Ducks in a Row

I have been embroidering since I was about 5 years old – I will have to write about how I discovered stitching another time – but until very recently I only worked on kits.  I had a number of my own ideas that I wanted to work on and when I started my sabbatical and moved to Italy last summer, I finally had the time to start developing these.  It was not until November of last year that I finally felt I had something remotely interesting to share!  Only then did I start sharing some of my work on Instagram via my dedicated feed @ambrosiastitches.  An interesting thing then happened.  Rather than, as I expected, using up all the ideas buzzing around my brain, the more I worked the more I had.

I should stress, I do not mean being “inspired” by others and simply pinching their ideas!  Rather, actually creating things is, in itself, a source of inspiration.  Additionally, the reactions and, at times, the suggestions of others has helped me develop new projects.  A little gift I made for a lovely friend of  mine and her new baby boy is a good example of what I mean.

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It all started with the picture above.  My Fair Isle inspired cross stitch I posted about a couple of weeks ago had got me thinking about creating shapes using a “negative” space.  This led me to creating this monogram using sequins.  My friend was about to give birth to her son at any moment, and she jokingly said via IG I should make something similar for him.  I was only too happy to do so!

The only brief I had was that the bedroom was a soft yellow and she would like something that would go well in the room.  I thought about it and swiftly decided that sequins might not really go well in a baby’s nursery!  I decided to use french knots is varying shades of soft yellow instead. The other issue was that if I was going to make similar “negative” monogram, I would need to be careful about the backing fabric I used.  It had to go nicely with yellow but also ensure a good contrast so the monogram would really stand out.

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I had some lovely dove grey silk noil which I decided would be a perfect contrast with the soft lemon yellow shades I wanted to use.  My first attempt wasn’t too successful – I packed the French knots in way too tightly.  The picture above was my second attempt – I found it easier to stitch the knots so that they radiated out from the centre in fairly uniform lines.

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This was a pretty quick project – you’d be amazed how quickly you can cover surface area with French knots! I was quite happy with how it turned out, but all of those knots got me thinking.  I mulled over the idea of making up another hoop with a simple silhouette that was filled up with French knots – a sort of opposite to what I had done with the monogram hoop. The yellows I had been using put me in mind of ducklings! I finally decided on a mother duck followed by a baby duckling.

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I had intended to work both in French knots – the mother in white and the baby in yellow – but I then decided that only the baby should look fluffy so I stitched the duck in straight stitches.  This was probably the bit I was most happy with!  You can’t see it so well in this picture and I stupidly didn’t take any close up shots, but carefully directing the white straight stitches did achieve a lovely, feathery effect.

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I backed both hoops with some vintage fabric and they were ready to send!

I found it interesting how simply trying one idea so easily led to another a project with a very different look.  Funnily enough, these two hoops gave me the inspiration for another design.  Hopefully I will share more about this another time.


9 thoughts on “Ducks in a Row

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