If you’ve ever tried to explain a new stitch to a fellow stitcher using only words, you’ll realise that stitch diagrams are indispensible in chart packs. Dove’s eyes, woven bars, chain stitch – you could describe them without illustrations, I suppose, but generally I think stitch diagrams are the next best thing to actually having a fellow stitcher with you to show you how it’s done.
And so I create stitch diagrams for each and every stitch used in my designs, from the humble backstitch to the complicated round eyelet networks that crop up in my Ukrainian-inspired designs (like Odessa, which I’m hoping to start this month).
One of the problems when drawing a stitch diagram is that quite a few stitches can actually be worked in several different ways, none of which is inherently more "right" or "wrong" than the others. Which do I pick? Very selfishly I tend to choose the one that works best for me, partly because it means I can describe that method best. Another problem in drawing stitch diagrams is just that, the drawing. Ideally all the diagrams would be created on the computer, and come out sharing the same look, with every needle looking the same, and the fabric threads being very uniform and so on. Like the diagrams in magazines, and books.
There is software which will do all that. Unfortunately, it costs hundreds of dollars. And that’s before import duty and Royal Mail handling fees.
And so I draw my own – some on the computer with the help of my stitching program and a good photo editor, some (mostly the ones that require the needle to be shown) by hand on paper. Would you like to see how they’re done?
First I work the stitch myself several times, looking very closely at what I do and in what order, and noting the actions of needle and fingers. (I don’t usually photograph this stage, but this is what it looks like; you can see several other trial stitches on that scrap of fabric.)
Then I draw a representation of it in pencil on squared paper. At this stage I don’t worry about accurately showing which thread goes behind which, or whether the needle is in front or behind the working thread. In fact, the thread can be seen through the finger!
Finally I go over the pencil lines in black ink, making sure that this time it is clear from the drawing whether the working thread goes over or under the needle. I also add letters or numbers to refer to in the description.
And there you have it, a stitch diagram. Not as uniform and regular as the ones in magazines, but I hope and trust that it does the job and shows clearly how a stitch is worked. And that, after all, is the main thing!