First of all, I took a look at the materials in the kit and felt that some changes were in order. The DMC white metallic thread is all very well for bee wings, but I felt that the colour wasn't quite right for this dragonfly. So, I checked in my trusty Collins 'British Wildlife Photoguide' and saw that the wings are, as I'd thought, much more of a light, aqua blue than white in nature. DMC's expanded range of six-stranded metallics contains a lovely, irridescent aqua colour, so I selected than one instead and, rather than struggle to cover the silver-coloured wire, I decided to use some white paper-covered wire from my own supply.
Also, I thought that the pinky brown thread that was put in for the legs etc was too thick. The book showed a brownish colour though, so I picked out a Kreinik cord, 011C Gun Metal, to work those in.
Having got the colours sorted, it was time to move on to the dragonfly body. This photo shows the first stage and you'd be forgiven for thinking I'd let a child embroider a rocket on it instead of the basis for an insect!! This is done with soft cotton and, I think, is a fairly decent idea in itself, but with the exception of the shorter bits for the head.
You can see why in this next picture. The idea is to work stain stitch over the straight stitches (and raised stem stitch for the body section, which you can see the initial 'bands' for here too), but, I'm not sure if I just worked it very badly or what, because instead of having a head tapered at each end and looking realistic, I found myself with one that was over-fat all the way along and that I couldn't taper in at either end! This could work quite well as long as the shorter soft cotton straight stitches stopped short of the ends of the section meant to be the head.
Moving on to the wings and here's the wire couched in place for the first wing I worked - one of the more shaped back wings. Sadly, I managed to well and truly goof it up by not catching all the detached buttonhole stitches together down the centre (I dread to think what I actually did do with those stitches!!) and then to put the outer close-worked buttonhole stitches with the edging to the inside instead of the out.
So, one wing that couldn't be used and, after leaving it a few days, I tried again and produced these two. I made a good effort to make sure they were worked as mirror images so that the outer edging would be on top BUT I managed to mess that up too and finished up with two identical wings!! I hate to admit this, but I'm going to use one upside down, fairly safe in the knowledge that no-one will notice and also that I'm tired of these wings and want to be through with them!!!
Here's the first of the front two wings in progress. As you can see, I decided to use orange sewing thread for the couching on of the wire and tacking together of the two pieces of the needlelace pad just to make it more visible. This has a minus side too - it's also quite visible if it proves tricky to remove, which it did on one of the back wings. Anyway, there's just the outer edging to put on this one and then I can safely work another identical one afterwards as they're more of less symmetrical and it doesn't matter.=)
So, in case anyone's been wondering 'What's keeping her with that dragonfly?' Now you know!
Well, people say, 'Third time lucky', don't they, so perhaps my third attempt at this kind of stumpwork insect will go somewhat more smoothly, (although that sentence makes me seem a good deal more superstitious than I really am, which is not at all!!. In the meantime, I hope to have the finished item to show you within the next week as, ideally, I'd like to have a go at mounting all four of these DMC pieces and get them on the wall in a hanging display. And that will be a post to itself!
Text and images © Elizabeth Braun 2013