Charlotte asks about the colors of the bands on the Clarke’s Law sampler. She says that each successive band looks lighter than the one before. I answer:

So far I’ve used only two colors of embroidery floss – DMC Red #498 and DMC Black #310. The top band was done in long-armed cross stitch, using two strands of red. Long armed cross stitch produces a particularly dense and raised texture.


Outlines on the grapes band were worked in double running stitch using two strands of the red, but the background grid filling was done in one strand – also in double running.


The current plume flower band is worked in double running using just one strand.


Between the relative densities of the various source patterns and the density of the working methods I’ve ended up with the progressively lighter look for each band even though all are worked using the same thread.

My plan for the rest of the bands is to do more of the double running work, choosing bands of different visual densities and working some but not all of them voided (with a background fill, but not necessarily solid). The next one will probably be somewhat closer in look to the grapes panel, but in between that and the current band in darkness. I will alternate bands of various densities with the black lettering. I’ve used plain old cross stitch for both the letters and the red embellishing squiggles that loop around the letters. If you compare it to the long armed cross stitch snippet above you can see the difference in coverage between the two.


When all of the lettering is done I’ll consider working more long armed cross stitch. Depending on how much room is left on the cloth, I might just go for broke with one massively large pattern, working it voided, so that the piece has a nice dense anchoring segment at the bottom. Or there might be a couple of bands of progressively darker stitching leading up to it. I haven’t chosen the patterns yet and I’m not sure exactly how much room I’ve got, so you’ll have to stay tuned to see how it all works out.

To answer Ellis – the reason you can’t see any lines drawn on on the linen for stitching over is because there aren’t any. This piece is done on the count. I’m using the weave of the linen as my guide, copying patterns drawn out on graph paper, with each grid of the graph paper corresponding to square of 2×2 threads.

To answer Marya – if my pattern contains a straight line that spans two or more graph units I do not make one big stitch over all of them. I make an individual stitch for each grid unit, even if they are all in one straight line. This keeps the work neater and more true to the graphed original. Long stitches are also more likely to catch on things.

To answer [anonymous] who noted that all of these patterns seem to rely on just 90 and 45 degree angles – yes, you’re right. I can’t rule out totally that diagonals over a 1×2 grid unit weren’t used (30/60 degrees), but so far I haven’t found a historical piece that used them in this type of pattern. It’s possible that some in-filled blackwork diaper patterns (the dark outline, different geometric filling variant seen below) used stitches at those angles, but I haven’t had the luxury of examining enough historical works close-up to make that determination. Lots of modern blackwork does use those angles. But for me, I’ll stick to the orthodox and limit my design to 45s and 90s.


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