Square stitches

Still on the subject of Oseberg and its textiles, I transcribed one of the designs into my working sketch book.

You can probably see that it was difficult to get it right. I tried it on graph paper, just to try and understand the angles and lines better.

Since the design was now squared up, as it were, the simplest way to make it work as a stitched sample was to do it in needlepoint on canvas.

I used hand-dyed 4-ply cotton yarn on 14 count mono canvas. I turned the canvas through 45 degrees so that when it was finished, the stitches would be upright rather than slanting as they would in half-cross stitch or tent stitch.

As with the other pages in this series, this is roughly 8″ square. I stitched the completed needlepoint sample onto sturdy hand-made paper, then covered the unstitched edges of the canvas by layering strips of fabric, scrim and yarn to form a border around the sample. I want this first mixed media book to contain a wide range of techniques as well as designs, and while I wouldn’t ordinarily do a huge amount of counted or charted stitch, I think this is probably a reasonable method for exploring this particular design.

I really like the way hand-dyed cotton scrim works in these experimental situations. It’s perfect for this project because of its loose, ragged/frayed quality. I don’t want anything that looks too polished here, because this first book is all about the excavation of something that has been underground for a long time. I’m aiming for the impression of something that has been brought into the light after a long sleep.

As you can see, all of the surrounding stitches in this sample are worked very simply and informally across the surface. The blue and white strips around the edge are actually a narrow strip of selvedge cut from a vintage checked fabric that’s been in the drawer for many years, and which happily turned out to echo the squareness of the canvas stitches. I wonder how much safer we’d all feel if the world’s people could agree to live side by side so peacefully as fabrics.

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6 Responses to Square stitches

  1. This has turned out well, I think. It has the “excavated” look, and the overdye threads help to create the aged effect.

  2. EAA Fens says:

    Love the result and thank you for sharing the process.

  3. Chloe says:

    Beautifully and thoughtfully executed as always. I love the contrasts of method and texture and that the contrasts sing together in perfect harmony. Lovely stuff!

    • Karen says:

      It can be a bit of a challenge to integrate canvas work with anything else sometimes, so I’m glad you think this turned out well. Thanks for coming to see me and for your encouragement 🙂

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