Personally, though, I think that the teasel is perhaps at its most beautiful when winter comes and the empty seed head is covered with sparkling frost. Every tiny detail seems to stand out more clearly ... and the open chambers where the seeds nestled can prove protection to small insects and spiders during the harshest weather!
Once the flowers have die off (they move up the head like a circlet of purple) the teasel becomes very attractive to birds as the seeds mature. Goldfinches, in particular, find them irresistible, searching down inside every little crevice to find the tasty treats!
Another fabulous "fruiting" shape is the head of the teasel. First the flower appears - tiny almost inconspicuous little blooms in between the extended sepals of the teasel's head... we'll look at its various stages! Keep watching!
... of course, the pinecones themselves evolve from their immature state... here the young cones are worked in massed seed stitch. Couldn't resist putting this up as I saw the most beautiful little firecrest (this fellow!) in the Abbey Gardens this morning! Perky little guy!
It looks complex, but actually, taken to pieces is simple. All straight stitching. Shadow line in black, then long straight stitches for the shaft of each scale, and a little sunburst of shorter stitches for the tip. A seed stitch at the centre of the tip and highlight with gold metallic thread. Voila!
Now, here's a complex one! The seeds inside pine cones nestle down protected by the "scales" which surround them. As they open the cones release the seeds, or they are eaten by birds and "pass through" into the open that way! We'll look at the details of the cone tomorrow.
Here are the Chinese lanterns of a pale background... we have looked at the honeycomb stitch before in earlier posts... there are two ways of capturing the fruit inside! For the smaller fruit, work the honeycomb first and then work chunky seed stitches in between the sections to create a small, shadowy ball suggesting an immature fruit. For the larger fruit, work it first, then overlay the honeycomb stitch.
Now, here's a fruit to puzzle you! Chinese lanterns (Physalis franchetti) belong to the same family as potatoes, tomatoes and peppers... but how much more spectacular! When the papery outer lantern fragments it leaves a honeycomb of fibres, caging the fruit inside ... we'll take a closer look tomorrow!
I guess nuts can come under the general heading of "fruits"! Well, if it's in chocolate, anyhow! Hazelnuts are a tricky subject... lovely smooth nuts inside little "choirboy" frills... the trick is to work the frills first (using a shadow line, if one a pale background, of course) and then the fruit inside. That way a firm void is established giving a real three dimensional effect.
Sometimes it is interesting to see HOW the flowers transmute themselves into their subsequent fruit ... at the centre of the passion flower is a complex structure of stamens and styles which, when pollinated develop into the rounded fruit. The multi faceted filaments of the flower draw in insects to effect the change ... in embroidery what a contrast! Long straight stitches to tiny seed stitches respectively!
Another of the hedgerow spectacular fruits - often overlooked and overshadowed by rosehips - is the berry of the hawthorn: haws. If they are still on the bushes at Christmas, I often intersperse them with holly berries in decorations. They are treated similarly, here, to the hips we looked at earlier, but, of course, no cat's-claw prickles, although lower down the braches there are often straight thorns.
Huge kudos to the European Space Agency for landing the probe on the Comet!!! Fabulous achievement...
Like many fruits which grow together closely in bunches, red grapes can be difficult to "separate". Rather than just use the shadow line device, here I have created a dramatic effect by outlining each grape with a twisted gold and black thread, surface couched. This gives a rich, classical aspect to the fruit - suited to their ancient origins!
This is a line drawing from "The Myth and Magic of Embroidery"... people have often asked me why I have never actually embroidered it! Well, now I will... I'll keep you updated! Meantime, you didn't think I would do you out of your colour picture for today, did you? Honeysuckle berries are glorious ... in each little cluster they ripen at different speeds, so you have four or five shades all together at any one time!
Here is the full arrangement of motifs at which we have looked so far on the "berries and fruit" thread! I have got a bit enthusiastic about the subject and have decided to work a picture from scratch along the theme. Watch this space!
... in honour of Remembrance Sunday...
The BRILLAINT Kristina Rado wins GOLD at the NEC Birmingham Cake International show .... how beautiful is that??? It's an honour to have my designs used is such a way. And to think, I am supposed to be making a Christmas cake this year! Help! Very well done, Kristina, you deserve it!!! xxx
Blackberries are need a slightly different treatment ... comprised of a dozen or more small berry-lets, each has to be worked separately. If you stitch each at a slightly different angle to its neighbours, they will catch the light alternately and look really spectacular. The "bloom" on the fruit can be suggested by tiny seed stitches between the segments. And little cat's-claw prickles along the stems really capture the feel of the shrub.
Just happened upon this... another picture with sloes... and Emperor Moths (not butterflies, moths!) I can't even remember embroidering this one!! Today I had an e-mail from someone who had found one of my early embroideries (circa 1985) in AN ANTIQUE SHOP!!!! OUCH!!! No wonder I can't remember ...
Sloes are another of the hedgerow fruits which can be gathered to enhance a beverage ... though whilst hips tended to be used for babies' rose hip syrup, sloes were (and are) more often reserved for the adult tipple of sloe gin!! They are incredibly bitter, even when fully ripe, but delicious when added to gin! They are not nearly as shiny as hips and a really easy way of conveying that is to space out the highlighting stitches to suggest a more diffuse reflection. Simple!