antependium update, and some thoughts on laid and couched work.
Not really a terribly exciting update this time, I’ve not been home much these last few weeks, so all I’ve done is a couple of the lower filler panels.
The filler looks very pretty, and I’m loving the green, but I was amazed at how complicated and time consuming this little panel proved to be.
You see, one of the reasons I picked this particular project, apart from needing an antependium, was that I misguidedly thought it would be really quick to do. After all, I’ve done bits of Bayeux tapestry before, and they’re childsplay, right?
Wrong, wrong, wrongity wrong wrong wrong. Turns out laid and couched work evolved a bit, and those tricksy icelanders added a bit of sophistication. There are layers to this that don’t exist on the Bayeux, and twiddly bits. Even the outlining stitches are more complicated – many of them, like the outlines around the central flower here, are double outlined – and then theres the whole business of filling in the entire canvas, which doesn’t happen on the Bayeux.
The basic background stitch is the same.
Then a long thread laid over that at right angles.
Then you sew over that long thread with little stitches to hold it down, being careful not to line the small stitches up too neatly so that they don’t cause the laid threads in the background to gape.
That’s all fairly simple, and for large areas it’s very similar to Bayeaux, but Bayeux is simple, this is subtly different, and not just in the outlining stitches.
Many years ago I embroidered a silk banner with an Anglo-saxon dragon on it. I used laid and couched work, but because the dragon was circular I graded the background stitch to make it curve around – something that I could find no evidence for on the Bayeux tapestry, but in the later Icelandic peices they are using the same techinque.
I examined the pictures quite closely. The large red circles that surround the nine picture panels are simple striaghtforward laid and couched work – the couching stitches go striaght up and down. But on the smaller circles that link the panels together, the couching stitches radiate outwards, just as I had sewn the dragon all those years ago.
This meant that rather thanlaying the background as a striaght up and down stitch, I started at an angle. Then, because the outer circle is larger than the inner, I laid the returning stitch slightly under and to the inside, so that they began to fan out around the circle.
Excuse the dodgy paintshopping – It was my first attempt.
You can see, even though the thread is quite dark, that the angled htreads flow round to complete a circle.
Oh, well, back to the needle! But before I go – gratuitous cat in a bag!