Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Blackwork - Valentine Celtic Heart

Blackwork has changed a bit over the years, but the concepts and techniques have not.  Blackwork dates back to the Moorish influences in Spain and was later brought to England in the 1500's by Katharine of Aragon, Henry VIII's Spanish wife.

The Elizabethans would decorate their clothing with elaborate and beautiful floral designs.  Worked with black silk on white linen, the strong outlines would be filled with lacy stitches.  Today Blackwork refers solely to the technique, as we incorporate other threads and colours, and I love the effect of variegated threads.

But the technique is still the same, and the stitches unchanged.  Some popular stitches for Blackwork are double running (holbein) stitch, backstitch and stem stitch (for outlines).  What makes blackwork so intriguing to me is that it can be (but not always) reversible with a pattern on the front and on the back.

Carol Storie, the designer we are exhibiting this month at the shop, has a few wonderful Blackwork designs.

 This is her Blackwork Medley, and it features some wonderful Blackwork patterns that can be applied to other designs.  With Blackwork, the openness or density of the repeating filling stitches creates different shades.

Carol's designs will remain on display until Saturday. I will be putting up our "Designer of the Month" for February on Monday.

To commemorate Blackwork and Carol's designs, I have designed a Blackwork Celtic Heart as a Valentine's gift to you.  I also wanted to share one of Carol's Blackwork tips with all of you.  As not all Blackwork patterns show the stitch path to ensure it is reversible you yourself must plan the path.  Carol suggests to highlight every second stitch to make the path more visible.

Click here for the Blackwork Celtic Heart chart

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