Catbells is featuring quite a lot here at the moment, it is my favourite fell, but it is also on my mind because when the Sisterhood of The Travelling Sketchbook arrives I want to do something about the wonderful countryside around me. After much thought I’ve decided to do an embroidery of Catbells, so these pieces are a bit of a practice run!
At Skipton Embroiderers Guild we have just started travelling sketchbooks within little groups of six. Last meeting we were all given an A5 sketchbook to cover and write a bit about our theme and our inspiration. This is my sketchbook;
We also had to embroider the first piece…
Now I love embroidery when someone is telling me what to do, with a pattern, or a kit, or a book with a design, but to think up something on my own is way out of my comfort zone. I’d bought a beautiful selection of textured threads and textiles at the Knitting and Stitching show last year, but I’ve very quickly realised I haven’t got a clue what to do with them, I think I’ll be taking them to the next meeting to find out!
So here’s more thought processes…
I started off with a piece of noil silk which I painted with silk paints a couple of weeks ago, this is the one I got really wet so the colours blended a lot. I realised half way through that I’ve actually used the back, but I wanted that nice watery light that you get just after dawn.
I remembered an embroidery I had done a couple of years ago which was a kit by Stef Francis and used that as a basis for the techniques. I had some hand-dyed silk organza (??) in moss green and purple, I tore it into strips about 1.5″ wide and stitched the strips together with just a basic running stitch.
My original plan was to bondaweb it to the background, having cut the shape out, however I was worried it would flatten too much and the white of the bondaweb would make it too harsh. Instead I pinned the strip fabrics to the noil, carefully cut out the outline and then blanket stitched along the skyline. I’m pleased with the effect, because the silk strips are not perfectly flat, you get shading and creases which look like the undulations on the side of the hills. I positioned the seams diagonal to represent the shadows on the hillside, the torn edges have a nice soft effect too.
I just had to embroider it now…
I found some gorgeous curly thread in just the right colours, I tried to actually sew with it but despite a big chenile needle it wasn’t going to happen, so I couched it down the overlaps of the silk.
I decided to use two different embroidery stitches down each strip, trying not to repeat them. I limited myself to using two embroidery silks for the whole project so it didn’t have too much variety, I used DMC 4504 which is green and purple, and DMC 4065 which is light blue/greens and beige.
I dug out a couple of embroidery books and came up with the following stitches; french knots, fly stitch, herringbone, wheatear, feather and chain stitch.
My next dilemma was how to finish it. In the end I decided to back it with a medium weight fusible vilene, trimmed it with my rotary cutter and blanket stitched all round with DMC 4065.
I’m really pleased with my embroidery of Catbells, I think it does capture that soft light just after dawn when the fells are still shadowy. I would still like to work out a way of showing Derwentwater in front as well, with the reflection of Catbells, but I haven’t got anything in my textiles box that I thought would work. There’s a quilt show in Harrogate at the end of the month so I’m hoping some of the stalls there might have something, ready for the next sketchbook!