A. Tonal Column in Stitchery
Image 1 shows my tonal column in stitchery on 10 count single interlock canvas. For this, I used tapestry wool (so called), Appleton’s crewel wool and Metrosene machine threads in black and white.
Image 1 – Tonal column in stitchery
I decided (for no good reason) to see if I could work my tonal column with square cross-stitches of the same size, but to create tonal variation by overlaying stitches which overlapped by half a stitch horizontally, or vertically, or both. In doing this, I probably made the exercise more difficult than it needed to be, but I’m reasonably happy with the result. I was trying to avoid having an obvious ‘equator’ – it more or less works. I worked four rows of cross-stitch using tapestry wool at each end, then filled in the space between these with overlapping crosses in a strand of crewel wool, with more black or more white depending where in the column I was up to. Then, I added (or subtracted) crosses until I had a reasonably consistent gradation. It still wasn’t looking very well-graded, but the addition of strategically-placed machine thread crosses (offset by half a cross vertically) seems to have brought it all together. I gave up after a while trying to get the corners of these right in the middle of the wool crosses (after having decided I was being too obsessive about it). The back, also a tonal column, looks anything but obsessive – but I rather like this too.
Image 2 – Back of the tonal column
B. Tonal effects using the technique of blackwork
This really is my cup of tea! I played around for a while with graph paper and pen working up a pattern complex enough to create tone once stitched. Image 3 shows the design I decided to work with.
Image 3 – Blackwork design on graph paper
Sample 1, in Image 4, is this design worked in No. 25 Coton à Broder on 32 count Antique White Belfast linen. I tried 25 count Dublin linen but couldn’t avoid black threads showing through from the back where I had carried them across the back of the design, so went for the harder-to-count product. I also tried different weights of thread but liked the No. 25 best. Sample 2 is a fairly simple design based on a double-ended Y which I though would work well overlapped to create tone through changing the spacing of the stitches. Again, this is stitched in No. 25 Coton à Broder. Sample 3 uses a simple, continuous design of repeating upright and inverted U shapes. For this, I used ( in order) five, four, three, two then one strand of stranded cotton, then Metrosene machine thread for the last repeat. I’ve included enlarged images of each of the three samples in images 5, 6 and 7.
Image 4 – Blackwork samples
Image 5 – Blackwork sample 1
Image 6 – Blackwork sample 2
Image 7 – Blackwork sample 3