Judging from the wedding invitations I've received lately, it seems that marriage is back in fashion these days . . . and with it all the traditional wedding symbols and ceremonies.
Why not combine two traditional needlework symbols -- the interlaced wedding ring motif and the flowers of the month to serve as a reminder of a happy occasion long after the wedding is over?
Take a design of interlaced rings, the wedding ring motif that is so popular in quilts, and interpret it in crewel embroidery. Each ring is filled with a flower of a month with special meaning to the couple -- for instance, the month of their wedding, his birthday, her birthday, their engagement, even their parent's birthdays. The names of the months and the flowers can be lightly embroidered in stem stitch within each ring, if you wish.
This design, filled with symbolic meaning, would be beautiful in crewel made into a small pillow for the ringbearer to hold, or worked in needlepoint for a wedding kneeler. Both pillows would be lovely additions to the couple's first home after the wedding festivities are over.
Alternatively, you could use this design idea to embroider a picture frame to hold the wedding invitation or a wedding portrait, or using silks and shiny perle cotton floss in shades of white, you could embroider the wedding gown itself, interwining wedding rings across the bodice or down the edges of the train.
If there are no weddings looming on your horizon, why not embroider a lovely anniversary pillow with the couple's name and date entwined in the middle of the rings and surrounded by the flowers of the month. The same idea used as a birthday present would be something the recipient would treasure forever.
Libraries are full of beautiful books showing all these flowers in great detail and color, but not all the books agree on which are the official flowers of each month, so you have choices. Here are some of the possibilities: January: carnation, snowdrop. February: primrose, violet. March: jonquil. April: sweet pea, daisy. May: lily of the valley, hawthorne. June: honeysuckle, rose. July: water lily, larkspur. August: poppy, gladiolus. September: morning glory, aster October: calendula, hop. November: chrysanthemum. December: narcissus, poinsettia
Most of the flowers are lovely "painted" in shaded satin stitch or long and short. But certain stitches tell the story beautifully and simply with their texture. A single bullion knot, for instance, is the perfect focal point stamen in the center of the gladiolus, while French knots do the same thing in the center of the dasies or primroses. w
The French knots in the center of the asters can be surrounded by lazy daisy petals, while chrysanthemums or primroses are smooth and satiny in buttonhole stitch. Turkey work is a wonderful fluffy center in the middle of a daisy, and fishbone stitch will make leaves with veins all at one time.
The interlaced ring design is the strong element that holds the flowers together. In my crewel embroidery I worked the rings in one color in rope stitch, which looks like a broad, slanting ribbon band. If you worked in shiny cottons or organdy or fine lawn you could use shadow stitch for the rings and end up with a completely different, light, delicate effect suitable for the boarder of a tablecloth or pillowslip.
Q. I want to start a project using metallic threads. Since I will be traveling, it will take me a long time to finish the work. What is the best way to store the metallic threads when I am not working with them so that they won't tarnish or discolor?
A. To be sure that the threads keep their luster, never store in plastic bags or plastic wrapping. Also, many commercial tissue or wraping papers contain acid that might react on the threads and alter the colors. I have heard that toilet tissue, by law, must be acid free and thus would be a safe wrapping. I suggest that you use the plain white variety -- all those pretty flower prints might just contain another reactant.