Diamond Band Bookmark – another adaptation from Shorleyker
I adapted one of the designs from page H3 of A Schole-House for the Needle to make this bookmark. (If you have the book, it’s the fourth pattern band on the left-hand side.) The woodcut in the book could be interpreted in several ways – It was probably copied from a sample by someone who didn’t do counted-thread embroidery themselves – but I think it was almost certainly originally worked using counted satin stitch and a diagonal stitch – probably reversed faggoting or reversed double faggoting.
The original appears to have a unit block of 3 x 3 threads. I wanted to use some 32-count cream linen that I had in hand, and make a bookmark, so I reduced the unit to 2 x 2 threads, to give me a suitable finished width. (Three threads would have made the bookmark too wide.) I had to make a few tactical decisions – the main one was making the half-diamonds meet point to point, rather than as one continuous slanting line across two broken ones. I think it looks neater like this. The thread I chose was Stef Francis AA Superfine Silk a lovely pale mixture of pearl-grey, warm cream and eau-de-nil. Her colour number is 26. I used two strands throughout. I needed half a skein to make the bookmark as shown.
The reversed faggoting does not make very obvious perforations, because it is only worked over pairs of threads. It is worked in two rows, with the middle of the three parallel lines of stitching worked over once on each row. I’ve left two threads clear around the design, edged the bookmark with buttonhole stitch over four threads and cut it out close to the stitching.
You can probably just see the design well enough to copy it from the photos, but I have also made a chart. (Click on it for the larger version). Although I have used black, white and two shades of grey for the stitching on the chart, it is all worked in the same thread throughout. The colours are just to make the chart clearer and easier to read. (My cross-stitch program won’t show two consecutive straight stitches except as one continuous line, silly thing!) The triple lines that look like half cross stitch are the reversed faggoting. All the straight stitches are simple satin stitch, with backstitch or double running for the curls at the ends of the zig-zag border patterns and backstitch for the centres of the motifs in the diamonds (black on the chart). On the original woodcut, the centres are satin-stitch diamonds, but that was too clumsy at this smaller scale.
The original piece was probably whitework, worked in linen thread matching the home made linen fabric, or possibly a light brown linen thread, which is can be seen on very similar counted work on some old samplers. The reverse faggoting may have been reverse double faggoting, in a finer thread than that used for the satin stitch and pulled to increase the size of the holes it makes. That would more closely resemble the strange, rope-like diagonals that the artist has cut in the woodblock.
I told you I’d have the urge to do something fiddly and counted, didn’t I? Well, now that’s out of my system for a bit, I can get back to my other projects again….
STOP PRESS: Here is a chart for the same design with a base unit of 3 x 3 threads. Click the image for the large version. (Grey dots are simply to mark every third thread for ease of counting.)