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Color Theory and Stitch Variation Education – Part II

It’s been a week since I last posted – hope everyone (in the US) enjoyed a good Thanksgiving holiday!

In my last blog post, I began talking about a large project, a major milestone in my stitching life in fact.  Here is the photo from near the end of that post:


This pattern is called “From Molehill to Mountain: A Study in Stitch Variation” by Pamela H. Gardner.  Not only did I learn so much about stitch variations in canvas work from doing this piece, I learned so much about color theory as well.  Let’s take a trip around the six squares that you see here.

Starting with the one in the center on the left.


This block features a monochromatic color scheme.  This is where only one color (or hue) is used, although several different values (lights and darks) of that color are used to create the design. Different textures (cotton, silks, rayons, metallics) of the threads add interest to the design as well.

Look closely at the stitches.  They are all from the Byzantine and Jacquard stitch families.  That is to say, long diagonal stitches that are also called Gobelin stitches done in different patterns.  Various composite patterns are used and some areas have different stitches in the filler spaces.  (Keep in mind, for here and elsewhere, there are sometimes where a certain stitch can have more than one name.)

Going in a clockwise direction, let’s next look at the square in the upper left:


This block features a complementary color scheme. This was certainly a word I remembered from art classes in school – the color that is on the opposite side of the color wheel from the focus color.  Since my focus color is purple, the complementary color is yellow.

Do you recognize the stitches?  They are all variations of cross stitches!  Some areas contain composite patterns, where there is more than one layer, but, in effect, all areas have an X shape (or, in some cases, turned on its side to be more like a + shape) involved.

Next, let’s look at the square in the upper right:


The instructions for this block were to pick an analogous color scheme.  This is created by using 3 or more colors located next to each other on the color wheel.  The focus color could have been in the center of the range or as the left or right limit.  Meaning, there were choices to be made!  I definitely wanted to lean more toward the blue-violet direction and only minimally toward the red-violet side.

The stitches here? All variations of the Milanese family.  A Milanese unit is usually composed of four diagonal stitches of increasing lengths which form a triangle.  These units are then combined with other units or other stitches to form various patterns.

Now, to the square below, the middle of the right side:


The colors here are a triadic color scheme, created by using three different colors equally spaced from each other on the color wheel.  Because I was using purple as my focus color, the other two were green and orange.  Now, I admit, I am just not an orange person.  I actually used orange as minimally as I could in this piece.  That said, I think it gives just the right level of pop.

These stitches are all variations of the eyelet stitch.  Eyelets are created by working multiple stitches through a single hole of the canvas or fabric.  Holes or “eyes” are created by pulling the canvas/fabric threads together as the eyelet stitches are being made.

The square in the lower right comes next:


The color scheme here is called split complementary.  This is created by using the focus color and the two colors on either side of the focus color’s complement.  The two colors to be used for my focus color of purple would be a yellow-orange and a yellow-green.  I think you could tell that I chose to not get very orange-y or very green-y in my choices of threads here.

The designer referred to all the stitches in this square as box stitch variations.  Meaning, they are all stitches that form square or rectangular “boxes” composed of diagonal stitches of graduated lengths.  These include mosaic, scotch and cashmere stitches.

The last square to share, in the lower left:


Here, the stitcher was to choose a double complementary color scheme.  Choose two colors on the color wheel and then use the complement of both of them, for four colors total.  These four colors form a rectangle when they are charted on the wheel.  Purple was my focus color, with yellow as its complement.  I then used red and its complement of green as my other two colors.

The stitches are all rice stitch variations.  Simply put, a rice stitch is one where there is a cross stitch of some type (either X or +) with each of the legs tied down one or more times.

I’ve shared all six squares.  But, there will be a Part III to this topic.  What more is there to share?  Well, let me give you sneak peek:


Yes, I actually stitched this design four times.  Why?  Well, more of the story to share next time.

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