Architectural Blackwork

Quick post today given my dominant thumb was injected with steroid today due to “trigger thumb.”  If you don’t normally look at Mary Hickmott’s New Stitches, you should look at issue No. 211.  Part 3 of a 3 part series of patterns of architectural blackwork is on page 50.  The title is Romanesque Blackwork and it is gorgeous!  To see all three sections of this piece visit the catalogue.  You may have to hit the control button as you click on this link.

When you get to that page, click on the Blackwork tab on the directory.  Click on the Button for Buildings on that page.  Then look for Romanesque, all three parts!  Then debate with yourself about ordering the patterns or finding the Mary Hickmott mags instead.  You can find her mags at the same site under the magazines tab on the left.  I’m a fan of her magazines for the diversity and the fact that she often has blackwork patterns.


Blackwork Mystery Sampler Fabric Size

Have you decided on a fabric for your Blackwork Sampler? I think I’ll figure mine out here. Maybe my calculations will help some neophyte. But before I figure the size, I should say that I have had a brainstorm about my colors! As noted earlier, I’m going use black silk or quilting thread for the blackwork. I’m going to use an overdyed floss for the needlepoint. I’ll be using beads not spangles for accents primarily because I have beads on hand. If I find spangles before I get to that point in my stitching, I’ll pick some up and see which looks better with the pattern. I’m thinking spangles may look better since I’ve decided my accent color will be red! Imagine the red spangles held in place with sharp little black stitches!

I’ve also decided I want my center grid to be marked in red. And to really make the piece pop I’d like to use red fabric. That means I need to see what red fabric my goto fabric shop has. That would be Fireside Stitchery. Well, they didn’t have red available now. So, on to the second shop, Stitchers Paradise. BINGO! They have 24 mesh Congress Cloth in Victorian Red which matches DMC 498 or 816. That works for me! So, I’ll be working with a count of 24 which means there will be 24 threads in one inch. Since I will be stitching over two threads, that means I will have 12 stitches per inch.

Now, my design size is 120 stitches by 120 stitches. Dividing my stitch count by my fabric size tells me the design will cover 10 inches. I am going to add 6 inches to give me a decent border and leave some margin for the dirty old edge tacking.

If I can’t get the canvas, I’ll use linen. Most likely 28 count. Again, I would be stitching over two threads, so that means there would be 14 stitches per inch. 120 stitches divided by 14 inch fabric will yield 8.5 inch square design size. So I would cut my fabric 13 inches square (rounded up).

Do you read the Nordic Needle Newsletter? I subscribe to it and often find very useful information. The latest Newsletter has a very good section on changing fabric sizes. As you scroll down to find it, notice the great info about testing for colorfastedness, working with beads to ensure they are color and tarnish fast. It’s a good page to bookmark!

What are your thoughts on thread and fabric colors?

A Photo Log of My Blackwork Projects

Perhaps some photos of my own blackwork projects would be a nice break between lessons in the history of blackwork and information about the mechanics of designing it.  The Blackwork Lovebirds I’m including are the result of a class I took with Tanja Berlin of Berlin Embroidery through Shining Needle Society.  The piece is off to be framed at this time.

Funny, I found Tanja’s site when I was looking for information on Berlin Embroidery which is an especially colorful embroidery developed in Germany when beautiful colors were so new to consumers.  Pelin Tezer had a lovely free pattern of Berlin Embroidery in a ribbonwork pattern.  Unfortunately, she has changed her website and I can no longer find it, but check this out.  It along with a half a million other things is on my To Do List!

The other photos are from the Blackwork Chessboard I am finishing.  Enjoy!  Tell me which is or are your favorite photos!  That could influence my choices in the Mystery Blackwork Sampler square choices.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Works in Progess: Chessboard

Blackwork Chessboard Emergency!

I only have seven more squares to go!  Then the pieces must be stitched around the border.  I had  an emergency this weekend when I was showing off my progress to Jeff.  I didn’t realize he was bleeding.  When he handed it back I found three spots of blood on the piece.  Here’s what I did to get it out immediately:

1.  HAD JEFF SPIT ON THE SPOTS:  Did you know that there is an enzyme in your saliva that when mixed with your own blood stops the blood from setting?  It’s true!  But the saliva and blood need to belong to the same person.

2.  RUBBED THE SPOTS WITH AN ICE CUBE:   Cold will help remove protein and keep it from settingeals the protein. Try running hot water on one plate with egg on it and cold on another plate with egg.  The heat congeals the protein.

3.  RUBBED TIDE TO GO STAIN STICK ON THE SPOTS:  While the first two steps made a big difference and I had only a bit of pink on the fabric, I was not ready to submit the whole piece to a handwash.  This stain remover took everything out!  Maybe I didn’t even need to do the first two steps.

LESSON ONE (continued)

For those who have recognized that Catherine was merely a vehicle for getting “Spanishe Work” to Great Britain, it is widely believed that the style was actually born in Morroco.  This, I believe, is true to an extent.  One must look at the history of that part of the world to have a better understanding of this embroidery.  Do not forget the importantance of the Byzantine Empire and all that was “borrowed” from that powerful and large influence–the beauty of the churches, mosaic works, the opulence of gold work and use of other gems in art.  And the weight of one’s faith or connection to religion.  One must also remember the importance of trade routes to the Far East, i.e., The Silk Road.  Textiles and fibers for making and enhancing textitles were valuable trade resources at both ends of “the Road.”  All of these influences informed the ultimate creation of Catherine’s world and her stitching.

When the Islamic world began to stretch out and occupy more lands, one faction gained power on the Iberian Peninsula.  This group is said to have come from Morroco and the term associated with that time in Spain was “Moorish.”  It has also been suggested that these “Moors” were tolerant of other cultures in the land they occupied.  This might be because they did not raze the old churches and community places, but instead embellished them and augmented them to meet the needs of their Islamic faith.   In fact, they were as ruthless as any other colonizer in history.   (To be continued….)