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Elmsley Rose

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Elmsley Rose

29 August 2008

Historical Sampler - Laid Leaf

I hope I don't get as many searches on "Laid Leaf" as I do on "Naked Iris" (another post title that gets a lot of pings - for the wrong reasons I think)


Out of focus, as usual.

This is the larger of the borage leaves.

Because of the re-drawn pen outline, I did an outline in stem stitch with two strands of silk so I could see it properly

I chose a YLI silk to match my green GST.

I laid threads alternately (do one, leave a space, do another, go back). I read recently, somewhere, that this is to give greater strength to the stitches.


I then laid GST parallel to the existing laid stitches.

I've done one line of couching (that dark green that matches the sepals of the borage) just off the centre of the leaf.

It's a pity the photo didn't pick up the GST well when it did pick up the gold of the borage so well - it's pretty like this.

I couched on every thread. On the other lines, I will do every alternate horizontal thread and take this original line out. I wanted to secure the GST - being a wired thread, it didn't want to stay in position in a nice parallel manner and I wanted to get it in evenly positioned lines to start with.

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Historical Sampler – Continued Adventures with a Borage


Firstly – the fishbone example labeled “Lurex” on my Doodle Cloth IS in Lurex. Not mistakenly labelled.

I found that it ‘cracked’ on the turns coming out of the cloth (just once, but that was enough for the little bit I did) so I decided to use Fil D’or instead.

I really should have done a Fil D’or example on the Doodle Cloth.

I really should use the thread I intend to use on the Cloth instead of going right ahead and assuming it will work. I thought I was pretty safe with the Fil D’or but one day it’s going to come back and bite me.


Here’s the finished borage. It has the spike outlined in No. 1 Jap Gold.


I now wish that I’d stopped here. – However, I outlined it in thicker Jap Gold.

What I would like is YOUR opinion on whether I should take out the outlining.

It’ll be a complete bugger of a job, but I think it looked better without it.

Please, give me your say.


All about the outlining

One trick I’ve discovered is that when I’m starting or ending threads, I hold my index finger on the ground (I’ve got the embroidery turned to the back, of course) so I can feel if the thread is hitting the ground itself, and not just going through the muslim backing.

Information on Outlining

I haven’t been able to discover any information about outlining motifs in my books or on-line. What I’ve got (historically, motifs were outlined in Purl Pearl or double in Passing thread (or Jap) I got from Kathryn Wolters).

I have Jane Lemon, Mary Brown, Needlework School, Zimmerman – not a word.

I guess you are supposed to look close up at extant examples – I just like things written out for me.

I did think about using a blue couching thread, because it was a blue borage, but I settled on the gold.

Plunging threads when Outlining

Anyway, I was naughty when I outlined this. I wasn't going to plunge the ends 6 times on this little motif.

I did have to do it three times, but a couple of times I took the thread across the back, and couched it down at the back so it maintained the tension it had and didn’t decide to pop up where it had been plunged.

I assume this is naughty.

Points and Tweezers

I think I am mis-using my needle point tweezers (from Berlin) in some way.

On the tip of a curve (like the point of the petals) I find it good to first use my fingernails. Then I take the thread around the curve and do the next couching thread stitch to hold it down.

Then I use the tweezers to get a proper point. I’ve still got some wriggle room on the length of thread used in the point because that first couching stitch isn’t enough to secure the thread firmly – the metal thread will pull a bit longer or shorter a bit if I want it to.

The trouble is that I tend to strip the gold from the Jap when I use the tweezers. I guess that I'm pinching too firmly - but I need to pinch firmly to get the thread to bend.

Then I keep couching.

Order of Outlining

Something I picked up from my needlepainting -  I did the backmost leaves first and then the front most leaves.

I didn't outline the sepals at all. I thought that would be too overwhelming - and also it makes them look like they are at the back. This would be a modern way of thinking, I think. Historically, I think everything in the motif was outlined, or the motif wasn't outlined.


I found that it was a good idea to hold onto the points of curves when I was plunging the ends or they were likely to be pulled out of shape when I pulled the metal thread through.

I think that being strict in keeping the couching stitches parallel to the metal thread helps keep the metal threads from twisting. When you are using two metal threads, they like to twist around each other.

This is the back of the borage :


I found that I couldn't plunge the end when I did my last outline - the spike. There was too much thread to get through.

This is a lesson to make sure that *all* threads are ended and begun away from the motif. (I wrapped some around existing embroidery)

I had to tightly couch the ends of the metal thread and then cut them off on the top. I then used a bit more white silk to cover of the spike to cover over the half of the couching threads that were over the spike.

Now, for your opinion on the outling .........

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27 August 2008

Historical Sampler - Adventures with a Borage

I wanted to do the Bronze Borage from Elizabethan Needlework Accessories by Sheila Marshall :



replacing the red/brown with blue, coz borages are blue.

The first step was to fishbone the horizontal leaves in fishbone stitch.



I used DMC Fil D'or with fishbone stitch. (I've mis-marked it "Lurex" on the doodle cloth).

The next step was to pad the other three leaves in felt:



And then cover them with satin stitch, prior to buttonholing over the top:


Then I had a thought.......

I hadn't seen any images where the borage had the 'double petals' that the design showed on three of the leaves, and so I thought I'd talk to Eowyn (Melinda Sherbring).

She pointed out that firstly, in order for it to be a borage, it needs a spike (white, with a black base).

She also hadn't seen the "double petal on three leaves" done historically and in fact all 5 leaves should be the same.

Eowyn suggested that I keep the two gold leaves - with a blue line done down the middle and do the other three in the same way.

This doesn't mean the Needlework Accessories book is incorrect, but that the author has interpreted the historical design more than I'm comfortable with, and I'd rather be closer to the historical examples.

I didn't know enough about borages to realise the discrepancy until Eowyn kindly helped me"

This is what a borage actually looks like :



complete with white, black tipped spike.


and these are it's leaves.


So, after some frogging (rippit? get it?) I was back down to just two fishboned Lurex leaves, and had changed the design a bit in pen.

I changed the leaves as well. I didn't HAVE to - some designs have all sorts of leaves mixed up with all sorts of flowers, but I wanted to.



And then, a little more fishboning, and the addition of the blue, in YLI silk in a double strand in stem stitch, down the middle.

Actually it wasn't that simple. I'd run out of Fil D'or and had to use some horrible even more artificial gold thread, and it was just awful to embroider with, but it more or less matched the Fil D'or, and it's done now, with only a few swear words.



I think that it looks lovely!

There is one integral problem remaining - the interpreted design had two horizontal leaves and 3 'other' leaves in a slightly different shape, whereas in a real borage they are all exactly the same and positioned differently. It's not too bad - I'm just conscious of it because I drew the design.

Here's a borage from the Laton Jacket (V&A T.288-1994) to show what I mean :


This also meant that the sepals are different - starting at the edge of the petals, rather than at the centre, as they do in a real flower. Oh well. It was an adventure!

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24 August 2008

A Bunch of Poppies - Finished

I've finished!

I've removed it from the frame - it just needs washing and ironing. Little bits of frame-stringing thread everywhere.

I'll put up a picture after it's recipient, Kit, has received it - so she won't have seen it in it's entirety beforehand here.

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Historical Sampler – A Rose and Two Buds II

The EverTite Frame

Firstly, I’ve gotten the embroidery onto the EverTite frame.

I followed Mary Corbet’s instructions

I found that I could get the frame together with the assistance of the heel of a shoe.

Mary recommended finishing the edge of the material and it is a good idea. I didn’t and I’ll have to, because white threads are coming off everywhere.

It tightened up to drum-tightness beautifully. I’m very pleased with it.

The Rose and Two Buds


Here it is – where I got up to last night, with the ends from the couched stem waiting to be plunged.

I didn’t know how to plunge the ends of the Jap thread when I started, and made a real mess of it for the ends outlining the rose.

I ended up couching the cut ends of the thread on the surface, and covering the couching with the pearl.

I’ve got it figured out now, and the ends outlining the bud are plunged properly :-)

Left-Handed Detached Buttonhole Stitch

I’ll call my ‘working sampler’ (where I practice stitches) my ‘doodle cloth’ to save confusion.

Practicing detached buttonhole stitch (D.B.S) on my doodle cloth I found that I remembered it from doing my embroidered book cover. (yay)

I used DMC for the practice which was a mistake. The stranding meant thread separation which, further down the thread, led to difficulty. Especially since I was practicing with a Sharp, not being able to find a Tapestry needle. A tightly wound thread like Perle thread would be much better to practice with.

Being left-handed, I realized that I did the knots upside down – with the needle coming from under the strand-across and the loop, instead of over. It looks the same, except if the bottom line isn’t connected to the bottom outline, as shown in the red rectangle below – you can see that the diagonal lines go the opposite way.


Gilt Sylke Twist and Detached Buttonhole Stitch

Embroidered with Gilt Sylke Twist (G.S.T.) is lot like I imagine it would be to embroider with wire.


The photo shows how it ‘springs' up.

I was using the D.B.S instructions from Thistle Threads, with a Reverse Chain outline, instructions from the same place (as linked from the Plymouth Embroiderers' Blog)

Very handily, the example was a calyx, which was exactly what I needed for the buds.

My first attempt on the doodle cloth was a bit of a nightmare. To get the tension correct, I found that a bit of manipulation of the G.S.T. with fingernails, and careful tightening of each knot was required.

I found that pulling the bottom loop almost tight before doing the last 'needle over the thread' was a good idea.

It was a bit much to try increasing and decreasing stitches, and use GST all in one step.

So I had a go using just a rectangle and went much better.

I had missed a couple of loops on the calyx because I found it difficult to see the G.S.T. loops. This is why the outline of the rectangle is done in Perle thread - just to make the outline loops a bit clearer while I practiced.

I did notice, when practicing the calyx, that it's important to try and get the number of outline chain stitches equal in number on each side.

You can bodge it a bit, re-using holes if you run out on one side, and I got away with it because the calyx was really small. I was going cross-eyed counting threads over which to do the reverse chain stitch, which is how I ended up with an uneven number.

The Thistle Thread instructions recommend doing the reverse chain stitch and hence the D.B.S. over 4 threads. I thought this would be a bit big for my little motifs, and experimented. I ended up doing the chains over 2 threads.

Once I stopped being frightened of the G.S.T. everything was fine.

It does have a tendency to twist up around the needle eye and needs to be carefully disentangled.

Shortening the tail of the thread by simply tugging the needle along a bit (as you do with normal thread) is a big mistake - a great way to break the gold twist.

Once the gold twist is broken, the silk thread in the centre fluffs out, and the thread is useless.


Historically, motifs were outlined in Pearl Purl or in two lines of passing thread.

I found that the Jap Thread I had suited the rose and bud I've done the best, but only using a single line. (Unfortunately I don't have every size of every thread!)

So I've cheated here.

The Stem

I had used a lot of black pen lines in getting the stem straight, and I needed a stitch that would cover those lines.

I tried first with Braid Stitch. I taught it to myself from the Country Bumpkin's Embroidery Book (clear instructions) on my doodle cloth and then tried it with the Lurex thread on my Historical Sampler.

It was terrible. The Lurex is fairly stiff, and I couldn't get it to bend in the way I needed.

So, back to the doodle cloth and I learnt Heavy Chain Stitch.

I tried with Lurex on the doodle cloth this time, and it worked well.

But the stitch just didn't provide enough coverage, when done in Lurex thread, to hide the lines.

So I ended up doing laid work.

The line is thicker than I think it should be, (or the rose smaller) but them's the breaks.

I was very tempted to do the couching stitches in green (because it's a stem) but I haven't seen laid work couching threads in anything other than red/orange or gold, unless it was Or Nue.


I forgot to mention the snail when I initially described this motif. He's there now, done in YLI silk, with two tiny eyes.

His eyes are on his head, rather than on the ends of his stalks, because that's how they were done, and otherwise it looks funny, even if it's biologically incorrect.


I've learnt heaps and heaps in doing this and haven't yet finished this motif.

However, I want to cheat and move onto a more exciting flower. Nothing involving anything like long and short stitch (ie satin stitch in another form) for at least a few days, please. I have so many exciting ones to choose from!

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20 August 2008

Historical Sampler – A Rose with Two Buds


This rose is one of a symmetrical pair. The facing rose has rosehips, rather than blossoms.

This rose will be done in satin stitch in a single strand of YLI silk floss in red.

It’s centre will be a freshwater pearl, to tie in with the large central roses, which are composed largely of pearls.

The blossom buds will be done in the same way.

The calyxes of the blossoms will be done in detached buttonhole stitch in the Gilt Sylke Thread, assuming I can manage buttonhole stitch with the long wiggly parts of the calyxes.

If buttonholing the long wiggly bits is beyond me, I’ll need to experiment to see if the GST will satin stitch at that length. Worst comes to worst, I’ll use DMC

I will practice detached buttonhole stitch, and a calyx on my ‘working sampler’ before trying them on the Historical Sampler and also practice with the GST.

The leaves will be done in GST in detached buttonhole stitch.(leaves will be rather easier shapes to do), with gold thread vines in stem stitch.

There are two curliques on the vine, one unfortunately uneven. I plan to do these in chain stitch in a fine gold thread and will fix up the inconsistency then.

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Historical Sampler – Pretty things


From left to right

  • Cascade House Rose, Ecru, Red and Light Yellow
  • Caron Waterlillies in green
  • FreshWater Pearls (I’m going to need heaps more)
  • DMC No 4. Soft Cotton (for padding raised work)

I’m pretty disappointed with the Cascade House threads. They look a lot better on the colour chart :

In real life, they have bits of gold occasionally hanging off the main silk thread.

I’ve been lazy naming the colours here– the thread numbers will be visible on the large version of the scan. But 3 of them – 2 dusty roses, and an ecru, look exactly the same to me. (I left them out)

We’ll see what it is like to embroider with …..

Behind the threads is some wool that MargB gave me to use for stuffing raised work. Many thanks to Marg.


The Green Gilt Sylke Twist. No more needs to be said.

Except, thankyou MaryC.



  • 22 YLI embroidery floss, 6 yards each
  • a card of Splendor threads (Bronze to Beige), 2 yards each.

(yes, I do like the dusty rose colours)



My goldwork threads. Some have disappeared behind others in the scan.

The top left hand corner is the Lurex, which I’ll be using for the Plaited Braid stitch.

I’m not going to name them all – I’ll do that as I use them.

And thankyou MaryC, again.!!

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18 August 2008

Plaited Braid Stitch Instructions from Calico Crossroads

Plymouth Embroiders' Story told us a few weeks ago that the instructions for the Plaited Braid Stitch they are using on the reproduction of the Laton jacket are available from Linda Conner's Calico Crossroads.

So I bought them, and they arrived today.

They come on 6 A4 pieces of glossy light card, with very clear colour reproductions of the photographs of the steps of the stitches and clear easy to read print.

2/3 of page 1 is taken up with an introduction. This contains several major tips, a commentary on the documentation of the stitch in the past, and a reference to the Leon Conrad 2 part article "which covers additional information and variations on the stitch not covered here". Oh, for a copy of that article!! (personal comment here)

The rest of page 1 through to page 5 is taken up with step by step stitch photographs.

The stitches are shown being done on a large openwork canvas, and are described by counts over the canvas threads - whereas normally even lengths are judged by eye and guidance dots for the width on fine linen - but the use of the canvas makes it clear where the needle is being placed at each point.

Each step shows two photos - one of the needle going in, and one where the needle ends up when it's come out.

The instructions show the first pretzel, and then two repeats after that, and then a final length of Plaited Braid.

I haven't actually worked through them yet, but they look as clear as could possibly be.

Included are

:- Finishing a thread
:- What the back of the work looks like
:- Ending a thread and beginning a new one
:- Working in curved lines.

The final page shows the stitch worked in various Kreinik threads, DMC Pearl Cotton and Satin Ribbon.

If I can't learn how to do Plaited Braid Stitch using these instructions, then I obviously just can't learn it, because I don't seen how Linda could have made it any clearer.

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Historical Sampler - Drawn Out Design II

I've drawn out all the design ideas I have. There are still a few holes, but I don't want to rush it, just for the sake of filling the spaces.

I've also drawn an outline around the whole thing. I'm thinking of filling the space between the outer edges of the curve and the outline with silver, like a swetebag background.

It does highlight that 1/4 of the design is out of alignment. This isn't a tracing thing - I mis-placed it (literally) when I put the design together. Ooops. Too late now. I'm just going to ignore it.

I've made detailed notes on all the motifs - I'll write them out as I embroider each motif.

I'm also getting some help from the Stitchin' Fingers forum on a few of the motifs, and the people there are great, as well as Mary Corbet from, who is a wonderful help.

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12 August 2008

Historical Sampler – Drawn Out Design



This is a pretty rough scan (not a photo) because both the camera and Photoshop pick up the warp and weft of the linen and make squiggly lines of them, making the drawing very hard to see.

Microsoft Paint isn’t intelligent enough to do that.

I don’t know why those smudges have appeared.

This is the design drawn out in pen on the linen, as far as I’ve done it to date.

I’ve got 5 more flowers to design and then put in, and the strawberries at each end.

I drew each motif up in pencil first to get the placement of the elements within the scrolling vine and then copied then (carefully!) onto the linen.

The scrolling vine line might be a bit thin at 4mm.

I read today in Zimmerman that the limits of the width of Plaited Braid Stitch is determined by the size of the thread.

The Lurex I’m using might be too thick – I have no idea. If so, I’ve got room to thicken the line – or I can try ladder stitch at the current width.

I’ve been asking in Stitchin’ Fingers about how to do the bird’s feet and legs.

Paula Hewitt had the wonderful idea of doing the bird’s beak in kid – I’d like to do that!

I’ve also been trying to find out about doing Plaited Braid Stitch left-handed. Calico Crossroads said to do it upside down and then wasn’t sure (since left handers normally reverse left-right direction).

Nobody seems to know.

Since it’s such a difficult stitch, I’d love to know – so I’m at least starting off in the correct direction when I try to learn the stitch. I will probably have to sort it out as part of my learning of the stitch.

(Or decide it’s too hard and do Ladder Stitch or Ceylon stitch instead)

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10 August 2008

Historical Sampler - Supply List

I thought I'd list the supplies I'm buying for the project

Goldwork Threads

  • 20 Yards of Dark Gold Standard Lurex Thread No. 371 for the plaited braid stitch
  • ½ Yard(s) of Gilt No. 1 Pearl Purl for outlining motifs
    1 ½ Yards of Gilt Super Pearl Purl for outlining motifs
  • 1 Reel(s) of Gold No. 1 Imitation Japan Thread for outlining motifs
  • ½ Yard(s) of Gilt No. 6 Broad Plate for flowers from Nevinson cushion
  • 1 Yard(s) of Silver No. 6 Smooth Passing Thread for leaves
  • 1 Yard(s) of Gold 2% WM No. 5 Smooth Passing Thread for leaves
  • 1 Gold No. 543 Au Ver A Soie d Alger Silk Thread for couching passing thread and plate
  • 1 Silver silk thread for couching silver passing thread
  • I also have a stash of various gold threads given to me as a gift that I can experiment, including various purl purl threads.


Goldwork Equipment

  • 1 Velvet Board (for cutting the plate)
  • 1 Goldwork and Beading Pad 8 1/2 inch by 11 inch
  • 1 pair pointed tip scissors (Gingher)
  • 1 Stainless Steel Tweezers



(I don't currently own any silk thread)

  • 22 YLI 6 yard embroidery floss
  • 5 Cascade House silk thread (wound with gold thread)

  • 1 Splendor Silk, 2 yards each of 5 shades of Bronze to Porcelain
  • Green Gilt Sylke Thread (for leaves) (gift)
  • 2 Canson Waterlillies silk variegated threads in greens (for leaves)
  • DMC thread (which I own)
  • DMC soft cotton/bumpf (for padding)
  • wool (for padding) (gift)



  • No 8 crewel (for cascade house threads)
  • No 24 and 26 tapestry for detached buttonhole
  • No 12 sharps (gold thread)
  • No 10 embroidery needles (gold thread)
  • Chenille needles (to assist in plunging the tails of metal threads to the back of the work)

- #20, #18, (majority of threads), #16, #13)

  • Curved bead needles (for couching metal tails at the back of the work)



  • Legacy Linen, 29-30 count
  • Freshwater pearls
  • Contact (for the semi-detached work)
  • Beeswax
  • Small wooden mallet (for the EverTite frame assembly)
  • EZ Tackit kit (for attaching linen to frame)
  • 2 sets EverTite frame stretcher bars and the T Tool


Still to buy

  • Goldwork threads for the pearl roses and the bird
  • · 1 Yard of Gilt Smooth Passing Thread

    -1 Yard of Gilt (Gold) No. 3 Pearl Purl

    -1 Yard of Wire Check Purl No 7

    -1 Yard of Gilt (Gold) No. 6 Twist

    - 1 Yard of No. 4 Twist

  • Spangles
  • Kreinik Red/Gold Couching Thread

Not much, really.

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Historical Sampler – Linen Preparation, Pattern Transfer and Drawing the Scrolled Vines Lines at Full Width

My linen is 29-30 Count Legacy Linen in Parchment colour.

A couple of days ago I prepared it according to Mary Corbet’s Linen Preparation formula at

I then followed her instructions in “Dressing a Slate Frame"

up until she folded up the edges of the linen, in order to cut it to size, and straight (!)

Thankyou Mary for providing this information :-)


I then pinned down dressmaker's transfer paper, and then the tracing of the design on top.

I ran over the design with a biro.

It came out fairly well (I used blue and green transfer paper - I needed two of them).

But there was a slight problem.

I'd pinned the design down crookedly.


I can't believe that I did that. I really really don't.


I turned the linen over and took a deep breath.

This time I measured from the top of the tracing paper (which was graphed tracing paper, and so guaranteed to be in straight lines) to the top of the material (which I'd run a thread from, so I also knew it to be straight) and made sure that the measurement was the same all along the top.

And then I did the transfer again.

Some of the design shows a little from the back, but it's faint, and it'll be covered up (apart from maybe a very small amount). I'm not paying for and waiting for another $20 piece of linen to start again - it's not that bad.

I tried to photograph the transferred design, but the warp and weft of the linen causes funny lines to appear in the photo. The same thing will happen with a scan, I know from experience.

I can see why Mary mentioned using starch when ironing the linen at the end of preparation. I didn't, and my linen was covered in tiny wrinkles after the first transfer and had to be re-ironed before the second attempt.

I imagine I'll have to iron it again before framing it up.

I will be framing it in an EverTite frame (reviewed by Mary at

and I'll be referring to the post above again when I actually set up my linen - when my EverTite frame arrives in the post in a couple of weeks.


I now had a single thin line on the fabric representing the scrolling vines.

However, the vines had been drawn one pen width thick. They are supposed to be much thicker in order to fit plaited braid stitch which I'll be using to embroider the vines. And the motifs have to fit inside these thicker vines.

So I needed to draw in the thicker line so I'd know how much space there would be for the motifs. (I'll have to re-draw the motif designs I've already done so they'll fit in with this thicker line.)

The linen is evenweave so I could count threads and make dots next to the line every centimetre or so, and then draw a line to connect them. This is much easier than trying to use a ruler to measure a few millimetres from the line although it has bee making me go a bit cross-eyed.

I'm making the thick vine 4 threads wide, and the thin vine (that curls off the main vine in some places) two threads wide.

I'll do some other stitch for that thin vine. I'll have to experiment on my 'working sampler' where I'll be experimenting with how thin I can make Ladder Stitch, or maybe I'll just use Chain Stitch.

For each segment of vine, I'm making sure that I place the dots so that it lies to the outside of the design on the edges, rather than the inside. Otherwise, by thickening the vine to the inside I'd just be eating motif space.


The red line is the one I'm placing, rather than the black line that eats into the interior of the design. (and no, I can't draw with a mouse)

Of course, as the vine travels into the interior, it eats space but this is a way to decrease that a little.

I noticed that when I did the transfer I had a slight tendency to flatten the curves - I guess the drag from the fabric slowed my pen (or I just tend to flatten curves) so I've needed to do a little fixing.

Sometimes the thin vines get cut off at the feet as the thick vine goes through them. For example, the straight line shown in under the red and black lines has a thin vine to either side of it. No matter which side I place the thicker line, one of those thin vines is going to end up 4 threads shorter.

I'm increasing them so they are all the same length.(10 threads length). It'll be more obvious to the eye that they are different lengths once they are embroidered in gold, than a difference in the amount of blank area they intrude into, especially once that blank area is covered with motifs.

I was thinking about *how thick* to make the thick vine this morning, and was wondering whether there were any rules (across an uneven number of threads, across an even number?) and I ended up deciding that there weren't any. It's a plait anyway, not a counted stitch.

I've made the vine at the largest thickness that still suits the design. I just hope that it isn't so thin that it makes it difficult to embroider in Plaited Braid Stitch, since the design in general is fairly fine. (The whole thing is 20" by 10")

I've never seen any information on how to draw down the scrolled vines, so all of this is a bit of an experiment.

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Bunch of Poppies – The Scroll Frame

When I was lacing the scroll frame for the Poppies project, I used a single layer of bias binding as the material through which to insert the lacing.

I should have used a double layer. After all this time, and repeated tightenings, the bias binding is showing serious signs of wear.

I’ve had to re-lace two or three entire sections during the course of the project, starting new lacing holes because the old ones have started to tear and wouldn’t take being under tension anymore.



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Bunch of Poppies – Second Red Poppy Finished


I think this is my favourite poppy.

It’s amazing how putting a little orange thread in changes the tone of the red appear to tend more towards orange/red range than the other red poppy.

This poppy also shows the importance of the order in which the petals are done – the ‘most behind’ petal is done first and then the petals worked in order until the ‘most forward’ petals are done last.

If I hadn’t done this, I wouldn’t have the bottom threads of the two side petals sitting just over the top of the bottom petal, which is ‘behind’ them, which is important to the appearance of the flower.

This is in contrast to Japanese Embroidery, where frontmost elements are done first. Carol-Anne talks about this in

I’ve finished doing the green leaves too. My needlepainting style appears to have changed a little while I was doing the poppies, because the leaves look a little different to the rest.

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9 August 2008

Rust Red Iris – Gone Home


hair 003

The Rust Red Iris went off the other day to it’s recipient, Sally, for her birthday.

She’s framed it ….. looking good!

Now to finish the Poppies before Kit’s birthday on the 28th.

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7 August 2008

Historical Sampler – Motif Design



I’ve started work on the overall design.

The largest circles are 2”

The 4 middle sized circles are just over 1”

The 19 small circles are just under 1”. They don't have circles showing them - they are marked by the small thin stem extending from the main vine.

I’ve gone for more symmetry than I thought I would. I guess because I’ve started off with symmetry, having two of the pearl roses in the largest circles in the middle, on each side of the bird.

I printed out all my absolute favourites from my design collection and it's worked out pretty well.

In the 4 middle circles, I’m putting :-

  • marigold - alternating passing thread and orange and red silk
  • tulip - semi-detached buttonhole stitch
  • pea pods - semi detached buttonhole stitch
  • dusty pink rose - semi detached buttonhole stitch

In the smallest circles I'm putting

  • dog rose - semi detached, purl centre
  • rose from the Nevinson cushion - alternating passing thread and silk
  • honeysuckle - haven't decided yet
  • ?
  • purl rose
  • primrose - haven't decided yet
  • borage - "
  • pearl rose - alternating pearls and silk

and a fair number of butterflies, worms, caterpillars and snails to accompany them.

In the small circles that extend from the large pearl roses, I'm doing dog roses. One will have blossoms and be in red, and the other will be in shades of pink and have red rosehips.

Thanks to Eowyn for inspiring me for that idea, and helping me sort out dogroses and their colours.

At the curves at each outermost end I'm going to put a variety of strawberries and strawberry flowers.

I'll be outlining everything in super Purl Pearl and No 1. Pearl Purl. I'm getting some No 1 Japanese Thread as well, just in case the smallest buds I do are too small for the super Purl Pearl.

I'll be doing leaves in a variety of methods.


I've already done a couple of designs

I've done the dog roses (one shown in each picture), with notes on stitches and materials to be used.

I've also done a design for the marigold :-



I'll keep using additional sheets of the photocopy of the design so I have room to make my notes. There's room on this one to put another design or two.

As I embroider each motif, I'll put up the lots of details of what I'm doing - the design notes, how I'm doing it (and where I'm getting stuck!), photos of progress and the finished mini-design of each.

This sampler will be a heap of small projects one after the other.

Here is a picture of my favorite flower - the dusty pink semi detached rose


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4 August 2008

Historical Sampler - Comany for Motifs III

I showed a picture (Plate XI) from Levinson, saying that it showed the style of motifs I want to use.

However, the picture was really terrible.

Susan Farmer saw the post, and was kind enough to give me a colour image of the object (a cushion) from the Victoria & Albert Museum's Textile Collection: Embroidery in Britain from 1200 to 1759 Figure 36

Now the motifs can be seen! :-)

Silver gilt thread is used, and a little plate, with silk.

The motifs are very slim compared to a lot I've seen.

I particularly like the marigold - it has a more svelte seed pod, whereas many patterns I've seen strike me as being a bit chunky.

Thankyou, Susan!

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Bunch of Poppies - Blue Poppy finished

It's interesting to see what a difference the choice of threads makes.

With the blue and purple poppies the lightest shade was two shades lighter than the medium colour. It looks like a strong light is shining on them and they are reflecting it.

With the red poppy I used 3 contiguous colours and it is far more blended. It looks like a weak light is shining on it. You can still see the lighter parts.

(comment from Kit, the recipient)

I've started the second red poppy. It has some burnt orange in it. The combination of it with the dark red looks like fire - it's lovely.

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2 August 2008

Elizabethan Flower Color

This is a partial list of colours used to embroider flowers by the Elizabethans, compiled with the assistance from Baroness Eowyn Amberdrake (Melinda Sherbring)

They used natural colours in their embroidering. It is to be remembered that not all flower colours available today were available then.

  • Roses - Red, pink, cream.
  • Strawberries - Red, pink, cream (unripe), very light orange-red (unripe). Red, pink, white, gold, black Seeds
  • Daffodil - yellow, orange, parts in cream
  • Marigold - yellow, orange shaded down to a 'burnt' orange
  • Honeysuckle - Yellow, pink, cream, red (cream is unusual)
  • Borage - only ever shades of blue (I’ve found one exception, but that was probably just the embroiderer getting confused)
  • Carnation – mostly in pinks. Also bits of cream, red, yellow, ecru
  • Thistle - white, purple, red
  • Sweet Pea Flower - pink, white
  • Primrose - yellow
  • Cornflower – only ever shades of blue
  • Pomengranate – orange, red
  • Pansies – every colour
  • Grapes – every colour

I will look at foxgloves and strawberry flower colours as well. I also want to re-check the sweet pea colours. Thankyou to Kathryn Newell for questioning these entries.

With shades of beige/ecru/cream, it’s a good idea to look at the rest of the embroidery. Has the rest faded? Is so, the beige/ecru/cream may be the ground showing through, or faded threads.

The embroiderers then were human too, and occasionally confused colours for flowers (such as the pink and ecru borage that I found)

Drat, because my embroidered book cover has a *pink* cornflower on it, and now it's always going to bother me.

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Historical Sampler - Placement Notes

I started designing my first motif last night, based on a pattern from a pattern book, and found I had to find out a few more things.

These are some things I've noticed in Elizabethan scolling vine design :

  • Leaves and flowers may impact upon/cross over/go under vines
  • An entirely different flower may be included with the main flower
  • Leaves in the interior of one scroll may be of different shapes
  • The end of the scroll is such that the main flower usually points 90 deg upwards, unless it is a hanging motif (eg peapods, foxglove) in which case it curves over more
  • Leaves may or may not have stalks extruding from the main vine
  • There may be partial leaves
  • The following can be randomly spotted around as between vine space fillers, and may or may not be connected to it
    • Butterflies, insects, snails
    • Birds
    • Leaves
    • Pomengrates.
    • Strawberries
    • spangles
    • Small curliques
    • Acorns
  • Leaves may intrude on the interior of the scroll from the main vine, or extrude from the inner coil of the vine into the interior of the scroll
  • Leaves may come off the scroll in a straight line (tho I think this looks clumsy)
  • Small stalks may curl over the main vine
  • In Illumination work, I’m used to following the rule “leaves/fruit alternate on each side of the vine”. This rule isn’t followed here. They go wherever they’ll fit.
  • Snails and the other creatures sit on balanced on top of the vine, not over it.
  • Any insect may be free-floating.


Sources ::

  • Jacket (The Laton Jacket)

About 1610; 1620 (alteration)
Linen, embroidered with coloured silks, silver and silver-gilt thread
Width 60cm x length 51cm x circumference 79.5cm
Museum no. T.288-1994

  • Woman’s jacket of linen embroidered with silk and silver-gilt thread, trimmed with silver and silver-gilt bobbin lace, English V&A T.228-1994
  • Woman’s jacket in linen embroidered in silk, silver and silver-gilt thread. English 1600-1625. V&A 919-1873
  • Woman’s Jacket, 1600-1625, Great Britain , Museum number V&A 919-1873

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1 August 2008

Historical Sampler - Company for Motifs II

This picture is from Thomasina Becks "The Embroiderer's Flowers", page 35

It happens to show perfectly what I was talking about in the post "Company for Motifs"

The top image shows that some scrolling vine designs have just leaves to accompany the flowers.

I want to do buds, and seed pods, and half opened flowers, to get experience with the different shapes so I'm looking for more complicated motifs.

The lower image shows the kind of motif that I want - much more clearly than the image I scanned from Nevinson's book for the other post. (yay - I really wasn't happy with that). Beck has the Nevinson image as well (page 64)

There are heaps of these motifs in Beck's book.

I've also been looking at the placement of butterflies, worms etc (insects) on the vines.

Dorothy Clarke's "Exploring Elizabethan Embroidery" has a snail sitting over a vine, obscuring it.

Looking at extant embroideries, the snails and other creatures sit on balanced on top of the vine, not over it.

Any insect may be free-floating.

I'll be using lots of the flower instructions from the "Elizabethan series" (I have 3 of them), but I feel I have to check placement, designs and colours carefully. The instructions on construction various flowers are really useful tho.

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