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.

27 April 2020

Matching Shading and Waiting for Dessert

After determining the colours and stitches for my crewel bluebells, the grunt work of filling things in begins. First up is matching the shading on the central leaf thingies that I call 'ribbons' in my head.

(Warning: this is going to be a geeky post about shading.)

Most of right side of crewel design completed and beginning to work on the left side.

On a normal project where I think I know what I'm doing, I would have stitched the two ribbon elements at the same time so that I could get a decent match. Duplicating already existing shading is not one of my favourite things! As it was, I didn't wait too long between stitching sessions to put in the left ribbon because I would forget what I'd done.

The shading on the ribbons is accomplished with traditional long and short stitching. I used Heathway Leaf Green 5, 7, and 9 on the central section. Heathway comes in 9 shades per colour family and ranges from light (1) to dark (9). I prefer using shades that are two numbers apart for long and short (i.e., 5, 7, 9 vice 5, 6, 7). Using every other number blends nicely. Using sequential shade numbers creates a very subtle shading that I find dull.

Two colours of threads on shade cards from Heathway crewel wool: Drab (brown) and Leaf Green

I think the two ribbons turned out reasonably well-matched. They're not perfect, but certainly close enough. I ran out of Leaf 5 so had to use 4, 6, 8, and 9 for the upper parts of the ribbons. I selected 7, 8, and 9 for the 'feet' at the bottom in order to keep them as dark as possible and, because the colours are sequential, they're pretty boring shading-wise.

When blending adjacent rows of stitching such as the brown stems below, using sequential shade numbers creates a smooth effect. I used Drab Brown (now renamed 'Bark'). The stems are stem stitched with shades 5, 6, and 7 and have a nice rounded nearly 3D look.

On the Nouveau curves of the Galanthus project, I tried skipping shade numbers on the adjacent shading and there were visible jumps in the colour changes. I wanted to try sequential colour values on this design and I prefer the results.

Detail showing adjacent rows of shading on brown stems in Heathway crewel wool

Recall that part of the reason for this project is to try out Gumnuts Daisies variegated crewel wool. I have two colour families to play with: Jacaranda (blue violet) and Rainforest (green).

Selections from Daisies crewel wool: jacaranda and rainforest

I wasn't sure how the Daisies greens would work with the Heathway greens. There wasn't a clear colour match between the two sets of threads. I chose Leaf Green from Heathway because I could see some highlights in the Rainforest variegation that kind of matched Leaf. However, Rainforest is primarily a cool green and Leaf leans warm. I didn't plan on allowing the two greens to get too close to each other, but then decided to do just that with the little leaves on the Nouveau curve. I ended up liking the two greens together.

Another colour decision was to use dark pink for the flower stems. I looked up photos of bluebells and found one with muted red violet stems so wanted to try something in that vein. I liked the colour (Madder Pink 7) with the flowers, but I had to find other places within the design to include the pink in order to create some balance. I embedded it in the brown of the Nouveau curve, as well as in the little veins on the small leaves on the same curve.

The curve with its pink stripe reminds me of a raspberry truffle. Drab is a cool brown with a definite dark chocolate vibe.

Progress made on embroidering the left side of this crewel bluebells project.

All of this was leading up to what I really wanted to work on: the big leaves and the flowers (aka dessert). I couldn't wait to play with the variegated Daisies threads, but I made myself stitch everything else before indulging in dessert!

It's coming together nicely.

The supporting parts of the design are complete. Ready to work with the variegated Daisies crewel wool thread.


  1. You have such beautiful shading, and I love how you have combined the different threads. Certainly a challenge, but one you were clearly up for!

    1. Thank you for the compliments! Using different threads is so much fun and makes things interesting.

  2. I think you've done a lovely job with that shading. It may not match stitch-for-stitch, but it's balanced and harmonious, and I think it's going to support the bluebells beautifully.

    1. Thank you, and yes, I agree about it being balanced and harmonious. I think that's a really good way to describe things.

  3. Perfect timing , just as our bluebells are appearing in the hedgerows . I love your variegated crewel threads . I think it is all working very well indeed :)

    1. I hope I get to see bluebells in person someday. The pictures of them are so pretty. The variegated threads will be featured in the next post. I love the Daisies wool.