Thursday, 19 July 2012

Queen Stitch

As soon as I started thinking about this post I could see that I might run into difficulties. Queen stitch is made up of four vertical* stitches, each of which is actually two stitches, a vertical stitch bent into a 'V' and held with a couching stitch – much like a fly stitch. It is going to be a nightmare knowing which 'stitch' is being referred to!

*At this point is it worth mentioning that Queen stitch can be worked vertically or horizontally. In addition the four vertical stitches can be worked from right to left or left to right and each vertical stitch can be done top to bottom or visa versa. For the purposes of this post I will refer always to vertical stitches that are worked from right to left.

Queen stitch is a counted thread technique worked over 4 by 4 stitches. The method suggested by Tricia in Lesson on of the Gold Work Master Class gives the same order of stitching that I have seen described most frequently.

1. Bring the needle up at the top centre of the stitch.

2. Take the needle down 4 threads below the start point.

3. Bring the needle up 2 threads below and one thread right of the start point keeping the vertical stitch to the right of the needle.

4. Take the needle down one thread to the right couching the vertical stitch in place.

5. Bring the needle up at the same start point as in step (1).

6. Take the needle down in the same hole as step (2).

7. Bring the needle up 2 threads below the start point keeping the new vertical stitch to the right of the needle.

8. Take the needle down one thread to the right couching the new vertical stitch in place; n.b. this is the same hole that the needle came up in step (3).

9-12 and 13-16 repeat steps 5-8 moving the couching stitch one thread to the left each time.

I tried stitching this way to begin with but after a while I changed the direction of the couching stitch for the third and fourth vertical stitch so that the thread was always on the 'outside' of the needle.

Tricia's instructions include some helpful tips regarding tension; even so I felt that my stitches looked bunched at the top were all of the vertical stitches start. I tried changing the order of stitching; completing the inner two stitches first followed by the outer two stitches.

I stuck with this order for some time, I felt that the stitches were less bunched but I was not happy with the couching stitches, they looked higgledy piggledy. A nagging doubt was telling me that you should take your needle down into a hole that is already occupied by a previous stitch rather than bring the needle up.

Eventually I reverted to the Tricia’s method. Whether this is truly the best method or whether practice has improved my stitching, I definitely feel that these stitches look better than my earlier attempts.

Referring back to my early note about direction of stitching, I found that it is worth thinking ahead to the next Queen stitch so that your thread is travelling in the ‘right’ direction to maintain tension on both the last couching stitch and the first vertical stitch of the following Queen stitch! On the face of it this is a simple stitch but there are a lot of factors to concentrate on to achieve a neat and consistent look to your work.

Happy Stitching

Thursday, 5 July 2012

One Stitch does not a Motif Make

I have a dilemma. The Pouchette that I began in Atlanta is slightly too long for a 29 inch frame, it really needs to go on my 39 inch frame but at the moment Queen of Flowers is on that frame. QoF would fit onto one of the smaller frames but I am very reluctant to move it from one frame to another. Truth be told, I don’t really like framing up! The other truth is that I want to be working on both of these projects! While I ponder this dilemma, I’ve started work on a different project – the Gold Work Master Class sampler. Truth be told, I want to do this project as much as the Pouchette and QoF! So many things to do, so little time!

Before I start on the gold work, which is what I really want to be working on, I need to do the silk motifs, most of which are done in Queen stitch. I have only ever worked Queen stitch on the Strawberry Gobelin Fob needlework nibble that I did a few years ago. A total of 22 Queen stitches, if you include the half stitches.

Queen stitch is made up of four stitches that all emerge from the same hole, end in a second hole, and are couched at their mid point. The couching stitches fan the main stitches to form a diamond. Eight stitches per Queen stitch done over 4 x 4 threads of linen. I need some magnification and good light to ensure that my needle goes between the linen threads, not through them, and to do all of the counting involved.

© Thistle Threads/Carol-Anne Conway

I found the first stitch tediously slow and the thought of doing nearly all of the silk motifs in this strange little stitch was a daunting one. I reminded myself that you eat and elephant one bite at a time. You make a sampler the same way one motif at a time and a motif one stitch at a time. After a few more stitches I began to settle into a rhythm and pick up the pace a little.

© Thistle Threads/Carol-Anne Conway

Approximately 9 hours later (spread over 9 days) I had completed the first motif and felt a lot less daunted about doing the remaining motifs.

© Thistle Threads/Carol-Anne Conway

There are a couple of errors in this first motif some in counting and a little bit that I missed but only spotted when I looked at the close-up photograph. The left leaf is one thread out, I don’t think anyone but me and readers of this blog will ever know, and the top blue petal has an extra row of stitches making this petal larger than in the original. I did not do that intentionally but I like it that way. I will not correct the counting errors but I will go back and fill in the missing half stitch.

© Thistle Threads/Carol-Anne Conway

Now I have a bigger dilemma – I have three larger projects in progress, all of which I want to be working on!

Happy Stitching