Search This Blog

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Zen mandala

For some time I had thought that Zen colouring designs would make interesting embroidery, so a couple of years ago, when Herrschner's advertised some already printed on fabric, I ordered some for me and some for my Adelaide daughter.  She got to work on hers fairly smartly, but I put them on my embroidery back-burner. In the last month or so I dug one out as a back-up 'grab and go' project. 
I had purchased a thread pack to go with it. This consisted of a range of bright perle cotton. The thickness is not marked on the label, but it is about 5 - quite thick.                                                                 My concept for this mandala was a red edge, then very roughly following the rainbow from purple into a red centre. I didn't want to plan it in detail - and I certainly didn't want to colour it in pencil first. I wanted to use the threads to guide me and work it from the outside in, making decisions as I went.
I also wanted to try out a range of stitches. The narrowness of the bands of the design, especially when combined with the heaviness of the thread, places some limits on stitches. I worked the outside border in fly stitch. It gave the density of colour that I wanted - but used an entire skein of thread.
I gradually worked my way in, using stem, chain, more fly and French knots. Later I introduced pistol stitch (yellow row below).
Keeping to my rainbow colour movement wasn't straightforward but it provided a general guide. I tried to foreshadow coming colours and provide an echo of those I was moving away from.

I found it useful as I entered a new band, to try out colours on a wedge.

The density of the thread grew on me. It began to look like a carpet.

Most of it I worked in my hand. I needed to scoop most of the stitches and even if I don't always follow the maxim 'never scoop in a hoop' (picked up at a class at the RSN) these narrow circular bands are difficult to work in a hoop. I used a hoop for the pistol stitches.

The row of curly things gave me a challenge. I tried bullion knots and fly stitch before settling on a double couched line and French knots. The line below these is worked in Palestrina knot stitch.

The finished piece needed blocking - and easy task which straightened it up nicely.

By now I had decided what to do with the finished piece, which is about 10" in diameter.

No, not a bag.

I appliqued it on to the coat I made last year, using the red thread of the outside border and a buttonhole stitch.

It blends well with the wool fabric and I get to see it (as, of course, do others!).

I've really enjoyed this piece. The threads (somewhat to my surprise) were terrific. I have some other designs to do and another pack of thread when the mood takes me.


Monica said...

This is fantastic, Jillian, and what a great addition to your lovely coat! It seems like you had several pleasant surprises with the project, I'm sure the other one won't be idle for long. :D

Jillian said...

Thanks Monica. I think you’re right - but it might have to wait till after Christmas!