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Tag: TAST challenge

Beyond TAST – Line Stitches

Beyond TASTย is up to season 8 but I’m catching up slowly! I’ve just finished season 5, line stitches.

Because I experimented a lot with all of the stitches when I did the Take a Stitch Tuesday challenge in 2015-2017, I sometimes like to narrow down what I’m going to do in my Beyond TAST embroidery samplers. For example, this season’s challenge was to explore line stitches. I chose to use wool threads on a woollen background. Specifically, some pieces of the old blanket I cut up and dyed a while ago.

I have a bad habit of almost always using a double thread when I embroider with wool, so my first sampler is a small selection of basic line stitches worked in a single thread, then a doubled thread. I made this for future reference, so I don’t stick to my current habit of “double up all the woollen threads”.

The threads I used are DMC Medici, Appleton Wool and DMC Floralia. Oh, and a local hand dyed wool (the orange), which I promptly lost to tag from (oops). The couched thread is Noro wool/silk something or other. It’s one of my favourite thick yarns for couching that I bought at the op shop (charity second hand shop) a few years ago. I’ve used it a lot in my Take a Stitch Tuesday samplers. I’ll be sad when it runs out.

Wool blanketing sampler with various line stitches worked in wool thread.

When I think of things with lines and stripes, the bands on rocks and stones are one of the first things that come to mind. Nope, not zebras, or candy canes! I made a Pinterest board of stripy rock research photos, and came up with the idea of making a sampler of stripy stones.

I usually limit myself to “ALL THE COLOURS!”, so I deliberately limited my colours to blue and brown, and only two pieces of wool blanket. I kind of cheated since one was pink, green, purple ochre and blue, but we won’t mention that ๐Ÿ˜‰

First I stitched the pebbles down with silk sewing thread that matched the stones as much as possible. (I. E. Not very). Then I embroidered the stripes and outlines in stem stitch, and finally worked running stitch across the background in two colours to give the stones more depth and the background some texture. I worked a dark purply brown all over the background, then added a lighter brown in a couple of sections for more visual interest. I’m very pleased with the result.

Pebble sampler with wool thread on a wool background

You can’t see how three dimensional it is in the first photo so here’s one taken at an angle. You can see the lighter shade of brown I used in the background clearly in the bottom right hand corner. The running stitch really made the pebbles “pop”.

Dimensional wool blanket pebbles on a felt/wool blanket background.

I’m super happy with the results and may need to dye some more blanket pieces in lighter colours to expand my stash.

I mentioned earlier that I had already experimented with line stitches a lot when I worked the 100 stitch TAST challenge in 2015 to 2017.

Some of my favourite line stitch samplers (You may want to grab a beverage and get comfy first):

Knotted Cable Chain, which I worked in a large range of threads from super skinny size 12 perle cotton to super thick Lopi knitting yarn. The same post has Portuguese border stitch and zig-zag coral stitch, which are also great line stitches.

Triangular feather stitch. This turned out to be a lot more versatile than I expected.

Raised chain stitches and reverse buttonhole bar are two very textural line stitches that I really enjoyed experimenting with.

Feathered up and down buttonhole (in the middle of this rather long post), is a wonderful stitch for natural elements like vines and cacti. It can be random enough to have a very organic feel to it.

Beaded oyster stitch. I added all sorts of beads and trinkets to this one. It can be a vert arty looking stitch, and very expressive. Alternating buttonhole stitch is also featured in this post. I enjoyed how graphic it can be when worked on striped fabric.

Pekinese stitch. I love how versatile this stitch is. It can be used as a filling as well as a line stitch. It can be worked in tiny threads for an antique look, or thick, soft cotton for a retro looking piece.

Shell and wave chain. I worked them in white sashiko thread on a vintage cotton serviette. I love the graphic quality of the white stitches on the dark background.

Magic chain. It was fun to play with both colour and thick and thin threads.

Fern stitch. Another lovely stitch for leaves and natural forms.

Buttonhole/blanket stitch. Check out those circles!

Half chevron stitch. I absolutely loved this stitch. I used it to make lines of stitching to form a landscape, using at as both line and filling in one go. It has a lovely movement to it, and is a great stitch for layering.

Stem stitch. How can you not love stem stitch? It’s just about the most versatile line stitch there is and makes an amazing filling stitch, especially dimensional when you use wool.

Satin stitch. Would you count satin stitch as a line stitch? I’m not sure, but you can embroider great lines with it, especially working it over a padding thread.

Feather stitch. I’m still very fond of my little embroidered underwater scene.

Cretan stitch. Worked in a variety of threads and thicknesses, cretan stitch has a lovely painterly, artistic quality to it.

The final two stitches, and the ones that completely have my heart and I could play with forever would have to be couching, and running stitch. Both are incredibly versatile and energetic.

I feel like I’ve linked to just about everything, but I promise I haven’t! The 2015 – 2017 Take a Stitch Tuesday (TAST) challenge covered 100 stitches, and I think I ended up working 115 or so.

Next up in Beyond TAST: Exploring laced and threaded stitches. I think I have an idea for that…


Beyond TAST Embroidery Samplers – Rice Stitch and Layering

The first thing I did after uploading the new version of the website was to get straight back to my Take a Stitch Tuesday samplers. (You can click on the photos for a closer look).

Rice stitch. We didn’t work rice stitch for the last TAST, so even though I’m working on Beyond TAST challenges now, I decided to work up a sampler to add to my stitch books.

Embroidered sampler with rice stitch on even weave fabric and wool blanket

I hated it.

At least, I hated everything I worked above the words. Then I decided to sew on a scrap of wool blanketing and work freehand and I loved it. It turns out that what I really didn’t like was the floppiness of the fabric as I’d washed out all the sizing when I dyed it. If I have any of this fabric left I’ll definitely starch it before stitching on it. I almost always wash my samplers after finishing them so it shouldn’t be a problem.

Speaking of washing, check out how much the orange crochet thread at the top bled! I definitely won’t be using that in embroidery again. I do love it though, I’ll just keep it for some single coloured crochet. Normally, I’d try washing it out but it doesn’t really bother me, what with the multi coloured background and the fact that not much will show once it’s mounted into a book. I didn’t really notice it until after I took the photo.

Next is my latest sampler for Beyond TAST. Exploring layered stitching.

I decided “layer all the things!” would be my premise so I gathered up strips of fabric (cut from previous TAST samplers), unspun wool scraps, and just about every type of thread I own. I even glued on some little plastic flowers. (E6000ย  glue is just as magic as I had been led to believe).

Embroidered sampler with layered stitching.

My theme started out as Australian plants and just grew from there. Pardon the pun ๐Ÿ˜‰

I found one of the most interesting parts of this sampler was the layering of colours. I the flower bush, I had worked many shades of green and brown before sticking on the little plastic flowers. Once they were stuck on, they didn’t look like they belonged until I added lots of stitching in the flower colours to tie them in with the background shrubbery. If I were to try this again, I might even go as far as needle felting all sorts of things into the background. I had intended to here but after painting the calico, my embellisher probably would have just shredded it rather than incorporating any fibre into it.

Next up, I’m working on exploring line stitches. I’ll probably end up with two or three 8 inch samplers as there are a few different things I’d like to record.


More Couched Fillings for the Beyond TAST Embroidery Challenge

After working my last couched fillings sampler for the Beyond TAST embroidery challenge, I couldn’t resist the urge to push the idea a little further. Whilst traditional couched fillings are lovely, they aren’t a style of stitch I would use on most projects.

Presenting my “slightly more ‘me'” couched fillings sampler.

Couched filling embroidery sampler, stitched by Sarah Bradberry of

These stitches are worked on quite a large scale using needlepoint and knitting wools as the couched threads. As you can see, I tend to like large graphic elements rather than small, tidy fillings, although I would probably work these in a range of different scales on an actual project.

I tried techniques including (clockwise from top left):

  • couching a double strand of yarn and separating in to make diamonds and circles, some of which I filled with a satin stitch shape.
  • Bayeux stitch.
  • Brown wool couched down with fly stitch.
  • Pink wool couched with random straight stitches.
  • A version of plaited filling.
  • Couched concentric circles, inspired by a comment made by Rebecca Ringquist in her most recent CreativeBug Daily Embroidery Challenge, The Drawing Stitches Sampler.*
  • Couched spirals in square and circle shapes, and finally
  • A leaf with green needlepoint wool couched down with straight stitches in an offset brick pattern.

Of course now that I have said these fillings are more my style, I’ll probably go and stitch something huge using both!

I have a lot of embroidery posts to catch up on this week, so stay tuned for more!


* This is an affiliate link to Rebecca’s CreativeBug class. I may receive a small payment if you sign up to CreativeBug after clicking this link.

Laid Work and Couched Fillings – Beyond TAST Embroidery Challenge

For the third Beyond TAST challenge, we explored laid work fillings and creating patterns using couching.

To be honest, my heart wasn’t in playing with these stitches, so I learnt some classic ones instead. (I really like them, I just didn’t want to invent my own.)

Squares and leaf shapes filled with various styles of laid work and couched embroidered fillings.

To find instructions for all of the techniques I used, check out my Laidwork Pinterest Board and “Embroidery Stitches” by Barbara Snook. You’ll probably find instructions in any embroidery book that has more than the basics.


Isolated Stitches – Beyond TAST Embroidery Challenge

For the second Beyond TAST embroidery challenge we had to take an isolated stitch, or part of a repeated stitch and rearrange it into different patterns. Having already investigated many of the isolated stitches dueing the 2015-2017 TAST challenge, I decided to take a single repeat of some stitches and see what I could do.

Firstly, open chain. At the top you can see a line of open chain, with a single repeat of the stitch next to it. I then took the single repeat and arranged it into fillings, square, hexagonal, circular and oval motifs (which I turned into flowers because I usually end up turning everything into flowers at some stage).

Various ways of stitching an embroidered sampler using single units of open chain stitch

Next, I did the same with maidenhair stitch and threaded, or interlaced running stitch.

You can see on this sampler that I also tried a single unit of interlaced running stitch as a random filling stitch and a couching stitch, to hold down some yarn. I ended up threading each running stitch twice to make the stitch bolder.

Embroidery sampler investigating different ways to use single units of maidenhair and threaded running stitches.

While I was working on these samplers, I came up with an “investigation language” to use on other stitches.

Firstly, some basic ways to try repeating stitches to make motifs and repeats. Then some ideas for ways to repeat stitches in borders. You can see that I used the “half circle on top of a line, followed by a half circle underneath the line” repeat with the interlaced running stitch to make a very decorative border.

Sometimes, as with the open chain border sketched below, it was immediately obvious there was a better way to make this stitch, so I didn’t end up stitching it out. In this case, back stitch is probably a better idea. I think that would make a great border with the addition of some beads or satin stitched blocks.

Sketches of ways to arrange embroidery stitches to form borders, fillings and motifs

Then I thought of different ways to change each stitch, using chain stitch as an example. Whilst I didn’t use most of these ideas in my current samples, they’ll be very interesting to play with in future.

Different ways to change detached chain stitch in embroidery

These ideas can be used with almost any stitch.

  1. Add more parts to the stitch by repeating sections. For example, adding a second chain stitch to the other end of the little “tie down” stitch on a detached chain stitch. Tying down a chain stitch with three tacking stitches instead of one.
  2. Replace part of the stitch with something else. E.G. tying down a detached chain with a french knot instead of a little tack stitch. Using a bullion stitch to make the looped part of the chain stitch.
  3. Add beads to different parts of the stitch.
  4. Take any variation and make part of it longer.
  5. Use any of the variations to couch down another thread, ric-rac, or fabric.
  6. If you change the order of the steps to make the stitch, can you then use more colours? For example, make the tack stitch of a detached chain or fly stitch first, then make the loop in another colour.
  7. Can you weave part of the stitch?

There are probably more ways to change a stitch. If you can think of any, please leave a comment with your idea. I may end up giving them a try!