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on: May 12, 2014 12:11:26 PM 
Started by elderflower, Message by elderflower
Relevance: 64.5%
I have finally finished my glow-in-the-dark blackwork map of Africa. This is my entry in the Intermediate Embroidery category of our Needlecraft Guild's annual competition. I am pleased with how it turned out.
Day light picture

In the Dark 
I couldn't get the camera to work very well in the dark so it is rather grainy.

The theme of the competition is Out of Africa.  I took Pliny's quote and did a blackwork map of Africa to go with it.  I have wanted to do a blackwork map for some time. I did it in glow-in-the-dark DMC floss on black aida as I thought glow-in-the-dark thread would be the "something new"  at least our grandmothers didnt have it.  Also Africa was often referred to as the Dark Continent so I wanted to signify that it has its own light.

After it was all finished and I showed it to my daughter on Skype she pointed out that I had left out South Sudan  Embarrassed.  Actually I had a few problems with the map, as the outline map I found on the internet didn't have Lesotho, Swaziland or Eritrea.  So there may be other countries I have missed.  Oh well,  it is supposed to be Embroidery not Geography.

For Zimbabwe I did a couple of the stonework patterns from Great Zimbabwe herringbone and chequer.  Then I had to add two strips of fabric to the sides of the piece because the competition rules say it has to be at least 30 by 30 cm.  My bit of black aida was irregularly shaped and only 30 cm in one direction but I had enough of the rest to cut two strips to make up the difference.  I joined them using the Great Zimbabwe chevron pattern.
To transfer the map to the black aida I printed it out and traced the mirror image onto white muslin which I tacked onto the back of the black aida and then stitched all the country outlines in running stitch. Once that was done I cut/frayed away the muslin and did the fillings.
I got most of the blackwork patterns from String-Or-Nothing  A wonderful resource for blackwork patterns.

The fill I used for Madagascar I made up myself. I wanted to do the traditional technique where you do simple running stitch in various directions and it all comes together into a pattern at the end.  It was fun seeing how it all looked more and more confusing until the last vertical pass turned it into a pattern.

1    Completed First Diagonal pass
2    Completed Second Diagonal pass at 90 degrees to the first pass
3    Completed Horizontal pass
4   Completed Vertical pass

The glow-in-the-dark DMC floss was a real pain to sew with.  It slips out of the needle, knots itself and it snags on any skin roughness. The outlines were worked in double stranded floss which I achieved by using a long single strand and doubling it through the needle so there were no ends to slip out.
The fill in blackwork is traditionally done with a single strand of floss and the only way I could do that and retain my sanity was to split the single strand into its two component fibres and double one of those through the needle to give a single complete strand of floss. 

The whole piece is backed with cream "barkcloth" and the edges bound with black satin bias tape.
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