Leafy needlework design

Needlework design blends embroidery, applique|
Recently, I discovered at dmc-usa.com the Blue Leaf applique design, a free pattern, listed under the projects to do with Pearl cotton, a lustrous thread used primarily for embroidery, although I have crocheted with it and one could knit with it, too. The Blue Leaf was designed by Carina Envoldsen-Harris, a blogger who writes about embroidery and is based in the United Kingdom, but has a Danish heritage. Access her blog at polkaandbloom.com.

The design consists of 15 individual leaf shapes arranged in five clusters of three each. Lines of stitching done with Pearl cotton weave around the leaf clusters giving the piece the mood of a breezy summer day, hinting at the coming of autumn when the leaves will fall and be blown about by other winds. Part of the subtle charm of the design is the way the leaves are arranged, a bit off kilter so the eye keeps traveling over it, seeking to discover its soul.

Right away, I thought of all those snippets of fabric I have tucked away — perfect for a project that requires a minimum amount of cloth. I opted to keep the blue theme since blue is my favorite color. But I wanted green in the mix, too.

I was gleeful with anticipation when I dove into my container of scraps. What would I find there? I found snippets of batik fabric with indigo blue predominating and bits of fabric that contained smears of red, aqua and green. My cat, Sissy Too, perched nearby, tilted her head to one side, and watched me paw through the bin. If she could speak I think she would have said, “While you’re in there find a green piece to match the color of my eyes.” I found 10 different scraps I thought would serve my purpose, including a green piece that did match the cat’s eyes.

I folded a piece of newspaper and cut out leaf shapes to serve as a template because I wanted them a bit larger than what the pattern provided. My leaf shapes are approximately 3 inches long and 1 1/2 inches wide. I placed the fabric leaves on a piece of linen approximately 14 and half inches square. It was fun to move the leaf shapes about on the fabric until I found a pleasing composition that more or less honored the original design. It wasn’t easy to get the pieces to “jibe” so that enough space was left for the lines of embroidery.

I stitched the leaves to the linen, tucking the raw edges under and using a blind stitch. The design calls for straight stitches to be placed around each leaf, which serves as a nice unifying element. I decided to use a couching stitch for the embroidery instead of the whipped chain stitch the design called for. Turning under the raw edges of leaf shaped pieces requires patience, but another option is to leave the edges raw and sew the pieces down with straight stitches.

My version of the Blue Leaf applique is “international” — the design is Danish by a woman who lives in the UK, stitched by an American who lives in Maine, with chartreuse thread made in Germany and couched with thread spun in France. How cool is that?

There’s still plenty of time to enter the Knit Away the Winter Blahs Contest sponsored by Good Karma Farm in Belfast. Knit a hat using Good Karma Farm yarn, take a photo of the finished project in a unique place or with a special model and email the photo to info@goodkarmafarm.com. The photo will be shared on the farm’s blog, its Facebook page and on ravelry.com so fans and viewers can select a winner from 10 finalists chosen by folks at the farm. Finalists will be chosen for originality not “knitability.” The contest ends Sunday, April 1. First prize is a $50 gift certificate, second prize if a $25 gift certificate. For information, visit goodkarmafarm.com or call 207-322-0170.

Fiberphilia in Orono is sponsoring a Knitting Retreat Thursday through Sunday, March 8-11, at North Country Lodge in Patten. The retreat offers two- or three-night stays. For information, call Fiberphilia at 866-3423 or visit northcountrylodge.com.

Call Ardeana Hamlin at 990-8153, or email ahamlin@bangordailynews.com.