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Elmsley Rose

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Elmsley Rose

28 July 2010

The End of the Sampler

I’ve learnt so much doing the first half of the sampler.
It’s hard to continue, in a way, because I see so many mistakes that I’ve made.
Primarily, I’ve used too many different colours. I should have only used a few colours, and 3-4 different shades of that colour.
Melinda Sherbring (Baroness Eowyn Amberdrake in the SCA) discusses this and other issues in a critique of my sampler at Sampler_Review_by_Melinda_Sherbring
which is an educational read in itself.
Also, being a self-design and the first one of this nature that I’ve done, motifs are ending up way way too close together.
The other thing is that it’s turning out to be basically a spot sampler, hanging off a vine. I’m wondering whether I should have used the vine at all, and just done a spot sampler.
At least it would be more historically accurate as a design, instead of being this strange hybrid

I really don't feel that I can spend another year on the piece in order to complete it.

BUT the entire point of doing this sampler was to learn. To do as many different techniques as possible. And I have learnt heaps and heaps. And there are some motifs that I just love and am very proud of. :-)

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27 July 2010

Roses and Stems

I’ve started work on the mirrored right hand side of the sampler – the small red rose, it’s stem, and the big gold and pearl rose.
The Small Red Roses
Firstly, I wish I’d read Mary Corbet’s post Notes on Satin Stitch before embroidering the small red roses because there were several tips there I needed to be reminded of.
Oh well.
Here’s the original small red rose, on the LEFT (mostly completed) of the sampler.
The petals were satin stitched without padding using a single strand of YLI silk thread.
For the second, mirror rose, I decided to add a layer of satin stitch padding, to see what difference it made.
The padding is done in a perpendicular direction to the direction of the top layer (or following layer, if you are adding more than one layer of stitched padding)
To digress for a second, Mary says to do the outline in split stitch.
With such a small object as these petals, I found it easier to use backstitch. Then, if I went a bit wobbly, I could make the wobbly stitch into a split stitch on the next stitch, straightening it into the right direction.
You can see the outline stitches are tiny – over one thread of the canvas and I’m trying to curve, so it was easy to misplace a stitch a little bit.
I also exaggerated the ‘in’ part in the middle of the ‘heart’ of each petal – I’ve found that some shape definition is lost when the edge is outlined with purl on very small motifs.
The second rose, with a layer of padding :
Comparing the two roses, you can see that the stitching on the second rose (with padding) is less streaky, and much richer. It’s easier to see in real life. The colour is darker and richer.
Mary talks about the whys and wherefores of this in her post.
It’s double the effort, but I think it’s worth it for the final effect!
Also, I stretched the pearl purl a little on the first rose (it was the very first thing I did on the Sampler, and I thought you were supposed to), and knew better by the time I got to the second rose, whose Pearl Purl is unstretched (and consequently a little harder to couch down).
The ‘pop’ when the thread does go down between the ‘beads’ is very satisfying.
I used tweezers to do the V shape with the pearl purl in the middle of each petal.
The Stems
The stem from the left side of the sampler :
This was done with a strand of Jap, and 3 strands of dark green YLI in the same needle, in Ceylon stitch, and outlined on each side in a row of passing thread, as documented at

I’m not terrible happy with this stem – the stitching just looks lumpy – but I did it 3 or 4 times as it was. It’ll do.
The new stem :
I’m much happier with the stitching (heavy chain this time).
It was done with No 5 passing thread, and one strand of the same dark green YLI (in the same needle).
The first stem is primarily green with flecks of gold, and the second exactly the opposite.
The Overall Effect
(click for bigger pictures)

The Gold and Pearl Rose
The next reflected motif was the big gold and pearl rose.
I’ll show the original close up when I’ve finished the second one, for comparison again. I’m purposely using slightly different metal threads, and a different technique for the centre, although the filling of the petals with rice pearls will remain the same.
To start, I made a tracing of the existing rose, and then cut it from felt. I sewed the felt down, making sure there was room for the bird’s beak.
The centre of the rose got an extra layer of felt. I wanted it to stand up a bit. On the left (existing) rose, there is a curl of pearl purl as the centre, sitting on top of the end of the Greek Twist and so it stands up. I didn’t want this new centre to be sunken in comparison.
I then outlined the centre in some pearl purl.
I’m currently chipping inside the centre with bright check gilt.
Page 90 of A-Z Goldwork taught me how to chip very satisfactorily.
The chips are only 2mm or less long – um, 1/8” or less. Just tiny.
With all these photos blown up (now I’ve discovered how to do it – yay!), you can forget how small the motifs actually are. These roses, which are by far the biggest motifs on the sampler (except the bird) are just over 2” (just under 6cm) in diameter.
I’m very excited about doing more motifs. I’m going to use some silk covered purl, and some gold kid, as well as all those new gold threads I ordered.
The big project (shown on the cover) of the A-Z book has a satin and gold thread leaf, and a gold leaf that I’m looking forward to doing.
But symmetry first! I still have to do the rest of that right off- centre part :
Thorns (easy), two rosehips and two leaves. I won’t fill in it’s grey background until I’ve done the vine around it.
I’m thinking of doing one rosehip in green gilt sylke twist (same as one on the left) and one with green and jap thread in the same needle, in detached buttonhole stitch, to see the differences.

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24 July 2010

An Interview with Tricia Nguyen

I was wandering around the Net and found this : quite a long interview with Tricia at

including her background, and her 'ultimate projects'.

It was obviously done several years ago, as she was collecting 17th goldwork stitches at the time, but didn't mention the on-line classes.

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16 July 2010

Queen Stitch History and Variations

Firstly, some pictures (got to have pictures!)
The sky has been done in Queen Stitch and is described as “shimmering”.
The original, and the full picture with two lions, can be found at·
Probably American, Philadelphia, first half of the 18th c.
Flowers in the margin done in Queen Stitch
(main page at )
Historical References to Queen Stitch
While looking through samplers to find a good design, I noticed a pretty little knotwork pattern (Browne and Wearden, p. 37, plate 9) done in queen and plaited braid stitch.
Although the sampler is dated to the early 17th century, this knot is quite typical of Elizabethan design.
Similar motifs were used as far back as the 1540’s when the then-princess Elizabeth made a gift to her stepmother Katherine Parr of The Miroir or Glasse of the Synneful Soul, a translation from French with an embroidered binding. This sort of design also shows up in many gardening books of the period (See the first chapter of Beck, Gardens, pp. 6-35, on Elizabethan Gardens).
Although none of the surviving examples of queen stitch can be firmly dated to the 16th century, there is an interesting written reference to the stitch in 1592 (quoted in Epstein, p. 73):

Pan: Not for want of matter, but to knowe the meaning, what is wrought in this sampler?
Syb: The follies of the Gods, who became beasts, for their affections.
Pan: What in this?
Isab: The honour of Virgins, who became Goddesses, for their Chastity.
Pan: But what be these?
Syb: Mens tongues, wrought all with double stitch, but not one true.
Pan: What these?
Isab: Roses, egletine, harts-ease, wrought with Queenes stitch, and all right.
In the 1640 edition of "The Needles Excellency," John Taylor printed this list of some of the stitches in use at this time:
"For tent worke, raised worke, first worke, laid worke, net worke,
Most curious purl or rare Italian cut worke.
Fire, fern stitch, finny stitch, new stitch, chain stitch
Brave bred stitch, fisher stitch, Irish stitch and Queen stitch,
The Spanish stitch, Rosemary stitch and mowle stitch,
The smarting whip stitch, back stitch and cross stitch;
All these are good, and this we must allow,
And they are everywhere in practice now."
Period : WILLIAM AND MARY (1689-1703), QUEEN ANNE (1702-1714) and GEORGIAN (1714-1809)
…… Another teacher advertised that she taught the following: Embroidery, Tent work, nuns ditto, Queen stitch, Irish ditto and all kinds of shading, also point, Dresden lace work, Shell work and artificial flowers.
The Isabella Brackin 1832 Sampler
Reproduction of an American sampler, reputed to be an Ohio sampler. The reproduction of the Isabella Brackin sampler is stitched on 28 count Sandstone linen from Wichelt Imports using au ver a soie silks from Access Commodities.
The Isabella Brackin sampler is stitched primarily in cross stitch over two threads with a small amount of queen stitches and cross stitch over one thread.
The reproduction measures approximately 17 and 1/8 inches wide by 16.75 inches tall.
Needlework as Art by Marianne Margaret Compton Cust Alford (1886) :

"Fine fern stitch, finny stitch, new stitch, and chain stitch, Brave bred stitch, fisher stitch, Irish stitch, and queen's stitch, The Spanish stitch, ..."
That’s the latest reference I could find.
Queen Stitch Variations
  • Diagonal Queen Stitch
This is a combination of cross stitch and queen stitch, and is very ornamental when properly done.
You work in plain cross stitch three rows, then leave three threads, and again work three rows as before ; thus proceed until your canvas is covered, leaving three threads between every triple row of cross stitch.
Then across the rows work in queen stitch with double wool ; but instead of taking two distinct threads for each stitch, you may take one thread of the preceding stitch ; this will give an added thickness to your work.
It will be advisable to work the wool over slips of card or parchment, as doing so will make it better to cut.
If you work it in squares, they should not be larger than seventeen stitches; and to look well, they must each be placed the contrary way to the other.
Velvet Stitch is also described at
Queen Stitch with a Centre Line :
(Step by step instructions with photos shown at the site)
and also from the same site :-
Apart from leaving out the centre line, there are a number of other variations that can be worked to queen stitch.
You can vary the number of stitches to the left and right. Two and three are most common but you could have four or even five.
Eventually you would be limited by the size of the hole at the top and the bottom of the stitch.

Queen stitch can be worked singly, in rows, blocks or clusters, and you can play around with the spacing.
You could experiment with different colours, perhaps using alternate colours or even different colours within one queen stitch although that would be rather fiddly.
Queen stitch looks particularly good worked in metallic thread, or in wool on a canvas background.

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15 July 2010

Something to do if you're bored

I make extensive use of Google Image search.

If you've never used it to find "Elizabethan Embroidery" images you're in for some fun! And it's good to do when you feel like fuffing around on the computer, but not really do anything much.

I just thought of looking up "extant embroidery" - there was some good stuff there too.

"Historical Goldwork"


"Raised Work"

It's often a good idea to add "embroidery" into the search to narrow the results a bit.

- let your imagination run wild with keywords and see what you find!

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11 July 2010

An Evening on the Couch

This photo show Tommy (front), Jasper (rear) and also happens to show the size of my sampler in proportion to them. Click on the photo for the full version.

They were very good cats for looking up at me when I called them. :-). No, they are not related at all - I just choose cats with similar colouring. Tommy is 5 and Jasper is 2. Tommy sleeps in my arms each night.

You can also see the discolouration I was talking about of the poor linen - especially at the sides where I hold it.

And that I've finished the red silk stitching on the new small red rose. Photos coming.

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10 July 2010

Future Embroidery Projects - Theessamplaire Swetebag

My friend SilkLover pointed this project out to me.

It is being run as an on-line class as we speak, but she has heard that it may be released as a kit in the future.

I hope so – I’m in love. Oh! That beaded tassel head on the right!

Details, and an enlargement are at

Tho it is awfully pricey.

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7 July 2010

DMC Real Thread Colour Cards

I've been jealous for years of my friend's DMC colour card. She has one with real DMC cotton samples on it, whereas I only have a boring old printed one.

I thought the real thread ones were pretty much unavailable now, unless you picked one up on Ebay or somewhere, but I was just at Scarlett Letter and saw


Another thing for the wishlist.....

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3 July 2010


Sometime overnight my blog counter hit 50,000 hits.

I wish I could do a giveaway to celebrate, but I don't actually have anything to give away! I have racked my mind

I've been blogging since August 2006, firstly on calligraphy and then on historical embroidery


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