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Rust Red Iris – Gone Home


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The Rust Red Iris went off the other day to it’s recipient, Sally, for her birthday.

She’s framed it ….. looking good!

Now to finish the Poppies before Kit’s birthday on the 28th.

Rust Red Iris – Naked

I thought I’d show the Iris out of the hoop and with the protective muslim removed, before it’s washed and blocked.
You can’t really see, but it’s *filthy*

I’ve realized that I need to cut the backing to size and hem it to the back of the linen – I’ll do that after washing, so the two pieces of material can move independantly. I’d hate them to pull against each other.

And here’s the back :
I’m not a very tidy person, as you can see.

Rust Red Iris – Finished

And here it is!

That last petal worked to bring all of the colours (the golds and the reds) together.

Next is to wash and block it. I’m going to use the instructions in NeedleNThread
I hope the couple of tension problems I have resolve themselves in that process.

I’m not going to frame it. The piece of linen it’s on is quite large, with a cut lace edging.
Once it’s washed and ironed, I’ll take a photo with the camera!

I’m looking forward to getting it out of it’s frame!

Rust Red Iris – Left Petal Finished

I enjoyed doing this petal. I think it worked pretty well. :-)

I’ve got some comments about the way I do things :

  • When there’s a change between two hues of colours that are not ‘next’ to each other in the colour scheme but I need them to blend- such as from lightest gold suddenly to dark gold.

When this happens, the change stands out a lot if I do it ‘normally’ with long and short stitch. I’ve been ‘helping’ the transition by doing a split stitch on the first line of stitches of the new colour.

The scan after this one, in the bottom left corner, shows the dark orange on top of the light orange *before* the split stitching. Nothing gentle about that blending! Also the angle of a couple of them look wrong, even tho they aren’t.

The split stitch has the effect of making the new stitches skinnier, so they don’t stand out as much. The next line of the new colour is done just as normal.

The stitches aren’t particularly clear in the scan – but see the change from dark orange to light orange? I have no idea whether I should be doing this or not, but it seems to work.

  • Long Curves.

I’m talking about the situation where a colour has a long long way to go on a curve.

I’ve looked in the instructional parts of Trish Burr but haven’t found anything particularly helpful on this, except the mention of using short stitches. Nothing on hiding the joins, which is what I’m going to be describing here. It may be that I’m not approaching curves correctly, but this method seems to work ok.

A curve consists of lots of short lines.

The scan above shows some curving of the light orange and the partially done curving of the cream, finished.

More to the point, you can also see the short stitches that I used to make up the curves for the remainder of the light orange on the bottom right hand side there. These are ‘real’ stitches that I’ve placed as guidelines in preparation for adding in the rest of the stitches. They are the longest straight lines I can make, and still get that acute curve.

They can’t be too long, or the ‘curve’ ends up being a series of lines at angles that are too acute and it looks like a ‘shoulder’ or abrupt change in angle, not a curve.

I’ve found that I then need to go back over the joins of these lines and insert some random stitches. Otherwise there is a distinct line where the short lines change angle.

I try to vary these short lines a bit, in order to avoid this line – but given you are working on an angle that is only changing slowly, there’s a limit to how much you can move the placement of the lines.

On the scan, following the curve of the light orange/gold anti-clockwise, the joins of the straight lines can be seen. I hadn’t placed the ‘hiding’ stitches yet. I had further up the curve, and you can’t see the joins.

Random stitches over the top to hide that meeting line seems to be the best way to go – although, like I said, I am doing this only because I’ve found that it seems to work.

Here’s a picture of the actual design.

The curves look like they are all straight stitches, that somehow just … fit into the curves. The pixellation makes it impossible to see if in fact 2 or 3 shorter lines were used to make a curve, then the joining lines hidden.

  • Once upon a time, a long long time ago, I was a gymnast.

When preparing a routine for a competition, I’d choose a favourite music track.
By the time of the comp, I would hate that music track. I would have heard it so many many many times by then.

I wouldn’t say doing an embroidery design is exactly the same. I don’t hate the design by any means. But I wouldn’t like to work on a design I didn’t like in the first place, because there is SO much effort involved, and you spend so many hours just staring at the design, trying to work out how it’s done. Loving the design to start with helps *grin*.

I think the “90%” done stage is a frustrating one. So close yet so far.

  • I’ve found that I work on an area in 3 or 4 stages

The first is the basic laying down of the stitches as I think they should go.

The second is looking back at the original design and making some changes to my work. Making small adjustments here and there – adding extra stitches to change the shape slightly or to emphasize an area of blending, perhaps.

The third is the ‘fix up’ such as filling in any gaps, hiding joins etc

The fourth is like the second stage again, but it’s after I’ve had some time to go away, and then come back and look at the design again. Or it may be that I’ve completed an entire petal and want to make a change so it fits together as a whole.

It’s a very organic process, I can say that much.

Michael and Mary, I’d love to hear your comments about these methods (and anyone else! :-)

Rust Red Iris – Fix ‘Em

Kit, my friend who is also a graphics designer, had a look at the iris with an objective eye the other day. I’ve stared at the pattern and the embroidery for so many hours now I can no longer see it objectively and pick up these sorts of mistakes.

She discovered the following issues :

(following the circles up from the bottom)

  • The bottom needed a “horizon line” to average out the bottom end of the embroidery to be straight. This is to stop the poppy looking as though it was leaning over, especially since it has the big stem coming out at a 60 degree or so angle above it.
  • The stem emerging from the bud needed just a few more stitches, so it emerged from the bottom of the bud, not 2 mm or so above the bottom.
  • The width of the stem needed to be even (I knew that one, just hadn’t gotten around to it)
  • I’d re-done the fold over at the top of that back leaf just before I spoke to Kit.

I wanted it to look like my other fold overs, which look much nicer (eg the one just to the left of it, in browny-gold).
My fix didn’t look good. (What is shown is the old version, before the fix. I haven’t got an image with the fix).

I’ve re-done it since, but I’m still not happy with it. However, the material is stretching, after being a bit abused, so I’m going to leave it be.

I originally mixed the colours on that foldover by going over and over, doing lots of layers in that small space. Trish talks about leaving gaps in the book, but I didn’t understand what she meant at the time. I do now.

You literally leave gaps inbetween each stitch, and then come back and fill in with the other colour/s later on.
It does get a bit eye twisting when you are doing it in long and short stitch, because you are alternating both the stitch length, and the horizontal gaps between the stitches, but it’s easy on a fold over when you are using satin stitch.

Here’s a pic where the lower fold over has mid-orange mixed with dark orange :

The fold over isn’t ‘built up’ to get that colour mix, because I left space for the second colour.

I have a number of other areas I’m not happy with

  • the small leaf down the bottom. Kit couldn’t recognise it as a small leaf until I told her what it was.
  • the bottom half of the right petal – with that mix of green, pink and cream. It just ain’t right.
  • the ‘line of light’ running down the stem just wasn’t bright enough
  • I realised a big ooopsy. Looking at the back leaf – it’s right side should proceed right down into the middle of the iris, down to the base of the iris centre, from which all petals should emerge – not stop at the TOP of the iris centre. (That’s my mistake, remembering that I changed the design)

Re-doing it would be an absolute nightmare, as the colours would have to be re-done. I’m just going to leave it be.

To balance the bad, I love

  • that left bud, which kind of looks like a seashell
  • the petal I’ve just done, in brown/golds (although the change-over to the darker colours at it’s bottom right isn’t *quite* right
  • the petal I’m doing at the moment

I think the ‘line of light’ running down the stem is now TOO light (even lighter in the scan).
But all the other problems are fixed.

The final leaf mixes the brown/gold with the reds, to pull it all together.

Rust Red Iris – Left Petal Finished

This was the easiest petal I’ve done

Rust Red Iris – Half of the Left Petal

  • Like the right petal, the left petal naturally divides itself in two. Here’s the top of it :-)
  • There is a shadow under that little flap. The book said to use the darkest colour but it stood out too much. I used a dark red instead, and it seems to work ok.
  • I’ve got some tension problems – below the right petal and to the right of the right bud. I hope they don’t stay once I’ve blocked the embroidery
  • The bottom half of the right petal (the last one I did) looked funny to me with the mixture of light green, dark green, pink and cream. I realized that it was because they were long stitches, whereas the rest of the petal had quite short stitches as an effect of blending the colours so much.

So I took some pink and some cream and put in some small stitches, splitting the long stitches to break them up

  • I’d needed to put a line up the edges of the top petal, because it was merging with the right petal and I’ve added one on the left to match.
  • For the bottom half of the left petal, which I’m about to do, I actually took the design and marked out the different sections in pencil on the page. Those markings were already on the embroidery itself, but I found a couple of extra, including a shading that I hadn’t noticed and a bit of a change in shapes.

I think marking the shapes on the design page is a good idea and I’m going to keep doing it from now on. It’s really hard seeing what’s happening. The lines are blurred because it’s long and short stitch (that’s the whole point) but where do you place that basic “cross over” line, especially dealing with odd shapes?

I think adding in this left petal is really making the iris look like more harmonized and is a big step, because it brings the centre into the design, instead of one red petal and a brown centre.

Any comments on why I have the tension problem most welcome.

Rust Red Iris – Right Petal Finished

I did take out quite a lot of the green, and put in some pink – to try to work it in more naturally.
The difference between the top and bottom parts is quite clear with the change in stitch direction.

Looking at the scan makes me wonder if I need to do some work on the at that part of the petal – where the pink/cream/green/dark green mix starts. There’s a curved light line that seems to be standing out a lot.

I’m also tempted to add some more dark edge on the top part – but that’s not the pattern and I know that I’m a sucker for the darker colours. I’ll see how it looks with the flower more completed. I think the dark edging on the bottom part has worked beautifully, but it looks so patchwork-y on the top part.

I also put in a split stitch line of two different pinks between the top petal and this right one, to make the delineation a bit clearer. It is a bit clearer in the original than the scan because you can see the texture of the stitches, as well as the colours.

So these are all small design decisions to be made later when I see what the flower looks like as a whole.

I think this sort of process/thinking is shown by how the fold over at the top of the top petal looks a lot more natural even with just the marking up on the left petal next to it. Giving it some company makes it look like it belongs.

Onto the back petal – it’s all marked up. It’s in more brownish sort of colours, which will tie into the centre. Yummy – more new colours to work with.

Rust Red Iris – Half of the Right Petal

The right petal can be divided distinctly into two halves – the colours and the stitch direction change (the stitch direction on the bottom half is more curved)

So here’s the bottom half

and the flappy bit on the top petal, which I’d forgotten to do last time I posted. It looks lumpy on the scan – but that’s the lighter colours ‘coming forward’.

I felt like it was an exercise in geometry – look at the way the un-embroidered part of the petal is marked up.

It’s hard work trying to get the blend of colours right in the petal. I’ve had to do a lot of over-sewing simply to get them mixed up enough. I hope, with experience, that I will be able to put down just one layer and end up with a completely random mix, but I can’t do it yet. I need to add more stitches on top of the existing ones.

I keep thinking of Michael Cook’s peony, where he seemed to achieve colour mix without too much oversewing (or any!)

I might extend the darkest green a bit. I’ll see how it is when the whole petal is done, because the bit above is a small bit of cream then a lot of light pink, so the dark green might end up in proportion with that.

Rust Red Iris – Back Petal

Ok – this time I worked it from the top down, and it turned out perfectly, except ……
I nearly went MAD filling in the cream.

I wanted to avoid a herringbone look for the centre, but there seemed no way to get around it.
I did it 4 times, and tried using very long stitches (as the design does)

but then ended up with a lot of very small stitches, and texturally it looked terrible.

So I ended up doing it ‘herringbone’ last night.

Ooops – haven’t done the turnover at the left top yet

It looks very red- but other petals have the brown of the hood, and will ‘bring them together’.
I do love the graduating reds – it looks great!