Many readers have been waiting for Stitch Explorer 2009 to start so without any teasing or fuss I will get on with it.
During the TAST challenge many people were surprised at what could happen when you take an embroidery stitch and push it. Once free of the injunction “you must do it this way” a stitch could become the starting point for all sorts of interesting mark making in thread and inspire new ways of working.
The same holds true of embroidery styles. You can take a style and push it in other directions.
The first style I am going to suggest is chicken scratch. This is an ideal first challenge as the basic stitches are simple so that those who are new to embroidery are still able to participate yet you can do so much with it. It is also quick to do so lost of experimentation can take place.
Chicken scratch it seems to be enjoying a revival among those that like vintage and retro craft techniques. This style of embroidery is actually a combination of cross stitches and a simple lacing technique. A foundation layer of stitches is laid down then other threads are laced in. It was often worked on gingham but I have also seen it worked on Binca fabric. Usually this style of embroidery worked in soft thick embroidery cotton like Anchor’s thick cotton.
If you are not sure what I am talking about there are step by step photos on Janet McCaffrey’s blog Primrose Design and another set of detailed instructions with clear photos exist here too. These are some more basic instructions found online.
Chicken scratch is known by a number of names Depression lace, Depression embroidery, gingham lace, gingham embroidery, Chinese Pinwheel, Tic Tac Toe Embroidery, Colonial Lace, Mountain Lace, Snowflake Embroidery Norwegian Embroidery,Hoover Star, Hoovers lace or Amish embroidery. It is also know incorrectly as Teneriffe lace. This is wrong here is an example of Teneriffe lace. On the Digital Archive of Documents on Weaving, Textiles, Lace, and Related Subjects site if you scroll on this page to ephemera under Lace there are some booklets and images in pdf file format about Teneriffe lace.
Suggestion 1 Change the foundation fabric
Many people like the charm of gingham check and usually chicken scratch is worked on this simple fabric but under this challenge there is no reason why you have to. One way to push this style is to work it on a different foundation fabric.
Chicken Scratch embroidery is normally done on check fabric but Elizabeth of Quieter Moments has been adapting this style and applying the technique on a foundation of spotted fabric. An excellent tutorial on adapting to round chicken scratch is to be found on her blog. It is an excellent example of adapting a traditional technique to a new context. In fact, track through Elizabeth’s category on chicken scratch and you can see what I mean by pushing a style to create something else.
Linda B worked some Chicken Scratch on denim with 10 count waste canvas and this is what it turned out like
Suggestion 2 Change the stitches
As you can see the stitches suggested are area double cross stitch and a straight stitch. There is no reason why these have to be this combination as you could substitute one or both of these stitches with any stitch which allows you to lace a thread between them.
Note this example uses simple cross stitch
On this apron you can see simple cross stitch is used with needle weaving has been incorporated.
Suggestion 3 Change the lacing thread
Normally the lacing thread is the same as the thread you create the cross stitches in. Under this challenge there is no reason why you could not change this thread.
Suggestion 4 Change the lacing pattern
In Australia, you can often find different lacing patterns are this is where it does become interesting.
Have look at this example
Suggestion 5 Change the pattern
You can change the layout of the foundation stitches to form a different foundation pattern
Suggestion 6 Add another colour
Often another colour can add real drama such as this sample
Suggestion 7 Combine it with another technique
Chicken scratch can be also incorporated into crazy quilt tale a look at chicken scratch in Linda B’s crazy quilting
Thanks to Linda B of Chloes Place for adding so many examples to her flicker set
Other Tutorials and patterns online:
Kerri of Kerri made has written a tutorial for a book mark that uses a slightly different lacing technique.
If you like the vintage look About.com has some free chicken scratch patterns
There is also this free pattern for an angel motif worked in chicken scratch
How to participate in the stitch explorer challenge
Stitch some samples that push this style
Blog it or put images somewhere online where people can see them
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.