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The Illuminated William Morris Part 3 - The Pips

(originally published 11th August 2014)

PIPS! PIPS! PIPS! Gawd I enjoyed working these...

First stitch - about 3mm long William Morris designs are a feast for the eyes - so much STUFF going on in the backgrounds, and although his ideas were revolutionary in his day, there is still the echo of the Victorian exuberant embrace of decoration. His fabric and wallpaper has as much 'crazy patchwork' love of embellishment as the best scrappy quilt of the day.

2nd stitch - come up and go down in the same holes as the first stitch, hold thread to one side as you pull tight. The design began with the letter, the fox and the acanthus leaf, each worked into positions that were most pleasing dependent on the particular letter. However, the feel of the thing didn't really start to emerge until the swirling flourishes were added.

3rd stitch - just like 2nd stitch, hold the thread to the other side as you pull tight. Repeat 2nd & 3rd stitch.

The pips however were the deciding factor! I'd seen a picture of Granito (small grain) stitches worked, but didn't know how to do them as they weren't a stitch taught when I was an apprentice at the Royal School of Needlework. However, a couple of trawls on YouTube (another godsend to the DIY crafter!) showed how they worked, and as I had suspected, they were both clever and simple to do.

Finally, add a straight stitch to attach the pip to the main stem. Personally, I think they look best worked with 2 strands of slightly different colours. There is a glimmer to the finished stitch that way, and it makes the whole 'frond' look more interesting.

I plan out my 'frond' with the first stitches, to get the placement/spacing right. I might have gone a bit overboard with the pips, I admit, but I WAS having fun working them, and all my students were converted once they'd done a few. Let's face it, after the challenge of or nue'd gold and thread painting, these were a treat!

As with most things, placement is key, and whilst the actual stitches are easy, the spacing of the pips takes a little forethought and care to look really good.

Pips, glorious pips!

So I'm sold on Granitos - they are now officially part of my arsenal, along with bullion knots, French knots, stem stitch, detached chains..... See you next time for the beginning of Fantastic Mr Fox! Love 'n Stitches, Kelley

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