Finally, I have a pretty good idea of my blackwork sampler design. I feel good about how it is coming together. I had decided I wanted to do a sampler as my Blackwork Chessboard has been so much fun to stitch. Actually, I am almost done with it. I’ve got two white chessmen to stitch on the outside, then the black chessmen. A good, but gentle washing. Finish fringing. And it will be done! Jeff has decided to make a leather box for the chessmen he has picked from his collection. Then the chessboard will be rolled and set inside the box. I would recommend Carol Leather’s pattern wholeheartedly, even if you are not a chess player nor have one in your life. You could leave the chessmen off and have a simply lovely sampler of really cool blackwork motifs to inspire your own designs.
So for my design. I have come up with a border I like. Why start with a border rather than the squares? I don’t know. Feels right. The border will help me set the tone for the squares it will surround. I don’t want to just develope squares I like and stick them together. I want to achieve a certain feel. The border has a certain airiness to it, reminding me of a wrought iron fence you might find outside a Victorian home. Neat. Clean. Geometrically lean, yet complex enough to hold moderately dense patterns. I will need to create squares that will blend to not give the piece a heavy look. The blackwork squares will be lacy and variably open while the needlepoint squares will be simple and linear.
The top of the diagram (figure 1–click image for larger picture) represents one eight of the border. The 60 stitches to the right would be a mirror image of 1 through 60, left to right. Repeat three times for the other sides. Consequently, the piece will be 120 by 120. The three stitch inner border will be a needlepoint stitch, I’m thinking. The remaining internal area will be 92 by 92 stitches. I’m thinking a 4 x 4 grid with each block being 23. The middle 4 x 4 grid of squares will be divided by gold double running stitch. Or you can use whatever color will contrast nicely with your main colors, a solid for the blackwork and overdyed for the needlepoint squares. Whatever you use for the blackwork will be the proper thread for the outer border. The number of threads you use should be appropriate to whatever fabric you choose to use.
Figure 2 is a close up of the center section of the top row. Note the yellow dot at the base of the partial cross. The represents placement of either a bead or a spangle. Your choice. The color should complement your colors, maybe the color you use to define the middle grid.
So, to summarize:
- Total stitch size is 120 x 120
- You will need three threads: one for the blackwork, one for the needlepoint, one for the center grid divisions
- You will need either beads or spangles matching the thread for the center grid
- Fabric of your choice cut with appropriate space surrounding the stitch area, with edges protected from raveling
- Frame of your choice and other stitching tools of choice