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Sunday, March 2, 2008

Peahole hemstitch

The peahole hemstitch (from Schwalm embroidery) is used in To the Acorn as the cutwork band in lesson 5. This blog entry was originally planned as a complete set of instructions on how to do this stitch. Here's the story of how the best laid plans sometimes go awry.

I started out taking pictures of each step. It starts with the empty area.

On the back of the piece, certain threads are cut in the middle of the band, drawn back to the edges, and woven in to the fabric for a short distance. (If you're curious, the pattern is: cut 1 thread, leave 4, cut 4, leave 4, cut 1, leave 4, cut 4, leave 4, cut 1.)

Returning to the front, a satin stitch is worked in pearl cotton over this woven area. The ends of the woven threads are then trimmed from the back of the piece.

A four-sided stitch is worked over the upper-most set of 4 threads.

I started the next row, in which, according to the instructions, the first 5 "legs" of the four-sided stitch are done, then two of the "bundles" are wrapped together before continuing with the four-sided stitch. I must have put that in and taken that out 4 or 5 times. The wraps kept sliding down to the bottom, and it didn't look at all like the pictures. I reread the page. I had a friend read the page. Neither of us could make it work. The text says this is a Schwalm embroidery stitch. I searched my stitch books (of which I have many, including 1 Schwalm book.) This stitch is in none of them.

In desperation, I consulted the bibliography at the end of the text. There are three Schwalm books listed, two of which are in German. I found that Threadneedle Street (a wonderful shop on the outskirts of Seattle) had all three books for a reasonable price. I ordered them on Thursday. They arrived on Saturday, much to my surprise. I'm very glad I ordered all three. The first, an English translation from a German text, had the stitch with a knot around the bundles of threads. I didn't like how it came out. The remaining two German books, both by the same author, used a slightly different version of the stitch. From the pictures (I don't read German!), it looked like a buttonhole stitch was used around the bundles. I tried it. First a buttonhole, then a second wrap, then continue with the four-sided. It worked! The wraps stayed in place!

I got so excited that the stitch was working, I forgot to take pictures. :-(

As I neared the end of the band, I realized I had pulled the wraps a bit too tight. I cheated in making it work, though. I tightly laced both edges of the fabric to the scroll frame until the puckering (caused by pulling the stitch) flattened out.

Wetting the edge of a folded paper towel, I carefully dampened the band (making sure I didn't get water on the variegated silk) from both front and back of the fabric. After it dried, the linen threads had relaxed and given in to their new configuration. The puckering went away.
Despite the frustration in getting this to work, I really like this stitch. After I whittle down my stack of WIPs a bit more, I may have to do more Schwalm work. After all, I just invested in several books on the topic! Maybe I'll do something like this project that uses the peahole stitch as a dividing border.


Joanie said...

Holy cow, that band of Schwalm embroidery is exquisite! What a beautiful piece of embroidery!

LovetoStitch99 said...


You seem to have had quite a bit of adventure with this project. In the end though Acorn has turned out very beautiful and now you have some German books in your personal library :-)

My husband knows many languages and German is amongst them. If you need some help translating something, let me know.

Pierrette =^..^=

Anonymous said...

Ooooh, I do like this band. I have a real "thing" about whitework embroidery such as Schwalm, so I ma loving all the photos and details in this post. Your work is just gorgeous.

Kathryn said...

Wow! This is way, way more work than I will ever do. I have a few hardanger projects, but I hesitate to cut into my fabric. I stand in awe at your determination to make this work.

tintocktap said...

Glad you like the band after all your hard work - it really is beautiful!

tkdchick said...

Wooo hoo that looks just fantastic! I took a schwalm class once and much to my surprise I really enjoyed it!

Mary Corbet said...

Beautiful band, Jeanne - and good job figuring it out! It's gorgeous!

Jeanne said...

That is just beautiful Jeanne! I would never have figured it out I'm sure. I'm going to carefully try your trick for removing puckers on a sampler of mine that has drawn thread bands - I hate when you don't get a nice even line down the margins as sometimes happens with pulled work.

Rissa said...


Lelia said...

Beautiful stitching. I have enjoyed the posts/pictures on your blog : )

Lelia said...

hello Jeanne: Thx for visiting my blog & commenting. I ordered a tekobari, just couldn't resist. It is my understanding there are 'grooves' in the end with the point to assist laying the fibers. The tekobari is supposed to be mailed to me later today & perhaps by the end of the week - first of next week, I'll have one in hand & can post. Interesting tho - IMO

Elisabeth Braun said...

Well, however you managed it Hon, you did a great job! Looks lovely.