A Chain of Repeating Elements (2)

In the previous article I showed the spiral of Herta Schneider embroidered by Monika Wegener. One can change the design or add additional elements. half-eyelet scallops, 2 short-2 long stitches und Eyelash stitches are only some options.

Elements repeated in a row were also part of many Schwalm embroideries of the past, as the pictures of traditional pieces show.

In a piece from 1804 there is a row of Herringbone stitches, bordered with Stem stitches.

A work from 1827 includes staggered and mirrored Blanket stitch half-eyelet scallops along a row of Chain stitches.

A pillow case from 1842 has a line of undivided leaves on both sides of a Coral Knot stitch row,

a line of rounded leaves (representing feathers), and

rows of alternating tendrils and rounded leaves.

On a piece from 1866, there are leaves – arranged like tulips –

and we see them again alternating with tendrils.

Embroidery on a sleeve cuff embroidery 1895 shows leaves – arranged like hearts – alternating with tendrils.

The embroidery on the same sleeve cuff contains a row of Coral Knot stitch elements.

A very old bed covering with early Schwalm whitework is decorated with a row of tendrils along a curved line.

Of course, there could certainly be many more examples.

With these suggestions and a little imagination you can develop your own creations. I am happy to provide you with two basic spirals –

let your creativity shine!

I look forward to seeing your designs!

Snail Shells (2)

The second snail shell is a little bit larger then the first. It was also designed by the artist Gudrun Hartwig.

Here is the design:

Transferring the design one should keep in mind that it does not appear mirrored. The spirals of snail shells always turn counterclockwise.

Starting on the outside, I embroidered Chain stitches along the double spiral line. Coral Knot stitches were worked along the single spiral line.

Blanket stitches were worked over one half of the two-part elements. The mirrored halves were simply outlined with Stem stitches.

The undivided elements near the center were covered with Satin stitches.

This snail shell is also a suitable addition to a sampler.

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
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