RSN Jacobean crewelwork – the stitching begins!

After finalising my design and getting it approved by the tutors, I was excited to get stitching!

But first I had to transfer the design onto my fabric. The method taught by the RSN is called “prick and pounce”. To start, you prick holes along the lines of your design on tracing paper. Next, place the pricked design on your fabric and rub the pounce over it. You have to make sure that the pounce gets into all the holes. So then when you remove your design, you’re left with lots of dots to join up.

This was the bit I found most daunting as you use watercolour paint to join the dots. Doesn’t sound very forgiving of mistakes to me! And of course the assessors will be looking very closely to check I don’t leave any paint lines visible. Thankfully I managed to get this done without much issue, but I was definitely ready for a break afterwards!

The other bits of preparation I did during the morning of class 2 were to discuss my stitch plan with the tutors and pick my colours. So in the afternoon I was ready to start stitching.

When working crewelwork, the RSN teaches that you stitch the furthest back design elements first. In my case that meant the main stem was the best place to start. My main stem is worked in raised stem band which is a two part process. So being shown that and making a start on the stitching took up the rest of my second class.

I was very keen to keep going at home, but first had to figure out how I was going to stitch without trestles! Fellow students gave me a few ideas which resulted in the below arrangement. I was very pleasantly surprised by how well it worked! Although I did also order some actual trestles from M.R.S. Embroidery for a better long term set up!

Using a table, chair and book as a counter weight as a substitute for embroidery trestles
My trestles substitute set up. The geek in me was very happy to make use of a book called “Mass” for this!

Since my stem band is pretty long I didn’t manage to finish all of it before the next class. But I did manage to do enough to be able to start working on some new areas. Some other students had advised me that it is good to have some stitching to get on with at the beginning of class since it can take the tutors a while to get around to see everyone. So not finishing all my homework was a good thing!

Crewelwork raised stem band work in progress using light source shading
Still a bit to go on the raised stem band. With the way I shaded it, I needed to work each end first before joining it all up.
Detail of crewelwork curved raised stem band with complex shading
I was pretty happy with how the shading turned out on the raised stem band.

During my third class the tutors started me off on some trellis stitch, block shading and silk shading for the fox. I was very excited to work the fox!

RSN Jacobean crewelwork during class 3 with raised stem band, trellis and the beginning of block shading
Progress during class 3. A bit of the trellis went wonky so this will all be taken out and done again.

The trellis stitch that I did in class wasn’t quite parallel. So I had to take it all out and start again. I actually didn’t mind this as it meant I could take the time to plot out where I wanted to place the grid for the most pleasing effect.

Over the next few lessons I made good progress and really enjoyed watching it all come together.

RSN Jacobean crewelwork progress with laid stitch shading
Progress during my fourth class. I love the shading on the large leaf!
RSN Jacobean crewelwork in progress with silk shading fox
I was excited to practice silk shading by stitching the fox and I’m pretty happy with how she turned out!

Quite early on I realised that if I waited for the tutors to show me each stitch before working it, there was no way I’d finish in 8 lessons. So I started sampling new stitches and sections as part of my homework. The tutors could then let me know what I should do differently on my actual piece and I could cover more stitches in a single lesson. This had the added benefit of giving me a chance to try out a few different stitch ideas. Which was definitely a good use of time as my first idea was not always my favourite!

Sampling stitches for my RSN Jacobean crewelwork piece. Including different variations for the trellis, flowers, leaves and owl.
Some of the stitch sampling I did. This was very useful for trying different variations and deciding which works best. It also allowed me to see that some of my original stitch ideas didn’t work very well, but with no need to unpick!

I was having a lot of fun with creating the shading in the piece. So my favourite parts include the raised stem band, the silk shaded fox and the laid work leaf above the fox. I love the shading in that leaf!

RSN Jacobean crewelwork progress around class 5
Coming together nicely. This was taken before class 6.

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