Saturday, August 15, 2015

Free - Berlin Woolwork Rose Medallion

Based on an Historical Embroidery Design by Sarah Bland

Download the FREE .PDF Pattern from my Dropbox: Rose Medallion

Please Note: You may see a screen asking you to create a Dropbox account, but you do NOT need to create an account to view and save the file; just click the grey "x" at the right top corner of the screen to go to the file. If you have any problems downloading, please let me know - my e-mail is in my sidebar :)

This lovely little rose is actually an old project from 2013! On one hand it's hard to believe that it's been so long since I made it, and on the other hand it's something I treasure so much that it sort of feels like it's been a part of my life forever ;)

It all started when I was searching through the wonderful online collections of the Victoria & Albert Museum (V&A), and came across this Berlin Woolwork pattern that is part of a larger personal project album designed by Sarah Bland (1810-1905):

Image used for non-commercial purposes © Victoria & Albert Museum, London

Isn't it amazing that a design drawn over 100 years ago still looks so vibrant today?!

I was very taken with the rose filling motif, and recharted my own version:

This was actually the first piece of Berlin Woolwork that I've recharted and stitched; the second was the Key and Ribbon I shared last year as part of the Stitch From Stash (SFS) Challenge - it's tiny because it's stitched over 1 on 28 count Evenweave:

As a matter of fact, I actually chose most of the colours for the Key from this project!

I wanted to keep the feel of the original octagonal medallion, and although at first I considered keeping the orange, yellow and turquoise at the corners, I eventually decided to add gold corners in the style of Victorian photo-albums as a frame:

Before Background Fill / After Background Fill

And then I filled in the background with solid white, which finally gave the rose the proper needlework look! Berlin Woolwork was worked with brightly coloured wools that contrasted so strongly we would consider them clashing on needlework canvas, and so the backgrounds were almost always fully stitched with patterns or solids.

So leaving the Aida cloth (14 count white, all cross-stitch with three strands of floss) unstitched made the work look unfinished. With that in mind, I also added a row of white outside the frame, so it would be filled edge-to-edge.

While I was stitching this project, I took lots of photos intending to make a step-by-step tutorial - unfortunately, most of them did not turn out, which is why I decided not to post about it. It wasn't until recently when I was talking to Karen about fine crochet and final-finishing that I remembered how much I loved this rose :)

But after some digging, I was able to find some photos of the process to share!

I made a basic Padded Ornament, just like I did in my Blackwork Snowflake Tutorial:

It was a total accident that I left my opening at the side instead of the top!

But I did something entirely different for the edging, and crocheted into the Aida blocks! I used size 10 South Maid crochet cotton in White and a 1.00 mm (size 10) hook. I worked a row of single crochet all around as a base and then added simple Shell Stitches for the trim and a little hanging loop at the top:

It was fun to work, and was the perfect finishing touch for the rose :) I backed the ornament with a scrap of the beautiful gold velveteen I used in my Floral Heart.

And that's it!! Out of all the many projects that I've made over the years, this sweet simple rose is one of my very favourites, and ever since I finished it, it's been hanging in my living room on a little brass picture frame hook and cheering me up everyday :)

If you stitch up a Berlin Woolwork Rose Medallion of your own, I'd love to see it!

Thanks very much to Karen, for her interest in this project, without which this post would very likely never have been written ;)

Saturday, August 8, 2015

PC: Blackwork Floral Bookmark Finish

My recent post on the wonderful thread known as Perle (Pearl) Cotton brought an old, unfinished project to mind, and I'm happy to say that I final-finished it at long last! I first wrote about my Blackwork Floral Bookmark way back in 2013, when I was running the ES Bookmark SAL and intended to write a tutorial on making the tassel. I never did get around to it, but there are lots of tassel ideas in that post :)

Perle Cotton (PC) is not just for useful for embroidery - it's amazing on Aida cloth too! I used a 14 count for this project, and at first I wanted a dark colour to show off the gorgeous Anchor variegated PC #8 (1315), which has pinks, oranges and yellows all mixed together! It's very tropical feeling and cheerful :)

At the time I was stitching this, the only dark hue I had that even remotely matched was the tan, but after I put the first few stitches in, I thankfully switched to white instead! Unfortunately, the white was a remnant from a bad batch of Aida, which I didn't realize when I chose to use it. Also, it was really far too narrow, and I now know from experience that it's better to leave a little extra than to be too short!

So I actually stitched this design twice:

At top is my final finish, and at the bottom was my first attempt. Things were going along fine until I turned it, at which point the top edge of the Aida frayed apart so badly that there was no way of fixing it. I tried stitching the frayed parts together -

- but unfortunately I wasn't able to salvage it. I used a different backing fabric for this one, a dark pink polyester cotton that also frayed badly at the seams inside.

It was a mess, and I was so disappointed with it that I put it away for a long time :(

Thankfully, I remembered it when I was writing my post on PC, and I worked up the courage to try again! I had already restitched the bookmark and still had the tassel, so it was just a matter of assembling everything, which is always the scary part ;)

The green PC I used is also seems to be #8, from an old unlabelled ball in my Stitchy Guru Mother's Stash, which was a huge tangle when I found it. So I wound it around an empty Gutermann thread spool to keep it neat. It's a beautiful colour!

The variegated PC was so lovely that I went back in and added a few simple filling stitches to the pattern just so that I could see more of those tropical tones. The flower is one of the prettiest motifs I've ever seen, and was fun and quick to stitch. Also, I love the way the stitches resulted in a little pulled eyelet at the center!

I am glad that I used a different backing fabric, because the thicker cotton was so much easier to stitch and was more comparable to the weight of the Aida, making for a smoother look. The first fabric I used was so thin and flimsy that every stitch pulled a little at the seam. Never buy anything with polyester if you can help it!

I think my favourite part of this project is the tassel :) PC makes wonderfully thick and shiny tassels!!! Instead of making cording for the tie, I made a simple braid, and the extra texture is pretty. I would love to try a fancier beaded version ;)

Finally, here's my Blackwork Floral Bookmark in an actual book:

This is the first novel in Mercedes Lackey's updated fairy-tales series, and although I haven't read it yet, it's been highly recommended so it's at the top of my reading list!

I only added one layer of quilt batting as filling this time (versus the two-layer padded insert I used in my SAL Bookmark) and I'm much happier with it :) It's quite a bit flatter, and a single layer adds little bulk beyond that the seams naturally add.

As for my first botched bookmark, I've kept it even though I'm not sure exactly what to do with it! My Stitchy Guru Mother suggested cutting it down into a band to use on the top of a scissors case or needlebook, but I would like to keep the length out to the two cute little hearts on either end. If you have any suggestions, please let me know!