Saturday, 4 June 2016

Bargello Sample Piece

Sooooo... what's the new project?? Well, it's something for Lyn, the manager at the craft shop. Recently a customer asked us if we had heard of barcello. I thought she probably meant bargello and sent her off to have a chat with Lyn who is the Oracle of the crafting world and knows how to do everything!
Anyway, the customer came back looking very pleased to have found someone who had not only heard of bargello but knew how to do it. She'd seen something about it long ago and had wanted to try it but couldn't find anyone who knew what it was. She went away with canvas, wool and a big smile!!
I had tried bargello embroidery about 25 years ago (also known as florentine embroidery) and made a cover with a flame pattern for a small cushion. (I still have it somewhere at the back of the wardrobe I think.) Anyway, whilst it was an enjoyable - and quick - craft, it used a lot of tapestry wool and at the time I couldn't afford it. I returned to a variation of it some time later when I got into patchwork and quilting as there are loads of books on bargello quilts but I hadn't realised there are none currently on bargello embroidery. Thinking about it now, I realise it's not a craft I have seen anywhere for a very very long time. If you Google bargello embroidery and click images, you'll see a screen like this image pop up.

But the Oracle not only knew all about it but had started writing a book on it. By chance, the publisher had chased her up recently, so she's back to working on it. Consequently, she's got some of us working on sample pieces for her book. Last week she was working on a little bookmark and got one of the others going on one too. Whilst I wanted to join in, I was wearing the wrong glasses to be able to see the small gauge canvas they were working on. She offered to find me something to make on a larger canvas with wool rather than embroidery thread but warned me it was addictive as it grew so fast, and I wouldn't want to put it down. At the time I was still trying to finish the Springtime Baby Blanket, so said I'd wait til that was done first. Before the week was out though, I was back asking if she'd decided what I could make!!

She told me to go and choose some tapestry wool, while she cut a piece of canvas. I came back with a selection of mauves and green, thinking they looked like the colours of the bluebell wood I had visited last month.
She sent me back for a couple more colours as I'd need 5 shades of mauve and 3 of green. In the meantime, she had drawn a nice curved line across the canvas and said she wanted me to do a slight variation on true bargello. Normally, you decide how many threads your stitches will cover, be it 4, 5, 6 etc, and every stitch on every row of the canvas will have the same number of stitches. However, she said she wanted me to do a different number of stitches on each row, so that sometimes you would have a narrow band of pale mauve and sometimes a wider band etc. Hopefully, this would have the effect of looking like drifts of bluebells.
She  gave me a 20" square of canvas and 2 skeins of each colour to take home and I made a start the next day. I did email her a photo after the first couple of rows to make sure I was doing it right as it used a lot of wool on the back of the canvas and I wasn't sure if it should. (You can see in this photo, I tried it 2 ways, and one version just made a tiny sideways stitch on the back, and the other gives a complete vertical stitch.)
The answer came back, yes, vertical stitches on the back and it uses a lot of wool - see you on Wednesday for some more! She wasn't kidding either - I'm probably 2/3 through now and 2 skeins of each colour won't be enough to finish. Now I understand why the kits are so expensive...
And it is quite addictive! The curve she drew runs roughly diagonally across the canvas. so obviously there comes a point when the rows get shorter and shorter as you approach the corner and because they're then quicker to work, you want to rush on to the next row! Sometimes I turn it round and work towards the opposite corner.

I've tried and tried to get a picture that shows the true colours of the wools I'm using and the one above is probably the closest - I went outside to take it. And below is where it's got to so far. I think I'll work right into the corner, then finish the other half. When I've picked up some more wool that is!

This little collage of 3 pictures show how it's grown. You can sort of see how some rows are wider than others. The stitches  vary between covering 3 threads, up to 8. I didn't want to do them any wider really as I was worried about them being "caught" and pulled once it's made up into a cushion cover. I shall seek Lyn's advice on that on Monday.
It's quite a soothing craft to work on really. Once you've done the first row to set the pattern, you know that every row afterwards will be the same, so there's very little thinking involved. I'm sort of hoping she will have something else for me to make too - maybe a bit more complicated. A nice flame pattern, or latticework perhaps??

Naturally, there is a little something on the back burner crochet wise. I want to make a three quarter sleeve, lacy summer cardigan. Something that will give a splash of colour rather than provide warmth. I've been looking round for patterns and yarn and saw something I liked on Pinterest but there was only a chart (in one size) written in Chinese. I've found some other patterns to give me a good idea of sizing, stitch count, shapings etc, so will be having a go at making it up as I go along I think. My preferred method of working!!
My chosen yarn is Sirdar Cotton Prints DK in a lovely variegated pink. I'm never sure about crocheting with variegated yarn, so I'll make a tension square and see what it's like. I hope it will work ok though as it's a luscious colour - indeed, it's name is Coraliscious! Maybe next time, there'll be something ready to show you?... Take care, and thanks for reading.

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