Is a 'failed design' every really a 'fail'?
As soon as I saw the fabric and materials, I knew exactly what I wanted to create! I had been re-reading the ‘Anne of Green Gable’ books (surprising what you find when you unpack!), and to me, the colours looked perfect for a country fence with the moon shining down.
But, it was one of those designs which worked much better in my head than it did in practice!
What were we given in this pack?
As with all of these pack, there was a lovely variety of different materials and threads that we were given to ‘play’ with.
- ‘Threadworx’ Stranded Cotton – this is a lovely cotton and is slightly variegated. It isn’t like a DMC thread where you can choose your own thread length. The thread is pre-cut, which comes with it’s own advantages and disadvantages
- Caron Wildflowers cotton pearle thread
- Stef Francis 12 ply silk
- Threadworx Overdyed Kreinik #8 Braid
- Devere Yarns silk
- Silver Smooth Purl #6
- Silver Bright Check Purl #6
- Silver Pearl Purl #1
My idea for these materials
As I mentioned, my idea for this came from images formed in my mind again after reading some of the ‘Anne of Green Gables’ series.
The moonlight shining down seemed to me to be appropriate for the colour of the fabric. I liked the idea of only outlining the design (so no ‘fill’), except for the stumpwork flowers. I was originally thinking an old farm gate, I’m not sure why that became just a fence, but anyway!
Stumpwork flower petals
I started by stitching the stumpwork flowers. Whilst the three different purple threads we were given were all quite different, I liked the idea of creating a flower from each of them.
The Pearl thread petals
The Stranded cotton petals
The next flower was stitched up using stranded cotton, so no surprises there!
The Fine Silk petals
And for the final one I used the Devere Yarns silk. What I found interesting with Alison’s notes here was that the silk, whilst you can purchase it different thicknesses, is all made from the same thickness single strand. So if you are using a single strand, it doesn’t matter what thickness thread you have on hand, you can use a single strand and it will be the same.
Using this silk thread - the different weights of this thread
I did experiment with this, as I needed a green thread, and choose one from the silks I have received over the past couple of years in their Advent Calendar. For this, I chose a 12 thread, which on their website says is the same as using a single strand of stranded cotton. It did feel marginally thicker than the single strand of 18 thread. Of course there was no in depth analysis on this, more just my ‘feelings’. So I’m not 100% convinced that you can use a single strand of any thickness silk in your collection and end up with the same result.
An enjoyable thread to use!
This was the first time I have really used extensively the Devere Yarns silk, despite having quite a collection from their last couple of Advent Calendars! The one thing I can say is these threads are beautiful to stitch with! At first I thought it would be somewhat weak (as it is quite fine), but when stitching in split stitch (which DMC has a tendancy of snapping when stitching), this thread performed well, and I had no snapping problems. It is a silk thread, so you do need to be aware of the thread wearing quickly. But even in this it held up very well!
Surface stitching and metalwork embroidery
The remainder of the embroiery was worked with the idea being that only the outline of the object needed to be stitched.
This seemed to work with certain elements, but I feel that perhaps the moon would have been better if it had been stitched with some chip work filling.
The owls added at the end were quite an after-thought. In hindsight, they probably should have been the centre stage to give the piece some ‘grounding’. Larger, more prominent birds in goldwork would have been a much better option I feel, however they were only stitched on as an after-thought!
And the finished piece
And here is the ‘finished’ design. It really doesn’t look ‘done’, and my husband asked what I was going to do to finish it, which isn’t a good sign!
But for now, it is ‘done’, and in the ‘lessons learned’ pile!
Lessons learned in this 'failed design'
Whilst this is a piece that didn’t really work, and could be put quite fairly in the ‘failed design’ category, I think it is also useful to think about the lessons learned.
Something to draw the eye in
Firstly, having something to draw the eye in is important. In this case the after thought owls could have taken a much larger part in the design. As it is, the piece looks like it isn’t complete. Something is missing. So whilst my original idea may have been sound, it wasn’t executed well, and the end result is something that would probably never achieve what it potentially could have.
The importance of 'just stitching'
The next point, which is possibly the most important, is the point that does it really matter that this ‘didn’t work’ as a design? It was an excercise in using a set of materials – which was achieved. I also explored more ‘new to me’ ways of stitching and using materials. Regardless of what the end result is, to me, this is probaby more important.
I’ve come away knowing more about design than I did before I stitched this piece. ‘Failed designs’ are bound to happen. And it was a piece for me, so does it really matter? I think not. It was a chance to explore and try different things. That is what is important!
So, what do you think, is a 'failed design' really a fail?
Or are you more like me, and decide to focus on what you’ve learnt from the process?
Let me know, I’d love to know your thoughts!