Mystery Blackwork Sampler Outside Border

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.

Lessons figure 1

Figure 1 Outside Border

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.

Lessons figure 2

Figure 2 Detail Image

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

Welcome to the Introduction of the Lessons

Why Word Press made me say “Hello, World” when all I want to do is speak to the Stitching World, I’ll figure out later when I start my pages for “The Shop Sampler,” a project you’ll love to follow and emulate yourself  I’ll bet!

A bit about me.  Like many I started stitching when I was a preteen.  Don’t remember the exact age, but I do remember my first finished piece.  It was a stamped sampler in autumn colors that my mother framed and hung in her walk in pantry.  I’m not sure where it is now as Mom doesn’t have that walk in pantry or even that house any longer.

Again like many, I took a break from stitching during my teens and early 20s.  Then I focused on oil painting and other forms of self-expression, flannel shirts, jeans, shaggy hair, devotee of Leonard Cohen music, and POW bracelet on the wrist.  ( I was finally able to retire the bracelet when Lt.Col Bernard Conklin’s remains were returned to the U.S. in the late ’80s.  I was living in the DC suburbs then and went to the Wall to make sure there was a cross put next to his name.  It was there.  I thought of his daughter and my friend, Jan.)

My interests in stitching cover the gamut, but always comes back to embroidery stitches. Did you know you can put them anywhere?!   I especially love the connection to history I feel when stitching.  I think that is why I am so passionate about blackwork these days.  It is a history that noone seems to have a lot to say about.  The names Catherine of Aragon and Chaucer come up and, of course, Hans Holbein who not only painted Henry the 8th revealing the blackwork on Henry’s clothing, but Holbein also did some decorating and clothing design for Henry.  Maybe that’s why he painted the embroidery so clearly?  Maybe those were articles he created for Henry?

That’s what this blog is about.  Blackwork.  Where did it come from?.  How do you do it?  How is it changing with modern fibers and fabrics?  If you express an interest we could even gather via Yahoo Groups to have a meeting and share thoughts, patterns, and our passion for this lovely form of embroidery.  I’ve already got the room ready.  Come visit for a spell.

Now, I’m off to photograph my current project to use as a header for The Lessons.  Later…