Still Life from Quimper

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

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Sunday, January 26, 2014

She finally has a wing!

Yes, that's right, you saw it here first:  my long-time stitching project, a Mirabilia fairy from the mid-90's, finally has her first wing!  I'm so proud!

My fairy's first wing!  I'm so proud.

You'll notice that there are still some areas that are unstitched in the photo.  These are the veins of the wing, and beads will go there.  Pretty, shiny, sparkly beads.  This will look gorgeous when complete.  All light and airy.

Another thing that lends this wing an ethereal nature is the selection of colors.  Yes, the primary part of the wing is white, but the shading is done with 3 different shades of floss and one strand of metallic thread.  So you have a gradual changing of color rather than a sudden drop off in the shading.  You can see the contrast between the white part of the wing and the darker parts, but to determine one darker shade from another is not that easy to do from a distance, and even when stitching it the lack of contrast leads to more counting than normal.

The wing, as you may not be able to see from this photo, is stitched with 1 strand of DMC floss and one strand (it only comes as a strand) of Kreinik Blending Filament.

Which is a bear to work with.  Just ask Webmaster Bill:

"What do you have to listen to every time I sit down to stitch?"
"I hate metallics!!"

He's right:  I do.  They're difficult, they're cranky, and they drive me (and almost every stitcher I know) around the bend.  Why?  Because the Blending Filament, the first metallic on the market from way, way back, is simply that:  a teeny, tiny strand of a floss with a teeny bit of metallic wrapped around the filament.  So as you stitch, the metallic comes away from the thread filament and the entire piece begins to shred.  Has to do with friction.  One of those laws of physics.

There are a few suggestions on the market for dealing with this shredding of metallic.  The first, from the manufacturer, is to stitch with smaller pieces.  I find that method to be, well, unworkable.  Just as you begin to find your way on the pattern and really make some inroads, it's time to end your thread and start a new one.  And you find that you use more thread than you would if you stitch with a normal length of thread.

The next suggestion, also from the manufacturer, is to make a loop knot at the end of the thread where it comes out of the eye of the needle.  This is an excellent suggestion and really deals with the problem inherent in the product.  With a knot (not a double knot or anything really tight, just a simple one-over loop knot), the friction between the metallic thread and the fabric is greatly minimized and there is less fraying.  Granted, it takes a little longer because once you thread your needle, you have to take the time to make the quick loop knot before you can begin stitching.  But it saves a great amount of time on the stitching end, and all that you need to do is check your loop knot from time to time.

What I've been doing while I stitch is closer to the latter suggestion.  Since I'm using a frame and a lap stand, I can use a Twin-Pointed needle that really makes a world of difference.  The eye of the needle is in the center of this looong embroidery needle, and the eye is in the center.  Having the eye in the center means that you can rest one hand on the top of the frame and the other hand at the bottom.  No more turning of the wrist!  No more one hand only working!  Both hands work, the stitching (except for metallics) goes much faster, and the top hand uses a laying tool.  I truly like having a laying tool, as it allows my stitches to all look even, and prevents the top of the "x" from all going in one direction.

So, off to finish the second wing in the new year!