Posts Tagged ‘Portuguese Knotted Stem Stitch’

As I mentioned last week in all the side-tracked business with the turmeric dyeing, I’ve actually finished the geode stitch sampler. Last time I gave a progress update I’d got to here. Twelve rows of stitches, finishing with threaded running stitch:

I had decided by this point that I wasn’t going to fill in the middle but I wasn’t sure how many more rows to add. So having stitched a couple of rows where the embroidery was more ‘open’, I added cable stitch, which is like a couple of offset rows of back stitch but worked as one line.

For the next row I wanted some texture and height, and it had been a while since I’d added beads, so I used some iridescent delica beads to stitch a row of Butterfly Oglala Stitch. This is the second attempt as first time round I used standard silver lined seed beads in teal and silver and they were just too bright. I think the matte finish of these beads makes them more sympathetic to the surrounding stitches.

The ruffles of the Butterfly Oglala fall over the neighbouring stitches and were already obscuring the cable stitch of the previous row so although I initially intended every row to be different, I repeated the couched wool roving I’d used in the second row to act as a buffer to the beaded ruffles and help them stay standing up.

By this point the hole in the middle was getting small enough that the stitch rounds were working up very quickly, so I forgot to take individual photos of the next two stitches. The paler one is Pekin Knot Stitch in a mercerised cotton. The knots are much more open/oval than the pictures on the instructions, so I’m not sure whether I’ve worked it wrongly, or just spaced the stitches out further. I like it well enough not to restitch it though.

Inside that is Up and Down Buttonhole Stitch, which I love. I never tire of the awe and wonder moment when I work the final step of the stitch and the tying stitch comes magically down and sits neatly over the two legs.

This felt almost finished, but I wanted to complete it in a way that gave the impression of the crystals you get on the innermost edge of a real geode. So this was going to be beads again. I wondered about quartz chips, but then I found some translucent bugle beads that were a similar colour to the quartz cubes and they fitted perfectly in between the legs of the Up and Down Buttonhole Stitch.

So it’s finished and I’m very pleased with it. I like the balance of beading and embroidery stitches and as well as old favourites, I’ve used seven stitches that were either completely new to me or that I’ve only stitched occasionally, so as a sampler, it’s worked.

I’m not sure what I want to do with it yet, but that’s not a problem. It feels good to have a successful finish that hasn’t stalled in sight of the end.

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This is proving a lovely steady relaxing stitch and working up quite quickly now I’m heading for the centre. Last time I posted I had just added the eighth stitch: feather stitch with an added a sprinkling of beads and it looked like this:

Following the open nature of the feather stitch I wanted a more solid stitch for the next round, so I chose Portuguese Knotted Stem Stitch and a wonderful soft variegated silk thread. Great thread, but completely wrong for this stitch. Something this project has reiterated is how much the look of a stitch is dependent on the texture of the thread, especially the more sculptural knotted stitches.

The softness of the silk thread meant that the caterpillar-like wraps of Portuguese Knotted Stem Stitch were completely lost and it looked a lumpy mess. So out with the silk and back to a perle cotton, which showed up the wraps as I wanted.

The next stitch was heavy chain, which had been successfully used by a couple of other members of the Stitch Zone group. Mindful of the issues I’d already had with the previous stitch, I went for a tightly twisted mercerised cotton so I could slide the needle easily behind the stitch loops. It’s a nicely weighty stitch and it gave me another good solid line. I worked the chain stitches very short, so it ended up looking like a braid, which I really like.

Next, a more open stitch and a completely new one for me, courtesy of my Mary Thomas book. This one is called Knotted Cable Chain Stitch and is a bit of a cheat, as the chain loops aren’t full loops – the bottom part of the loop comes out from under the knot, which you can see in the photo below. But once I got into the rhythm, which is always the initial hurdle with stitches that have multiple stages, I enjoyed working it and it certainly stitched up a lot faster than either of the two previous rows.

Lastly in this week’s stitching, threaded running stitch, which I chose for the opportunity to use some stranded cotton, even if it was only for threading.

So, about two thirds done and all down hill from here!

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With the reopening of non-essential shops this week, the Persian Chandelier and most other ongoing projects have been put aside and my stitching and making has been focussed on building up my jewellery stock.

First, a new sea glass necklace.

I started with a vintage rolled gold pendant which had lost its stone and found a sea glass piece that fitted it perfectly in my dwindling collection of Seaham multis – this one clear with a smudge of pink. Then I added a delicate rolled gold necklace and found some perfectly frosted pink and white glass beads to replace the existing beads which luckily match the sea glass piece perfectly.

It’s available here in my Etsy shop.

I’ve also been altering another fabric brooch from a job lot of junk jewellery. This one was simply a piece of woollen checked fabric needle felted onto a square of black wool with a random button and a brooch back sewn on. I removed the button and while going through my found object stash for the Mandala Brooches, I found what I think might have been part of a fishing fly and a hemispherical panel from a bracelet which both appealed.

I used my go-to variegated metallic Madeira thread to stitch both elements down and add stitches into the fabric around the main part of the fishing fly. It isn’t supposed to be anything in particular but I think it looks a little like a comet!

Sashiko stitching on tiny scraps of indigo dyed cotton with silk thread mounted in a vintage brooch setting have become another boro-style brooch.

I’m really pleased with the sashiko pattern on this one, especially as I did it by eye, and it really pulls the separate scraps of fabric into a whole.

It’s available in my Etsy shop here.

Lastly, some experimenting with knotted stitches in this sort of crewel work style sample. Portuguese Knotted Stem Stitch and French Knots on the left, German Knotted Buttonhole in the middle and middle right and Palestrina Stitch and Pistil Stitch top right. Chain Stitch and Four-Legged Knot bottom right and the stem is Coral Stitch and Satin Stitch.

Hopefully I can get back on track this week and I have high hopes of being able to stitch outside if the weather stays good!

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I’ve had flu for the first time in years and it’s been a bugger to shift, so my involvement at last Saturday’s Scunthorpe Embroiderers’ Guild meeting was limited to sneaking in half way through the afternoon to hand over Val’s Travelling Book and pick up Sandra’s, staying by the door and keeping my germs well out of the way. Everyone looked like they were happily stitching though, so I hope a good time was had by all.

For Val’s book page I worked a piece inspired by the work of Sue Spargo. I bought some gorgeous heavyweight pure wool felt before Christmas and cut simple leaf shapes in a soft green to go on a cream ground. I wanted to use the uncluttered shapes to showcase the embroidery, particularly new stitches.


Then I got out a whole pile of books on embroidery stitches and started to stitch! The blanket stitch round the outside of the first leaf is actually called Berwick Stitch in the book I used and is a blanket stitch with a sort of added french knot where the needle enters the background fabric. Very nice to work and the knot gives a lovely finish. Then a row of running stitch and the dark green is twisted chain.


After I’d worked the line of twisted chain I felt the gap was too big between it and the running stitch, so I added a row of split stitch in variegated perle. Inside the twisted chain I stitched a row of whipped running stitch before finishing it off with a row of closed fly stitch.


Leaf two was held down with Knotted Buttonhole Stitch. It’s a lovely looking stitch but working the knots at the start took a bit of practise. Then a neat row of chain inside that.


I wasn’t happy with the lone line of running stitch on the first leaf so at this point I went back and whipped it. Much better.


Back to leaf two and courtesy of Mary Thomas, Portuguese Knotted Stem Stitch. Another new stitch to me and a gorgeous one (once I’d got the hang of the tension). I really like the way this sits on the fabric.


The inside was finished with stem stitch, back stitch and Pekinese stitch.


I mounted it up into the book and added my inspiration page which included a printout of a photo of the leaves labelled with the different stitches.


This was a complete joy to stitch and a lot of fun finding new and interesting stitches to add to the old favourites.

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