12 Little Needle Cases

May: Counted Work

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

Most embroiderers have cross stitched, and cross stitch can be an incredibly fun and rewarding activity. If you are looking for something similar to cross stitch, but more difficult and more textured, then I suggest trying Italian cross stitch. It differs from regular cross stitch in that each stitch is worked individually. It also would work best in a monochromatic form.

This month’s embroidery threw me for how difficult it was. Italian cross stitch is hard to wrap your head around. Working in the negative space can be a mind game. And, working on a small piece of linen in hand is never as easy as you want it to be.

That being said, as with all the previous needle cases, I LEARNED SO MUCH.

Progression of the stitches.

The first thing that I learned, which took about halfway through the piece to understand, is that every Italian cross stitch should be worked the same way. With Italian cross stitch, 3 of the 4 passes of thread enter the fabric from the same hole. This is counter intuitive to me because I like to come up from the bottom through a “clean” hole rather than one full of threads. However, if you work one row straight across, and then another below it, this stitch ends up going through more “clean” holes than filled ones.

How to make an Italian Cross Stitch. For each stitch you go up through 1, and down through 2. That means 3 stitches going up through the same hole. The last stitch will go up through the first hole of your next Italian Cross stitch (when working horizontally).

On my first row of stitches I came up from the bottom left hole of the stitch. Then, as I worked back (going right to left) I worked the stitches from the bottom right hole. But, this is not correct. Like regular cross stitch, it looks the best if the stitch that sits on top of the X is always going in the same direction. You can see on my needle cases that the stitches on the left side all go the same direction, where the stitches on the right go back and forth.

Photo of the finished needle case! You can see the stitches on left are more uniform than those on the right. I worked the right side first before I figured out how to go from right to left using the same stitch entry.
A photo of the back. I was a little careless with my tailing threads, but you can see how easy it would be to create a reversable design with minimal signs that this is the back because of the way the stitches are stitched. Stitches on the back follow the form of stitches on the front.

The big takeaway with this project is that I enjoyed the stitch once I got it together. Silk is still amazing. And working in the negative is harder than you would think! I love recreating medieval patterns, I think this pattern is so lovely and would be beautiful on a hand towel or other linens. It did take a long time (6 episodes of television and a few hours of phone calls) so it is more time consuming than my previous needle cases.

On to the next one!


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