Stitch Explorer May

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.



  1. I’ve finally finished two pieces for a City & Guild distance course that I’m taking that include needle weaving in them. The first is my interpretation of Perseus & Medusa that was inspired by your Casalguidi snake. I used a variety of techniques including needle weaving to create the snakes in Medusa’s hair. The second piece is a Mermaid, for which I’ve used the spider web stitch for her fin.

    I’ve posted photos of my on my flickr account:


  2. I have just posted my progress so far for April/May on my blog.
    I’m loving this combination of stitches and really enjoying experimenting with it.
    I have used the image of a bare tree and split the foundation threads to different thicknesses as I couched them down in the casalguido stitch. i intend using the needleweaving for leaves, but will wait till I can pick up Effie’s book on needleweaving before I start.

  3. Hi Sharon,
    I’m really enjoying combining April’s Casalguido and May’s needleweaving.
    Just thought I’d mention that May doesn’t come up on the Stitch Explorer site, I usually scroll through the comments and check out everyone’s blogs to see what they are up to.
    It will be good to have a rest in June, I can concentrate on my exhibition embroidery
    Cheers and thanks for all your hard work and beautiful examples. I love the bushfire one too, very strong statement.

    aussie jo
  4. I had no question when I saw your Black Saturday what it was about. It brings tears to my eyes still… Combining beauty with deep emotion… that is a very powerful piece.

    I was a follower of your blog previously and then somehow lost the site. I am so glad to have found it again!

  5. Hi Sharon, this is the first time in my 3rd year of following your challenges that I have failed to even start. Poor health of an elderly sister has kept me away from the needle and thread but having seen the beautiful examples of Casalguidi I am enthused. The background work is something else to learn also. I am happy with any decisions made for the future challenges but have downloaded the PDF thinking if I know what’s coming I may be able to make a design to incorporate all the stitches for the year. I do have one in mind…now to see if I can draw it up.

    Thanks for your constant work keeping this going for us.

    Maureen Bond
  6. Hi Gina – thanks for the compliment about the sampler – as you may know I am in Canberra and was in the fires a few years back – it bought back many memories and really this is an image that was stirred from then.

    Sharon B
  7. Sharon, your tribute to Black Saturday is awesome. I don’t usually use words like that to describe something but in this case I can’t think of anything more appropriate. It is very evocative of what one sees when driving around the burnt areas even now.
    I don’t know if you’ve seen what has been happening on the Fabric Postcards group on Stitchin Fingers, but you can claim part ownership of the project (I’ve also posted about it on my blog), as it never would have happened without Stitchin Fingers being what it is!

  8. I also think this months challenge is great – I have wanted to try needle weaving fro some time. This will give me the impetus! Today I have up loaded my Assisi sample. I would not allow myself to log on to see what the new challenge was until my Assisi sample was complete, photographed and uploaded.

    Ruth Palsson
  9. This month’s challenge is wonderful – I can’t wait – I love drawn thread and needle weaving and its myriad possibilities – a great excuse to play.
    Thankyou Sharon for the pdf too – I will print it out after I have finished this.

    I think your black saturday stitching is great – so expressive – these diary pieces are marvellous in your sampler.

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