Snail Shells (1)

Tendrils are a common and important design element. They are symbols of life cycles and stand for changes and transition.

Our lives are changing enormously at the moment.

The spiral of the snail shell reminds one of the spirals of tendrils.
Snails retreat into their homes in case of danger and do not stretch their feelers again until the threat seems to be over.

So what could be more perfect today than to embroider snail “houses.”
The artist Gudrun Hartwig drew different snail shell designs for me.

Here is one of those designs:

Transferring the design one should keep in mind that it does not appear mirrored. The spirals of snail shells always turn counterclockwise. Not all lines of the wall structure must be transferred; this will only be confusing when stitching. For orientation the main lines and the length of the lines are enough.

Starting on the outside, I embroidered Chain stitches along the spiral line.

Starting with heavier thread, I changed to finer thread after approximately each round. This enables one to work the center of the spiral exactly.

The fine lines of the wall texture were embroidered with Stem stitches using coton à broder No. 30.

Snail “houses”, snails, and other crawlers are well suited to be included into a sampler.

This example shows one possible way to depict a snail shell.

Another possibility will follow.

Pillow with a Heart Design

For this year´s Valentine´s Day I present a very special pillowcase. The big heart is filled with an openwork figural pattern.

Figural patterns are a common part of Schwalm whitework filling patterns. You will learn more about this special type of filling pattern in future articles this year.

This pattern is very special because it conforms to the heart shape. The heart outline has to be established first. Unfortunately, the linen used for the example is not an evenweave; it has a thread count of 17/18 in the height and 13/14 in the width.

But how does one get it the correct size for the design? There are three different possibilities.

1. The easiest way is to adjust the design matching it to the openwork grid of the inner heart after it is established.

2. The second way is to count the threads to determine the size of the needed section:
The design measures 50 squares along the vertical center axis from the top point to the lower point of the heart and 40 squares along half the horizontal axis directly below the top point of the heart. One square needs 4 fabric threads; this means you have to count from the top point of the heart downwards 200 threads and from the top point to the left or to the right 160 threads. I recommend adding 8 threads each time you count out a section just to be safe. Mark all three points and measure the distance. Adjust your heart design to be the required size, and transfer it to the linen.

3. The third way is calculating:
Count your linen threads precisely and calculate the needed measurement. For example, for a linen with a thread count of 13.5/cm, you need 200 (208) threads in the height – 200 ÷ 13.5 = 14.81 cm (208 ÷ 13.5 = 15.41 cm). So, the inside of the heart shape should measure about 15.5 cm from the top point to the bottom point.
You need 160 (168) threads for half of the width – 160 ÷ 13.5 = 11.85 cm (168 ÷ 13.5 = 12.44 cm). So inside of the heart shape from the top point to one side should measure about 12.5 cm.

Because I think evenweave linen with a thread count of 13.5 is well-suited for openwork, I added the required size for this linen in the pdf document, which also includes a chart of the design.

First, all prep work is done: transferring; working stems, tendrils, and the pair of outlines with Coral Knot stitches; embroidering leaves, scallops, and half-eyelet scallops with Blanket stitches; working interlaced Herringbone stitches between the two outlines; and stitching Chain stitches inside the inner outline.

The openwork grid is established by cutting 2, leaving 2 – starting directly below the top point of the heart.

Now the grid needs to be secured. In the example, the grid is secured with Single Faggot stitches (Openwork Pattern Samplers). (Commonly openwork grids in Schwalm whitework are made with Cable stitches, but Single Faggot stitches make the pattern appear more clearly, and this is important for such a pattern.)
It is good to have a hoop wide enough for stretching the entire pattern into it.

Using needle-weaving stitches – in the example all the needle weaving is done vertically (i.e., from bottom to top and back again) – and occasional Rose stitches, embroider the pattern into the grid following the provided chart or your adjusted chart.

Finished as a pillowcase and filled with a coloured inlay, the pillow develops a special charm.

Schwalm Sampler Design

Per my request, a brilliant Schwalm designer – Christa Waldmann – made the hand drawing of the beautiful design featured in the framed Schwalm sampler article. Another designer then transferred the hand drawing into a graphic. Now it is ready for all to enjoy as a downloadable document.

The six-page document presents the entire design in its original size with an enlarged picture of the needle-weaving band.


Schwalm Sampler Design
line-drawn design
6 pages
Text: English
1,9 MB file size
10.00 € (incl. 19,00 % sales tax), 8.40 € for customers outside the EU
shop

Schwalm Whitework – Apron Square Designs

Deeply impressed by the beauty of the apron square designs and the number of wonderful patterns that can be created using the same main motifs over and over again, I looked for a way to modify and then apply these designs to contemporary whitework designs. With the help of my designer, I have produced seven beautiful square designs. I have shown a variation of one in a previous article. It is a design axially symmetric; all others are centrically symmetric.

The designs measure 18 cm X 18 cm each, but it is possible to enlarge them. They are pretty made up as pillowcases, square doilies, and table runners. I am using five of the designs on each side to embroider a large tablecloth. Unfortunately it is not yet finished, so I cannot show a picture.
However, it looks like it will turn out very pretty. In addition to the pillowcase I showed in the previous article, I could finish six more square pillowcases using the centrically symmetric apron square designs.
The designs are beautiful.
The shapes are large enough to accommodate a variety of filling stitches or patterns. And the added Satin stitch embroidery makes a nice contrast to the drawn thread work areas.
Did I whet your appetite for more beautiful Schwalm-inspired designs?
I now offer the 7 designs + 1 design variation as a document for downloading.


Apron Square Designs
line-drawn designs
8 pages
7 + 1 designs in a size of 18 cm X 18 cm
2,28 MB file size
item price: €25 (including 19 % sales tax), 21.01 € for customer outside the EU
download here

Schwalm Whitework – Sunflowers

The impressive sunflower is old and prevalent. So it is no wonder that it shows up as a popular motif in Schwalm whitework. (The sunflower motif should not be confused with one of the main Schwalm whitework motifs – the sun. The sun, also a circle motif, is commonly outlined with scallops or 2 short-2 long.)

Sunflower fields are currently in full bloom; these inspired me to take a closer look at sunflowers in Schwalm whitework.

The images I include here are arranged chronologically. The oldest traditional embroidery in my collection that includes a sunflower motif is from about 1770. It is early Schwalm whitework without any withdrawal of threads. Others date from the beginning of the 19th century. Embroideries from the 20th century and contemporary examples follow.

The circle center of the sunflower motif can be filled with a variety of different patterns allowing for an incredible number of creative possibilities.

The focus here is the arrangement of the petals. It is of particular interest because the embroiderers were also eminently creative in this point. From the very abstract design, which is identifiable as sunflower only upon second consideration, up to the nearly realistic rendering, many interpretations and nuances are found. This applies also to the sizes; there are some small, but also some very large examples.

Please take a look for yourself!