I have been madly stitching away on the Take a Stitch Tuesday embroidery challenge but completely forgot to post about my samplers so I’m going to try and catch up over a couple of posts. Because I like to go back and revisit older stitches, I’ll post the samplers that go together rather than the order I made them.

Here goes!

Firstly, I really like running stitch so I worked two more running stitch samplers.  I really wanted to try embroidering on net. I drew the designs onto a piece of paper and pinned the fabric onto it. Then worked an even-ish running stitch in what I later found out is sashiko thread. I am absolutely in love with sashiko thread, it’s really smooth and lovely to work with.

Running stitch sampler for the TAST, Take a Stitch Tuesday, challenge.

Done much later, I also worked an overall random plaid design in crewel wools on cotton. I think this sort of overall patterning would make a great background with maybe an appliqu figure placed over the top.

Running stitch sampler for the TAST embroidery challenge

The next stitch is beaded oyster stitch, which I worked on a watercolour background. To make the background I coloured with Caran D’Ache Neocolor II water soluble crayons, then painted over the top with a 50/50 mix of water and textile medium. To my surprise, it didn’t fade at all, even though I thoroughly washed it with detergent.

I worked the stitch with lots of different threads, and used couching for the outline. Size 5 perle cotton was definitely my favourite thread for working this stitch, but to be honest, I think it looks good in any thread, as long as it works well with the size beads you choose.

Beaded oyster stitch sampler for the TAST, Take a Stitch Tuesday, challenge.

My next sampler has three stitches. Breton stitch, which I worked in curves, lines, as a filling and flowers. I varied the look by leaving a space between the tops of the stitches or joining them together. For the blue and orange band, I worked the stitch in navy blue, then laced the top and bottom with variegated orange floss. The filling worked in magenta crewel wool is three rows stacked on top of each other. Worked with a bit more care than I did here, it also makes lovely flowers.

I only worked a couple of rows of knotted cable chain in soft cotton, size 10 perle cotton and crewel wool. I really love the look of the stitch but found it awkward to work. I’ll probably revisit it with a page of it’s own at a later date.

Laced herringbone square is the third stitch on this page. I tried it with different numbers of wraps and different threads. I prefer this stitch worked quite small with only two or three wraps around the centre.

Breton Stitch, Knotted Cable Chain and Laced Herringbone Square Sampler

I had a lot of fun with buttonholed and alternating buttonholed cabled chain.

Again, since I will be making my samplers into fabric reference books, I tried lots of different threads. I think this stitch looks great in ever one of them. Working the stitch in a zig-zag line (the peach line with blue beads) was not very effective, but I left it so I don’t bother trying it again!

Buttonholed cable chain loves beads. I even added some made from seeds.

Buttonholed cabled chain sampler for the TAST embroidery challenge

I worked two samplers for closed herringbone stitch, showing both sides of the stitch on the right side of the work. Technically, the shadow work sample is known as double back stitch, but it’s the same stitch, just worked from the other side.

First I drew lozenge shapes and worked them in (from the centre out): size 5 perle cotton, soft cotton (needlepoint/tapestry cotton), printed size 8 cotton, crewel wool, embroidery floss and size 5 perle cotton in pale green.

Closed herringbone stitch sampler for the TAST embroidery challenge

For my shadow work sampler I used three strands of cotton floss for the flower and the random shapes are crewel wool, six strands of floss, and perle cottons.

Shadow work sampler for the TAST embroidery challenge

Next is another multi stitch sampler. Firstly raised herringbone stitch worked in different threads. I think this is a really pretty stitch that I’ll use again. It makes lovely bands, and if worked in a fine thread, a really interesting filling stitch.

I have worked whipped chain stitch on a few of my chain stitch samplers, so this time I concentrated on trying lots of different threads.

Raised herringbone and whipped chain stitch sampler for the TAST embroidery challenge

Portuguese stem stitch is a new favourite of mine! Worked in many different smooth threads and I think they all look great. I worked it as straight lines, curved lines and outlines on filled shapes. This stitch has a really lovely depth and texture.

Portuguese stem stitch sampler for the TAST embroidery challenge

Finally for this post is pistil stitch. I just had to use this stitch to make flowers, but I think my favourite part is the moon, where I couched down the stems.

I used soft cotton for the yellow flower, tapestry wool couched with a couple of strands of floss for the moon, silk ribbon for the Suffolk puff flower and size 10 0r 12 perle cotton for the brown flower. Pistil stitch is not a stitch I would ever use on it’s own, it really works best with other stitches. I’ll definitely be using it more, especially the couched version.

Pistil stitch sampler for the TAST embroidery challenge

More to come in part 2, including some non-TAST stitches I couldn’t resist!


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!


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!


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…