Thursday 4 August 2011

Stitching - Japanese Calligraphy

Since returning from our holiday in Switzerland I have been pretty busy stitching.  Though I have only managed to complete three projects, they have all been quite different.  The first was some more bargello work.  The design for this is my adaptation of a pattern for a pincushion in Brenda Day’s Bargello - A Fresh Approach to Florentine Embroidery.  It is stitched on Aida 18ct fabric and I used DMC cotton floss - two strands.  The colour scheme is made up of delft blues, gold, copper and pinks.  The idea is to insert this into the cover of a rectangular cushion.  But I will need to learn how to make a cushion first.  Unless some cushion maker is looking for an insert.  Anyway here is what it looks like just now.
The design is made up of the one pattern which is repeated in reverse direction - twice over.  It is almost continuous, though there is a slight drop when the pattern begins a repeat.  I can never tire of bargello designs and I particularly like this colour scheme.
For my next work I returned to Louison’s lovely designs for Biscornus.  Though on this occasion I decided to try and use them for something different - coasters.  I choose four different patterns of 50 pts and used each one to make a coaster.  The fabric is a pale green Aida 18ct.  All are stitched with two strands of cotton threads from Les Fils du Rhin.  Two of them are stitched with Alizées and the other two with Zéphir.  Les Fils du Rhin is a one woman company in Alsace and she produces some wonderful hand dyed threads.  Well worth a visit to her site.  Here are the finished coasters.
My last completed project was something completely different and one that took up a lot of time - over 44 hours of work over 20 days.  The idea came from a course on Japanese calligraphy at the DCA.  It was always at the back of my mind to somehow try and incorporate some calligraphy into a piece of stitching.  Flicking through some pictures on the internet I came across an example of a Japanese character which had been turned into a needlework pattern.  So I decided to give it a go.  The character I choose was Hou - which can represent fragrance or full of flavour, according to our tutor.  Here is my attempt at the character.
I then had to work out how to turn this into a needlework design.  After a few false starts I worked out that the best way to do this was to trace the outline directly on to the fabric.  I did this on some cut-off piece and was able to then experiment a bit to work out just how many stitches of what length to use to fill in the outlines.  For my project I decided to use horizontal stitches for this and it was stitched with two strands of DMC cotton thread in plum.  Here is what the finished character looks like.
For the other half of the piece I selected a couple of designs which I hope go some way to reflect the meaning of the character.  The central image is a rose and this is surrounded on three sides by other flowers.  I am not sure what they actually are meant to be as the original does not give a title.  They could just about be plums.  Whatever, both designs come from a lovely Dutch website - Tantes Zolder - which luckily also includes an English language commentary.  Somebody’s aunt had a large box full of handwritten charts for cross stich and these have now been digitised and put up on the web.  I used two of them which I subsequently adapted to suit my needs.  Here is what the completed piece looks like.
For the flowers I again used two strands of threads from Les Fils du Rhin.  Rose d’Été and Mousson for the roses and Quetsch d’Alsace and Brise Marine for the other flowers.  I use a simple, single diagonal stitch for this.    The outside border is a traditional Palestinian design known as Carnations - quite appropriate for the theme.  This was stitched in medium yellow green and medium antique mauve.  Though this piece took quite a bit of time and involved a fair bit of working things out, I am pleased with the result and hope to try something similar with another Japanese character.

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