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Elmsley Rose

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Elmsley Rose

30 June 2010

Playtime in Green and Gold

I’ve just made an order to Tanya Berlin :
9 inch Sample of Gilt Bright Check Purl - No. 89 inch Sample of Gilt Rough Purl - No. 8
9 inch Sample of Gilt Smooth Purl - No. 8
9 inch Sample of Gilt Wire Check Purl - No. 8
9 inch Sample of Gilt 8 x 2 Check Thread
9 inch Sample of No. 5 Dull Check Purl - Green
9 inch Sample of No. 5 Rough Purl - Green
15 Inches of No. 1 Bright Check Bullion - Gilt Bright
1 Yard of No. 1 Twist – Gilt
1 Yard of Gilt Elizabethan Twist
1 Yard of Twist - Gilt No. 1 ½
1 Yard of Gilt No. 6 Twist
1 Yard of Gilt Flatworm Thread - No. 6
1 Yard of Medium Rococco - Gilt
1 Yard of Very Fine Rococco – Gilt
Some serious playing to be had with these! It’s all gilt, but still – that’s an awful lot of gold thread for $35. I’ll have to get a bigger gold thread box.
I like it that you can get 9” samples of everything – plenty for what I want to do, with a bit left for future reference.
I’ve decided not to do the leaves shown in the photo in the last post. The biggest of them is 1cm long. I’d have to use the smallest size of each thread, and the thread details wouldn’t be visible unless you were close up to the piece.
I’ve got several leaves dotted around that end – I’ll use those, and experiment with various embroidery stitches on the rose leaves.

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29 June 2010

The Pomegranate and Roses

I realised that I’d forgotten to put up a picture of the finished pomegranate – with it’s top on.
It’s Lurex couched down with a green DMC thread. You can see the brick couching of the red in the middle as well.
I wonder now whether I should have gone for evenness in the ‘wings’ of the top and partially covered the blue leaf, rather than making it as big as possible whilst fitting it in.
Next time, I think I’d partially cover the blue leaf, even if it is a non-Elizabethan approach. I have to make allowances for the fact that I made up and drew this design myself, apart from the gold curves, which are based on the Douce bible cover.
I’ve finished that silver-grey backgroud – yay!
I had terrible problems. Every fourth stitch or so, doing tent stitch, 5 across 2, I suddenly discovered that the next available hole horizontally meant that I had to do 5 across one, or leave a gap. So there are an awful lot of 5/1 stitches, partially covered over with 5/2 stitches as I made the correction with the following stitch. Then it’d happen again.
The overall effect is ok – you can’t really see the overstitching. I bought evenweave linen, but it doesn’t feel very evenweave to me after that experience!
My tension could be better – I’ve done loads of Bargello, but it hasn't been for years.
Here’s a photo of a big gold rose with pearls, with a long green and gold stem extending from it, topped by a small red rose.
And here is the same pattern on the other side of the design – pointing out the opposite way. The bird is in between them.
I’m going to do this second big rose/stem/small rose combo next because I want to bring out the geometricality of the piece before working on more of the motifs on the sides.
I’ll do the small rose and the stem first.
Thankyou Julie for your present of 18% Jap thread, as I seem to have lost my tube of my more ordinary Jap thread, and it’s used in the stem.
I used Grecian twist on the existing rose, and want to order a similar, but different thread from the Berlin site, where I get all my goldwork supplies, for the other rose, all in the name of experience.
And then
If you click on
at Tanya Berlin’s site and scroll down you’ll bring up some pictures and descriptions of how different metal threads can be used.
For example :
(purl with pailettes every third purl - yummy)
(rococco threads)
I have a 8 small leaves to do :
I plan to buy small quantities of each type of thread, and try the examples out. I might have to find a couple of extra techniques.
So that’s me sorted for the next couple of months.
Yes, I have joined the Tudor and Stuart Gold MasterClass from Thistle Threads, but I’m not going to do the kits until I’ve finished my sampler.
The course is great! And the people in the class are wonderfully supportive of my endless questions.
Back to the Sampler, I’ve made enquires about finishing it from Ruth O’Leary of and she very kindly provided me with a detailed method.
It sounds rather like an entire project in itself. Artist’s canvas backing with a rod to keep it straight, possibly curtain weights to keep it hanging straight down, then a ‘nice’ backing with a rod for hanging.
I’m not looking forward to sewing on the artist’s canvas!

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28 June 2010

Queen Stitch : To Pull Or Not to Pull

Historically, queen stitches were tightly pulled.

Here are some examples :

Mid 17thC sampler from


Needlework Purse from 1745, from

Purse Detail :

How Could they achieve such a tight pull?
Tricia Nguyen of Thistle Threads says (quoted with permission)
“The linen is a lot looser on the originals. Therefore they were able to get more pull. They also had them in slate frames, secured on all sides so they could pull them better.”
Non-Pulled Queen Stitch
After extensive searching on the Net, I could find one stitch diagram that *wasn’t* pulled – at the Kreinik site.
There are a few examples of non-pulled stitches in various blogs, but the great majority are pulled.
How much should we pull the stitch?
Tricia Nguyen of Thistle Threads says (quoted with permission) says it’s up to the individual.
How to pull a Queen Stitch in shown in

Rachel of 

        "You don't need to back the linen, in fact if you want to work the
        Queen Stitches as pulled stitches, you mustn't, because the backing
         would interfere with the pulling!

          In the same way, I quite specifically did not shrink the linen, because
          having the thread slightly space made the counting and the pulling much easier..."

Martha of, in an e-mail to me on 28th June 2010
“I've been thinking about photos and this stitch, and I'm beginning to think that the pulling often gets lost in the photography and just becomes part of the overall pattern and texture.
I know with mine, I occasionally hold the piece up to the light to just spot check that the pull is more or less even. . . although it's not totally consistent.
In my own stitching, it especially seems that the stitches that are off by themselves seem to pull more. Perhaps this has to do with my personal hand. .. or maybe it's that there are no neighboring stitches to even out the pull.
Please note that I am definitely NOT an expert. . . am just reporting some personal observations.”
and in an e-mail on the 25th June
“It seems to me that you should think about how much pull you want before you start stitching. . . since I'd assume you'll want all the stitches to look about the same.
The look of pulled stitches will also be more pronounced if you move to a lower thread count ground or a more loosely woven ground.”
Thankyou so much Tricia, Rachel and Martha, for adding your valuable opinions.

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23 June 2010

Queen Stitch, Hints and Tips and More

Alternative Names for Queen Stitch
Renaissance stitch is also known as Queen stitch and is a variation on Roumanian stitch which creates a beautiful regular pattern.
The back is worked in rococo stitch, known as queen stitch in the 16th and 17th centuries. - 22 Nov 2006 21:42 GMT
……the Queen Stitch which was known in the American
Revolution era as the Rococo Stitch since the Americans did not want anything to sound Royal.
Note : Renaissance stitch diagrams look quite different : and
so I’m not worrying about investigating that further, since it’s Queen stitch we’re concerning ourselves with.
Why Can Queen Stitch be a hard stitch to do?
Brenda Lewis - 15 Dec 2005 18:49 GMT
It seems like a number of people find Queen Stitch ornery. What is it about the stitch that is challenging?
It is a time-consuming, detail-oriented stitch. It takes so long to do a single queen stitch some people never find a rhythm for them.
Most of us could fill in a solid color area with cross-stitch or tent stitch when half-asleep but queen stitch requires a LOT more attention.
(Needleworker not in paradise)
Part of my problem is just the fiddly nature of this stitch. You are taking four vertical stitches and anchoring them down with a single stitch over one vertical thread. It's just tiny stuff.
I believe with proper lighting and most importantly good tension, I can conquer this. And maybe even come to love this stitch as some of my friends have.
Hints and Tips
Boohoo1971 - 07 Jan 2004 16:02 GMT
The trick in working a queen stitch is adjusting the tension a bit looser on the two outside threads than on the two center threads.
When you work it, you will see that a number of threads go
into the same hole. Don't worry about that hole getting bigger...that makes an interesting design in a bunch of worked queen stitches.
This stitch was one I struggled with for years, until I took a class with Eileen Bennett.
I found that, contrary to my brain's logic, they really do work best if stitched left to right and all tacking stitches are taken right to left (or vise versa - tied down stitches right to left, tacking stitches left to right).
They don't turn out the same if you do the two outside (or inside) tied down stitches first and take the tacking stitches always from the inside out. I don't know why. They also have to be stitched fairly tightly.
as opposed to :
PaulaB - 10 Jan 2004 01:59 GMT
My experience and that of my students has been to work the queen stitch symmetrically - choose whether you prefer to work the outer stitches first or the inner ones first.
I prefer the outer ones. So I work the outer left, then the inner left, then the outer right, and last the inner right.
If you go straight across from left to right 1-2-3-4, then the stitch tends to have a non-symmetrical, windblown look to it.
Just try it in every possible configuration (number or label them somehow so you remember which is which!) and
find the one you like best!
I also prefer to start at the top of the stitch, but starting at the bottom is also perfectly accceptable, *as long as you are consistent.*
Some prefer to pull the holes open at the tops and bottoms and some prefer to leave it more of a diamond shape (I prefer the holey look - if you look at old samplers, they
often pulled holes open with this stitch, especially when they're in groups) - and again, either is correct, as long as it is consistent.
as opposed to : 

Martha of, in an email to me, 25th July 2010 
I personally work all the long stitches in order either from left to right or right to left (more on this below), but my small tie down stitches are always from the center of the stitch to the outside (tie downs of 2 right long stitches go from left to right, those of left long stitches go from right to left). This is the best way I've found to make sure the two outside legs make a nice diamond shape. I work the stitch in such a direction that my last stitch (for me an outside tie down), goes in the OPPOSITE direction of where my thread will go to begin the NEXT stitch. This way, all parts of the stitch have tension maintained on them. So if I am doing a stitch <<>> and want to do the next stitch to the RIGHT of that, I work this stitch from right to left, with the last stitch being the tie down of the far left long leg. I do a similar thing when determining whether to work the long legs top to bottom or bottom to top. I start the long leg where it will be under tension from the previous stitch. For me, it's easier to get even tension working the stitch on a diagonal. A friend of mine SWEARS by a totally different working technique. She stitches the tie down stitch (probably doesn't pull it tight), then threads the long leg under it. I believe this technique is taught by designer/teacher Eileen Bennett. (Note the second mention of Eileen Bennett, with a different stitching technique! - Elmsley Rose)

Ellice - 11 Jan 2004 06:06 GMT
Personally, I find using little needles helps a bit (it may be in my head) when it's getting crowded!
I use 26 petites, instead of the normal 26s or 28s if on some really fine count
PaulaB - 11 Jan 2004 13:52 GMT
The more I have clumped together, the easier it is for me if I do pull them tight - it just gives me that much more room.
…… I tried doing queen stitch with a group of separated strands and it worked quite well. The original tightly twisted thread was too round to spread out sufficiently to cover the area of the stitch, but when untwisted, it did this quite nicely.
Comment on In_Which_We_Explain_Queen_Stitch post from the blog NeedleWorker Not In Paradise:-
The Chilly Hollow Needlepoint Adventure said...
I can see why it might drive you nuts, particularly on a small count.
When I diagram stitches, I use 10 count plastic canvas. It enables me to see just how a stitch is constructed and how the thread path twists and turns. Helps me get the smoothest look.
It might help you figure out the best way to do this, which might not be the way it is diagrammed.
Jane, trying to be helpful from CH
Comment on this post, copied here because of it's value, from Yvette Stanton :
"I was doing some queen stitch in hand on the train the other morning. It was turning out to be a mess, with stitches in wrong places and therefore not aligning.

When I got to my destination, I found my hoop (which wasn't with me on the train) and used that. I also decreased the number of strands I was using which made it less full, but enabled me to see what was going on better.

With fewer strands and a hoop, the queen stitch turned out beautifully."
Stitch Diagrams
  • Step by Step Photos with explanations :

(4th reference, keep hitting “Next”)

  • Stitch Diagrams :

    and says "The best illustration I've seen is in this book:
    The Proper Stitch
    by Darlene O'Steen
    ISBN: 0932437036
    Symbol of Excellence Publishers, Inc.
    405 Riverhills Business Park
    Birmingham, AL 35242
    • Stitch Animation :
    (click on Queen Stitch in the left hand column)
    For Left Handers
    Yvette Stanton's new book ""The Left-Handed Embroiderer's Companion: A step-by-step stitch dictionary"" is the only one I know that diagrams Queen Stitch for Left Handers. It also diagrams
    all of the other silk stitches we use in this project, and the first two gold thread
    It is available from her site, from Nordic Needle, or ask your local Needlework shop if it has it, or can get it in if not.

    Mary Corbet of NeedleNThread reviews the book at

    Pulled Queen Stitch
    Scroll down to "Rococo Stitch"
    Accompanying Stitch Diagram (click on the tiny diagram next to the stitch description to get your own enlarged copy)

    On the page mentioned in Step by Step Diagrams,, there is the sentence :

    "Some designers like to open the space at 1 and 2 with an awl. It adds to the details of this stitch and makes very uniform stitches in your design. Remember to lock your stitching by always pulling when the thread is on top of the fabric. You just need to give the thread a slight tug to lock it."

    Since the name "Eileen Bennett" came up twice, I had a look and found she'd done a couple of relevant books :
       From : The West Kingdom Needleworkers' Guild Annotated Booklist - General Embroidery Book List
    A Notebook of Sampler Stitches

    Bennett, Eileen
    self-published, Grandville MI, 1990

    50 of the most common stitches as seen in early 17th C. samplers.
    Quite useful to a solid understanding of the stitches and how they were
    used. SB Intermediate)
    The Evolution of Samplers

    by Eileen J Bennett of the Sampler House

    An embroidery and sampler time line, covering a four hundred year history of sampler making

    Buy from
    There are more books by her that may be of interest, if you google her name, including one on the Bostocke Sampler.
    Posts on Queen Stitch yet to come :
    • A look at whether the stitches were pulled tight or not (in quick summary, all the historical extant pieces I’ve seen have the holes pulled tight. A few modern pieces and one stitch diagram shows the stitch unpulled.
    • Tracing Queen Stitch through History
    • Variations on Queen Stitch (just for interest)

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    14 June 2010

    Design and Stitch Decisions for the Background

    I’ve decided against stitching the entire background.
    Instead, I’m doing two sections of the design – symmetrically opposite sections.
    Here it is on one side, coloured in red.
    It’s a pity I couldn’t do a second print of this image, play around with paper and sticky tape, and show you the whole piece with both sections highlighted, so you could see how they reflected each other.
    But my printer isn’t working atm. (dead printer head)
    Below is a photo of the entire piece. You can see the second large pearl rose drawn in just right of the centre – the bird is between it and the first, finished large pearl rose on the left. These are the most distinguishable features.
    And extending from the unfinished large pearl rose, another long stem and a small rose at the end of it, mirroring the design on the left.
    Strawberries are at the end of the design, same as at the other, finished end.
    The remaining unfinished flowers, insects and leaves are …. all sorts of things. They are all different to the finished ones and will explore more Elizabethan techniques.
    I’ve decided to do this partial background, even tho I’ve never seen an Elizabethan extant piece have something similar.
    a) because I think it’ll look pretty
    b) really, because I’m only managed 2 or 3 lines every 2 or 3 nights, so it’s going to take me ages.
    This is what I’ve done so far of this partial background :
    So the ‘dome with ears’ will be filled in, down to touch the edge of the big pearl rose. I’ll fill in the oval with the single strawberry right at the top as well.
    I’m using a silver/grey DMC cotton thread – 3 strands. (after a bit of experimentation to see how many strands fitted through the holes the best)
    I’m having a little trouble with the tension, which is surprising, since I’ve done a fair bit of Bargello work. Perhaps because it’s on fine linen? There’s one line that really should come out, but it’s right in the middle.
    The Stitch I’m using :-
    A bit of background ……
    “Inherently strong, the tent stitch was used to imitate woven tapestry by working it evenly across each intersection of the canvas. Tent stitch looks like half of a cross-stitch and is an excellent choice for designs on seat cushions, kneeling pillows, etc.”
    from Canvaswork by Isela de Bari
    “There are 3 types of tent stitch done during the period:
    • Half Cross
    • Basketweave
    • Continental
    The greatest problem in using tent stitch is the tendency to create a noticeable directional slant, especially in large pieces. As a result, finished textiles such as the BRADFORD TABLE CARPET are noticeably slanted rather than being a perfect rectangle.
    All three stitches look the same on the front, but different on the back.”
    (Unfortunately, I’ve lost the reference to the above notes)
    clip_image001 Half Cross stitches are worked in rows from left to right.
    clip_image001[1] Continental stitches are worked in rows from right to left.
    clip_image001[2] Basketweave stitches are worked in diagonal rows.
    ……Basketweave creates very little distortion of the canvas unless too much tension has been placed on the stitches. ……
    Basketweave is the preferred stitch for both large and small areas.
    from Introduction to Canvas Work - Tent Stitches
    by Sue Kerndt and Ann Caswell

    Now, …….
    Encroaching Gobelin Stitch was actually the stitch recommended to me to use for the background by Baroness Eowyn Amberdrake, and Yvette Stanton.
    At this point I need to refer you to Eowyn’s article
    Sweet Canvaswork to read the information there about Encroaching Gobelin stitch.
    I spoke to her about the article and she noted
    “I went and reread the Filium article on sweet bags that I wrote -- the editor had differentiated the diagrams by making one gray and one red. The red one is the historical method - the gray one is the modern method. But the words don't say that.”
    Now, encroaching gobelin stitch has the same advantage as basketweave tent stitch – because of the way it is stitched, it causes the least distortion of the canvas.
    Yvette Stanton’s Left Hander’s Companion (which I highly recommend to every left hander) includes the stitch, so I was all set.
    Unfortunately, the stitch method defeated me.
    It was the skipping a thread (on fine linen) each time, counting the holes so often, and adjusting the stitch to work around the motifs.
    Not that it was un-doable, but it wasn’t the ‘brainless, restful, do-while-I’m-very-slowly-recovering” sort of stitch that I wanted to do. I had to think while I was doing it, and I didn’t want that!
    So I chose to do Half Cross Tent Stitch. I don’t think it will distort the canvas since I’m only doing two relatively small areas.
    I would have had to do Encroaching Gobelin stitch if I had done the entire background to avoid distortion.

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