Last weekend we were away at an extended family pre-Christmas, and while exploring the town where we were staying we found (besides a needlework shop which, alas, catered mostly for knitters and quilters, and a wonderful but way-beyond-budget deli) several second-hand bookshops. And in one of those I found a book called, with elegant simplicity, Embroidery. Its subtitle promised traditional stitches, patterns and techniques from around the world.
I haven’t had much time to read it yet, but I’ve dipped into it, and it does seem to live up to its title, with offerings from South America, Africa, and Eastern Europe (and that’s only the bits I’ve had a look at).
Although the patterns and complete designs are interesting, it’s the stitch diagrams which are inspiring me at the moment – so many that are new to me and that I want to try out! (It was also fun to see some that I have recently used myself, such as the Ukrainian eyelets in Lviv.)
Two stitches particularly caught my eye, and as I always have a scrap of fabric lying around with some threads and needles to try things out on, I gave them a go. I used perle #5 and #8 on Hardanger fabric, and unfortunately the two threads are not really different enough in colour to show up the stitches in detail; I’ll have to do them again in more contrasting threads. But I do like the effect of the two different thicknesses in both.
The first one is called Maltese interlacing. The underlying "mesh" is stitched using perle #8 – and had to be unpicked because the first time I concentrated so much on counting that I forgot to weave the threads over and under. The interlacing is then done in perle #5. The surprising thing was that it doesn’t look the least bit like its stitch diagram, but forms a highly textured cross shape!
The second one they called Turkmen satin stitch braid. Incidentally, I’m not sure how typically Maltese and Turkmen these stitches are, or how accurate the naming is – what the book calls Rhodes stitch is nothing like what I know by that name. Anyway, satin stitch braid. This I think would work well both using the same colour thread for both parts, or using contrasting ones. Again my two greens are really neither one thing nor the other, but the close-up should show you the texture of the stitch. I think it would make an attractive border.
I may combine these two with another stitch I’ve been meaning to use, buttonhole eyelashes. When I have a moment I’ll start doodling some ideas, and who knows, this may become the first of my 2012 designs!