Learning to Love Blackwork

Monday, May 29, 2017

At my last embroidery guild meeting, we learned how to do blackwork embroidery and were shown the EGA pattern Learning to Love Blackwork by Linda Dorril (if you become an EGA member, you will have access to it to try for yourself!).

I have come across blackwork embroidery on the great internet before, and I did not think much of it. It uses counted cloths which I haven’t been a fan of in the past, and it looked simple enough: a single thread with simple geometric designs.

Alas, I was naive. Blackwork is one of the most difficult things I have done in the embroidery realm. Counting really matters, and the more complex the design, the more focus needed! The method we used was the Holbein stitch, sometimes also called the double running stitch. I prefer calling it Holbein because it is named after Hans Holbein the Younger, a painter who visually preserved the embroidery in his paintings of Henry VIII (yes, that one). Some believe that his first wife Catherine of Aragon (whom survived his worst ill temper but that he divorced through annulment) made it a popular style for the well-to-do. I have an art history background, so I loved that it is part of Holbein’s world (I first was introduced to his “the Ambassadors” with a sneaky skull) and I really truly enjoyed Showtime’s The Tudors, so the combination was fascinating.

The most difficult aspect for me wasn’t the counting – I felt like I met my match in a world of sewing that married itself to another pastime of mine: puzzle-solving. It was neat; it was fun; it was surprisingly tricky sometimes. I kept exclaiming to Boy how I just couldn’t get over how naive I was before I began! By “skipping” every other stitch, sometimes it was difficult to know where you were going. No, the difficult part was that Holbein stitch is traditionally used on fabrics of cloth where you’d see both the front and back (like the cuff of a flouncy sleeve). Thus, the front and back needed to look identical and nice. The backside looking nice? Not my strong suit. Although the image below looks decent (except for the blurriness and giganto knots), I decided no one would be seeing my backside and just sewed as usual. I’d say about ⅓ is done in correct blackwork style, but the other ⅔ went off key a bit (okay, quite a bit sometimes!).

The other issue is that I went off the chart and tweaked the design without drawing it out. I shifted center; I expanded the shape a little; I added extra bits to fill in what I felt like were way-too-noticeable gaps. Perhaps that was seeking a level outside of my beginner skill. Much undoing, redoing, undoing, and redoing was had. But eventually I gave in to my frustrations and the idiosyncrasies I had created and decided I had a finished product.

 

See more posts related to:

2 Comments

  1. Melanie

    I am a member of a local needlework guild and am trying to find the pattern and instructions for the “Learning to Love Blackwork” with no success. Could you tell me where I may be able to find the instructions. Thank you for your help in this matter.

    Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Looking for more cases of the Crafties?
Stitch Club: Edwards

Stitch Club: Edwards

Priscilla Edwards led a TextileArtist.org’s Stitch Club where we learned to make a wire frame and use batik wax to form a sculpture. For whatever reason, I decided I’d make a sailboat!

read more
Hexie Dreams + Template

Hexie Dreams + Template

My Hexie Dreams quilt, which was carefully fussy cut and hand pieced by me, then hand quilted by my gramma, is finally finished after three+ years of work (and avoidance). The proof is in the stitching – persistence pays off!

read more
Stitch Club: Dias

Stitch Club: Dias

Cassandra Dias lead a TextileArtist.org’s Stitch Club workshop on embroidered landscapes, and I was inspired to recreate a honeymoon photo of France’s Pont Du Gard.

read more
Hello 2024!

Hello 2024!

For the start of 2024, I’ve been playing with drawing, paint, and watercolor pencils to get a feel for the media.

read more
Ida Andersen Lang’s Tutorial

Ida Andersen Lang’s Tutorial

I followed a water color pencil tutorial by Ida Andersen Lang to work through some techniques to set me up for a successful Mixed Media 2024 journey.

read more
Stitch Club: Boschert

Stitch Club: Boschert

Deborah Boschert lead a TextileArtist.org’s Stitch Club on creating a mixed media art quilt. I based mine upon a visit to a new town and restaurant.

read more
Finds and Things

Finds and Things

A random post about some art supplies, vintage finds, and an AI-generated experiment for future crafts.

read more
Stitch Club: Stone 3

Stitch Club: Stone 3

Sue Stone’s third workshop with TextileArtist.org’s Stitch Club prompted us to use text in our piece, so I recorded a trip to Shawnee National Forest.

read more
Stitch Club: Stone 2

Stitch Club: Stone 2

Sue Stone led a TextileArtist.org’s Stitch Club in her well-known portrait style, and I was inspired to capture a man in a hat in four variations.

read more
Hexie Dreams 19

Hexie Dreams 19

My hand sewn fussy-cut EPP Hexie Dreams quilt is all ready to go to my gramma for hand quilting. Check out a few of my embellished hexies, and come back in the future for the finished product!

read more
My Village Quilt

My Village Quilt

I present to you My Village Quilt, based on the Urban Village Green quilt: a four-year-long project that tipped the love-hate scale finally over to love.

read more
Hexie Dreams 18

Hexie Dreams 18

My fussy-cut EPP Hexie Dreams quilt is coming along. All the flowers were stitched into rows and the rows are being stitched together now for the final push. I also share some of my dear sewing supplies!

read more
Stitch Club: Maue

Stitch Club: Maue

TextileArtist.org’s Stitch Club with Joetta Maue prompted a stitched piece from a photograph and I’ve recreated an adored image of my late grandparents.

read more