Blackwork Embroidery Pt 2 (Shading Again)

Read Pt 1 (Shading) here.

I’ve been doing up some blackwork patterns to sell on Etsy, which for newer ones means tidying up some shortcuts, making some quick fixes to things that annoyed me when I was stitching. For some of my older ones, though, this means a complete redo because my methods and organisation were… questionable… when I started making blackwork patterns.
Gardevoir was the second blackwork Pokemon I stitched, and the first on black cloth. It doesn’t look as good as it could. I’m currently redoing this design, so I’ll talk about the mistakes I made and how I’m rectifying them!
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Blackwork Embroidery Pt 1 (Shading)

This is NOT going to be an introduction to or guide on how to do blackwork or any other type of hand embroidery, those are very easy to find online if you’re inspired and interested, but I enjoy talking about my favourite craft a lot and people seem to indulge me in this. (You can find my page of finished embroidery photos here and keep up on my embroidery Tumblr which is updated more quickly than this site.)

I took up cross stitching in 2010, and then in 2013 I tried out some blackwork because I’d seen some and it looked really fun. I’ve never looked back. I find blackwork much more enjoyable and fulfilling than cross stitch! It takes much longer to create the design, but usually it’s faster to stitch and the end result is just so lovely and unique. Most people can cross stitch a Pokemon sprite, but how many design and stitch a blackwork version of it? Like, three?

This is one of the first full blackwork pieces I did. It was more impressive than the cross stitch I’d been doing but I was still finding my style and knowledge. I had much to improve upon!

One of the interesting things is that there are many more ways to show different shades in blackwork than in cross stitch. In cross stitch, if you had five different shades of blue then you would either use five different shades of blue thread, or fewer threads and blending them. But here are some shading methods available in blackwork:
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Pronouns, 2015

I’ve started using neutral pronouns: ou (ou/ou/ous/ous/ouself) or they (they/them/their/theirs/themself)! It took me a while to find some that felt right for me and I was discouraged seeing how certain cis people treated and misused neutral pronouns, but if I let people like that hurting people like me stop me doing things then I’d probably still be assuming I was an incredibly broken alloromantic woman so fuck that shit, I’m doing this thing.

Speaking of discouraging matters: 2015 frustrated. In 2014 I made gains, and then I lost them again. Frequent illnesses impacted on my chronic health issues and most of the time it was all I could do to tread water. The last story I completed was in January, the last poem February. It’s incredibly frustrating; previously I had finally started feeling good about my relationship with writing and then it was back to exhaustion and depression and wondering if I’ll ever get that part of my life back. It’s impacted upon other areas of my life, and then there’s rebound impacts and, to be honest, I’m surprised I even managed to survive working full-time. I have hopes for 2016, hopes for better health, for life improvement and getting back to things like writing and seeing friends more often and going on road trips and drawing and playing games and reading more and all that jazz, things that I enjoy and that improve my life. But I had those hopes for 2015 and I saw how that went so maybe I should be hoping just to continue treading water, to not slip under. Or to not slip under as much. Hah…

It wasn’t all bad, of course. I did manage to work full-time, I had a really great week in Melbourne with a good friend, saw my zucchini and made plans to travel in 2016, finally figured out the agender thing, got asked to be a bridesmaid, made some embroidered gifts which people loved, supported friends, had good times, made people laugh, tried new foods, became enraptured with new cartoons and shared them with friends, knew I was loved and appreciated.

I had one story published, “Kin Painted” in Lackington’s, and two republished: “Love Over Glass, Skin Under Glass” in GlitterShip and “Tanith’s Sky” in The Best of Luna Station Quarterly: The First Five Years; and four poems published: “Stone” in Interfictions, “Skin Ashore” in inkscrawl, “Singing Her Body Oceanic” in Liminality, and “The Selkie Before Summer” in Liminality.

Four poems from someone who doesn’t understand 99% of poetry. Whoooops.

Only one of those was written in 2015, and then nothing else but scraps of paragraphs. I repeat: frustrating. Especially since, having figured out the agender thing and having thought about pronouns, that’s something I want to poke more in my fiction, moving away from non-gendered characters and background conceptualisations to characters like me, characters sort of like me, characters less like me. But, alas, the body decreed it was not to be.

In embroidery, I had a good year, I think. I didn’t get as much done as I wanted to because of health reasons and unanticipated projects, but I’ve really liked what I’ve done and I’ve challenged myself. I cross stitched Doctor Who using actual embroidery thread for the first time; my blackwork projects included Avengers, Gardevoir, Ninetales. The last of those I’m especially proud of, that style was uncharted (*sunglasses*) territory for me and it was a lot of trial and error to understand what I was doing. I learned a whole lot and I think I pulled it off! I also made several other patterns, and I nutted out a quicker way of making patterns. I’m currently in the middle of an important gift project and then I’ve got a commission to do, so I think after that I’ll take it easy and stitch some Pokemon blackwork patterns I’ve got waiting for me.

I played a few games too. Gravity Ghost was my favourite, even though it made me cry (it was a stressful week)!