Thoughts on Assisi embroidery

April 5, 2009

I’ve been delighting in the Assisi embroidery I’ve seen popping up on various blogs around the on-line needlework community. I’ve been thinking more than stitching on this third month in Sharon b‘s Stitch Explorer challenge. And everything I have been stitching has been in miniature to try and explore those ideas more quickly.

This first sample is a little larger than two quarters and not a very successful experiment. I was attempting to choose a stitch for the background that might remind one of the texture of the the void object. The thread I used was not covering well enough and I had difficulty with the compensation stitches.


However, I liked the stitch. It is worked as a herringbone stitch (see photo below). After stitching the first row the fabric is turned one hundred and eighty degrees and another herringbone row is worked directly below it. This pattern is kept through out the stitching.


Another aspect of Assisi embroidery I’ve been thinking about is lettering. I worked with printing at a time when reverse print was gaining popularity in the industry that I was involved in. I’m not sure about the history of any relationship between the embroidery and reverse print, but I wanted to experiment with a couple of things. These are mainly experiments about creating an illusion of depth. The top left uses Perle 8 cotton, silk floss and 100/3 silk with cross stitch and backstitching. The rest are Perle 12 cotton with long armed cross stitching.

The top two seem to work more readily. The right being unembellished. The left the attempt to do things to increase the depth at which the letter appears. The bottom two need some distance to work. The one on the right works best in the last photo, I think. Perhaps the one on the left doesn’t work at all, but I have few more tests to make and perhaps I’ll get the effect I’m looking for. 




I hope regular readers will excuse the erratic or non-existent posting patterns in the past couple of months. I’m working hard on color studies and work is taking up more hours recently. I’m doing some non-postable stitching, too. I don’t suppose I could stop stitching without feeling a sense something missing in my day.

Green Tea: first experiments with Assisi embroidery

March 17, 2009

Green tea and Assisi work might not mix in your mind but this design below was my first attempt at doing some innovations with this style of embroidery. And why did the name “Green Tea” stick? Who knows?


I suppose anyone who loves blackwork as much as I do would experiment with Assisi embroidery sooner or later. The design is based on a nine patch and evolved from there. I kept the traditional flavor by using a darker thread to outline the image in the four corners and center.

A lighter thread was used as the background fill and done in a slanted gobelin stitch. Rather than working these stitches left to right across the design, they radiated out from the center. Then another motif was created in the background color in the center of each side. Here the outlining was done in the background thread to keep it from competing with the first motif. The five dots of that second motif are probably rice stitches. This was an attempt to add a subtle perk to the dullness of the background. 

I definitely see some errors and lessons learned in this piece. But I still like the concepts in Assisi embroidery that I was playing with and dreaming over a few years ago.  My hope is that Sharon’s challenge will stir up more thoughts on this fascinating style of embroidery and that we can encourage and inspire each other along the way.

I am still working through comments and appreciate the kindness of so many who not only swing by visiting the blog but also comment. I have received inquiries about how the trellis stitch work was managed around the motif pictured in the last post. It is hard for me to put into words. But anyone interested may use the link to see the addition to that post. I warn you in advance, there are only words and unfortunately no photographs to cover the subject.

Trellis stitches to Assisi: soft transition

March 16, 2009

On March 15, Sharon b announced the third Stitch Explorer challenge. She has posted wonderful examples of  her own innovative work with the concept of Assisi embroidery along with the details and references to the traditional work.

As I read through Sharon’s post a small idea came to mind and I decided to make a soft transition from the trellis stitches of the second Stitch Explorer to the Assisi embroidery of the third challenge.


The workmanship is lacking as I was using some thread I’m not skilled with but the concept is very workable and it was a fun exercise. Below is a photo attempting to give a sense of the difference in height between the ground and the trellis stitches.


If you haven’t considered getting involved with Sharon’s Stitch Explorer challenge, please do look into it. Sharon has posted details about it here. If you’d like to see what others are doing, continue to check for comments in Sharon’s posts and there is a flickr group.

Before leaving the trellis stitch completely behind. I wanted to show one more of the samples I’d not yet posted. Doing some off grid work led to some trials without anchoring the stitches to a stitched line. Using an anchored thread to attach the beginning row of stitches gave me more freedom and ability to manipulate the line freely after stitching. It could be joined with other lines at will or remain isolated.


When I was finished with the little doodle, it looked to me as if somone with a wrinkled brow was peeking out of a window.


Many thanks for kind comments about this post. I have also received inquiries about how the trellis stitch work was managed as I worked around the motif pictured this post. It is hard for me to put into words. I’m sorry that there are no pictures just words as I’d not thought about photographing as I went along.

This is my best attempt to explain what I did. There may be much better ways to handle it. I’m no expert in stump work. Perhaps others may be able to help and know how to do it more easily. If so, please feel free to add a comment. I would appreciate learning more.

I started stitching the trellis stitch along one of the outer, non-diagonal sides. I stitched until I came to a place where the stitching would overrun the outline of the motif. In that row I anchored it where ever it met the motif’s outline. When that row was completed, I worked only back on it until the stitching meet the motif’s outline and went back and forth between the outside edge of the motif and the outer design outline. When that stitching came even with the last of the motif’s outline and the stitching could once again go across the design to the inside of other outer edge without covering the motif, I paused the stitching.

Next, I took up the outline of the other side in the same manner picking up on the last row of completed stitching on that side and so forth. When stitching on that side cleared the last of the motif’s outline I paused that stitching, too. I then took up the lower center “V” shape and worked from the point to the place it also cleared the motif’s outline and paused the stitching. I worked then worked next row completely across the design and catching in the stitching that had been paused and anchoring it to the motif’s outline where needed.

The only thing remaining for me was to pick up the stitching paused over the upper “V” shape and fill in that shape working towards the point. I’m sorry to use so many words, it is much easier done than read.