leaf progress and colour shading problems

No Time for Lazy Stitching – a leaf update

Progress is slowly being made

Whilst it might not look like much, but this little leaf has actually made some progress.

In class, Heather gave me the confidence boost I needed to just get on with it. After a hesitant start, I did just that. Throughout the day I was quite pleased with my progress, and with the extra tips on stitch direction, I was feeling like I was making some good progress.

Unpicking problems

One of the points I did struggle with in class was the stitch direction at the tip. I was making quite an abrupt bend towards the stem, more so than was really required. I then learnt just how hard it is to unpick this type of stitching! So whilst it needed to come out, it isn’t an easy task.

I carefully cut the stitches that needed to be pulled out, and then with my ‘Uncle Bill’s tweezers‘, pulled the individual stitches out. There were some I just couldn’t work out how they were in there in the first place, so trimmed them as best I could! I asked a lady next to me who is almost finished her diploma, and she said that is her technique. So I thought I could just continue on with it!

A good attempt – maybe?

At the end of class on Friday, Heather was quite pleased with my progress, and I was finally feeling like I was getting the hang of it. I could see where I needed to improve moving forward, but I was comfortable with how the day’s stitching had gone.

That was until I looked at it again on Sunday. I thought we all must have been wearing some odd glasses, as I was anything but pleased with it! At least with this unpicking attempt it was easier as I wanted to take it all out! It just looked messy. The stitches weren’t smooth and flowing. The stitch direction, whilst improved, was still not right.

I didn’t take a photo at this stage I’m afraid, so you will have to take my word for it.

Yet another attempt

So after yet another false start, some progress has now been made. And whilst I’m a little hesitant about saying its ‘ok’, I’m much happier this time round.

The stitches are a nice length, and flow and move better within the shape of the leaf. The direction lines are much better, with just that slight bend towards the stem, rather than awkward and abrupt changes. It generally looks a lot smoother.

What I’m not happy with this time round is the colour changes. I don’t think I’ve blended in enough colours in the dark green areas. So I’m feeling another attempt is needed!

silk shading rose leaf progress
silk shading rose leaf progress - no time for lazy stitching!


So what do I mean by ‘no lazy stitching’?

This is a technique that uses a lot of colours and a lot of needles all threaded up at the same time. That is how you achieve the naturalistic impression of the image you are recreating (something I still need to work on!).

When stitching with so many needles and colours, it is easy to add in stitches a little ‘randomly’, so you don’t have to change needle again. Then, you pick up your next colour and fill in the gaps.

Heather calls this ‘lazy stitching’. By doing this, you don’t necessarily get all your stitches in the right place as you aren’t stitching the area in ‘order’. This increases the possibility of needing to undo the area and re-stitch it to get everything where it should be.

So, whilst it is time consuming to change needle for one stitch – that is what is required! And that is ‘non-lazy’ stitching!

Another thought on the ‘theory’ of silk shading

The way I’m being taught to silk shade by Heather and Owen is quite different from the approach taken by Tanja Berlin in the online classes I did with her (the pansy and the fox).

Tanja works here pieces in ‘rows’ – you work the first row, then the second, then the third etc. And whilst Heather and Owen talk about ‘rows’, they always follow it up with ‘but don’t think or stitch in rows – it’s just easier to explain!’! Whilst I’m still very ‘new’ at the approach being taken currently, I do find it works better for me.

What I like about not stitching in rows

Firstly, I’m feeling like I’m not needing to actively think about the blending of colours and creating bands of colour. I do still on occasion do this (it must be something to do with where my eyes lead me to). The ‘colouring’ nature of the technique seems to come a lot easier if I’m not thinking in terms of row one, two, three etc.

And secondly, by not completing all of ‘row one’, then ‘row two’ etc, I’m not committing myself to a stitch direction or colour change that I might not actually like down the track. By working in full ‘sections’ on the leaf, I’m able to complete fully each little section, and am more confident that I don’t have the direction lines wrong. I recall this being quite the problem I had with the pansy’s leaves, and I do enjoy the current way of stitching more!

Moving on

Next up is to add some of that beautiful bright pink! I’ve been told the best way to move this project forward is to ‘get some hours under my belt’. So – lots of stitching. I think I will have another attempt at this leaf, focusing on the colour blending. Then, the fun part – the petals!

22 thoughts on “No Time for Lazy Stitching – a leaf update”

  1. It all sounds very complicated and scary Catherine! But I think it is indeed a technique that you can only improve by putting the hours in. I think it will be the most difficult one for me to plan, to keep momentum but not having to travel to London every week!

    1. I am actually wishing I had done this technique as an intensive – taken two weeks and attended class four times a week. I think the hours in make it better, but I also think it’s the consistency of doing it for several hours each day is what I’m missing.
      I’ve heard tutors say that this is the one technique which you just have to have a go at and accept your first piece isn’t going to be as good as your second, which won’t be as good as your third. One tutor even advised to not choose a photo or flower you are too attached to, as you don’t want to ruin your impression of it!

    1. Thanks Cathy. I’ve tried that – I even went back to the exact same bush to pick a leaf! Part of my problem is that depending on the light I’m in, the colours change. So I think I need to get quicker at stitching so the light doesn’t interfere and play havoc on the image!

  2. It was really interesting reading this piece – silk shading is a little way off for me yet – but I agree with you and think it may be one that I take as an intensive. Love Heather and her blunt speaking! Miss her now she is not there on a Saturday. Your stitching looks very neat – good luck as you progress.

    1. Yes, if you need a kick Heather will give you one! I would give some serious consideration to doing this as an intensive, and wish I had done so.

  3. Thanks for the thoughts on taking silk shading as an intensive class Catherine. It was the one technique that I had thought about taking more slowly when I am over there next year, but maybe I should rethink my plan. I have only booked in for the Jacobean intensive so far, but I am planning to do all four during my visit. Thanks for sharing your progress.

    1. I think it would depend how long you were planning on staying for. Jacobean as an intensive is a good way to start and get into the swing of things. I imagine doing all four as an intensive would be a lot of work, but it would be a great experience. I’m thinking of doing a few modules that way myself!

    1. You are always so encouraging Kathleen! Thanks again. I just want to do the best job I can! But, at some point it does need to just move on, and I can learn for next time.

    1. I considered that, but unfortunately that won’t make the cut at the RSN! A few sneaky stitches maybe, but not too many!

    1. It certainly does make for an interesting time! I think I’ve finally got a system worked out that seems to be working with the colours, so let’s hope it works this time!

  4. I think that sounds too complicated to be called “lazy”, but the combination of all the different colors looks amazing. I had no idea that was achieved using different needles at the same time. I’m not very experienced when it comes to this level of embroidery so I really thought you added one color at at time and them filled the gaps with another color and so on. Thank you for sharing at The Really Crafty Link Party, I’ve learned something new today. Pinned!

    1. It is certainly something which takes some getting used to. Something I need to work on more, and a big change for me!

  5. Catherine, I think you’re doing a lovely job blending colours. I’m enjoying seeing your progress with this piece.

    I know exactly what you mean about the difficulty in picking out this kind if stitching. It’s painful and to be avoided whenever possible!

    1. I think it is a technique you really need to just spend time with. That, and acknowledge you will improve daily along with slightly change your stitching of it each time.
      I’m not sure how best to attack unpicking, except as you say, to avoid it as much as possible!

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