Filling Pattern No. 541

category: openwork filling pattern without Cable stitch grid
stitches used: sections of Rose stitches and Four-Sided stitches
center: intersection of pairs of threads

As mentioned in my blog post Traditional Schwalm Whitework, I will now explain how to work a special pattern consisting of sections of Rose stitches and Four-Sided stitches in an openwork grid without Cable stitches. I first noticed such a pattern on a piece from 1804.

Starting at the center leave the two center threads, and then commence making the grid by always alternating between withdrawing and leaving two vertical threads. Do the same with the horizontal threads.

Bring the needle up in the hole at the bottom left of the center intersection (marked red).

Lay the thread in a loop to the top and left, insert the needle in the next hole to the left and bring it up again in the first hole. Pull the thread through.

*Cross over the working thread and under the upper pair of fabric threads, and bring the needle up in the next hole upward.

Again lay the thread in a loop to the top and left, insert the needle in the next hole to the left, and bring it up again in the previously used hole. Pull the thread through. The working thread is beneath the needle.

Lay a loop to the top right, insert the needle in the next hole upward, and bring it up again in the previously used hole.

Pull the thread through and turn the piece 90° counterclockwise*. Repeat the steps (*) until a square of 2 X 2 holes is filled with two sections of a Rose stitch each. The last stitch is worked in the bottom left hole of the square. From the last stitch, cross over the working thread

and insert the needle into the same hole.

On the back, slide the working thread under the former middle top stitch.

Looking at the next intersection above, bring the needle up in the top left hole to begin a Four-Sided stitch.

Cross over the pair of threads to the right, insert the needle, and bring it up diagonally in the bottom left hole.

Cross over the pair of threads to the right, insert the needle, and bring it up diagonally in the upper left hole.

Cross over the pair of threads downward, insert the needle, and bring it up diagonally in the upper right hole.

Cross over the pair of threads downward, insert the needle, and bring it up two holes up and one hole to the left. Start here with the next square of 2 X 2 holes to be filled with two sections of a Rose stitch each.

Work rows of alternating 2 X 2 squares and Four-Sided stitches.

Work the next row staggered.

Repeat the steps until the entire shape is filled.

For my first attempt, I used coton à broder No. 25, but it was too fine to fill the holes thoroughly. So, in the end I used coton à broder No. 16.

In the image above, the piece has not been boiled. After shrinking during the boiling process, the pattern will get a nice appearance with flat areas for the Rose-stitch-section squares and more prominent areas where the Four-Sided stitches are.

I will explain the counterpart – worked with the common pattern of Rose stitch squares in a Cable stitch grid – in a future article.

Schwalm Costume – The Beaded Necklaces

Schwalm women wore short beaded necklaces with their festive costumes.

These necklaces were mostly made with Bohemian glass beads with a bevel polishing.

They were also made with amber beads (for wealthier women).

The amber beads also got a bevel polishing.

A coloured silk ribbon was used to secure the necklace.
The beads of the necklace did not fully encircle the neck; a short distance at the back of the neck was bridged with the silk ribbon.
The beads were strung onto a strong thread.

Often the heavy necklaces were worn doubled. A knot in the thread

marked the place where the strand was turned and laid back.

The mid point of the silk ribbon was fastened at one end of the strand.

One end of the ribbon was threaded through the folded back strand at the knot mark on the opposite side of the necklace.

The ribbon ends were secured with a knot at the back of the neck.

In single strands, the beads were approximately the same size, but different sizes for girls and women were common.

Often the beads for adults had a diameter of about 2 cm. Such a double-row necklace containing thirty beads (on the left in the above image) weighs 280 g! Did you ever wear such a heavy necklace?

The amber discs had a thickness of nearly 1 cm
and a diameter of more then 2 cm.
Such a double-row amber necklace containing seventy-four discs weighs 190 g.

The chains lie upon the silk neckerchiefs.

This makes wearing the heavy rocks more pleasant.

Black necklaces made from glass beads were worn with the black costume.

In addition to these most common necklaces, there were also necklaces for special occasions such as marriage. These will be subject of a future article.

Traditional Schwalm Whitework

Some time ago I was allowed to view an extraordinary tablecloth. I want to share that experience with you. The tablecloth was made by piecing together several parts. And it seems that the single sections came from different old pieces. Only elaborately embroidered sections were cut out and recombined to establish one new piece.

Arguably the largest sections originate from about 200-year-old parade cushions – the width of the borders is consistent with those of parade cushions – however, the two similarly embroidered borders were worked by embroiderers possessing different levels of experience.

Between the wide borders there are smaller borders

and elaborately worked needle-weaving bands

with different patterns

and in different widths.

The main focus is the parade cushion borders. Even though the pieces are not in their original condition, so many details of the embroidery of those days can still be seen in them. Interesting discoveries can be made.

Especially eye catching are the huge tulip motifs (picture above: Cable stitches, Diagonal Cross stitches, and Rose stitches worked in a stair-step manner);

all are embroidered with similar patterns

but show definite differences in the embroiderer’s skill.

The other motifs, some of them also very large, have less conspicuous patterns.

Unusual are the many angular shapes, which were designed in different sizes.

Openwork patterns were used exclusively for filling the shapes.

Many motifs are outlined with long, closely worked and slanting Eyelash stitches. In addition, knife points, 2 short-2 long, and

half-eyelet scallops are found outlining shapes. Coral Knot stitches are only worked to establish tendrils and curved lines.

Stems were worked with Chain stitches and with the back of Wave stitches; small leaves were worked with Satin stitches.

Satin stitch motifs in geometrical forms and small Blanket stitch eyelets fill the spaces between the large motifs.

It is unique that thread withdrawing in the shapes was not made up to the edges. The cut edges were subsequently secured with Whip stitches.

Most interesting is the pattern of the heart motif (image above). It is an openwork pattern without a Cable stitch grid. Four – apparently only partly worked – Rose stitches were worked to form a square. Those squares were worked like a checkerboard over the entire shape. One Four-Sided stitch was placed in each remaining section. I tried to replicate this pattern; I will share the result in a future article.
In contrast is the similar, but common, pattern (image below) of the counterpart. It was worked with squares of Rose stitches in a Cable stitch grid.

I hope you have enjoyed examining this very peculiar and individually developed embroidery. It is truly something that cannot be seen every day.

This is just the type of research I love to share with you. If you find it useful, enlightening, or simply enjoyable, please consider making a small donation to support the continuation of my blog.

Schwalm Costume – Joy-and-Sorrow Neckerchiefs

The joy-and-sorrow neckerchiefs were a special type of neckerchiefs worn by Schwalm women.

Especially precious cloths made of pure silk were worked in such a way that they could be worn for either cheerful or mournful occasions.

Because the square cloths were folded diagonally, either the colourful

or the black

or the white-and-black side was visible.

Often these especially pretty cloths were embellished with embroidery.

Playing with a Pattern

As already mentioned, I consider how to rearrange stitches so that a new pattern is created every time I stitch a pattern.
I take graph paper and lightly sketch my ideas to see the possibility of creating a new pattern.
This was my process while working on filling pattern No. 481.

First I made a variation of this pattern by establishing another Limet grid by cutting 1 and leaving only 2. This made the single pattern element narrower and the overall pattern smaller.

But also the distance between single pattern elements (or vertical rows of elements) can be adjusted

or hearts of different sizes can be combined.


or squared patterns can be created by combining the hearts with other stitches, such as Satin stitch bars shown here.

The single elements can be turned – to the left, to the right (here the stitches for the remaining sections are thus far missing, perhaps the diagonally worked Röserich [see Stars] would be fine)

or upside down.

Four hearts can be combined to form a blossom

The center can be filled in different ways:
a. with one Rose stitch

b. with a variation of four Rose stitches

c. or with four Rose stitches.

Such blossoms arranged closely together establish a nice pattern.

The same blossoms can be worked in a Rose stitch grid.

The single hearts can also be turned with the points meeting in the center.

Here they are surrounded with Rose stitches.

As seen, with a little bit of imagination and some trial and error one can easily create new patterns.

In summary, the following are ways one can play with patterns:
changing the direction of single pattern elements
combining pattern elements with other stitches
using different grids
using different thread weights
filling blank spaces differently


Luzine Happel
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Telefon: 05651-32233


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