‘Queen Bee’ – a fun little project
With a ‘need’ to stitch, but a desire to do something I wasn’t already working on, I turned to some of my ‘Delectable Morsels‘ packs from Alison Cole Embroidery. These pack are a great way to be introduced to ‘new to me’ threads and materials.
I didn’t take note of the ‘theme’ of this pack before I looked at it’s contents. And when I saw the sequin waste, my initial thought was that I ‘had’ to make a bee hive! After a more thorough review of the contents I found the theme was actually ‘Christmas’, but anyway! The theme was never intended to be absolute, and I was quite determined to have my bee hive with the sequin waste!
Designing the ‘Queen Bee’
After flicking through a few online images of bee hives, I had an idea of how mine would actually look. But it wasn’t until the end of the sketching process that I decided it needed one large bee at the top. It then seemed quite sensible for this to be the ‘queen bee’! Having the larger bee also meant I could make use of the materials provided in this pack.
What were we given in the ‘Christmas’ pack?
You can tell just by the contents Alison put together in each of the ‘Delectable Morsel’s‘ packs that she is a very creative lady. Using things I just wouldn’t think of! So in this pack we were given:
- Silk Chenille by ‘Thread Gatherer‘. After using it for a very short space of time, I realised that this stuff sheds all over the place. I used it as my grass, but I think it would actually make a wonderful seaweed! So maybe it’s time to think about another ‘under water‘ piece….
- Olivades Green Silk Ophir by Colour Streams – this is a perle silk which is lovely to use (but does have a tendency of knotting)
- Madeira #40 Metallic – a lovely gold thread. Apparently it is a machine thread, but it stitched up wonderfully and I think I’ll be using it again when I need a bit of bling
- Kreinik Facets – best likened (loosely) to a Japanese thread which you couch down and then plunge. It was a bit thick for what I actually used it for, and was an ‘interesting’ thread to use
- Gilt #1 Lizerine – I’d not heard of this goldwork thread before – it is basically a ‘square’ pearl purl
- Copper mesh – not something I would have thought about using before, but it was actually very easy to use and added a nice effect
- Sequin Waste – what a great way to ‘reuse and recycle’! Again, not something I would have used before but I’m glad my eyes have been opened!
- An assortment of beads
So another lovely variety of ‘known’ and ‘unknown’ supplies!
The bee’s hive
To make the bee’s hive, I decided to try the mesh under the sequin waste. I wasn’t sure if the sequin waste by itself would be enough of a contrast to the background fabric. And I’m so glad I did this! It gave the hive the colour I was looking for.
To apply the mesh, I used the perle silk – in hindsight a thinner and more blended colour would have worked better, but anyway. Whilst I could draw onto the mesh in a pencil to transfer the design, there was no way I was going to be able to do this with the waste! So I used the mesh as a template,and then cut out the sequin waste. To attached the sequin waste, I couched it in place with a few stitches in each ‘hole’. What I should have done was go from one side to the other as it moved a lot, and I ended up being a little short on one side, with too much hanging over the edge of the mesh on the other. A few little snips and it seems to have come out ok and I know for next time!
To finish off and clean up the edge, I used the Kreinik Facets. This was when I decided I wasn’t a huge fan of the stuff, and that I wouldn’t actually be able to use it as intended on my ‘queen bee’. It’s just too thick!
It was then time to add in the grass. Initially, I was going to couch down the silk chenille, but after having a bit of a play with it, I decided to try clumps of ghiordes knots.
This is where I learnt a few things: Firstly, this thread leaves it’s remnants all over the place!
Secondly, this thread isn’t particularly strong, so short lengths were required, otherwise I was left with a bit of a mess.
And finally, I thought this worked surprisingly well! To add a bit of variety to the grass, I then added in a few pistol stitches, or long armed French knots, and I had the beginnings of a garden for my bees to live.
The Queen Bee
My initial idea of how to stitch the ‘queen bee’ was actually a bit different to how this actually ended being stitched! As mentioned, my initial thought was that I could use the Kreinik Facets as the body. But after working with it on the hive, I decided the bee would need to be much larger for that to be close to successful. So a simple plan of back-stitching with the Madeira #40 Metallic was formed. I don’t usually like stitching with metallic threads as they break and end up wearing so quickly. But this one was surprisingly resilient, and stitched up much like other silk threads do.
With my initial ideas not necessarily ‘working’ with my smaller scale bee, I decided to try using the scraps of mesh for some wings. I was initially going to stitch them down entirely, but after playing with the mesh for a little bit, I decided that a few holding ‘veins’ in the wings would be sufficient, and the bee could have wings slightly elevated from the fabric. I also liked the way it tied into the hive itself.
Finally, what to do with the head?! I decided I would try doing chipwork with the Gilt #1 Lizerine. It sits quite differently on the fabric because it is a little ‘squarer’ than what I’m used to. But overall, I felt it was a good little experiment to have had. I’m not sure I really like the way his head finished him off, but it worked well enough to leave it in and for me to have seen what chip work looks like using the Lizerine.
The smaller bees
These were nice and easy to stitch down. My biggest conundrum were their heads! At first I thought I could do a few french knots in the metallic thread. But after doing one, I decided I’d be doing metallic French knots for a very long time. In the pack were some little gold beads. So I thought I may as well try them out! Whilst again not perfect, it did the trick. One bee in particular looks more like a dragonfly, so I might just go with I’m ‘broadening’ the gene pool!
And the finishing touches
To add to my little grassland, I used the beads in the pack for flowers. Whilst these beads were probably better suited to a Christmas theme, they do add a little bit of sparkle and it was a quick way to stitch in a few flowers!