One of the funny things about coming to live in Italy is that many of our friends in the UK seem to think that we are enjoying hot weather all year. This couldn’t be further from the truth! Whilst we have a lot of clear, sunny days – they are cold. Really cold! In addition to this, Italian homes are generally built to stay cool in the summer. We were very grateful for the tiled floors and smaller windows that don’t admit excessive amounts of sunlight in August, but in January we find ourselves feeling rather chilly. We have resorted to wearing several layers of clothing when we are at home and having snuggly blankets to wrap ourselves up in.
I am sure that all this extra clothing has had an influence on some of the projects I have been working on. I seem to have a bit of a fixation with Fair Isle patterns. In addition to making me think of lovely, soft, warm jumpers, it has been an opportunity to inject a serious shot of colour into the dark winter days.
Having picked out rich, jewel colours from my supply of embroidery floss, I drafted a Fair Isle inspired pattern on some squared paper. The beauty of a Fair Isle “inspired” pattern means that you can pretty much make it up as you go along and experiment with colour combinations. Although I did draft a pattern (a bit of a shock to my system!) I found that I could easily adapt things as I went along without too much difficulty. I wasn’t too long before I had stitched up a basic pattern I was happy with.
Around the time I took this picture, I realised that the project I had in mind was going to take ages. Ages and ages. Like any enthusiastic stitcher, I am certainly not all about instant gratification, but there are limits! I also had an idea in my head which I wasn’t entirely sure would work and I didn’t want to spend a horrendously long time on the project only to find it was going to be a failure.
So, I set the project aside and started on a somewhat smaller version of the vision I had in my head. I decided that I wanted transfer the design in a 4″ hoop. This wasn’t so easy – a Linear Fair Isle pattern lends itself much more naturally to a square or rectangular presentation which an embroidery hoop plainly isn’t! However with a little patience and the use of a cross stitch design app on my iPad, I was able to figure it out.
I wanted to use the pattern as the background for a monogram. My idea was to make it look like someone had just written the letter over the pattern so it looked a little more natural rather than a rigid pattern. I drafted this into the pattern, but it was definitely a case of tweaking it as I went.
I had had originally planned for the letter P to be embroidered in black, but as I progressed I wasn’t so sure. I asked for opinions via Instagram and many suggested I leave it as a negative space. I loved the idea and would have gone with it if I had embroidered on linen but I was worried the Aida would look a bit ugly. I eventually plumped for white floss but added a single strand of iridescent thread to give it a very subtle sparkle.
Here it is all finished. I think next time I might do the same pattern on darker fabric to give more of effect of filling the entire hoop and not have a white border.
I am trying to draft up patterns for the whole alphabet now No easy task!
The idea of creating a letter out of a negative space got me thinking and has meant I have started a number of other projects…..more on that soon!