Posts Tagged ‘whitework’

Our family holiday in the Lake District was over a month ago and despite the persistent rain, we had a fabulous time and I managed to get some stitching done to go in my holiday journal.

I still love to combine found objects, paper and stitch and that’s what I did with a couple of fragments I picked up from the shores of Grasmere.


The wheatear stitch has a lovely weight to it and works really well for holding down the ring pull.

I insisted on having a day at Blackwell, The Arts and Crafts House, near Windermere and as the girls and I managed to persuade the men to go on a walk without us, we were able to spend a leisurely day there, just wallowing in the utter beauty of the Arts and Crafts rooms and furnishing without being chivvied on. My little one drew, mostly on her phone but also with a real pencil and paper (!)


Her older sister sat in an inglenook and wrote.


And I found a window seat in the Great Hall and sewed.


I’ve worked embroidery inspired by Blackwell before, namely a whitework sample I stitched back in 2015 for my altered book holiday journal…


…based on a pillow case, which you can just about see on the other page of the book spread.


The entire place is just stuffed with inspiration in every craft discipline, but this time I was very taken with an embroidered runner in the Great Hall which had a repeating pattern of sycamore keys.


So I decided to work my own version for the holiday journal. It felt rather odd, but was a real treat to be able to get up and walk over to the original for reference instead of working from my photos!


Outline in stem stitch.


Then the solid part of the seeds in satin stitch.


My single sample is rather bigger than the originals though and the satin stitches were too long and loose in this scale, so after trying various couching methods, I went for good old Bayeux stitch.


I also decided to stitch a bit of fun, to represent the amazing meal we had on the way at the Brown Horse in Coley. We always stop here for lunch (and have never been disappointed with the food) on the way up to the Lakes. For us it’s where the holiday starts. So…salad leaves…


… with Stilton…



…pepper salami and parma ham!


I will be adding olives later!



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Thanks to last night’s committee meeting the blue stumpwork piece now looks like this:

More blue stumpwork1

I’ve closed the centre of the spiral trellis stitch. That was wonderful to work and I’ll definitely be doing it again!

More blue stumpwork 2

Then I added a couple of stylised leaves in corded Brussels stitch on a chain foundation.

More blue stumpwork 3

I want to add a 3D stem of buttonhole stitch worked over a pipecleaner or small stick or something similar and had nothing suitable with me so at this point, nearing the end of the meeting, I turned my attention to the Blackwell whitework.

Whitework leaf 1

Not a huge amount to show, but I’ve almost done half the padded satin stitch on another of the leaves.

Whitework leaf 2

I was almost sorry when the meeting ended promptly! In case you were wondering, I do contribute to these meetings – last night I gave three reports and chipped in on all discussions. It’s just that I find it easier to concentrate when my hands are doing something and I do get loads done!

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First, an addition to my abstract stumpwork piece from Guild a few months ago. I’ve wanted to have a go at spiral trellis stitch for a while.

Spiral trellis stitch 1

It’s worked on a double running stitch base, simply putting knots into the foundation stitches and then as it spirals round, into the spaces between the knots.

Spiral trellis stitch 2

I wanted mine quite flat so I worked in a steady decrease (missing out the odd space between knots) from the beginning. Unfortunately, this has meant some breaks in the nice spiral of knots, but not bad for a first attempt and I think some of them can be nudged over a little to hide some of the spaces.

Spiral trellis stitch 3

The Blackwell pillow whitework is also coming along. I’ve put all the elements in, at least in outline, so I can get rid of the disappearing pen.

More whitework 1

The centre of the French knot clusters are worked in a thicker thread than the outside to give a more rounded shape.

More whitework 2

Not too sure about the shape of the middle section of the leaf. The original is much closer to the outside edge but the outside edge of the original is less bold/bulky than mine.

More whitework 3

I think I’ll work the outer border of the other two leaves first and then see how I feel about it.

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During our Easter holiday in the Lake District we visited Blackwell, an amazing Arts and Crafts house near Windermere and among the inspirations photos I took were a couple of the lovely whitework embroidery on one of the pillows.

Whitework pillow at Brantwood

Perfect to work as a sample for my journal. I’ve used the corner of an old chair back, which is a nice heavy cotton and a couple of different thicknesses of white perle thread.

Whitework beginning 1

It’s meant to be similar, not identical. The grass-type spray is bullion knots with long tails on a stem stitch stalk. The flowers are padded satin stitch, in this case satin stitch over a chain stitch outline. The centres are just five straight stitches with a french knot in the middle.

Whitework beginning 2

Then I moved onto a flower created from a cluster of French knots. I’ve used the thicker perle in the centre and then started round the edges with the thinner perle to give a domed shape.

Whitework beginning 3

First time I’ve tried traditional white work and it’s coming along nicely.

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We’ve just had a typically wet, but in spite of that, very enjoyable week sharing a cottage with friends in the Lake District. I’m on with my holiday journal which is a mix between an altered book and the found object journalling I did a couple of years ago in Cornwall. No pictures of that yet, but here are some of the lovely things that I came across in our exploration of the Lakes which have inspired me.

Stencilled Hessian wall covering, Blackwell House, Bowness:

Stencilled Hessian wall covering, Blackwell House, Bowness


Just one example of the stunning stained glass at Blackwell House.

Stained glass, Blackwell House, Bowness


Inlaid detail on a bureau:

Detail of a bureau, Blackwell House, Bowness


A period Arts and Crafts sofa:

Arts and Crafts sofa, Blackwell House, Bowness

…and the plasterwork between picture rail and ceiling:

Decorative plasterwork, Blackwell House, Bowness

Beautiful whitework on a pillow:

Whitework, Blackwell House, Bowness

…and the pieced patchwork hexagon fans of the 1911 quilt on the same bed:

Patchwork bedspread, Blackwell House, Bowness

Wet slate roofs in Chapel Stile:

Slate roofs, Chapel Stile


Crewelwork bedspread at Brantwood House near Coniston, the home of John Ruskin.

Crewelwork bedspread, Brantwood House, Coniston

An example of Ruskin lace, a type of drawn threadwork introduced by Ruskin to the Lake District as a cottage industry.

Ruskin lace, Brantwood House, Coniston

I love these cheeky sheep – one of the sculptures at Grizedale Forest.

Sethera, Grizedale Forest

Sethera, Grizedale Forest 2


It feels quite odd to be home – I could have happily stayed another week!


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It’s nice to have a change from allium pink (!) and after her talk at the Guild earlier in the year I signed up for a workshop on contemporary whitework with Tracy Franklin on Saturday. We were given a design of a box divided into quarters with a different techniques to go in each box. This is what I had at the end of a lovely, peaceful, relaxing day.

The fabric is 24  (I think) count linen backed with calico. I transferred my design on the cross of the fabric rather than on the grain after I heard Tracy suggest it someone else but it did make the stem stitch surround a bit difficult to stitch evenly. (They are supposed to cross and look ‘hand-drawn’.)

First we did broderie anglaise eyelets. I learned broderie anglaise is oversewn, not buttonholed/blanket-stitched. You can see the layer of running stitch underneath the one I’ve not quite finished. I also learned I badly need a sharp pair of small scissors.

Next we did bullion knots with long tails to look like ears of wheat.

After lunch we withdrew threads from one of the quarters we had fully edged with stem stitch to give a background for a back-stitched spider’s web. As the quarter was edged and also because the fabric was quite stiff we just cut the threads at the edge, rather than weaving them back in. Then Tracy showed us how to do an uneven-legged set of base spokes which we filled in with a variety of threads. The rayon in the middle was a pain to keep under control and I initially wasn’t sure about the fluffy thread to finish it off but I’m really pleased with the effect.

Finally we selected a variety of threads to couch down as a bundle but rather than just couching them down flat, Tracy showed us how to bunch up the threads between the couching stitches. I tried adding some running stitch to contrast with the thickness of the couching but it didn’t quite work and by this time we were just about finished so I didn’t have chance to unpick it.

It was a very good workshop; I enjoyed learning new techniques and now I have yet another partly finished something awaiting completion!

I also learned that I’ve only got a fortnight to finish the alliums piece – well, ten days now. No pressure then…

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