Archive for counted thread

Eight-Point Woven Star

Posted in Embroidery, everyday life, Needlework, out and about, science fiction, Stitches with tags , , , , , , , , , on November 22, 2016 by suetortoise

Here’s another interlaced stitch for you to try – you might find it handy for Christmas decorations and cards.


The instructions look daunting, and the first few may seem very tricky to work. But once you’ve got the idea, you’ll find the stars quick to stitch. I suggest practising on Aida fabric with a fairly thin thread until you are confident, then you can try working on other evenweave fabric or just using a circle of 8 holes made in thin card. Continue reading

Annetje Band Sampler

Posted in Embroidery, Needlework with tags , , , , , , , , on June 19, 2016 by suetortoise

Annetje on light background

As promised, more about the band sampler. In March last year, I bought a bundle of charts for old samplers, from someone selling up stock. One of them was a reproduction of a Dutch sampler from 1663

Permin chart cover

The original sampler was charted by Permin of Copenhagen – it’s a massive chart on two huge sheets of paper. Worked over two threads on 30 count fabric, the size of the whole sampler would be 61 x 57 cm! Their reference number for the kit version is 39-8406 “Sampler ‘Antique'”. (Stocked in the UK by Sew and Sew, if you fancy such a mammoth undertaking.) Back in 1663, it was stitched by 11 year old Annetje Muusdochter, who lived in Broek in Waterland, near Amsterdam.

I can’t do better than point you at this blog page from Ex Antiques, who specialise in old samplers and have researched the Broek samplers – sixteen surviving examples known so far. They have a picture of the original. Not the clearest of photos, but close enough to show that the Permin chart is very accurate. The Ex Antiques blog is a treasure trove if you are interested in old samplers, particularly Dutch samplers. There are other posts about the Broek samplers, and photos of many of them.

When I saw the sampler, two things caught my eye. The first thing was the long strip of voided patterns on the left of the sampler: oh, how I wanted to work those bands! (More about the practicalities of working them in a momannetje church and housemarksent.) I definitely wasn’t interested in producing a copy of the whole sampler, although one or two of the motifs might be quite fun to adapt, and the lettering style is quaint, if not particularly easy to read. The other thing that caught my eye was the curious way Annetje had filled the gaps between the motifs and patterns – little shapes and signs made of straight lines. What were they? Some sort of code?


Continue reading

Glimpse: a coloured openwork bookmark – PART ONE

Posted in Embroidery, Needlework, Stitches with tags , , , , , , , on January 24, 2016 by suetortoise

Glimpse - a bookmark

I’ve chosen this project as a way of explaining the coloured, counted openwork I have been working on recently, based on the examples in this old book from the Internet Archive. This is my own ‘take’ on the stitching, and is not necessarily the way it was originally done.

I am splitting the bookmark project into two posts. This one covers the materials and tools, and explains marking out, edging and cutting the threads to make an area of mesh. (The same technique works for similar types of embroidery on mesh, so it’s worth learning.) In the next post on this project we’ll do the fun bit – filling the grid with stitches.

Glimpse and threads

Continue reading

A Glimpse Into The Future…

Posted in Embroidery, Needlework, Stitches with tags , , , , , on December 29, 2015 by suetortoise

I promised to do a teaching piece about the coloured openwork I’ve been playing with. This morning I finished the stitching on the bookmark which I’ll be using for the photos and explanations.

just a glimpse

Don’t expect the finished blog article for a while. There are photos to edit, charts and diagrams to conjure up. And then I have to write the words to go with them – it could be some weeks away. But I thought I’d show you a picture to whet your appetites!

Experiments inspired by (yet another) old book

Posted in books, Embroidery, Needlework with tags , , , , , on November 1, 2015 by suetortoise

Firstly, a big hello to some new readers, who have found Tortoise Loft thanks to the amazing Mary Corbet of Needle’N’Thread blog. You are very welcome. Please feel free to join in the comments.

Blue openwork chart

The Internet Archive has been busy putting illustrations from its collection of books onto Flickr, where the picture quality often better than on the book version on its own site. (This is great news if you’ve been straining your eyes trying to resolve unclear illustrations – although the original print quality is often poor, so there’s always a limit to what can be seen.) That was how I came across a book called Broderies des paysannes de Smolensk from 1913, showing some interesting counted cutwork done in several colours rather than just white. Here’s a link to the Flickr pages, and to the book on Internet Archive.

A quick aside: in case you haven’t already noticed, the British Library has recently started doing the same thing – another little goldmine of book illustrations, diagrams, decorative initials, chapter headings and printers flourishes on Flickr. Some of the initials and chapter headings in particular seem to be just crying out to be rendered in embroidery…

At the top of the page is a chart I made based on this illustration from Broideries des paysannes… I have played with the colours as I wanted them to suit some light blue fabric.

Anyway, show me a counted-thread technique which I haven’t met before and I’m just dying to figure out how to do it, and eager to have a go for myself. Which is what is going on in this picture.

Smolensk square in progress

I’m getting the hang of it, I think. From what I can make out of the French text, the original embroideries were worked in linen thread on homespun linen, both home-dyed. I’ve made things a bit difficult for myself by using silk thread on linen. It would be easier to work with something a bit less slippery, but I do love silk. This is 32-count evenweave fabric. (The illustrations show fabric that is not evenweave, and I do think these old geometrical designs look more interesting with a bit of distortion.) This square is an experiment, a chance to find my own way of working and learn how to plan the routes for the stitching: quite a lot of zig-zagging around is required.  I’m not claiming to be doing the technique the ‘right’ way – I just tried things until I got an effect that seemed close to the original. It’s not quick. I’ll be very glad when the brown section is finished, I seem to have been stitching with brown for years!

Another aside: you can also see my personal solution for managing spools of silk. One spool, one little grip-top bag (these bags came from a craft shop). The spools can’t rub on each other in their storage box or in my workbag, won’t roll off the table and don’t usually need to come out of the bags while I’m working – unless I lose the end of the thread. I’ve been cursing silk a lot less since I began using these little bags.

I’ll let you see a picture of the final result when I have completed the square. (Reading this back, I suspect that a certain friend of mine will try to turn that last remark into a mathematical joke. Please ignore him, as usual.)

Woven Diamond Stitch – Star Variation

Posted in Embroidery, Needlework, Stitches with tags , , , , , , , on July 5, 2015 by suetortoise

Firstly, a big hello and welcome to the people who have visited thanks to Mary Corbet’s kind mention of my previous post on her blog, Needle’n’Thread. (If you’re reading this and you like embroidery and don’t already know about Needle’n’Thread – go and see what a treat you’ve been missing!) I hope you’ll find your visit to Tortoise Loft worth the journey. Don’t be shy to join in the comments if you have something to say, or want to ask a question. This post is a follow-on from the previous post, and assumes you’ve read that first.

woven diamond var star in progress

Here’s a slight variation of Woven Diamond Stitch that does not seem to be shown in Mordvalaisten pukuja kuoseja, but it’s a very obvious development. I call this ‘Star Variation’. Just a slight change in the spacing, but how different from the original version: more open and much livelier. Continue reading

Woven Diamond Stitch

Posted in books, Embroidery, Stitches with tags , , , , , , , , , on June 28, 2015 by suetortoise

Woven Diamond Stitch Border

Here’s another one of those interesting interlaced stitches from this book on the Internet Archive, Mordvalaisten Pukuja kuoseja, a book of old Mordvin costumes, embroidery patterns and stitches. This one is very similar to the Woven Circle Stitch from my first post about the book. It’s worked in much the same way, but the 8 points are spaced in a diamond shape. (I don’t know what the proper name for the stitch is, so I’ve called it Woven Diamond Stitch – does anyone know the proper name?) Continue reading