home again

Home again yesterday after three weeks of voluntary maid service to Big Sis following her extremely successful hip replacement operation, and this morning it was strange not to have Jasper greet me with much tail wagging. This was him before he had his coat clipped a few days after I arrived and he seems to be saying “Haircut? What haircut? No-one mentioned a haircut. Is it open to negotiation?”. It wasn’t and he was duly coiffed into a slightly neater version of what he looks like here, but his coat seems to grow so quickly there’s already talk of another trim this weekend.

Sadly, my camera repair is going to cost half as much again as the repair shop assistant suggested it was worth spending on the repair and as I’ve had it six years and camera technology has advanced a little more, I’m looking for a replacement instead. I’ll have to make do with my phone camera for the time being. I just wish I could retain all the phone techy camera stuff I learn from time to time and not have to refer to the internet for refresher lessons each time!

Painting the Roses Red didn’t get stitched at all while I was away except on the journey north, and I haven’t taken any update photos yet. I had also taken some aida fabric and crochet cottons to try blackwork which was a new technique for me. I only had a few colour options but I quite enjoyed the process and found it easier than cross-stitch but doubt that I’ll do much more blackwork in the future. I can’t see myself ever needing a bell-pull or a tray cloth or yet another needle case which were the suggestions in one book.

portrait three

Yesterday I began a third stumpwork portrait, another man this time, wearing a striped blazer and carrying or wearing a straw boater. I tried the Jan Messent method for his hat-holding hand but I wasn’t happy with the result. To give the fingers form, the book says to use “cord or smooth string no thicker than 1mm (1/16in)” but I used a soft crochet cotton of a similar diameter which I only had in a green shade. It all went well until the final stitching around and between the fingers. I used fine 100% nylon lingerie and bobbin thread so that I could make really small stitches and the book doesn’t give any suggestion as to what to use. I’m not sure if the lingerie thread was the main fault or I just didn’t take enough care over it (I really shouldn’t watch television and stitch at the same time I know) but it’s not suitable for this portrait anyway. A hand in this position is more often seen resting on a lady’s lap and not for doffing a hat, which is my intention.

 

I promised photographs if I ever made a hand the Messent way so here’s three in one, showing the process. Top left: lay a piece of stiff vilene on a base fabric, draw a hand and fingers outline then lightly glue the cord fingers in place. Lower left: add a little light padding over the back of the hand when the glue is dry then cover with the actual hand fabric. Centre: stitch around and between the fingers using small back stitches. Cut out close to the outline stitching using fabric glue/fray stop on any raw threads.

hand

 

On the other hand (ha ha), here’s the stumpwork hand which is much better for my purpose. Each finger wire was bound with two strands of embroidery thread then the tip was bent over and the whole finger bound with thread from the tip all the way down to the “wrist” before securing the thread end. All the fingers and thumb were then bound together. With this method it’s possible to shape the fingers with small pliers to make the hand more realistic. I’d never made one of these hands before and I didn’t pay too much attention when I was wrapping the hand itself (blame Foyle’s War for that) so it’s a bit rough and ready. Still, it was only a test and I like how they could be made larger or smaller depending on the gauge of wire used or how finely or thickly they were wrapped. I still think that there’s something about these hands that make them look a little creepy, but we can’t have everything, can we?

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