12 Little Needle Cases

August: St. Catherine in her Golden Splendor

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

There have been four posts thus far about this tiny needle case. In the first, I discussed my plans for the needle case including drafting the pattern and selection of materials. In the second I marveled at how long a split stitch face takes to stitch. In the third, I discussed in detail the way I planned to go about the goldwork. And now, I display the finished product in her splendor.

I wouldn’t have gotten very far without the help of Tanya Bentham’s book Opus Anglicanum. Her tips on how to go about these goldwork fills were invaluable.

I started with St. Catherine’s Crown, and then moved to her gown. I learned about the best stitch lengths for my gold thread, and where I could take short cuts in the brick stitches as I stitched.

Beginning with Brick Stitch

When the crown was done I moved on to the decorative bits of Catherine’s Robe.

The right most bit of goldwork pictured above is the edge of Catherine’s gown that I tried to do in a different kind of decorative goldwork stitch.

This part was a challenge because I knew I wanted something that would contrast both the brick stitch and the chevron stitches, and I would say it was partially successful.

I then filled in the “shadows” of her gown with more brick stitch and the rest of the gown in chevrons. And before I knew it I was done with the goldwork!

The final stitching before removing the linen!

Then I very carefully and patiently snipped away the linen cloth trimming it with incredibly sharp scissors.

And last but not least, I added the beaded crown.

The final Saint Catherine

Final Thoughts

This needle case was a time consuming delight. I am so thankful to have such good goldwork teachers and resources to learn from. I loved nearly every minute of stitching. I also think that given the shapes I tried to recreate, Catherine looks very good. Her white linen background is nearly completely covered by the gold thread. And, while it may appear that there is quite a bit of white showing in the pictures, remember that Catherine is a wee 2″ tall!

I do think that If I did a similar project again I would make a full sized figure, as it is difficult to understand the drapery being it is but a tiny snippet of a person. But this was a great entry into this style of stitching and I love the result. She is a keeper for sure!

Next month we will be working on something completely different!


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