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Saturday, March 24, 2007

Blackwork without double-running

Earlier in the week, I mentioned that the new goldwork heart has a blackwork background. The course booklet encourages the use of other blackwork fillings besides the one given. Since Tiramisu is almost all double-running stitch, I decided to try something different. I knew that while most blackwork is reversible, it may not be identical on the back. For some stitch patterns, the back side simply has a different attractive pattern.

A few years ago, I picked up a copy of Ilse Atherr's Reversible Blackwork, book 1, at an estate sale. (Note: This book was originally published in 1978. My copy was printed in 1983. Apparently Ilse has recently released an updated version.) While I've looked at the book a few times, I haven't actually tried any of the blackwork filling stitches from it. Some of these patterns fit the description above - they are reversible, with a different pattern on the back, and not stitched with double-running stitch. Instead, many of these patterns use a simple running stitch, first at one angle, then another, spaced appropriately to build the pattern. I decided I wanted to try one of these.

In determining which of the 36 patterns to use from the book, I carefully considered the scale, density, and direction of the pattern. I wanted a fairly open background so it didn't compete with the heart as the focus, with a repeat that was fairly large (but not too large!), and didn't really provide any sense of direction (some patterns force the eye to see a heavy diagonal structure, for example). And, of course, I wanted to use something other than double-running. I finally settled on pattern D-6 from the book.

This book is great in that it shows how the pattern is constructed out of running stitches, step by step. After I figured out how many repeats of the pattern I wanted in the background, I had to put in a few basting lines so I could make sure to get it centered correctly. I would find it very distracting if the background were shifted left or right of center, especially with such a large repeat. Here's the progress thus far, with the outline of the heart and the background started.

One of the problems with using running stitches is the difficulty in ending threads. This would really be a problem with this thick metallic (it seems metallic, not real metal) thread. I plan on stitching slanted gobelin stitches all around the outside with a lightweight pearl cotton so I can end these threads in this border. The border is not intended to show when it is framed. Many thanks to my LNS owner for this suggestion!

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