Back in 2007 I was on a mission trying to complete my 3D embroidered knot garden for the village show. I had been entering the embroidery category for almost 20 years and had never won first prize – my colours were too bright, the designs too unusual – and often lost to the WI or the Embroidery club. So dammit, I was going to do something spectacular and I was going to win first prize – which I did – I also won the best in show cup 🙂
The Knot Garden was inspired by the book Embroidered Knot Gardens by Owen Davies , but I wanted to use ‘old school’ traditional embroidery stitches – so I did a lot of research using 18th and 19th Century embroidery books.
The walls were made using linen with I stamped with fabric paints to make the brick effect – it was much easier than actually stitching every brick! I added a trailing rose bush around the walls using bullion knots in a beautiful pink.
This gives a clear view of the hedge made with turkey stitch (velvet stitch), which is fairly simple to do and has a great effect once trimmed. You can also add other colours to add dimension to the hedge or bush.
This shows the inside of the garden. I loved making the fountain, and it is surprisingly sturdy as my cat decided to sit in the garden – as it was wire wrapped, I could just reposition it.
What I enjoyed was adding little details to the garden, like the butterflies and the tiny ladybirds that were made out of a red matt seed bead that I put spots on. I wanted there to be different things to see every time you looked at the garden. It also made it more interesting for me too!
I also used needle lace to make the leaves, this is a simple woven picot technique that build up to make an impressive plant. If you wanted to, you could easily add a thin gauge wire to the outer stitches to make them re-positionable.
The pink flowers in the corner were made using a whipped spiders web stitch on a bed of french knots that I built up to give the impression of depth.
I was so pleased when I put the wall together and the pyracantha shrub matched up! Again I used turkey stitch, but making the loops longer to make a larger bush which covered a wider area of the garden.
I used a variety of different threads, wool for the turkey stitch which fluffs up nicely, regular cotton floss, a Perle for the smaller flowers, a soft cotton for the larger french knot flowers, rayon and DMC Light Effects, as well as satin ribbons. I am not particularly keen on ribbon work, especially because I was working on several layers of stitches. This meant I needed a larger needle that did not work well with the ribbon! However, french knots using thin satin ribbon look beautiful and creates these well defined knots.
The base of the embroidery is a mono canvas and I used a clip frame and bound the edges, which seemed to work just as well as a slate frame. However, you need to make sure that it is properly stretched because it becomes very bulky. The finished piece was 12 x 13 inches and the walls were three inches high. In the end I used over fifty different stitches for the garden taking inspiration from stump work, crewel work, needlepoint, turkish embroidery, some couching, needlelace, regular embroidery, pulled thread, blackwork… I think that is it!
More photos can be seen on my Flickr page