DIPs, Part 2

     My other design in progress is a blackwork piece, but it didn't start out as blackwork. It started out as a piece of fabric that needed a design.
     When Lakeside Linens came out with the Lemon Ice color, I shook my head. It just didn't fit in. It was too bright. Then I and a customer decided we had to find a design that would work with that fabric. Every time she brought me a pattern and said, "This just may be the one," we optimistically and excitedly pulled the colors and did the floss toss. And every single time we were disappointed. Nothing seemed to really work with that yellow. So somehow I came to the decision that I'd just have to create a new design precisely for that fabric.
     As I mulled the problem over in the farthest reaches of my brain, I turned to nature. What in the natural world would complement or be associated with that color? Then I had my light-bulb moment. A gingk0 leaf in autumn is very similar to that yellow. I love the shape of the gingko. Perfect!
     After much research and trial and error, I came up with the concept. But it seemed awfully simple, a bit too basic for my taste, totally lacking in opportunities for the confetti that characterizes my designs. So naturally I turned to blackwork, a style of stitching that I find beautiful, elegant, deceptively simple looking. And one that I have absolutely no experience in doing. How was this going to work? I usually stitch my own models so that I can work out the colors and solve problems as they arise. There was no way I could stitch this model. But I blithely dove in and started working on it. I mean, how hard could it be to learn a little blackwork?
     Ha! I was right. There was no way I could stitch this model. My lack of skill with the technique made it painfully clear that I was not the one to do it.
     The second ah-ha moment. I could ask one of my customers who knew how to do blackwork. It wasn't a large design. How hard could it be if you knew what you were doing? So I asked Donna (needleworker not in paradise), who agreed! Problem solved.
     I think Donna will readily admit that it wasn't as simple a design as I had thought. Well, my original concept was pretty simple. But we both decided that it was just too boring. So much for "how hard could it be?" I am indebted to Donna for figuring out the various blackwork patterns to use along with doing all the stitching. It's going to be a lovely piece. When it finally gets finished.
     The last element I design for any piece is the border. Should there be one? Does it really need one? What kind of stitch should it be? Usually, by the time I finish stitching the main part of the pattern, I know what I want to do. Not this time. So Donna and I sat down to discuss it. She went home with a few ideas and proceeded to try to find the right stitch or combination of stitches that would put the finishing touch on this deceptively simple-looking gingko design. It couldn't be too elaborate, but it couldn't be too basic either.
     This piece might be in limbo still (okay, it's more of in a holding pattern, waiting for its turn), were it not for a fresh pair of eyes looking at it one afternoon when Donna was tending to the shop while I was out. The third eureka moment came courtesy of Jill, who said, "Make this the center element of a triptych, then frame each piece and display it as a grouping." Perfect!
     Wait a minute. That meant I'd have to design two side pieces, to which we all three responded, "How hard can it be?" And it truly won't be that hard. I know what I'm going to do. I have the elements I need. I just need a block of time to chart them and then stitch them. It will happen. After DIP #1 gets finished. (I'm pleased to report that the background is going well, and a little faster than expected.)
     So here's DIP #2, the working (and probably final) title of which is, "It is what it is."
     A note about the color in this photo. It's not very good.


  1. SL,

    How long have tou and Donna been working on this? I've never seen or heard you talk about this one. Very interesting. I wish I could see a more detailed photo. I'm not even familiar with what blackwork is. I look forward to learning more and maybe seeing the real thing the next time I'm in the shop!


  2. We started this a year ago in February I think. I stitched it like a madman and finished in March. We were aiming for the April Online Needlework Show. But as you read, we got bogged down in trying to make it work...LOL

  3. Thanks, Donna, for the response. I'll look forward to hopefully seeing the finished project some day. :-)

    Susan in San Francisco