I only intended to design three patterns for this series: Wild Grass, Wild Pods and Wild Ferns. But a number of you requested a fourth towards the end of last year and so I thought, why not? I was enjoying designing them and you were enjoying embroidering them. I was reading All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr at the time and there’s a strong theme of the ocean – sea molluscs in particular – in the book, which got me thinking of the deep.
Coral reefs are considered the grasslands of the sea and so for this fourth Wild pattern, I delved into that world and it’s fascinating shapes and forms to create Wild Coral. I had no idea how diverse coral could be, or that you got hard and soft corals. I imagine a lot of soft corals are mistaken for seaweed. It was these that convinced me to go ahead with the idea, as the soft corals provided the variety of shape and form I needed to incorporate enough different stitches into the design.
I got to try out a new stitch called all-over stitch, from Embroidery Stitches by ME Wilkinson. (I shared the link to the free book download with you in my January newsletter.) I had one of those heart-quickening moments when I realised it was perfect for creating the intricate network of a piece of fine branching coral. It’s really just straight stitches, but placed in such a way as to fill an area of embroidery in an interesting way. Mary Elizabeth shows hers illustrated inside a rectangular shape, but I took a more freeform approach to create the shape of the coral.