Friday, 11 October 2013

Blackwork embroidery research

I've been looking into blackwork lately, specifically the later period, freeform style, with a view to completing some as a sampler. I'll admit, when I first starting looking, freeform blackwork looked to me like a confusion of random shapes, but closer inspection, particularly of this cushion cover made from a woman's dress in the late 16th century, reveals a repeating pattern[1] of well known flowers that the those of the Tudor era would have been fond of. 

Row 1 top: Pansy
Row 1 bottom: Lily
Row 2 top: Daffodil
Row 2 bottom: Pomegranate
Row 3 top: Tudor Rose
Row 3 bottom: Carnation
These are my best guesses at what the flowers represent. Some of these, such as the rose and pomegranate are so often used they're easier to discern. 

Órlaith is dying some silk embroidery thread for me, in some of my favourite colours (namely purple, yes), and some day I'll have to pin her down to teach me how to dye things myself. I aquired some nice white linen recently, and though I'm not sure how I feel about it yet, but I'm going to have to do a sampler. I need to see how well I can actually do blackwork, given that it's a new skill, but I want to test the colourfastness of the dye for some other projects I have in mind.

[1] Just stop and think about that for a moment. A repeating pattern. Long before sewing machines were invented, embroidery of this nature was fully done by hand, with just a few vaiations in the filling stitches. Craftsperson of ages past, I tip my hat to you.

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