Wednesday, 31 January 2007

TAST Cretan Stitch

Cretan stitch was a new one for me. I had seen it on SharonB’s blog ‘In a minute ago’ and used it only once before a short while before TAST began. Working my sampler, I found that I liked the stitch, as I thought I would. However, I found starting a real problem. Virtually every row I had to work out how to start and I really struggled to work out the stitching sequence for the circles.

So what did I do? I started simply with a row where the stitches were worked closely and then one with more widely spaced stitches. Looking at the sampler now, I think that I should have worked the first row completely closed and perhaps have spaced the second row even more to give greater contrast between the two rows.

I really liked the woven effect that I got with Herringbone and thought that I might get a similar effect with Cretan Stitch. Like before, I tried two methods. Working a complete row in one colour, then stitching complete rows of the other colours in turn produced the third row. For the fourth row, I threaded a needle with each of the four colours and stitched Closed Cretan Stitch using the colours in sequence. Worked in this stitch, I prefer the first method, not least because the finished row is textured with a ridge running down the centre. I have to say the second method was really time consuming and tedious (not a feeling a often associate with embroidery).

When I finally completed that row, I was ready for a change of pace. First, I worked the outline of the paisley. I thought that it looked to open for an outline, so I worked a second row in the spaces. I don’t really think that it works as an outline stitch, the shape seems undefined to me. To give it more substance, I filled the entire shape with rows of stacked Cretan Stitch. I enjoyed working the stitch in regular rows and like the pattern it created. Next, I played with working the stitch in circles. As I said earlier, I found these I bit complicated to work out, but I love the designs that were created.

Below the paisley and circles I have a row of Cretan Stitch wrapped with a narrow satin ribbon; a row of stitches in green with a second row stitched in the spaces, as I did to outline the paisley; a row of Knotted Cretan Stitch (I really like this but think that the knots would show to better effect in a heavier thread); and finally, a row of Cretan Stitch used to couch down three strands of tapestry wool.

If you have been following my blog for the short time I’ve been posting, you may have noticed that my stitching tends to be neat and rather regimented. I mostly work in straight lines with even spaces between my stitches. I don’t do random. It’s not that I don’t want to: I love the free and sometimes hectic appearance random stitching. Only today, SharonB has posted a picture of a beautiful fabric postcard, which is packed with randomly placed stitches and beads. I would really like to produce something like that, but I don’t seem able to let my hand run free. Even when I do try to stitch randomly, I’m thinking, “Where should I place this stitch so that it looks random?” Case in point! The small paisley design worked in green thread. After all those neat rows of counted stitches, I wanted to work the stitch in a random manner, but I simply could not let go and let the stitches come freely. I kept planning where my next ‘random’ stitch ought to go. Consequently, I am disappointed with the result; I feel it looks contrived.

Reading this back, it does not sound like I enjoyed this stitch, but oddly, I did. And I am pleased with the sampler. I am happy to have some elements that did not work out as I had hoped because I think that is part of the learning process. Next time I try a knotted stitch I will work it in a heavier thread and compare it with this sample. That way I hope to build a library that I can use for reference in the future.

Finally, the threads I used for this page where also new to me. They are DMC linen floss. Each skein contains 6 strands 100% linen. On the skein, I really liked the look of the linen. The colours and muted and have a very slight sheen. The thread has a slightly stiff feel to it that gives a nice crisp look to the stitch. I mostly worked with either two or three strands at a time. When I used too long a length (a bad habit I must get out of) the thread showed signs of wear and on one occasion broke. Mostly is stay tangle free, but the couple of times it did get into a knot, it was really difficult to untangle. Overall, I liked it and will be using it again.

Happy stitching


kay susan said...

Super sampler. I'll be taking some ideas from this. Thank you for the thread review!

nrm_hrrs said...

Wonderful sampler and isn't it great that we all have different approaches to the same stitch!!!! I like using the DMC linen thread but haven't used it yet on the TAST samplers...... may have to try that. Really like your paisley...... well, the whole thing is great!

Elizabeth said...

This is a beautiful sampler. I always enjoy your work and thank you very much for posting the photos and writing about it.

Susan said...

The sampler is great. I like the fact that you think things through, and that you are orderly and logical in your stitching. Random is nice for those who are . . . random. =) I think it's important that our stitching reflects who we are, though. There's a difference between trying something to stretch ourselves, or to see where it goes, and trying something because it seems we ought to. =)

Your stitching is beautiful. It's a joy to look at it and see the order to it. I love your paisley with the pink inside, and the round piece, as well as the straight rows. You really explored this stitch. Sharon must be proud of you. =)