As I’m sure is no surprise to anyone who has read this blog, I am a fan of the author Seanan McGuire. Beyond the fact that I find all her writing delightful, one of the things that really gets me is her ability to write description. Something about the way she manages to evoke pictures in my mind, particularly with colors, just speaks directly to the way my brain works.
As it turns out, this can be really distracting! I was only a chapter or two into her latest release, Sparrow Hill Road, when I noticed I hadn’t taken in the last several sentences because my mind had become busy designing a temari. (Two obsessions in one!) To understand the design, a bit of background about the main character of Sparrow Hill Road (from the website description of the book):
Everyone knows the urban legend about the girl who asks for a ride home; the one who turns out to have been dead all along. But where did she come from? Who was she? And how did she die? She’s been called a lot of things: the Phantom Prom Date, the Girl in the Diner, and the Spirit of Sparrow Hill Road. Around here, we call her Rose.
Rose Marshall was sixteen years old in 1952, pretty as a picture, and in the wrong place at the wrong time. A drive along Sparrow Hill Road turned into a fight for her life—a fight she was destined to lose. Her story could have ended there, but a lucky break and a well-timed ride home set her on a different path. She’s been running down the ghostroads ever since, one more casualty who never made it home.
Color-wise, Rose spends a lot of time on the ghostroads, where I retain an overwhelming impression of gray fog. She died in her prom dress, a green silk gown. And roads, especially ones where accidents will occur, run through her afterlife and give her purpose. For my temari, that translated into a fog-colored, light gray background; wrapped bands in black with yellow center lines and white outlines, like a highway; and green silk roses, fading at the edges like a ghost.
Here was the original plan I had to stop and draw in my planner, since I wasn’t at home at the time and couldn’t start working on the temari right away:
The next step was to go to the needlepoint store and pick thread. I originally thought I’d just do the roads in regular perle cotton and the roses in silk, but since I had a gift certificate to the store that my mother-in-law had given me for Christmas, I let myself look at all the specialty thread as well, and the project got a lot fancier. I found this really interesting Caron thread called “Snow,” which they describe as “a synthetic metallic thread,” and which, to me, in the black color looked a lot like slick wet pavement. (Remember what I said about Rose being drawn to accidents?) For the middle line of the road, I decided on a yellow silk lamé braid, because clearly the sparkly bits would be the center reflectors, and for the outer white lines, I got white silk lamé braid that GLOWS IN THE DARK!
All the supplies together
(Excuse some of the color weirdness of these initial pictures; I ended up taking most of the progress pics with my phone.)
Now I could finally get started!
The main C8 marking lines were done in yellow, to be the center lines of the road-bands, and then support lines were added in a Kreinik black-and-silver metallic braid to allow the roses to be stitched over top later. (Normally, support lines would be stitched over/around the main lines, but I didn’t want the yellow lines interrupted by the black/silver, so I wove the stitches underneath the original C8 lines.)
Now the roads!
Honestly, just that stage looked pretty good. (Sadly, I have not figured out a good way to photograph the glowing effect of the white lines, so you’ll have to take my word for it that they really do glow in the dark.) The power of the crossroads ends up being pretty important in the book, so interwoven wrapped bands seemed appropriate.
Now the roses. This was my first try, featuring a standard rose garden technique, where each alternating square is the next gradation of color:
Rose garden, traditional fade
I wasn’t totally satisfied with that, though, because the lightest color used on the outside becomes so overwhelming. (These roses end up being a bit bigger than in a normal rose garden design, because stitching them around the intersecting road-bands causes them to start with a larger center; hence, wider and more overwhelming outside squares of color.) So I decided to take a few rows of the darker colors and repeat their fade within the widest band:
Improved rose with additional gradations
(Also, it’s pretty subtle, so I’m not sure anyone but me would notice, but the rows used to outline the different squares of the roses go from black to dark gray to light gray, fading as the greens fade.)
Some more shots of the roses and roads:
Triangle intersection view
Diamond intersection view
And glamor shots with the book:
Roses on Rose’s story
This last one shows the cover more clearly, and I was pleased to note the greens I had chosen were pretty close to the one used for her blouse. Note that her feet fade out before they really touch the ground.
The girl in the green silk gown
So that’s been my big project lately. I’m pleased to have it out of my head and into the world! Also, if you like the temari and haven’t read the book yet, check it out! It should make the temari make even more sense. (This book is technically in the InCryptid series universe, but its story stands alone, so anyone can pick it up anytime.)
Read Full Post »