Gathering Threads

Do You Know This Man?

Posted by on Jul 13 2010, in Smocking, WIP

It’s been a very hot few weeks in Ontario and while it eased a little over the weekend, according to our weatherman, we’re once again due for a nice mix of mugginess and thunderstorms.

So, given all this heat and stickiness, what am I working on? Something cool and seasonal? Hardly.



This is an mid-point picture of my latest WIP, which has since been finished as a small pillow. It’s worked on a very fine summer-weight navy wool, and the picture smocking is done with a variety of cotton flosses, blending filaments and Petite Very Velvet thread. Normally, the latter is the exclusive preserve of counted canvas work but I’ve been experimenting of late with smocking threads and I have to say I LOVE THIS THREAD. It’s the perfect weight for picture smocking, it doesn’t fray, it’s got a fantastic, velvety texture and it comes in a whole host of colours. I will definitely be working with this thread again. It’s absolutely great for smocking!

For people who smock, you may also notice something else a little peculiar: namely I’m not using the multiple needle technique. In traditional picture smocking, the picture is built row by row, like knitting, so that when you change colours across a row you will have 2, 3 or sometimes 4 needles being worked at the same time. The working threads are carried across the back and it makes a terrible mess, frankly.


I hate it.

Working with all those needles and having the unworked threads dangling down drove me batty. So I ignored the textbooks and now I picture smock like I would cross stitch, working blocks of colour one at a time. It gives me far greater flexibility in terms of the complexity of the designs I work, my backs are neat and best of all no *!^%$#&* threads hanging down the back to get tangled all to heck.

He’s scheduled to appear in a magazine later this year, so I can’t show you the finished product quite yet but he’s all done now and he’s lovely and richly decorated, with beads and blending filament and lots of bullions and french knots. For once, I also remembered to take photos at regular intervals, so once this ‘mystery’ man makes his debut, I’ll definitely do a post detailing his development and let you see just how he came to life.