I have a great fondness and fascination for Celtic embroidery because it was where I began my digitising journey! I could not find the right designs for Celtic work and so I decided to create my own. After lots of pencil scribblings, studying Celtic knot work design in depth and discovering how the weave under and over is made, my first collection of Celtic embroidery emerged.
I decided to call it Celtic Dreams, as suggested by a customer. which described my endeavours. Looks very pretty stitched in a delicate lavender shade.
Most of the knots in this collection are my own design. This was followed by the Celtic Christmas collection, when I first successfully combined Celtic ribbon work with flowers. This magnificent tree skirt was made with these designs and the knot work for this has a wonderful opulence stitched in gold.
Other collections have followed these two initial ones. The designs in the Celtic Knot work collection are more traditional ones, and some of them maybe familiar to you. There is an underlay in each of these designs which gives loft to the finished embroidery. A flatter effect will result if the underlay is omitted, and for very narrow knot work you can just stitch out the underlay, as can be seen in this stitch out of Celtic Dreams.
My next collection was the Celtic Grace collection from which Graceful Embroidery’s logo has been created. The flowers feature on the background of my website too.
As I have been looking at my Celtic embroidery designs, I decided to do some new stitch outs with a different focus other than the usual for most Celtic embroidery. I began with this block from Celtic Knot Work 2, GFE-CK-2-1.
I choose one of my current favourite green threads, Sulky Rayon 1817, Lemon grass which has a beautiful rich gold tone. I have to confess that I prefer yellow greens to blue greens. Below you can see that it is nearly complete.
Now the twist to this stitch out was that I added flowers to show you that you can edit in small elements to a plain Celtic embroidery creating your own unique design. I used flowers from Sweet Innocence.
I carefully edited in the small flowers in my embroidery software, just overlapping them slightly in a few places, so they blended with the Celtic knot work.
As you can see this worked perfectly, although I did check the density of the embroidery first. I am not so sure about the thread colour that I selected for the little leaves. It’s too light for my liking almost making it a pale blue. The rich green is doing this, I think. Never mind!
Unfortunately I made a mistake at the end of my stitch out, and did the centres of the flowers in off white instead in that pale green which looks blue (it is Sulky Rayon 1063 Pale yellow green). This makes me want to state how very important it is to treble check your choices especially as a large design comes to an end. It is easy to be careless when you have been embroidering for several hours. I actually took my stitch out back and did the centres again, hence the raised centres. The thread did not break but I did slow the machine down a little. Here is the finished embroidery. Now to decide what to do with this “work of stitches”.
For my next stitch out I choose another Celtic Knot work design, from the third set, GFE-CK-3-1 and added some elements from the Beatrice collection. I wanted to make this one as pretty as possible, nothing like a traditional Celtic embroidery design, so I layered a piece of Nottingham lace over the white silk dupion. It was held in place with temporary adhesive.
Now I don’t always stay with my embroideries as they are stitching out, but I did for this as I was concerned that the lace would lift. It worked fine and there were no issues with the embroidery. Although I embroidered the knot work in ordinary rayon thread I decided to use the silk threads that have been assigned to the Beatrice designs.
I made some changes to the colours as I wanted to create a muted embroidery.
As I explained in my last blog, I often choose my colours as I embroider, much as an artist selects his oils as he paints. I have planned embroidery colours time and time again in the past, and have ended up changing them as the embroidery develops anyway.
This method has its down side and I do wish my Husqvarna Epic machine had the ability to show just the next colour on its screen, which would help with this style of embroidery. I have asked for this feature to be included but I am still waiting. This is why the bees ended up in the same colours without any contrast.
I hope this has inspired you all. It was fun discovering these “old” embroidery designs. Find out more in my new tutorial, “Taking Celtic embroidery to a new level”, which will be released this week. Order now for just $15 before a price rise to $20 next week, and get 5 superb Celtic combinations to stitch out yourself. Requires a 300mm x 200mm hoop.
Happy St Patrick’s Day from Hazel