Stitch Explorer May

After reading carefully all the replies to my post which posed questions about the format of the Stitch Explorer I realise that for many people time is a big factor. Time is either mentioned directly or is a strong undercurrent to replies.  Since much of this challenge is about exploring different embroidery styles if I continue as is, the issue will continue to be a factor.

Since it is better to have some extra time to explore in a relaxed but curious manner that feel pressured to do ‘something’ for the challenge  I think the odd  ‘catch up’ month is needed for most people. So catch up months will be  June, September and December.

I figure knowing catch up periods are approaching will relieve pressure for those that worry about making deadlines. So for some personality types June is a breathing space in the middle of the year and yet it far enough away to not allow excuses for the procrastinators. December is always a high pressure month as many people are making gifts but at least if it is declared a catch up month people are not stressing about meeting a challenge deadline too.

On the idea of a list of what was ahead in the challenge the group was divided. Some wanted to plan and prepare, think ahead and perhaps do a little research others liked the surprise. I have prepared a brief outline of the challenge. It is in a PDF file so for those that want to download it and have it to hand they can. For those that want the surprise, do not download it as I will announce the challenge as per normal.

As always I am happy to hear reactions and have comments on these changes.

The challenge this month.

This month I am going to suggest that people look at needleweaving. This is a technique often found in drawn thread embroidery as the example above illustrates. That said, you DO NOT have to engage fully with drawn thread work to explore this technique.

Simply apply the key idea of weaving a thread to create an interesting surface  and see where it can take you. The threads you weave can be part of a foundation fabric as you would in drawn thread work or lay a foundation of threads yourself to create free form bars as I have done here. I have instructions on how to work freestyle woven bars in the post below.


Slightly off topic: 

I know I will get asked about this sampler section. What are you looking at? Australia was really shaken by the Victorian fires. I thought the event warranted marking. I made a Black Saturday sampler and it will be added to my larger band sampler … anyway back to what I was saying…

This is section of my band sampler,  I have included here so you can see where I have used contemporary drawn thread  and needleweaving techniques to create an area in the fore ground.

Hopefully these few illustrations will give you a small hint as to what is possible with needleweaving and some of the woven stitches.

For drawn thread work see Part I – Drawn Thread Embroidery by Therese Dillmont (PDF) and Part II – Drawn Thread Embroidery by Therese Dillmont (PDF) both supplied by the Antique Pattern Library

I reviewed this Drawn thread embroidery book online  yesterday and as you can see on page 18 and 19 there are a number of traditional needleweaving examples with associated instructions.

You will also find directions on how to do “open work” in The Encyclopedia of Needlework by Thérèse de Dillmont which is also online. You will find some interesting patterns about one third of the way down on this page.

How to participate in the stitch explorer challenge 

Stitch some samples. You can explore the tradition or push this embroidery style into the 21st century by breaking a few rules.

Blog it or put images somewhere online where people can see them. If you use flickr send them to the Stitchexplorer group

Come back to this post and leave a comment with your web address in it so that people can visit and see what you have done.

Note if when you leave a comment, you fill in the form with your URL, it means that when people click on your name they will be taken to your blog.


What have people been doing with Casalguidi?


This morning I thought I would point to a few interesting  explorations of the Casalguidi work done as part of this months stitch explorer challenge.

This month participation has dropped and I am wondering why.  I have a hunch many people decided/thought they had to explore pulled stitches as well as Casalguidi and since many people are still exploring Assisi I think folks may be on overload!

This has made me think hard about how I am framing the challenge. I am floating ideas here so I would love feedback so leave comments if you have time as I would appreciate it 

 I have hunch that in the months we are exploring an embroidery style people are feeling pressured to learn a new technique AND then explore that technique. For this reason I am tempted to extend the time period so that when a style of embroidery (not a single stitch) is being investigated we take it over two months. What do people think?

So for instance with something like Casalguidi it could split over two months. A month to explore pulled work and a month to explore the stitch Casalguidi. On the other hand I know traditionally this stitch is traditionally worked against a pulled back ground but there is no reason why it has to be which is of course why I proposed it. One of the aspects of contemporary embroidery is to break a convention like this. A contemporary interpretation drawing on the tradition of Casalguidi could be worked in wire on a fly screen door and still fit in the challenge!  

I am open to ideas. These are my suggestions.


  1. On the 15th do people want to move on to the next challenge and change nothing?
  2. Do we want to make next months challenge to experiment with pulled stitches? This would enable people to feel they can cover the ‘topic area’ properly. As a side note if you read this and want to yell at the screen “I do not like the evenweave stitches!” try them on scrim or very fine loosely woven material like cheese cloth and don’t count the threads – yes that is right break the rules – dont count, in counted thread work. This is a creative challenge! 
  3. The next challenge I had planned is also associated with a style of embroidery. Would people like a month for the style and month for the stitch – announced at the same time. 
  4. Would people like an extra catch up month?  
  5. Would people like a list of what I plan so they can be thinking ahead.
  6. Any other suggestions? 


That said,  look at the fantastic work done by Annet of Fat Quarter as she has not only explored Casalguidi stitch but also pulled stitches as well. While there also take a look at where she pushed Assisi  stitching too. 

Kay Susan of S’Mockery Sm’Art used the technique on a doll  and produced this contemporary interpretation too. Take a look at this, as it’s a great example of changing the type of foundation fabric to push the technique into the 21st century. You can use this trick on just about any of the even weave techniques. People always assume they have to be interpreted on a speciality even weave fabric but they don’t and the minute you take them away from the grid they become something else again! 

Miriam of Borduurblog has a number of posts on both pulled work and Casalguidi  which are categorised under stitch explorer Miriam by the way has loads of free patterns on her blog so do swing over and see Borduurblog

Connie of Scoop Score and Deal let her experimental piece evolve into a very interesting floral piece with a great primitive feel. 

Marg B of Maggies Textiles made grubs!


Added later: Thanks all I am collating together the responses to these questions and will act on them. I will let everyone know what the results are on the 15th.

Stitch explorer April

This month the challenge is to look at another Italian embroidery style which is called Casalguidi. The Embroiderers Guild has featured this style in their magazine Stitch. Do take a look at its traditional form.  This is a a highly textured form Italian pulled fabric embroidery worked traditionally on linen.

I have explored this stitch in more contemporary manner

I have directions on how to work Casalguidi stitch in my stitch dictionary. But it is not the stitch alone that makes it interesting. The design element that ties this style together and makes it interesting is a contrast of texture as usually the high relief work is set against pulled thread stitches. Without this high  contrast it just looks like a grub on your fabric.

Lots of stitches can be used in conjunctions with this type of embroidery such as raised stem stitch, Woven Picots, Buttonhole Bars and dare I say but the stitch we had in February trellis stitch goes very well too!

Traditionally this style of embroidery was worked on linen but today embroidery can be pushed in different directions by using different fabrics and there are numerous interesting threads which can be used.  Pearl cottons, Rayon and Metallic threads all have qualities that make this style ripe for reinterpretation and possible revival. As long as the thread is capable of creating  structure it is suitable. Perle is ideal but I have often wanted to put aside some time and explore using some of the novelty knitting yarns with this style.

Take a look a the work of Janet M Davis as she has created many pieces of contemporary Casalguidi. Effie Mitrofanis has written a very good book on this interesting style of embroidery. It is called Casalguidi Style Linen Embroidery

If you need to use pulled and drawn stitches there is a primer and general information here. Also online is this lesson in pulled work . This tutorial was published on stitchin fingers  Also see  Part I – Drawn Thread Embroidery by Therese Dillmont (PDF) and Part II – Drawn Thread Embroidery by Therese Dillmont (PDF) which are free books supplied by the Antique Pattern Library

Have fun with this months challenge. I have established a Flickr group for those who want to use it. The name is Stitchexplorer

How to participate in the stitch explorer challenge 

Stitch some samples that push this embroidery style

Blog it or put images somewhere online where people can see them. If you use flickr send them to the Stitchexplorer group

Come back to this post and leave a comment with your web address in it so that people can visit and see what you have done.

Note if when you leave a comment, if you fill in the form with your URL, it means that when people click on your name they will be taken to your blog.