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December 2019 - February 2020
Have you ever seen a blobfish? I didn't until I caught one in the submarine on the night market in Stardew Valley, a wonderful video game. My first thought was that Concerned Ape had invented it as he invented a couple of other fish in the game. But no! The blobfish exists, as weird as it may seem! I just had to memorialize it in embroidery! So I sketched one out in Gimp.
Did you have a look at my apprenticeship curriculum? There was the idea to finish it with one self-designed work, stitched one by one in every technique/style of embroidery I had studied. Now, I'm not near the finish of my apprenticeship, but it can't hurt to already launch into this project. The blobfish is an easy enough design to execute in all relevant techniques and styles. And the first technique would be Counted Cross Stitch.
The digital sketch was there, now all that was needed was to change it into a cross stitch pattern. There are several free pattern makers throughout the internet, and most of them are very complex, which is a good thing. You can enter the number of stitches (width of the piece) and colours you wish to use. You can choose the palette (DMC, Anchor, Sulky etc.), the pattern style and much, much more. So I was of good cheer, believing that I just needed to upload my sketch and - abracadabra! - I would get a perfect cross stitch pattern.
But life is rugged. None of the pattern makers I had found was apt to spit out a decent pattern. They all added colours to monochrome areas, they all weren't able recognise the eyes, let alone the one x pupil, and, what was worse, they all falsified the colours. After countless attempts, modifying my sketch again and again, I was fed up. I realised that without making the pattern manually, I would get nowhere.
You know the bliss of finding a solution after a long and vexing quest? That was how I was feeling when I found out that Gimp has a grid tool included. I don't mean the auxiliary grid which won't be visible on the saved file, but a grid on a separate layer which remains part of the picture. And, better still, you can use the filling tool to fill every single square of the grid individually. It was a quite a lot of work, but it was easy, and it was a great feeling to have created a cross stitch pattern all by myself!
Self-made Cross Stitch Pattern
Now just filling the squares with little crosses! I picked a white evenweave cotton, Zweigart Linda 27 ct., and DMC floss. But I didn't have the colours I had in mind, I had to order them first. In the meantime, I stitched the fellow in a colour palette I had in my stash, a more orange pink than the purplish tones you see in the pattern.
In the course of stitching, I noticed that it might be better to do the big areas first and only then the details, so that the latter would stand out better.
This first version was finished in the middle of January. I had to substitute the two darkest shades against two browns from MEZ Freiburg - a remnant of the Biedermeier cross stitch kit - because the purple was totally out of place. When I got around the eye in turn, I got the feeling that a green pupil would be more snazzy than this dull background pink. I simply stitched it over.
In the meantime, the "right" colours had arrived, so I was able to seamelessly stitch the second version of the "cross" blobfish. It went smoothly. Within two weeks, the second version was finished - and here it is:
When I presented it in our Needle'n Thread Community, I learned that the blobfish was sighted at the West coast of Canada, though a glance into Wikipedia taught me, that its natural habitat is found in the Southwest Pacific. I don't know if that is to do with the Global Warming? Maybe that's why he is so cross? In any case, I decided to call v. 1 the Warmwater Variety, while v. 1 is called now the Global Warming Variety. 😉
The second embroidery style I was devoting myself to in my apprenticeship was Assisi embroidery. To that end, I had to remake the cross stitch pattern in an Assisi work pattern. This would be relatively easy, if I hadn't merged the layers in the cross stitch pattern, when I had saved it as a jpg, not having saved the xcf file (Gimp) at the same time. Why, shit happens. My absentmindedness brought me a lot of additional work. Happily enough, I am an exceedingly patient and perseverant person (aren't we embroiderers all?).
As a matter of fact, I had to cut the outer squares of the cross stitch pattern in half, so that they would create a slanted outline instead of a "pixelized" one. Of course, you can work slanted outlines in cross stitch, too, by using half crosses, but I didn't, and the outlines in Assisi embroidery are usually slanted, since traditionally you don't use simple cross stitch here. With the now built-in grid I had to cut the squares in half by manually drawing a diagonal line into every little square at the outline where a slant was supposed to be.
For better visibility of the pattern, I filled the fish in white (Assisi is a negative embroidery!) and the background in a lighter blue, so that it would be easy to count the squares to fill. I also remodelled the inner lines in black, since they would be traced in Holbein Stitch or black crosses respectively.
The Assisi Work Pattern
In the middle of February, I began to stitch the fellow, that is his background, in dark blue (312) Montenegrin Stitch. The fabric is the same cotton as in the cross stitch fish. This is gonna take me a looong while ... see how many crosses are to be made? Anyway, this is the beginning:
... to be continued ...