Cretan stitch can be used in many decorative ways. With it, you can fill a shape, create a border, create a line, or if you arrange rows of Cretan stitch in lines, it makes a wonderful filling stitch to work within a shape. You can use it to couch down threads or to weave a thread through!
You can also use it in a freeform and adventurous manner to great effect. It really is a very versatile stitch that many people underestimate. Cretan stitch has other names, such as: Open Cretan, Persian stitch, or long-armed feather stitch.
How to work Cretan Stitch
Work from left to right between 2 imaginary lines. Bring the needle through the fabric at the start of the line. Move along slightly and insert your needle on the outside edge to make a small stitch by pointing the needle to the centre. Keeping the thread under the needle pull it through your fabric.
Move to the lower outside edge of the line and repeat the action.
Make sure that with each small stitch, the thread is under the needle.
Continue working until the shape or line is filled.
Ways to use Cretan Stitch
There are many ways to use Cretan stitch. Here I have added some seed beads to the arms of the stitch. I used cotton perle #8 thread to work the main band before adding detached chain stitches in silk thread at the tops of the arms before adding some seed beads.
Cretan stitch works very well if you stack it row upon row. In this sample, I worked two narrow lines of the stitch. each stitch itself is wide but the arms are thin, as each bite of the fabric I took was small. I worked both rows in cotton perle #5.
Here is another sample, also worked in cotton perle #5 but in this case, the arms of the stitch are wider because with each stitch I took a larger bite of the fabric.
You can also work two rows on top of each other. This can be very effective, particularly if you add beads etc to the arms.
In this sample on crazy quilting, I added bugle beads to the space between the arms.
Here is another example, worked in rayon ribbon floss on crazy quilting. I added Bugle beads alongside the V-like shape of the stitch and then topped the arms with 5 detached chain stitches with a bugle bead in the middle too.
In this sample line of Cretan stitch is worked on Crazy Quilt Block 76 which comes from the I dropped the button box quilt, I used a hand-dyed silk thread that is approximately the same weight and thickness of cotton perle #5. I added detached chain stitches and seed beads between the spines.
Another way to use Cretan stitch is to work one side of the arms narrower than the other. Or you can change the width of the arms to create patterns. This sample comprises two rows of Cretan stitch worked in cotton perle #5 thread. I then added novelty beads stitched into the middle of the two rows.
This sample is a similar idea as it is worked in two lines. I varied the arm of the Cretan stitches so that on one side they formed hills and valleys. I then added back stitch on each side to contain the Cretan stitches. Next, I worked slipped detached chain stitches in line. The thread is hand-dyed wool.
This last sample is an experiment with novelty yarns and organic-type lines. From left to right, the first thread is a feathery knitting yarn that would work for underwater seascapes and the like. For the second one, I used hand-dyed crochet cotton, about the same thickness as cotton perle #5, and the last is boucle yarn.
My book for creative stitchers
If you enjoy my site you will gain real value from my book: Creative Stitches for Contemporary Embroidery: Visual Guide to 120 Essential Stitches for Stunning Designs
Feeling stale? Wondering how to add sparkle to your embroidery? I have aimed Creative Stitches for Contemporary Embroidery to be suitable for both beginners and seasoned embroiderers. It introduces techniques to encourage your creative interpretations of stitches. I guide you towards discovering play-points in your embroidery by varying the height and width; by stacking stitches; or by filling multiple rows with the same stitch. With creative variations and demonstrations of tiny tweaks, You will be ready to head off down your own creative path and, of course, illustrated with plenty of eye candy!
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