I think crewelwork is my favourite type of embroidery. I love how lush and tactile it is; I love the colours and the variations in feel and pattern. It can be simple or exquisitely complicated and almost always comes out stunning. What tends to bug me is the subject matter of crewelwork; floral girliness. So, I kept the floral, added a bit of meat eating madness, and came up with this:In terms of stitches, the following work only uses three: stem stitch, chain stitch/back stitch combo and little straight stitches. It only has 11 colours of thread in it. And yet, the whole thing is soft and nearly alive.
My sister Julie drew out the pattern. I wanted it to be reminiscent of more traditional patterns, like the ones in my favourite book, The Anchor Book of Crewelwork Embroidery Stitches (Eve Harlow, 9780715306321). Most of the designs are bubbly and round, fitting perfectly into a hoop. As my sister and I were discussing how I wanted the stems and leaves to be squatter and rounder than they are in real life, we realised that I wanted her to draw some chibi venus fly traps. Adorable!
The gradient on the stems is achieved by combining two single threads of different shades of green at all times. As I went darker or lighter, I tried my best to keep it soft and subtle. So how the heck did I keep track of whether I was using green 730 or green 731? This little wonder:I got her from Girlontherock’s shop on etsy, and she has never been more useful to me than with this project. It kept the threads tidy, allowed me to keep that one strand of six tidy and knot free and meant that I almost never had to hold up a few threads up to each other, trying to figure out what the difference was, if there was a difference at all. She even has a little magnet to hold a needle close to her heart!The leaves were done in various shades of pinky-reds, first in chain stitch, and then skewered with a back stitch one shade lighter until the edge, where I made the back stitch darker again. I took little tiny straight stitches in one strand of floss to make the feelers.
There is also a secret surprise in this piece. One of the leaves has caught something!My family had a very healthy venus fly trap for almost three years. We kept it inside, caught ants for it to eat with tweezers, and hand fed her once a week. Once a leaf shuts, it tends to die. The energy expended in closing the leaf is too much for a plant to handle unless there is food inside to offset the energy cost. Sometimes, a well fed plant can reopen a leaf that has missed its target bug, but not often. I stitched a small grain of rice into the closed leaf so that it had a good reason to be shut. I tacked it in place and then stem stitched on top and around it so as to hide it properly. The pictures do not really do justice to the slightly creepy feel of something hiding in the stitches. I have had more than one person pull back their hand quickly and squirm.
Please feel free to use the pattern above for personal use, but do not sell anything you make from it. If you make something with it, I would love to see it, so please leave a comment with a link.