Stitches to create texture.
We were asked to choose a stitch and trial it both densely packed and then in a random fashion, in different directions and in a variety of threads and yarns. The aim was to see how light plays on the surface to create texture through reflection on the threads and created shadows in dips and directional changes.
I chose satin stitch because it is typically used for filling or linear work and I felt the light effects would be well shown.
I decided to try a fairly open weave linen and base most of the samples on closely packed canvaswork stitches. I started each different thread in the traditional upright manner abutting the previous row. In that section, from the bottom up, I have used Perle 5, 2 strands crewel wool, thick loosely woven silk and a flat rough silk that somewhat resembles raffia. Only the thick lime silk has given a good covering in that direction. However, when using the same threads in different directions, ie. diagonally, spirally and leaves they appear much fuller and no canvas can be seen between the individual stitches.
I then decided to play with silk ribbon, fully expecting it to look terrible, and only went through every other hole in the fabric to give the ribbon a chance to spread out without becoming too crowded by the next stitch. This was quite effective but didn’t really give me much of a textural look as the ribbon sat very flat against the background. So I redid it but made a coral knot along the length before pushing the needle to the back. The ribbon obviously couldn’t then open up to its width and instead it folded around itself with a knobbly knot in the centre. I was starting to get some light play on it then.
I wondered what effect a variegated Perle 5 would have so I chose a straight satin stitch, fairly short, with both a vertical and horizontal aspect to it. How interesting that it looks much thicker than the plain olive Perle 5 previously used. I put this down to the fact that the horizontal stitches cover the fabric strands at the end of each of the vertical ones and so hide the white that shows through on the main sample. So I re-threaded my olive Perle 5 and did a basket weave. Much better coverage and fabulous light effects, so why does the variegated thread still appear thicker and more lustrous to me? Both threads are exactly the same weight in reality but there is unquestionably a feeling that one is more chunky than the other. Light on the variegated colour changes I wonder?
Having been stitching for many years it has always been my experience that wools show very little difference in appearance no matter which direction stitches go in and my sample shows a very flat looking spiral with only slight changes where shadows are cast by previously overlapped stitches. When looking at heavily worked crewel embroideries you can see that colours remain fairly constant throughout without a great deal of light play. Perhaps it is because of the very nature of wool – barbed fibres with matt colouring and a ‘fuzzy’ look to the yarn. Light wouldn’t have a whole lot to reflect back in comparison to a highly polished Perle, silk or metallic.
The lighter green loosely woven silk on the right has come out especially well. That yarn is almost the same colour throughout with a very, very slight variegation but it has taken on quite an interesting look where the random diagonals over and under-lap each other. This will be one to keep in mind for the future for sure.
Whilst unwinding my ribbon from its card I noticed how the light reflected very differently on each part of it as it fell in folds on to my work surface. Even after ironing, prior to using it to stitch, there were faint creases left along the length and I was still able to see a difference in shading as I worked.