My latest TAST embroidery sampler page revisits one of my favourite stitches, Pekinese (aka Pekingese) stitch.

While reading “New Stitches for Needlecraft” by Edith John, I found some examples I couldn’t wait to try out.

An embroidery sampler showing various ways to use Pekinese stitch.

My favourite techniques include stitching several rows of back stitch in shades of the same colour as I did with the pink and green arch, and stitching several rows of back stitch with gaps between the rows, as I did with the pear on the bottom left.

TAST is now a few stitches further along. I’ve been keeping up with my stitching, just not blogging about them so excuse me for a moment while I go and iron my new work so I can take photos!

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Today is another TAST embroidery sampler or two, this time Algerian eye stitch.

My ideas for this stitch were simple, one worked on cotton quilting fabric over waste canvas. This is an embroidery canvas held together by a starchy substance. When you soak it in water you can pull the thread out with a pair of tweezers.

Various Algerian eye star motifs embroidered on a speckled black, blue and purple fabric.

I worked spot motifs and fillings using Appleton crewel wool, stranded floss, mercerised cotton and a firmly twisted rayon cord. The first four filings are from “The Stitches of Creative Embroidery” by Jacqueline Enthoven, while the others are ideas I came up with while playing with the stitch.

For my other sampler I wanted to play with making the holes in the centre of Algerian eye different sizes. I didn’t have any suitable fabric with a coarse enough weave, so I wove some square on a 4 inch square Loomette pin loom. The squares were woven and embroidered while still on the loom, then crocheted together to form the roughly 8 inch square format that I have been using for all my samplers.

An embroidered garden worked in Algerian eye stitch on pin loom squares. Four 4 inch squares are crocheted together to form an 8 inch sampler.

The squares are all woven with vintage dk weight needlepoint wool (aka tapestry wool).

  • The sun square is embroidered with soft cotton.
  • The sky square is embroidered with stranded floss for the sky and my beginner’s handspun cotton for the cloud.
  • The garden beds (on the bottom left) are, beginning at the top left and working clockwise: stranded floss, crewel wool, handspun cotton and thinner crewel wool.

And the final square is stranded cotton, crewel wool and needlepoint wool.

In my next post I revisited an old favourite. Stay tuned!

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I might have to rename this blog “Mostly Stitching”, or “Things Made of String” or something because today I have yet another TAST embroidery sampler to show.

I didn’t feel like I had given shell chain enough attention when I made my catch up samplers a while ago so I thought I’d have a play with it.

Embroidery sampler featuring a crab sitting on the ocean floor. Featuring shell chain and beaded shell chain stitches.

I call this my “Groovy Guru, Mr. Crab” sampler. Mr Crab is a pressed metal decoration that holds up our house number on the front of our house.

I wanted to try lots of different threads and also try making the stitch wider. The sunset is worked in two different variegated stranded cotton flosses.

The waves are a line of handspun wool and a line of mercerised cotton.

The water plants and ground are silk/wool worsted weight knitting yarn, various mercerised cottons and crewel embroidery wools.

Next I decided to play with making more loops for each stitch and changing the direction. I found out that version of shell chain is called “wave chain”, so whilst wave chain is not officially a TAST stitch (yet?), I added the name so I know later on.

Embroidery in white thread on a vintage purple serviette.

This sampler is mostly stitched in what I think is called number 16 floche. The downside of using op-shopped threads is that they sometimes have no label! Anyway, it’s roughly the size of two strands of floss.

The first line of shell stitch on the left is my beginner handspun cotton, and the rest is the floche. I basically tried everything I could think of.

What I learnt about shell chain:

  • It makes a great filling stitch.
  • It’s a lovely textural stitch for layering with the same, or different types of thread.
  • I need to draw parallel lines when working wave chain.
  • Shell chain LOVES blanket stitch. I tried all different combinations of shell chain and blanket stitch together but I think my absolute favourite is the circle near the bottom right corner.

So my feelings about “dull” little shell chain have completely reversed. I love it. In fact, I can see myself stitching shell chain and blanket stitch circles on more than one future project!

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I’d been looking forward to working basque stitch for the TAST embroidery challenge and really went to town with both the stitching and my background fabrics for this sampler.

Since I love flowers and floral designs, I chose to stitch a little garden.

Embroidery sampler with flowers and a kite on a patchwork background.

For the background I used some found patchwork for the sky in what I think are acetate and rayons. The grass is a piece of scrap anonymous industrial offcut I bought at Reverse Garbage earlier this month :-)

I used various cotton threads, all of which have a firm twist, mostly flower thread, mercerised embroidery and pearl crochet cottons in various sizes.

For the sun, I added a gold bead to the little stitches that hold down the tip of the loop.

The cloud is appliquéd net stitched with (I think), size 16 soft cotton. It was a very large unlabelled skein and may be some sort of candlewick thread.

The kite and the ground under the paisley flower were inspired by another TAST stitcher, whose work I really liked.

The borders are all worked in different mercerised cottons. On the bottom left hand side I added some little blue beads between stitches, then tried the same with sequins.

They tended to flip up and become messy with just basque stitch.

However, when I added a row of running stitch to secure them I was really happy with the finished edge. It would be even fancier with beads on the tips of the stitches as well.

Some of the things I learnt about basque stitch:

  • It really loves being glammed up with beads and shiny fabrics.
  • You need a thread with firm twist or it looks like something the cat gacked up. I tried crewel wool, it was horrible.
  • It makes a great filling stitch (that was a surprise)!
  • When worked around a curve it looks nicest worked close together.

I’m not sure whether to revisit shell stitch or pekinese stitch next. I didn’t explore either as much as I wanted when I first stitched them…

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This is my final catch up post for the TAST embroidery challenge. Hopefully from now on I’ll be posting my samplers as I stitch them!

Stitch 71 is alternating up and down buttonhole stitch. Since I like up and down  buttonhole stitch so much that I embroidered three samplers, it should come as no shock that I made two for alternating up and down buttonhole stitch. (What a mouthful! It too ages to embroider the name of the stitch for this one)!

Embroidery sampler on calico featuring alternating up and down buttonhole stitch.

For my first page I tried different combinations of up and down stitches, changed angles of the vertical stitches, wove some of the vertical stitches and tried all sorts of different threads.

I even used some had dyed woven wool felt to appliqué a flower and leaves using stranded floss. My favourite version of the stitch on this page is the lime green perle cotton with woven stitches in lots of different colours. I think that would make a lovely border on a project, or across the top of a pocket.

On my second sampler page I played with scale and couching, as well as joining some of the vertical stitches together to form little triangles.

Embroidery sampler on calico featuring alternating up and down buttonhole stitch.

I tried everything from rainbow polyester thread from China (which is like sewing with a very firm linen top stitching thread), to bulky Noro knitting silk/wool.

I even couched down some vintage ric-rac and modern knitting lace. The second row from the bottom was stitched along a zig-zag instead of a straight line. My favourites on this page are the couched ric-rac and the zig-zag line. I really like the rainbow threads as well, but  think I’ll stick to using those on my sewing machine!

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