Nina's Textile Trail

My OCA Textile Tales

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Part 2 Building a Visual Vocabulary – Project 3 Colour – Stage 6 Combining textures and colour effects

Exercise 1 suggests using french knots to try a ‘pointillism’ technique with stitch and asks us to pay particular attention to the way colours are affected by the proximity of other colours and how illusions and deceptions can be created.   I found this to be quite challenging.  Whilst I understand the principle and could see it in the coloured square exercise at the beginning of this section, demonstrating this with french knots proved a bit frustrating.  I think I am inclined to over-think some of these exercises and get frustrated if I can’t produce precisely what is suggested.  However,  after many french knots, I think I made progress.


I started with the green stitches as I had the most variety of shiny, matt and tones in green thread.  I like the effects of combining different tones and found that the matt threads are easier to blend than the shiny ones, which reflect more light and tend to stand out more.  I enjoyed sewing a looser french knot to produce a different texture, but was still quite controlled.

When I moved on to using three primary colours of the same intensity (the golden yellow, red and blue area), I tried even looser knots which I enjoyed stitching.  I found the perle cotton shiny and difficult to blend but felt it was more successful when the knots were looser and closer together so some of the threads overlapped.  Where the blue is partly hidden by the yellow, my eye suggested a hint of green.   Also working the stitches en masse made it clear to see that when the red was nestled in the yellow it appeared warmer than the red combined with the blue which was definitely cooler.  The red stitches spaced out so the background cloth showed through appeared a shade midway between the two.  I also tried a warmer (more ‘orangy’) red thread which appeared to change colour as it moved through the blue, onto the background cloth and into the cooler red.

I used different shades of yellow thread, cream and white thread of different thickness, both shiny and matt to demonstrate gradual colour change.  I also explored a variety of sizes of stitch.


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Stitch Samples

Inspired by Julia Caprara’s book (Caprara J (2008) Exploring Colour d 4Daisy), the following was stitched into linen scrim using a variety of yarns and cretan stitch.  I enjoyed using the scrim background, it was very easy to stitch into with thicker yarns and the finished piece has a lovely feel.  I was new to cretan stitch and learnt that it is very versatile and a useful stitch to blend colours.


Continuing to explore stitch, backgrounds and colour the following is stitched into some yellow netting previously used to wrap a bouquet of flowers.


I also enjoyed using this ground, although initially the grid like pattern of the holes kept me a bit neat & tidy.  When adding the finer threads towards the end, I felt freer with the needle and aim to produce more samples exploring difference stitches and thread.

The above samples and some of my previous work is circular as they were produced in an embroidery hoop and I like the look in this context.

The following explores a variety of ‘thread’ and a potato sack backing.


Although I’m not sure about the chain stitch, the piece appeals to me in a different way to the other samples and I want to explore more, I like the natural fibres, particularly the raffia with the hessian, the crunch and crackle when handling, and the texture of the natural string,  (not sure about the green plastic string, although it offers a good contrast).