Category Archives: Embroidery Charts


A few more submissions this week. It’s not too late if you want to play along!

All of these are from anonymous donors.

#20 – A very aggressive sun.

#21 – A mustachioed moon.

#22 – A spiral mint candy.

#23 – Tiny robot!

#24 – Frankenstein’s Monster/

The sun, moon, robot and monster are from someone who doodled these up on the floor of a recent science fiction/comics convention that shall also remain nameless. The candy comes from someone who was charmed by the ladybugs, unicorn and the bunny, and was inspired to continue the counter theme of sweetness and light. (As opposed to poison, pirates, and ennui).

I welcome more input – traditional flowers, non-specific geometrics, animal, vegetable, domestic, wild, fantasy or reality.

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Thank you all! As you can see, our crowdsourced blackwork pattern page is starting to fill up:

I’ve made no attempt to balance these or place them in any particular way. Numbering starts in the center, and works (more or less) in order of receipt. Half stitches, and stitches off the grid are shown in red. I’ve also taken the liberty of naming these, and including comments if provided by the donors. So we have:

  1. Death’s head – mine, fromDancing Pirate Octopodes
  2. Octopus – also mine, from Dancing Pirate Octopodes
  3. StarBee – sent in by the fabulous Twerp, our first submisison!
  4. A Cup of Tea – from Sandy
  5. Crosshatched Flower – from Anonymous
  6. Ladybugs – from #5 Anonymous’ 10-year old daughter
  7. Shaded Flower- from the prolific Jeannette de Beauvoir
  8. Geometric – “It starated life as a flower, I don’t know what it is now…” – from Jeannette de Beauvoir
  9. Acorn Sprig – “The acorn looks a bit big but a smaller one was too small.” – Jeannette de Beauvoir (I think the size is just fine).
  10. Pomegranate – Jeannette de Beauvoir is on a roll!
  11. Zap! – :”Kind of reminds me of a circuit diagram.” – another from Jeannette de Beauvoir
  12. Flower Sprig – Jeannette de Beauvoir again.
  13. Four Flowers – Jeannette de Beauvoir
  14. Mistletoe – “I think this could stand to be moved down a space or two in the frame” – Jeannette de Beauvoir
  15. Meh. – This one came in earlier but fell to #15 due to lack of enthusiasm 🙂 – Another (totally different) anonymous donor
  16. Blue Crab – “To continue your ocean theme.” – from Maryland Stitcher, who managed to fit in the requisite number of legs!

I’ll release the whole page as a well-behaved PDF as soon as it’s full. It’s not too late to add your patterns to our pile. I’m more than happy to finish out this page, and to start more pages if needed. The instructions are here.

And if you landed on this page looking for Ensamplario Atlantio my free book of blackwork fillings – do not despair. You can find it here.

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Patterns for the Crowdsource Blackwork Pattern project continue to trickle in.

Sandy (no link) sends a cup of morning tea.

And a family wishing to remain anonymous sends a flower (from the mom) and ladybugs (from the 10-year old daughter):

This anonymous donor was inspired enough to register his or her lack of enthusiasm:

Got an idea – simple, elaborate, silly, or serious? Here’s the blank frame again:


Copy it local and edit it in any graphics program, or do like these folk did – print it out, draw on it, and send me a scan or a photo ( kbsalazar (at) gmail (dot) com). I’ll graph up the final. When we have a pile, I’ll compose them all together into a page or two of patterns and post them back here.

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Back from vacation! A week of Cape Cod sun, sand, salt water and doing as little as possible except enjoying those things.

This year my mom came with us and we had a great time. We spent most of our time on the sands right at our hotel, sitting, swimming, kayaking, even watching Provincetown fireworks from our room’s deck. We did our now traditional beach paella, salmon teriyaki on the grill, and flank steak kabobs. I am rested but could be easily persuaded to do a wash-rinse-repeat of the whole week’s experience. Seven days is not enough.

Arriving back home, I checked gMail to see if anyone had volunteered a graphed pattern for the crowdsource project. Lo and behold! There was one:


I present Design #1 – Twerp’s StarBee. The first design in the series. Red lines indicate straight lines “off the grid” or not at 180/90/45-degree angles. I like this cheeky little fellow. A nice one, Twerp!

If you want to draw up one of your own to be posted here, please feel free to download the JPG at the project’s kickoff page, then draw on it by hand or using any graphics program. You can email the resulting file, a photo or a scan of your design to me at kbsalazar (at) gmail (dot) com. Let me know whether or not you want your name or a link posted with your offering. I do reserve the right to do light editorial selection (this is a family-rated website).

Now, what progress have I made on my own stitching?

Some, mostly prior to our departure. I concentrated on two pairs of socks while we were on the beach.

I knit a pair of guy socks, with a simple broken rib ankle and k1p1 ribbing to finish. There is only one in this picture. The other is now at parts unknown. At best guess, I dropped it at dusk on the beach and didn’t notice that it was gone. Either seagulls or the sea made off with it. Somewhere there is either a lobster or a tern sporting a new brown habitat. And I need to get another ball of the same yarn and knit a third to make a pair. (Grrrr.) The other pair has a lacy pattern in the ankle. More on that another day.

And here’s the latest strip on my sampler:

To which I will return once the socks are done.

One last note – to date (using the click-through count of the fourth part) – over 1,000 people have downloaded the complete Ensamplario Atlantio since I posted it two weeks ago. If you are looking for it, it’s here. It’s a PDF file – you need a recent version Acrobat Reader to open it. You can get Reader for free, for both Mac and Windows. Although I’ve gotten some thank-you posts and a couple of questions from people unfamiliar with Acrobat, I’ve had very little other feedback, and only one bug report – of fonts not displaying properly on an iPad II running the latest version of Safari. I’m looking into that problem and may repost the files later this week.

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Thanks to everyone for their kind words about Ensamplario Atlantio (EnsAtl)!

I’m delighted that folk find it useful. I was going to leave it up as the blog’s front page for a while, but two stellar things came in that I had to share. Before them however, please note that I will be leaving the book available on String for a while longer yet.

The two things?

First, I’ve mentioned before that my main joy in designing is seeing what folk do with the patterns. I have to show this one off (click to enlarge the thumbnail):

This partlet was stitched by Kimiko Small (in the SCA, the talented Lady Joan Silvertoppe of Caid). She used the Buttery pattern in TNCM Plate 59:1. It’s one of my originals, but it’s based on period conventions, motifs and aesthetics. The partlet design, stitching, and most obviously the picture above are all hers. The photo is reproduced with her permission.

Kimiko, I’m thrilled! Well done! I’m quite excited to see this particular pattern picked up and worked so well. The partlet is an excellent showcase for your stitching. It’s prime! You can read more about Kimiko’s award-winning project and read her arts competition documentation on her blog.

Now, this ties into the Second Thing.

The Buttery is an omnibus pattern – a frame filled by a large number of different design motifs. In this case, flowers, herbs and fruits. I’ve augmented my original set of patterns, and stitched up even more Buttery fillings on a recent project of my own.

Now the new book is generating some buzz about my patterns. Hannah was kind enough to spread word about EnsAtl on her blog, enbrouderie. In the comments that accompany her post Rachel of VirtuoSew commented on my Dancing Pirate Octopodes pattern. Rachel wondered about working up alternates for DPO. Initial silly filings aside, that pattern has excellent potential to evolve into another omnibus design along the lines of Buttery, and I think Rachel’s idea is a splendid one.

So I announce the first (to my knowledge) Crowdsource Design Blackwork Filling Project.

What’s Crowdsourcing? In a nutshell, it’s putting a project in front of a large number of otherwise unrelated/unassociated people, and asking them to apply their individual creativity to it, spreading the word and bringing all that creativity back together using ‘net based communications. It’s all the rage right now. Even the Defense Department’s research arm (DARPA) has launched a crowdsourced projects to jump start the design process or solve sticky problems.

So. Reaching both behind to the past and into the future – why not one for double running stitch?

Here is a square with just the frame from Dancing Pirate Octopodes:


It’s a simple JPG – shown above at full size. Right click on it and save the image. Then attack it with any graphics program, or print it out and doodle on the hard copy. Work up your own filling(s)! Be creative! Run amok! Just one request – this is not an adult-rated site. Please keep your designs family-friendly. (I reserve the right to do light editorial selection, if need be.)

When you’re done, eMail the file, or transcription of the thing, or a scan or photo of your design to me by 10 July at the gmail address listed in this post . I’ll assemble all submissions in one big layout, and share the results back here as quickly as I can. (If you’d like me to withhold your name rather than be credited on String, I’ll be happy to do so.)

This isn’t a contest – I’ve got no prizes to give away. But I think it will be lots of fun to see what everyone comes up with. So fire up your drawing program or sharpen your pencil. Let’s see what our stitching crowd can devise!

Again, thanks to Hannah, the gang at Total Insanity, others at various Yahoo needlework discussion groups, and all other posters and email respondents for their welcome and acceptance of EnsAtl. Special thanks to Kimiko for making my day with her project. Thanks to Rachel for the idea of making more fills for DPO. And thanks in advance to everyone who will take a moment to share their own creativity for the joy of participating, and glory of their needle.

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At long last, and as promised.  Ensamplario Atlantio: Being a Collection of Filling Patterns Suitable for Blackwork Embroidery is here in PDF format!

I have to admit that my ambition ran away with me.  The entire thing is 40 pages long, with 35 plates of designs – over 220 or so individual all-over or filling patterns for double running stitch embroidery.  Some are very large repeats and would be better suited for free-use, others are smaller in scale and would work well as fillings in traditional outline/infilled blackwork (like on the pix of the cover, below):

The book ended up being SO large that I was unable to upload it, and downloading would be problematic for most people.  So I have cut it up into four parts:

I would dearly love to see any projects that use fillings from the collection.  Since I’m making this available as a free download, seeing what my pattern “children” are up to in the real world is my biggest reward.

And also a reminder – just because this is being made available freely doesn’t mean that I have relinquished my author’s rights.   This book may not be re-issued, re-posted, or sold by others without my specific permission.  I ask that needlework instructors wishing to use the thing get in touch with me so I can keep a log of by whom/when the book has been circulated.


UPDATE:  The graph below is available at the Embroidery Patterns link above, in easy to print PDF full page format.

The gauntlet was thrown. I was challenged to produce a chart for The Flying Spaghetti Monster, in all his noodly glory. At the risk of destroying any crumbs of credibility I might have as researcher, I respond.



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As you can see, the narrow scrolling border I used mirrored to fill in the empty area is only a few stitches shy of completion:

The eagle-eyed will note two small omissions I have to go back and complete. I blame working on the thing while watching a subtitled movie.

In other news, the PDF of the book of filling patterns is complete. I hope to post it here some time in the next week or so as I iron out some technical difficulties in posting a 10M file. I present the cover as a teaser:

Also – and just for fun – I present a pattern that did NOT make it into the filling book or the upcoming TNCM2. This one was done up as a silly present with several constituencies in mind – my eldest, who wanted more pirate skulls; a co-worker who cherishes the octopus as his totem beast; and my youngest, who has embarked on a world-wide quest for greater acceptance of “octopodes” as the proper plural when more than one cephalopod is sighted. (click on chart below for full size copy).

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Taaa Daah! The last page of my pattern collection – page 25:


All are new for this collection. #146 was inspired by an original pomegranate border I published in TNCM. #148 was similarly inspired by the beaded border from TNCM that I have previously shared here (repeated below, click on image to get it larger):


#149 was inspired by an edging in Schonsperger’s 1526 Ein New Modelbuch. His was a strip. Mine takes the main motif from his strip and inserts it into a lozenge. #147 builds on the interlace construction principles in pattern #67 of my first booklet, although this one is rendered as a line unit design instead of in block like square units.

So there you have it. 150 different blackwork filling patterns; some simple, some complex. And I could easily come up with another 150. But it would be more fun to see what others devise. I hope to have the PDF format booklet, with cover and intro essay out by the end of the holiday season. It will be available for free download here.


Printing or Saving: If you print out the pages constructed by the method in my tutorial you will probably find that the designs are rendered too small for easy use unless you use an enlargement factor via your printer driver dialog (the print settings dialog invoked when you issue a print command). BUT if crop your pattern, removing any unused page area, then you save your piece as a *.jpg or *.gif, like I did for the individual squares, the pattern won’t shrink down to teenytiny, and will be as readable as mine.


Please let me know if you’ve found these pages or the GIMP tutorial to be useful. I’d especially enjoy seeing works done using one of my 150.

However, I do request that all users abide by the restrictions noted in my kick-off post. If you are using these patterns for your own personal enjoyment or as a gift, have fun!

If you are intending on selling works derived from them – including stitched finished pieces, or issuing kits or publishing your own patterns using any of these designs – either for profit or charitable sale or donation for eventual sale – please do me the courtesy of sending me a note prior to doing so. In all probability I’ll be delighted and ask nothing more than a bibliographic source statement in your pattern’s literature or hang tag noting the source of some of your fillings, and providing link back here. As soon as the book is up and the link is stable, I will be happy to provide the bibliographic citation’s format. But asking permission first would be a positive, noble and honorable act, for which I thank you in advance.

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The penultimate page! Here’s page 24:


All are new on this page. #139 and #140 are close cousins, sharing a central motif. The strawberries in #143 have their pips marked by little circles. I’d use very tiny knot stitches, an X over a 1×1 thread intersection or possibly even seed beads for them.

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