Hestor finally arrives

Hopefully the wait was worth it!

100% silk and metallic gold thread on canvas in split stitch.     Inspired by Royal 20D iv f.150v.

Grail Knight

I went back and fixed the bottom right corner slightly after this photo, but the difference is not so great that it warrants an entirely new image!   The angles also don’t look anywhere near as strange now that the piece is off the frame.

Editing to add a couple of ‘close up’ shots as per request! 🙂

Grail Knight detail1

Grail Knight detail2


Hestor Rides Again! Gadzooks!

I’ve been doing a set of therapeutic stretches from a book about conquering carpal tunnel syndrome and, while I’m certainly nowhere near free of the problem, the improvements have been dramatic.  I’m actually hopeful that I’ll avoid surgery.

I’ve already been able to pick up a needle and dust off poor Hestor, who must have thought that his ride through the forest was going to be interminable and the church door forever beckoning.  Perhaps I should add a speech bubble that says ‘Yay!’ or a suitable medieval alternative.   Gadzooks, perhaps?

Anyway, medieval exclamatory notes aside, as the Hestor that I’m working on is technically ‘son of Hestor’ or ‘Hestor Mark II’, the original attempt that started in cotton perlé having been abandoned in favor of a complete restart using 100% silk in a bid to stave off hand strain, I am aware that I haven’t posted any pictures of the work in progress.

Here he now is.   Comparison with my earlier post of the cotton WIP is not strictly fair, because I’d advanced further into the design with Hestor I.   I think there is now, however, sufficient stitching in Hestor II (The Return of the Prodigal Hestor) to reveal him to the world.  Well.  To my blog readers…which basically means to my mum and a few kind friends, plus those brave, brave souls who’ve decided that I’m worth following.  Thank you, by the way…not just for following me (and I definitely DO NOT do the Prime Minister’s victory dance from Love Actually whenever this happens, though it is tempting) but for the revelation of your own interesting and talent-filled blogs in the process.

Anyway, without further ado…here’s the Prodigal Hestor (work in progress)

Hestor WIP

Hestor, WIP

Some of his lines look a little wobbly, but that’s more because he’s slightly unevenly stretched at the moment, for various reasons.

And here’s a close up of some of the stitching so far.   I like to think that this is much better than the cotton version of same.  Your opinions are gratefully sought on this score.

Hestor, detail, WIP

Hestor, detail, WIP

Hestor’s journey continues (WIP)

Poor Hestor is still riding through water towards his castle: it has been ten days so far and I’m afraid that he won’t reach his destination for at least another two weeks, not least because I want to use the proper 18k gold thread I’ve now sourced from overseas.    There are quite large areas for underside couching, so this will prolong his ride while I wait for it to arrive in the mail!

I was musing about on the internet the other day, as you do when you’re procrastinating because your hands are tired and need a break from the repetitive motions of sewing, and I found a website that seemed quite thoroughly to berate embroiderers for daring to work with either stranded embroidery cotton or pearlised cotton, deeming these the stuff of children’s friendship bracelets and pasta picture ornamentation.   ‘Real’ or ‘serious’ embroiderers who aren’t still committing the heinous sins listed as embroidery ‘mistakes’ apparently don’t use these.

Obviously silk floss will have a more luxurious appearance, greater lustre and offer a wider range of hues from which to choose.   In some pieces this not only matters, but influences the outcome a very great deal.  I think, however, that to write off the full range of threads available is premature.   For example, I look at Hestor developing under my hands and I don’t dislike him for being made of ‘friendship bracelets’.   It’s a style choice.    I love working with real silk (and have a huge package in the mail currently, you’ll probably hear the whoop of joy when it arrives), but pearlised cotton imparts a texture which, when used with split stem stitch, just seems right for some projects.    It has a property that reminds me of the impressionist paintings of Van Gogh: each stitch is visible, like each brush stroke, while not detracting from the whole.

That’s my sentiment anyway.  I know there’ll be people who see my work and disagree, but that’s the thing about art.   It engenders feelings in those who behold it – at least, that’s the hope – but nothing says that those feelings have to be the same or that everyone will agree.

Meanwhile, I’ll just be happy if Hestor gets to his castle in one piece and that I manage to capture something of the spirit of the original Arthurian illumination in the process.

Hestor rides through woods and water to a castle