Spring 2024: Google ended its email subscription service in 2021. I believe I've found a replacement, but haven't had time to test it. I have been stitching a little bit here and there and have some posts ready for when the email subscription is active again. Fingers crossed, I'll have time to rouse this blog out of its dormancy sometime this year.

06 November 2019

Looking Back at Spring

It's autumn where I live in Southern California, although it feels like summer sometimes! Much as I like the fall, I can't wait for spring. Several years ago, I bought the kits for Helen M. Stevens' designs for the four seasons. I started with Spring.

Detail from Helen M. Stevens' design Spring

The four designs come from the book Embroiderer's Countryside Masterclass Edition. Ms. Stevens is one of my favourite embroidery artists. Her books are beautiful, inspiring, and well worth a look.

Ms. Stevens' designs are deceptively simple to embroider. Most of the projects are worked with variations on straight stitch. The beauty of the design comes from how you employ the straight stitch.

The projects use Piper's Silk threads which are very, very reflective. They are definitely filament silk. I don't know if they are considered flat silk, but, if they're not, they're certainly close. A satin stitch in Piper's can be nearly mirror-like.

A single strand of Piper's is very fine. On Spring, three strands, which is about the width of a single strand of DMC cotton floss, were used most of the time. I did some of the embroidery with two strands (on the top flower). Piper's can be a bit fiddly, but the more I stitched, the easier it was to use. I found that if I slowed down a bit, the silk was easier to handle. Also, I used both hands to guide it through the fabric, one hand on top of the project and one below, and I generally pulled the thread vertically through the fabric, not at an angle. Once I got the hang of working with the thread it was not difficult to use.

Piper's shiny silks compared with DMC cotton floss which is duller
Piper's silks along with some skeins of DMC cotton floss for comparison

The size of the design is approximately 7"w x 10"h (18cm x 25.5cm). Because the design is rectangular, it was perfect for a small slate frame. I found the slate frame preferable to a big hoop.

The only regret I have about this project is that I didn't use silk for the ground fabric. The kit came with what I believe is a poly-cotton blend. It's lovely to stitch on, but I'm a fabric snob and if I were doing this piece today, It would be stitched on silk!

One of the many interesting things about Ms. Stevens' design was the shadow lines. You lay in black lines on the appropriate edges before the colour is added. It creates a wonderful stylised look.

Here are a couple of examples of the shadow lines along with the finished embroidery:

Embroidered black lines before colour is added

Top of Spring after adding color to shadow ines

Black shadow ines at lower left of design before adding colour

Lower left area of design with colours filled in

I love the goldfinch. He has a sweet expression on his face.

Goldfinch embroidered in Piper's Silk thread

However, I think he's eyeing the moth as a potential meal.

Silk embroidered goldfinch with yellow moth and pink flower

The light reflects beautifully off the silk threads. The green leaf changes colour depending upon how the light hits it. Who needs shading?

Three embroidered elements:pink flower, green leaf, and purple flower. Showing the reflective qualities of Piper's Silk.

Spring was finished off with a little bit of couched metallic thread on the lower right hand corner. Here's the completed piece (click for larger version):

Completed embroidery 'Spring' designed by Helen M.Stevens

I still need to stitch the other three seasons. Summer is next, but it's on a black background. Embroidering on black is not one of my favourite things, so I keep putting it off! I do want to finish the set, however. It will be spectacular when complete.



  1. I just love your beautifully embroidered Goldfinch and butterflies! Yes you really do need to slow down with silk....but it is so relaxing :)
    I took a look at Pipers website through your link and couldn't resist the lovely Christmas silks set, on at a special price right now :) x

    1. Thank you. :-)

      I saw the Christmas silk set when I visited Piper's to get their link for this article. It was very tempting! Piper's is also on Instagram and they post beautiful photos of their silks.