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Blackwork Embroidery

June 27, 2013

As I continue my exploration of embroidery, I’ve become completely enamored with blackwork. Its influence on me is starting to seep into everything I do. With an endless repertoire of mathematical possibilities, the geometric patterns and sharp angular lines are a refreshing sight, especially after a lifetime of mark making devoted to spiral-ality.

Use of blackwork embroidery dates back many centuries. There’s some debate about its origins but the general consensus seems to be that it migrated from North Africa, to Spain, to England, to infinity and beyond. Back in England during the 1500’s, the black silk thread was most notably seen climbing the white linen collars, poofy sleeves, and frilly cuffs of Tudor costume.

Over the years, whenever I’ve employed the use of embroidery, I never challenged my basic understanding of it. For example, I’ve never used an actual embroidery needle until I worked on the black and white bird below. I always thought of it as an unnecessary expense considering how little I’d use it and that fact that I already had a collection of sewing needles to choose from. Duh! What a brilliantly dull tool. My fingertips can now rest easy knowing prickish sewing needles need not always be used for the stabbing of fabric.

I learned how to create the pretty black and white bird pattern below from Kate Haxell’s book, The Stitch Bible. English embroiderer Becky Hogg created the embroidery projects in Kate’s book including this bird design. I adapted the bird outline for my birdbrain cards as well. Becky Hogg was actually responsible for the incredible lace appliqué work on the Duchess of Cambridge’s wedding dress. Even if you are a novice embroiderer like me, the easy to follow projects and fabulous stitches found in this book will make you look like a pro.

Stitch practice samples of a bird and geometric patterns using blackwork embroidery techniques.A patch embroidered with the letter "A" and embroidered birds on paper. greeting cards.Thank you Maggie written in embroidery on paper card.
© 2013, Dana Aubrey

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. January 12, 2014 7:57 pm

    Came over to see what you’ve been up to, these days…find myself trying to “like” posts that I’ve already liked…dang, why won’t WordPress let me like, like and like some more? I love these embroidery projects, you’ve been seriously doing the “working with my hands more” thing. Awesome. Oh, the deer knocker? FABULOUS.

    • January 16, 2014 4:38 pm

      Happy New Year Nat! So sweet to hear from you. Your compliments are forever and always encouraging and appreciated. Thank you for that. 🙂 Unfortunately not up to much creating for creating sake these last few months – too much other crap going on. Missing the fun and mental purge dearly. I’m long overdue for a visit to the smallestforest too. Be there soon to check out your latest adventures. I can always count on you to keep me inspired and motivated.

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