Art with My Needle ~ Week 27

BLACKWORK is usually described as counted thread stitching worked in black thread on a white or natural background of evenweave fabric.  Part of the fascination of blackwotk is forming repeating patterns with varying density.  Before beginning any stitching it is a good idea to sketch out various patterns on graph paper filling some of them in.  You might prefer to have greater density of stitches at the bottom, in the middle or around the edges of an area of pattern.

Inspiration for blackwork  design can be found in tiles, wrought iron gates and railings, old manuscripts and even from nature such as winter bare branches or skeletal leaves.

For my sample below I used newsprint cut in diamond shapes and the density of the print dictated the stitches used for each section.

Oops!  Wrong side that is the back! 😉

Now the experts will tell you that I don’t have the balance right in this piece, but it will give you an idea of the effect and the stitches used.

The main stitches used in counted thread blackwork are:

  • backstitch
  • buttonhole
  • chain
  • coral
  • double running
  • Holbein
  • Pekinese

Whenever possible, try to bring the thread from the back to the front of the work through an empty or unstitched hole of fabric and down through a filled one that has already been worked.  This should prevent the embroidery threads splitting which tends to result in messy definition between one stitch and another.  A blunt tapestry needle is best and the work can be worked in an embroidery ring or hand held.

11 thoughts on “Art with My Needle ~ Week 27

  1. Vicki

    Balance, schmalance! This is beautiful!

    I have a hard time doing this kind of thing with pen and paper; I can’t imagine trying it with a needle and thread.


  2. Grannymar Post author

    Magpie – The buttons are missing! 😉 The outline shape always reminds me of a Concertina. We had one many moons ago when I was a child, but I have no idea what happened to it.

    Vicki – Well, You need good eyesight, patience and determination. Once started I am inclined to get lost in the work.

  3. Grannymar Post author

    WWW – It is sometimes known as Spanish work and was mentioned by Chaucer

    “Hir coler aboute
    Of cole-blak silk, withinne and eeke withoute –

    in The Millers Tale, written in the last decade of the fourteenth century.

  4. Magpie11

    A pity as some of them can fetch a lot of dosh!
    I bought one years ago that needed a lot of work done on the bellows. It cost £25…. if I had had it repaired (£95) I could have sold it for upwards of £600. As it was I was offered £175 …as I wrote elsewhere.

  5. Grannymar Post author

    Magpie – I doubt if our Concertina would have fetched much after my brothers and I all played with it. None of us played any musical instrument.

  6. bikehikebabe

    Is this suppose to look flat??? To me it’s a big cube (3 dimensional), made up of 8 small cubes with the 2 top front cubes removed.

    I’ll get my eyes checked. Or my brain?

  7. Grannymar Post author

    BHB – It is an optical illusion. Worked flat but the stitching gives a three dimensional look to it!

  8. Darlene

    This proves once again that you are never too old to learn something new. I had never heard of blackwork. It’s sort of like a patchwork quilt done with embroidery thread, I guess.

    I think it would be hard on the eyes to do, but fun to see the pattern emerging.

  9. Grannymar Post author

    Darlene – As I get older I find all the fine work harder no matter what the colour. Time for an eye check up I think!


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