completed third petal on silk shaded rose

Silk Shaded Rose Update – and oh so close to finishing!

Time to move along

This has been a piece that has moved a lot slower than I had originally anticipated, or indeed, really wanted it to. The key really is just getting in the hours (like I’ve said before!). If I were to approach this module again, I would actually not attend class nearly as often as I did (which is what they recommend). Instead I would have just sat at home and got on with it. There are times when the tutor’s advice is needed, but with some careful planning, I think this could have been worked through and managed. The encouraging thing I guess is that I’m being told to just continue on with what I am doing.

After all the Christmas festivities were over, I now had the time, and with deadlines fast approaching, the motivation, to just get on and stitch. It’s interesting coming back to it after a break. I’m not sure it’s necessarily your stitching that changes so much (there are obviously some changes), but how you view the picture changes as well I have found.

The second petal

…and more raindrops!

After completing the raindrops on the first petal (more on my thoughts on that in a moment), I was quite keen to move onto a ‘less fiddly’ petal. But alas, the next petal also had a raindrop! Only one thankfully, and right on the tip of the petal, which did make it easier to stitch. I paid much more attention to the required contrast in colours surrounding the raindrop this time. After learning about blending of colours on raindrops, a slightly darker shade was used around the raindrop this time round. This seems to gave given the illusion of a raindrop blending in a bit better.

Finding the balance between overstitching and not covering the fabric

After negotiating some trickier than expected stitch directions, the end of the petal came along. After Owen’s comment about being careful not to pad the white area, I took a different approach on this petal and used less stitches. Why, when the black is still peaking through? Because the centre of the flower actually goes over quite a lot of the white area. I need the space to add in these yellow bits going in every which direction.

The stitched second petal in long and short stitch shading


My favourite petal so far

The next petal is the one I actually feel I have stitched the best so far. I feel I have the colours right, and after a couple of attempts, the tricky stitch direction on the right side of the petal, was achieved. The small turnover on the left blends in and works well. Overall, I’m just quite pleased with this petal!

Overcoming confusion with the structure of the petal

One point in which the petal did become a little confusing, was just what is happening with the edge of the petal on the right side? What was this petal doing?!

To work this out, I drew and cut out a rough petal shape on paper, and tried to mimic the petal. I even had to get hubby’s input! Once that was worked out (and said hubby made the comment there was no way that could be recreated in thread – encouraging!), I drew in the direction lines on the paper petal and refolded it against those decided upon creases. This gave me a ‘working guide’ to look at when stitching the petal. I found this invaluable!

completed third petal on silk shaded rose


Another small petal – with a significant turnover

The next petal (after again thinking this will be easy!), moved along nice and quickly. It is smaller though, so I suppose it should have!

The big point on this petal is the rather large turnover on it. Because the turnover sits on top of the petal when we look at it, it is stitched after the main petal is stitched. Remember with silk shading – always work from the back to the front.

Two approaches to split stitching the top area

I learnt quite a good lesson here. When the elements that sit forward are stitched, we first have to outline them in split stitch. The way I was initially taught (which was then adjusted slightly on Friday), is that your split stitch should sit right next to your first stitches. However, when I stitched the turnover using this method, there was a considerable amount of black silk showing between the underside and the turnover. Had I chosen a more forgiving coloured silk this probably wouldn’t have stood out so much.

Jessica Grimm commented that her method is to actually stitch the split stitch in so it sits just on top of the bottom stitches. This black dot really bothered me, so I pulled it out, and using Jessica’s suggestion, I stitched in a new split stitch line. It’s still not perfect, but it is better. On looking at the area, I actually think part of the problem is coming from not having quite enough stitches on the underneath area.

So I perhaps haven’t quite got the balance between over stitching and ‘padding’ the area, and not covering it enough, just right. Interestingly in Friday’s class, I mentioned all this to Heather, and she said that because I’m using such a contrasting silk to work on, putting these split stitches in so they sit just on top is the better approach. In time, I will test both methods on a sample piece and make a decision on what works best for me.

Completed silk shaded rose petal with significant turnover


Having a good look at your photograph

I know I keep saying this, but the more I look at this photo, the more I see. And the more you see, means changes to initial thoughts and plans might need to change.

For instance, on the lowest petal, I initially thought the green spot on the right hand side was a little hole in the petal and the green was from underneath. But, it’s actually a bug! I discovered this when looking at my paper template.

Shadows within the design

When you start really looking at a photo to recreate it in needle and thread, what you actually start to see is a range of different effects the flower creates on itself. One of our first tasks with this module is to create a shaded diagram in both black and white and colour, to better understand the design. This is a great first step, but for me, it has been a gradual and evolving process.

When thinking about the colour choices to be made, you have to think about why that colour is needed – what is creating that effect? And it’s to do with the shadows each petal or turnover is casting on another. In some areas of this photo, the shadow is quite easy to see – the lowest petal’s right hand side is quite heavily in shadow from the petal above it. Others, not so much. Each lower petal will have a slight shadow as it goes into the middle of the flower from the petal on top. And it’s these points which need to be continually considered as the piece is worked.

So whilst the original sketches helped, I don’t think I really properly understood the importance until I was actually choosing colours at each step. So next time I stitch a piece like this, looking at the shadows is going to be one of the first things I look for.

My thoughts on my stitching of this piece to date

I thought you might be interested to know how I actually think this piece is coming along. I’ve told you about my favourite petal – but what about the rest?

One thing which is quite obvious, is that my stitching of the technique has improved dramatically throughout it. I really want to re-stitch some of these petals! But, for two reason, I won’t. Firstly – time is of the essence! I just don’t have time to start again. And secondly, the assessors like to see improvement within a piece. They know this is your first time doing this type of stitching, and they want to see improvement. I mentioned my concerns to Heather, and she said that it was good to be able to see the amount of improvement within it! Let’s hope so.

And raindrops…

I actually think the best approach here is to choose a photo without raindrops! But anyway, mine has them. The raindrops to me looking very out of place on my first petal in particular. I know I have stitched them in the way I was taught, but to be honest, I’m not completely sold on this technique. The raindrops do sit on top of the petal, so it makes sense to stitch them as you would a turnover (split stitch then cover). It looks messy to my eye, and really disrupts the flow of the petal. I’ll be interested to see what the assessors comments are on this, as it would be good to know of alternative approaches for the future.

Any input or ideas you have on this will be greatly appreciated! I won’t be re-stitching this piece, but I am curious.

And to finish…

There’s not a lot more to do as you can see. Finish the petals, the leaf, and then the centre.

It’s the centre which is actually terrifying me if I’m honest. I spoke with Heather on Friday about how to stitch the centre, and she thinks the ‘bobbly bits’ on the ends of the stamens could be stitched in a mixture of French Knots and Bullion Knots, with the yellow being stitched in stem stitch as a possibility.

I had actually thought I would use long and short stitches in somewhat random directions, but stem stitches may perhaps make it look a bit better. I am a bit worried about what it’s going to look like with the yellow sitting on top in obviously different direction lines than the underneath stitches.

But, that’s not actually my main concern. For some reason, doing a bullion knot on top has me terrified. I’m actually quite confident with bullion knots and will happily stitch them. But the thought of putting them on top, and potentially messing up the stitches underneath has me quite worried! A bit of practice might be in order I think!

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38 thoughts on “Silk Shaded Rose Update – and oh so close to finishing!”

    1. Thanks Margaret. It’s not exactly as it is in the photo but I am pleased with my development throughout the piece

  1. What a great post Catherine! There are lot of tips in here that other stitchers can use and some really good reflection on your own work. I agree with you on your progress and the petals are really improving and I think the tutors will really notice and reward that too.

    1. Thanks so much Marlous- I hope there are some useful comments in this post. I think self reflection is an important part of the process and continual improvement. Though we can at times be our own worst critic!

  2. This is just so beautiful. I love the blending you have done,mind am seeing the dimension in the petals. I know you’ll figure out how to lay those bullion knots just so!

  3. Glad you unstitched! It is so much better now. I worked a partly light flower on dark blue fabric too. And although official RSN policy is that the split stitch edge should only sit against previous stitching and not on top; I got some unofficial advice from my tutor. And I have shared that ever since!

    1. I love the unofficial advice and I got the same advice Friday so maybe it’s not so unofficial! Im still not completely happy but it is better. Thank you for the advice and help!

  4. It’s looking great! I found from the one time I did needle painting is sometimes you just have to sit, grit your teeth and do it. It’s not my favorite technique but you can’t deny how beautiful it comes out.

    By the way, Jessica gave me the same tip. I had forgotten when I stitched my piece. I’ll have to consult my Trish Burr book, but your split stitch should go on top of previous stitches. That way you can have a clear definition between the petals and make the top ones pop.

    1. Thanks Dima, I’m actually really enjoying the technique now. Still lots of practice required, but I at least want to stitch it now!
      The advice from Jessica is the unofficial advice – the RSN official way is to put the stitches next to the prior stitches. Though Jessica’s tutor and now mine have passed on the unofficial way ☺️

  5. This is really coming along – I love the puckered edge of the right hand petal – it works well and is just the sort of thing you see on the edge of many flowers.

  6. I understand how the more you look at something the more tonal changes you see. Botanic artists look for that subtly too. (I can’t imagine doing it in threads!) A trick I find useful is to lay tracing paper over the photo and with a pencil do a tonal/greyscale drawing. No lines, just tone. Reducing it to grey removes the colour which can be quite confusing when you are trying to see tone.

    However, having said all of that, you have created something beautiful!

    1. That’s a great tip thank you! We do tonal drawings but with all the lines and by eye. I can see how using tracing paper would help in understanding the piece. Next time!

  7. The fact that you are stitching thoughtfully and analytically should help you improve, too, so your assessors should have plenty to compliment you on!

    1. I hope so Rachel! I’ll be interested to see their comments on this one – it’s the first piece I’ve got no idea what they will pick up or comment on!

  8. it looks beautiful. Remember how close you are to the piece so you’re bound to notice bits you don’t like. It’s way above the standard I could produce!

  9. It really has come along leaps and bounds recently Catherine – well done! It really looks lovely and I have it on my computer sitting side by side with the original photo so for what its worth – Personally, I think that long armed french knots will be the way to go, the knots will fall fairly randomly direction wise if you want them to and not look quite so organised as multiple bullion knots can… having said that I guess you will alter the number of wraps on the bullion knots if you decide to go down that route, for me it would be long armed french knots. I am sad that you are going back, I was hoping that one day we would bump into each other at the RSN this year. Good luck with all your plans, I look forward to reading your blog in the future.

    1. Thanks Shiralee, it’s so lovely to hear from you. I’m too leaning towards the long armed French Knots. A bit of practice and then I think I will just go for it!
      It would be lovely to meet you! Do email me if you are going to the RSN before mid May and you never know, it might work out! If not, I can let you know when I’m coming back for intensive periods and try and get a time then!

  10. You know this is stunning right? Your attention to detail and the thought and work you are putting in is amazing. This is going to be so lovely when you’ve finished.

  11. So happy you arrived safe ,n,sound stitching away again .
    Your embroidery is beautiful . I think that as you start to embroider the centre , then this is when it will begin to “come alive ” ! x

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