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Tuesday, June 2, 2015

RSN Stumpwork Sheep and Daisies

On 31 May I attended a one-day course at the Royal School of Needlework at Hampton Court. An account of the day can be found in my travel blog.

There were many interesting needlework elements in the day, not the least of which were those little tips and habits that individual teachers impart. Heather Lewis was no exception. The thing I loved most was her repeated " Be brave!" - continued encouragement to take risks and have a go with a stitch or a technique. I might find a way to embroider it, I found it so compelling.

Of interest to me also was her insistence on always starting with a knot in the thread, planted from the top, secured by two small stitches that are stitched over before the knot is cut. It is a form of waste knot within the work itself. Heather attributes this habit to the amount of work she did as a student at the RSN working on  huge frames that could only with difficulty be accessed from underneath.

We learned to construct filled wire petals, a free-standing wired needlelace leaf, wired horns and a stuffed sheep.

I got into strife with the needlelace leaf because I assumed the corded needle-lace would be worked around and around instead, as it is, worked back and forth. Always dangerous to make assumptions. I did read the instructions - but my assumptions got in the way of understanding. I managed, after the class, to adapt what I had done - a lot easier than undoing it, and I didn't have enough wire at hand to start again from scratch.

Another useful technique was placing strong tracing paper under the needlelace leaf so that it can be stitched without danger of attaching it to the underlying fabric by mistake.
Perhaps most useful of all was Heather's insistence that French knots only ever have one wrap. If you want to make a fatter knot, use more thread. So our sheep are made with 6 strand French knots. The six strands are a mixture of two colours - giving that lovely mottled sheep effect. So simple - but I would never have thought of it.
I spent a few hours the day after the class working on my piece. This was partly because I am an obsessive finisher, but also because I wanted to reinforce the learning. I thought I'd forget if I left it until I was home.

The background fabric was green quilting fabric backed with white cotton.

So I constructed the daisy - pushing the wires through and stitching them down - and added the leaf.

I then cut out and attached the sheep, in the marked position, adding the tiny face in felt and constructing the horns from wrapped wire and adding bullion knot legs.

A back stitched hill and lazy daisies complete the piece.
I'm thinking it might be another box lid - but will wait until I'm home to decide.

It's been good learning- and heaps of fun.


margaret said...

you certainly managed to achieve a lot at the one day workshop and yes this would look very good as a box top, interested in the way you did the french knots. Love the sheep

Lyn Warner said...

Be brave and take risks. I think I would enjoy Heather's class too. The French knots for the sheep look so woolly and real. I love the texture.
Thanks for the interesting comment on how to start a thread. I wondered whether you also finished the thread from the top of the work.

Jillian said...

Thanks Lyn. Yes, we did - similar process, two tiny stitches, not on top of each othe, buried under the stitches.

Katherine said...

How exciting! I have done just a couple of stumpwork pieces but never with the lace stitches. Love what you have made and that sheep is so cute!

JennyPennyPoppy said...

What a wonderful opportunity to take an RSN class at Hampton Court. You accomplished a lot from a one day class and sounds like you learned quite a bit too. Thanks for passing on the french knot and other tips. Your piece looks lovely!

Monica said...

He has quite a rakish cast, doesn't he? It's a great, folky design. And, I think I'll use a similar approach for my bees on Down in the Garden. Finally, the right idea! So nice to share in your learning, Jillian. :D

Jillian said...

So glad it has struck a cord with you, Monica, and hope it serves your purpose. It's a great technique.