The Story Behind the Stitchery: Fall, in Pieces
In talking about this embroidery recently, I realized that multiple stories are wrapped up in this piece. It’s time to unwrap them so I can see them all.
The Season and Color
First, there is the colorful autumn-leaf motif. Fall is Mike’s favorite time of year. He likes the temperature, the colors, and the end of a the busy summer season. It’s time to play outside.
I, too, am a fan of the colors. Growing up on the east coast, I loved the brilliant reds, oranges, and yellows of maples, oaks, tulip poplars, and other deciduous trees. Here in Alaska, we don’t have that variety of trees: the birches, aspens, cottonwoods, and willows all turn yellow; there are no autumn-red trees and only an occasional autumn-orange one, usually an aspen on its way to yellow.
But there is red fireweed and bearberry, orange dwarf birch. In fact, when you get down to it—literally down—Alaska has the same brilliant fall colors as the easy coast; they’re just on the ground rather than against the sky.
It’s a Puzzle
Like Puzzle Pisces, the pattern is a jigsaw puzzle. I like that. And I like the puzzle-y title, Fall, in Pieces, with its multiple meanings.
Another behind the Fall, in Pieces stitchery is how the delicious Gentle Art threads were used. The subtle variegation of the overdyed threads lend themselves to natural color variations and changes, but how they’re used—how they’re manipulated and stitched up—matters.
With traditional linear cross stitching, the pattern of overdyed threads is striped. But autumn leaves aren’t striped. Used this way, the natural colors yield unnatural results.
Don’t get me wrong, stripes can be a cool effect, but it wasn’t what I was after.
I stitched some test leaves to practice, stitching both legs of each cross before moving to the next stitch, and stitching randomly to avoid stripes. The first leaves were too mottled. The effect was better than stripes, but still not the more natural look I was after.
So I altered my approach and stitched “blobs” of color; that is, I stitched six squares that all touched in some random way, then moved on to a blob of nine squares. The groups—”blobs”—were irregular shapes that fit together like puzzle pieces.
Aside: By the way, we have a tutorial for stitching with overdyed threads.
I liked this look. It was fun to see the leaves take shape and color, as there was always an element of surprise due to the somewhat random stitching. That was different from other stitching I’d done.
I brought pretty leaves inside for inspiration. And if I didn’t like the look of a leaf in the end, I ripped it out and had another go, certain the next version would be different and excited to see how.
Mike made the oak frame. Roz (professional framer) cut the mats. I stretched and laced the embroidery to the backing. Mike put it all together.
While I had ideas for non-traditional framing of this piece, we opted for traditional because it was a model for the pattern. That Mike made the frame made it easier to give up my creative vision.
Puzzle Contest Launch
The pattern was so long in the making that I had plenty of time to plan and set up a launch. Zweigart and Gentle Art donated the fabric and threads for the first prize of a complete kit. Nine runners up got free patterns.
Five stitchy blogger friends agreed to participate, hiding pieces to the puzzle contest within posts on their blogs during the week-long contest. That means readers from all participating blogs learned about and could take part. We had over 4,000 stitchers playing our game!
So much fun!
Of course, I made things as complicated and convoluted as possible. It’s what I do. There were actually two contests: One was merely hide and seek, so anyone could participate, and players got one entry for each found item. The other contest involved solving puzzles, and players got additional entries for solving. The answers to the first four puzzles of the week were anagrams of the pattern title, Fall, in Pieces.
The final puzzle was to was to anagram those letters again to come up with the pattern title, and thus the subject of the pattern, which had not been revealed. More entries were earned for getting this one right.
Believe it or not, several people got the answer. Others got respectably close.
Entries were stored in a file; the Random Number Generator was consulted; and Bev was our first-place winner.
Now we all know one of the stories behind Bev’s pillow!
Building Kenai Fjords Glacier Lodge
The launch took place while I was helping to build Kenai Fjords Glacier Lodge. I was connected to the contest and entries via shaky satellite Internet from inside the cook tent, with black bears roaming about outside.
So, you see, this pattern contains a bunch of stories.
Have you stitched it? What story does it contain for you? I’d love to hear it!
Get the Pattern
The printed chart for Fall, in Pieces is available in our shop.