Playing with stitches

As I was going through my notes for the Song of the Weather SAL, looking at the lists of possible stitches to include, I thought it might be rather fun to include some Shisha glass. I picked some up in the tiny needlework section of a shop somewhere in Yorkshire some time ago, and hadn’t done much with it yet. Now Shisha stitch is usually worked on non-count fabric, so if I was to add it to the SAL I’d have to see if I could chart it for counted fabric. The first step was to work out how many fabric threads the little mirror would cover, how far apart the base stitches should be, and whether I could work a regular circle around the glass using stitches of roughly equal length.

Shisha stitch

It turns out the base stitches need to be much closer together than you would expect! They are pulled towards the edge of the glass by the later stitches, which are a sort of twiddly buttonhole variation, and I actually had to re-do the base stitches twice before I got them right. Then I started wondering – would it be possible to have the Shisha stitch without the glass? You’d have to create a sort of "inner circle" or more likely an octagon of straight stitches, and work into those. Well, I tried, and it’s possible, but it looks a bit flat. There’s definitely a good reason for having the glass inside the Shisha stitch!

Shisha circle

Finally I thought I’d try Shisha stitch in a straight line; make a sort of braid. A base of backstitch, more buttonhole twiddles and voilà, Shisha braid. I like the look of this one, and it’s definitely staying in my repertoire of stitches.

Shisha braid

In case you think I’ve given away part of the mystery in the Mystery SAL, don’t worry – I decided that adding Shisha glass would add another complication to the materials list (not to mention having to chart different versions for different counts of fabric), and I didn’t need another "band" stitch so the Shisha braid has been stored for some future design. I did think up another stitch, though, or rather a combination of two familiar stitches, which may very well make it into the final SAL design – so that one is staying a secret for the moment …

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