Do you have friends who have a favourite word or expression? So much so, whenever or wherever you hear it, you immediately think of them?
Having completed my Chris Davenport inspired “Ciao” project, I wanted to try and embroider another word using the same method of employing several stitches. I knew that this time I wanted to dial it up in terms of the richness of the colours and give the overall image much more impact. The question was, what should the word be? I did consider a bigger project embroidering an expression – I was particularly tempted when I heard my little brother use the phrase “give it some lux” whenever I edited a picture before posting it to Instagram. The expression tickled me and I thought I could make it into a funny poster for his room. However, I am using my twelve months on sabbatical to develop many of the stitching ideas I have whirling around in my head and I really didn’t want to get to tied up with bigger projects just yet.
I was chatting about ideas for a new project with my husband when our conversation came around to Emma. Emma is a delightful, vivacious and warm individual. One of those people you never hear anything negative about because everyone can’t help loving her. We have become friends with Emma and her gorgeous, devoted husband over the last couple of years. Emma always has something positive to say or feel excited about. Whenever she wants to give something, or someone, high praise she will use the word “lush”. The colour of your hair, a particularly delicious meal or one of the vintage knick knacks she loves to collect have all been referred to by Emma as “lush”. Whenever I hear the word now, I think of her and smile.
So, I quickly decided that “lush” it had to be! In the last few weeks I have taken to posting pictures of my works in progress on Instagram so I thought it might be a nice idea to post pictures of this work as I went along and give Emma a nice surprise as she came to the realisation that this work was specially for her. It didn’t occur to me that she wouldn’t guess at some point!
When I started this project, I drafted out a simple outline. I wanted the letters to be close together or overlapping. In terms of how I embroidered each letter, my idea was for each of them to look very rich or, well, lush! I had the idea of a bright, bold harlequin pattern and I wanted to use gold metallic floss – that was about it. As seems to be all too common with me, there was an absence of a firm plan! So, for the first letter I decided to create a harlequin using all of the colours I had selected and dividing the diamonds with gold thread. I had intended to couch the outline in gold but, having tried both, it was clear it looked so much more effective with the blue. I drew diagonal lines directly onto the fabric to create the harlequin. I just about got away with this, but if I was to do this again I would definitely plan this a little more so I could create and even but also impactful effect.
Having used all of the selected colours in the first letter, I then had to make sure that I made the most effective combinations of two or three colours for the subsequent ones as well as how to incorporate the gold floss into each. I decided to keep the second letter fairly simple. I adore this combination of hot pink and green interspersed with gold couching. Just as an aside, if you want to use metallic thread, couching, in my opinion is probably the easiest way of giving it go.
The “S” was real experiment. This was worked in stem stitch and couching. I think that, if I hadn’t added the yellow it would have all looked far too blue. It looks a bit like a school scarf but I do still like it!
I found the final letter quite tricky. I needed to use up whatever colours were left over. I had in mind a type of Missoni style zigzag pattern interspersed with gold thread. It is actually quite difficult to create a sharp zigzag effect with couching but I think it just about worked! The random pink stripe at the top of the H was entirely intentional and not because I finished this project in bad light and mistook the pink for red 😉. The next morning I decided I quite liked it as it was.
So here here it is all finished. This project was such good practice in the composition of a pattern – I drew this freehand and I was happy with the result. I learned a lot trying to create different effects with tried and tested embroidery stitches.
Funnily enough, despite liking and commenting on all of the pictures of this project that I posted, Emma never guessed the word. Even when it was completed, I had to tell her that the piece was for her! I am currently in the UK on a short visit and I look forward to giving this gift to her later on this week.