While the rest of the world seems to make New Year's resolutions regarding fitness, diet and health, I'm afraid I'm the one at the back of the room quietly mumbling "errr, actually this year I'd like to learn to <insert crafty skill here>". In fact I think I've probably got the next few years of crafts I'd like to learn already in mind, but for 2013 learning to embroider was at the top of the pile. I was already very prepared, having received a gift voucher for my birthday and stocked up on thread, hoops and sewing needles. I had planned to start with flowers and envisaged a lovely English rose as my first project, but a recent trip to inland Australia in Summer made me rethink the plan and so the inspiration for my wool flowers came from the dry and dusty landscape we encounted.
I just happened to have some beautiful variegated yarn in natural tones and added some embroidery thread in Anchor Light Copper (shade 377) and Light blue violet (shade 117) for highlights. To start I used tailors chalk to draw the centre of the flower and five points around the edge which would be the tip of the petals. The fabric is a heavy cotton drill - durable enough for placemats and with an edge that frays to avoid the need to sew...and that's always a bonus in my eyes!
I formed a knot in the wool and came through from the back of the fabric to a point on the circle adjacent to one of the outer dots (which mark the place for the petal tips) and then did one stitch from the inner circle into the chalk dot, coming back under the fabric in the same place. To form the petal, I then repeated the process another four times alternating which side of the stich the yarn would go to.
For the finishing touches I added a centre of tiny French knots (there's an easy tutorial here) and three small stitches in light blue violet at the tip of each petal as well as a stitch of light copper in between the base of each petal where they meet the centre of the flower. I really enjoyed this project and found that keeping the needle between the stitch and the fabric as I formed the stitch gave the petals a little bulk and evenness. I can see a little more practice and the stitches would be more even again, but for now I'm loving our new placemats, they are a little handmade memento inspired by a wonderful holiday.
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