  Yes, there are phases to ripping out; and don't they closely look like the ones that accompany the steps of grief??!  I mean, you put all that time, thought, counting, and care into your work, and one (or three) tiny miscounts means that you come to grief and all its stages.  A little adjusted, of course, but still, grief (and some feeling of foolishness) all the same.

Now that my fairy has her little face,  I am about to venture into the scariest part of this entire stitching adventure next to beginning such a project:  the Kreinik threads.  Ah, the Kreinik threads.  They are a boon to the beauty of counted cross stitch, needlepoint, scrapbooking, and even fly fishing (think about it), but they are also a bane to the stitcher.  You see, you have to be very, very careful when you stitch with them.  I am using one shade of Kreinik Blending Filament with three different shades of DMC thread (not at the same time, thank goodness!)  And her wings are enormous - they are easily 1/3 of the stitched area at the top of the fabric.  At least.  And when they are finished, they will, together with all of the beads that will adorn her wings and her hair and her gown and make her magic wand, add a touch of magic and whimsy and not-quite-there-ness that really makes her a fairy.  (Let's face it:  I grew up reading and re-reading different editions of Grimms' Fairy Tales and am currently reading Lord Dunsany, so I'm allowed a little imagination in my stitching realism!)   But all that is in the future.

I remember through all of the trade shows I attended I learned the same advice that I passed onto my customers to make stitching with Blending Filament easier:  use shorter lengths, knot the end of the BF to itself near the eye of the needle, and use a large enough needle to "open" the fabric.  All of which I'm doing (well, maybe not the shorter lengths part, because that means I have to begin and end threads more often and I don't like doing that:  it wastes thread and valuable stitching time), but let me tell ya:  knotting a bit of metallic thread together with a bit of stitching filament to itself near the eye of the needle ain't an easy thing to do!  The thread has a will of its own and wants to just float off into space, on the wings of a fairy.

Using the twin-pointed needles I'm using, like these shown to the left, still involves the extra step of using a regular needle to weave the end of the thread in the back (not knotting it), stitching a cross stitch, then unthreading the regular needle and re-threading the threads through the eye of the twin-pointed needle (I use a needle threader).  It makes the actual stitching a whole lot easier, it really does, and I think it makes the stitches much more even. They don't tend to slant in one direction or another.  But the whole starting and ending of stitching is going to be an interesting endeavor.

I must confess, I did start stitching her wings as soon as I finished taking pictures.  I found 2 of the three DMC colors that I needed in my stash bag, not in my project bag, which is OK.  The needle-geek part of me even knew what those colors look like:  it's 451, 452, and 453.  They're kind of a greyish mauve.  Not quite grey, but not mauve-y either.  They'll make a great color on top of the Twilight Blue linen my fairy is stitched on, with a lot of subtlety and shimmery-ness, too.  And thank goodness I only have one color of Blending Filament to use!  I've got 2 spools, and I hope that will be enough for her wings.  Like I said, they're enormous!

And with all that metallic thread to stitch on my fairy, maybe I ought to take a page from old Irish folk tales and leave a penny on my stitching stand to make my metallic stitching experience enjoyable!

After the metallic thread comes the beading, at which point my lovely fairy will come out of her Q-Snap frame and will go in-hand.  If you look at the frame (plastic PVC piping with plastic bits that snap on the top), there is no way to move her around for beading purposes.  So maybe I'll start with the beading and then if I have to move her I'll take her completely out of the frame.  But the bottom of her gown gets beads, too, and any snap onto the bead will, obviously, break it into many bits.

Will keep you updated on her progress . . .