12 Little Needle Cases

February: Blackwork

This needlework piece is part of my ongoing exploration of different medieval embroidery styles. A full explanation of the project can be found here.

Blackwork is one of my favorite of styles, so it was no surprised that I whipped this month’s embroidery up in a jiffy!

Finished blackwork embroidery

As you can see, I worked up my initial pattern for the flower and then decided to draft a pattern for the leaf. I believe the original flower pattern (on the extant coif) is more detailed than I initially thought, as the leaf turned out much larger than I thought it would based on the size of the flower. Anyway, it worked out well and I think my flower and leaf look good together.

The leaf and flower pattern is worked with one thread of black DMC cotton embroidery floss. The outline is worked in back stitch with two strands of floss. Then, I worked the stem between them using Elizabethan Plaited Braid stitch. I had the pleasure of attending an embroidery schola where I learned all kinds of wonderful things, including how to do this stitch. Historically it was usually stitched in gold passing thread, but I have examined some pieces in Jaqui Carey’s Elizabethan Stitches and I found it done in silk. I definitely want to get some silk thread to start working some blackwork. Silk really is a dream to work with (which you will see in March’s canvas work embroidery!)

A close up of the braided stitch, very difficult to make out in black.

And that is that! If you would like to stitch this design check out my pattern:

If you would like to learn the Elizabethan Plaited Braid Stitch, I suggest picking up a copy of Jaqui Carey’s book Elizabethan Stitches for fantastic diagrams on this and many other stitches. Or check out this video taught by Amalie van Hohensee who taught this subject at the embroidery schola: Elizabethan Plaited Braid Stitch. I imagine I will be doing some more braided stitches when I get into my stumpwork month!

A Quick March and April Update:

For March I will be stitching with a 3 ply silk on canvas for a German brickwork needle case. If you would like to follow along, you will need 3 colors of silk (I used size 20/2) or other embroidery floss. For April I will be stitching a little lion from the Bayeux tapestry. I have ordered 4 different colors of Appleton Crewel Wool to work with. Any colors will do, but I chose some that were close to the original tapestry.

Happy Stitching!


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