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embroidery-msg - 12/24/18


Period and SCA embroidery.


NOTE: See also the files: emb-blackwork-msg, P-Emb-Frames-art, emb-frames-msg, emb-linen-msg, cross-stitch-msg, p-x-stitch-art, dyeing-msg, silk-msg, linen-msg, beadwork-msg, 8-P-Stitches-artspan>.





This file is a collection of various messages having a common theme that I have collected from my reading of the various computer networks. Some messages date back to 1989, some may be as recent as yesterday.


This file is part of a collection of files called Stefan's Florilegium. These files are available on the Internet at: http://www.florilegium.org


I have done a limited amount of editing. Messages having to do with separate topics were sometimes split into different files and sometimes extraneous information was removed. For instance, the message IDs were removed to save space and remove clutter.


The comments made in these messages are not necessarily my viewpoints. I make no claims as to the accuracy of the information given by the individual authors.


Please respect the time and efforts of those who have written these messages. The copyright status of these messages is unclear at this time. If information is published from these messages, please give credit to the originator(s).


Thank you,

   Mark S. Harris                  AKA:  THLord Stefan li Rous

                                         Stefan at florilegium.org



Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

From: sclark at epas.utoronto.ca (Susan Clark)

Subject: Re: Period Embroidery--Help!

Organization: University of Toronto - EPAS

Date: Tue, 13 Apr 1993 22:11:44 GMT


        Greetings all!


        Finally, something I know a fair bit about!  I practice blackwork,

Bayeux Tapestry Style, and _opus anglicanum_ (still working on this last


        Foropus anglicanum, the best book isA.G.G.I. Christie's

_English Medieval Embroidery_, (Clarendon Press, 1938). There's a detailed

treatise on methods and materials at the beginning, followed by TONS

of pictures. (In black and white, unfortunately)

        I learned Bayeux tapestry techniques from a little book callalled

_The Bayeux Tapestry_, by Magnus Rud.  the entire tapestry is

reproduced in the book, and it's quite a bit cheaper than the wonderful,

but massive coffee table book (whose full title escapes me).

        For blackwork,a good starting point is the Dover book entitled

_Blackwork_--most of it is devoted to modern blackwork, but there is an

excellent historical intro.

        Finally, a good general work (if you can find it ) is _A Pictoral

History of Embroidery_ by M. Schuette and S. Muller-Christiansen (New

York, 1964)....lots of plates, and good section on technique.  Good

bibliography for raiding....

        Good luck!



Nicolaa de Bracton of Leicester

Canton of Eoforwic

sclark at epas.utoronto.ca

Susan Carroll-Clark

Toronto, Ont.



Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

From: habura at vccnw10.its.rpi.edu (Andrea Marie Habura)

Subject: Re: Period Embroidery--Help!

Organization: Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY

Date: Wed, 14 Apr 1993 12:53:15 GMT


Another interesting book, for opus Anglicanum addicts: _Medieval Craftsmen:

Embroiderers_, by Kay Staniland (University of Toronto Press, 1991).

The author is Keeper of Costume and Textiles at the Museum of London. The

text is generally very good, but the illos are to die for: photos (both

black and white and--God be praised!--color) of period artifacts. In fact,

the only illo that doesn't show something made in our period is a set of

stitch-instruction diagrams just before the bibliography. Some photos

are high-resolution enough so that stitches may be counted (with the aid of

a magnifying glass). It's expensive, about $18 in paperback, but worth it.

I got mine from Poison Pen Press.


Alison MacDermot

(Needle Jock)



From: Joyce <jmiller at genome.wi.mit.edu>

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Gold Thread

Date: 11 Jun 1993 22:10:46 GMT

Organization: Whitehead Institute


Andrea Marie Habura, habura at vccnw12.its.rpi.edu writes:

>that I haven't been able to find a record of these techniques being used

>much in secular embroidery. Ecclesiastical and other formal, absolutely

>(the best or nue' I've seen is from the vestments belonging to the Order

>of the Golden Fleece). Secular goldwork seems to be more along the lines of

>laid cord and similar effects after about 1450. (Someone was kind enough to

>give me a pointer to some Titian portraits that use gold trim; I shall have

>to check them out).


In _The St. Martin Embroideries_, there is a very nice picture of a very

secular 14th century pouch.  The figures are embroidered in colored

silks, the background is entirely covered with couched gold thread.  The

gold thread is flat gold wrapped around a core (of something), very

similar to the modern "Japanese gold".  Note that when couching down this

kind of gold thread, it doesn't actually go in and out of the fabric.  It

lays on the surface of the ground cloth, and the silk thread (frequently

red) comes out through the fabric, around the gold thread, and back down

through the fabric.  To turn a nice, tight corner with the gold thread,

leave a little slack in the gold, and pull on the silk thread to pull a

little loop of the gold through the ground fabric.  The gold loop stays

on the underside, a sort of "reverse couching".  Refer to "A Pictorial

History of Western Embroidery" by Schuette and Muller-Christiansen for

diagrams and more info.



jmiller at genome.wi.mit.edu



From: jab2 at stl.stc.co.uk (Jennifer Ann Bray)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: period embroidery (to C Kinsey)

Date: 5 Oct 93 09:10:29

Organization: STC Technology Ltd., London Road, Harlow, UK.


I got a query from Cat Kinsey on early period embroidery references,

our mailer had problems with it so I can't reply direct, hope someone

else is interested otherwise sorry for wasting your bandwidth.


anyway back to embroidery, Margrethe Hald in her book Ancient Danish

textiles from bog finds and burials describes embroidered cloth

thought to be a tunic and cape from a danish burial mound in mammen


Birka III die Textilfunde by Inga Hagg describes assorted bits of

metalwork which is more appliqued than embroidered, but it might be of

interest to embroiderers. There are plaited and knotted designs which

look like simple lace, and animal figures resembling stags.


A recent edition of medieval world gave details of some anglo saxon

embroideries featured in last years Anglo Saxon Art exhibition at the

British museum. They were ecclesiastical and combined metal and silk

threads. The article gave far more detail than the exhibition

catalogue, if anyone's really interested I can get the magazine number

and address of the publishers from home.


Anyone out there know of other early (pre norman conquest) embroidery?



From: priest at vaxsar.vassar.edu (Carolyn Priest-Dorman)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Early Period Embroideries

Date: 5 Oct 93 22:28:23 +1000

Organization: Vikings R Us


Unto the Fishyfolk of the Rialto, particularly tenth century Vikings and other

such suspect Early Period classes, greeting from Thora Sharptooth!


Jennifer of the Vanaheim Vikings writes mentioning the ninth and tenth century

Swedish finds from Birka, the tenth century Danish finds from the Mammen

burial, and unnamed Anglo-Saxon ecclesiastical embroideries, then asks:


>Anyone out there know of other early (pre norman conquest) embroidery?


Here is an additional brief listing of extant embroideries from that period in

northern Europe.


Sixth-century Anglo-Saxon:  fragment of wool stem stitch on lozenge twill wool

background found at Kempston.


Early seventh century Anglo-Saxon:  Complicated loop-stitch embroidery over a

cushion seam at Sutton Hoo.


Mid-seventh century:  couched spun-gold cuff trimmings on the overtunic of

"Arnegunde," a Frankish woman of apparent high rank buried at St.-Denis.

Probably Byzantine in origin.


Mid-seventh century Frankish:  chain stitch silk on linen, "Chemise of St.

Bathilde," a Frankish queen.


Mid-ninth century Viking:  Embroidery (reported in tantalizingly vague phrases)

on the tunics of the queen and servant buried in the Oseberg ship:  partly

applique work.  Details still unpublished, as far as I know.


Ninth century Anglo-Saxon:  "casula" of Sts. Harlindis & Relindis, surface

couching and split stitch in silk and gold thread on linen.


Tenth century Anglo-Saxon:  relics of St. Cuthbert including gorgeous

surface-couched vestments in gold thread and polychrome silks on extremely fine

silk net.


Mid-tenth century Viking:  gold embroidery thread found with the garment

materials of the man buried in the Gokstad ship.


Late tenth century (?) Viking:  Valsgarde Grave 15, Sweden, embroidered edging

for cloak in spun silver thread.


Early eleventh-century Jorvik (York):  clumsy chain stitch on small samite

"relic bag."


Contact me for sources....



Carolyn Priest-Dorman                    Thora Sharptooth

Poughkeepsie, NY                  Frosted Hills

priest at vassar.edu                      East Kingdom

           Gules, three square weaver's tablets in bend Or




From: salley at niktow.canisius.edu (David Salley)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Contests and "Fanatical Authenticity Police"

Date: 17 Oct 93 12:47:02 GMT

Organization: Canisius College, Buffalo NY. 14208


Nicolaa/Susan writes:

>      Regarding the back of embroidery being messy---

>      I've gotten around the messy backp roblem by simply

> lining everything. It's period, and you can't grade down what you can't

> see. (I never knot my thread, anyway, so no problem there).


First of all, I'm speaking as someone who does NOT do embroidery, but has

too much experience running Ice Dragon A&S competitions.  As I understand it,

the additional problem with judging embroidery is to determine whether the

piece is from scratch or a "kit", the latter having the pattern pre-printed

on the canvas.  This is generally determined by checking the back, yes?


                                                      - Dagonell


SCA Persona : Lord Dagonell Collingwood of Emerald Lake, CSC, CK, CTr

Habitat          : East Kingdom, AEthelmearc Principality, Rhydderich Hael Barony

Internet    : salley at niktow.cs.canisius.edu

USnail-net : David P. Salley, 136 Shepard Street, Buffalo, New York 14212-2029

Time Traveller's Etiquette Tip #6: Your senior-most self should speak first.



From: cozzlab at garnet.berkeley.edu ()

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Contests and "Fanatical Authenticity Police"

Date: 18 Oct 1993 18:16:29 GMT

Organization: University of California, Berkeley


David Salley <salley at niktow.canisius.edu> wrote:

> [I thought]

>the additional problem with judging embroidery is to determine whether the

>piece is from scratch or a "kit", the latter having the pattern pre-printed

>on the canvas.  This is generally determined by checking the back, yes?


No, it's because it's considered chic in several later-period embroidery

styles to have the wrong side look as neat and tidy as the right side.

You can't knot your thread and leave a tail, you have to weave the end

of the thread into the work so it doesn't show.  You have to use the

minimum shortest distance in getting behind the scenes from the back

of motif A to the back of motif B.  Et cetera.  It's a form of showing



Fortunately, it ISN'T PERIOD for Bayeux-Tapestry stitches, which is

what I mostly do.  I've seen photos of the back of the B. T. and it

is delightfuly messy.


Dorothea of Caer-Myrddin

Dorothy Heydt



From: sclark at epas.utoronto.ca (Susan Clark)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Contests and "Fanatical Authenticity Police"

Date: 18 Oct 1993 21:19:34 -0400

Organization: EPAS Computing Facility, University of Toronto



        Not all embroidery kits involve pre-printed fabric.

(Cross-stitch is a good example, as is many forms of needlepoint)

Furthermore, even when there is a pre-printed pattern, you often cannot

see it if the needlework is particularly thick.

        Back-checking, in my (limited) experience is usually used as a guide

to the skill of the needleworker, the idea being that skilled

embroiderers produce neat backs (which is not always true). I'vSeems to

be a sort of "county fair" attitude towards this.  (I'd love to

look at the backs of some of the _opus anglicanum_ cloaks in the papal

collection and see what the backs looked like!!!:-)

        My point is that back-checking (and not the kind that

Doug Gilmour does  :-)....another hockey joke...)  is not necessarily

a criterion that a medieval person would have used to judge whether or

not a piece of embroidery was nice or not.  They may have or

they may not have.  Anyone know?




sclark at epas.utoronto.ca



From: habura at vccnw02.its.rpi.edu (Andrea Marie Habura)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Contests and "Fanatical Authenticity Police"

Date: 20 Oct 1993 12:31:34 GMT

Organization: Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy NY


On checking the backs of embroidery pieces: I have the impression that neat

or "sloppy" backs in Period embroidery are dictated more by the style of

embroidery than anything else. In blackwork, the back had *better* be neat,

or the out-of-place threads will show through the fabric and spoil the

regular geometry of the design. Fortunately, most blackwork patterns are easy

to do this way; many can be done so that the back is almost indistinguishable

from the front. On the other hand, the types of embroidery that use gold

thread are not going to be very handsome in back no matter what. In surface

couching, the placement of the couching threads over the gold is paramount,

and the gold has to be couched one row at a time, so the back will just be a

series of short stitches with no particular geometry to them. (Making the back

regular and "pretty" would make the front significantly worse.) In underside

couching, the back will be composed of parallel strands of couching thread

looped regularly with little nubbins of metallic thread. Not sloppy, really,

but hardly attractive, as the couching thread is chosen for durability, not


I am in the process of compiling material for a class on medieval embroidery.

I will try to answer this question more thoroughly as I go. Look for updates...


Alison MacDermot



From: priest at vaxsar.vassar.edu (Carolyn Priest-Dorman)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: viking mens clothes at Birka

Date: 30 Nov 93 09:04:41 +1000

Organization: Vikings R Us


Unto the Fishyfolk of the Rialto, greeting from Thora Sharptooth!


Jennifer the Vanaheim Viking writes:


>(If anyone gets enthusiastic enough to reproduce some of the gorgeous

>metal embroidery in the textile finds book I'd love to hear about it)


Do you mean the passementerie, the embroidery, the schlingenstich, the

brocading, or the osenstich? ;>


Dof and I have both made and trimmed garments with passementerie, the knotwork

technique; most of the work has been in craft guimpe, not in metal, but we did

discover that silver-plated guitar wire makes an excellent visual substitute

for "spiralsilber" and makes nice bead-and-loop sets like the ones in the

plates. The straight embroidery is not too interesting (stem stitch, mostly).

I have worked with brocaded tablet-weaving.  Neither of us has experimented

with schlingenstich yet, so those silly little hat dingle-balls are yet to

come. I've only tried osenstich once or twice, but Dof has gotten pretty good

at it.  So far he's limited his work to tubular pieces to hang pendants from,

but he wants to get some real silver wire so he can make more elegant pieces

and maybe some of those women's hanging sphere pendants.  We haven't discussed

making some of the wide flat pieces yet; it might take outside funding. ;>



Carolyn Priest-Dorman                    Thora Sharptooth

Poughkeepsie, NY                  Frosted Hills ("where's that?")

priest at vassar.edu                      East Kingdom

           Gules, three square weaver's tablets in bend Or




From: sapalmer at magnus.acs.ohio-state.edu (Sharon A Palmer)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: embroidery

Date: 15 Dec 1994 19:19:57 GMT

Organization: The Ohio State University


Joe Cook <joe at imr.usa.com> wrote:

>Greetings from Signore Giuseppe da Borgia!

>    As an embroidery apprentice, I am always on the lookout for news

>sources of documentation.  In particular, I am interested in Italian

>Renaissance, French (12th century and Renaissance) and early English.

> Is there anything interesting out there?


I have been reading Santina Levey _Lace: A History_ ISBN 0-901286-X.

As the title says this is a lace history book, but there is a lot

of embroidery also.  Including whitework, cutwork, lacis, and reticella.

There are also good costuming references for the 16th century.

I have really been enjoying this book.  I have it from ILL, but

I will have to try and get a copy for myself.





From: hrjones at uclink.berkeley.edu (Heather Rose Jones)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: More on embr. Tiraz bands

Date: 1 Jan 1995 18:20:11 GMT

Organization: University of California, Berkeley


I don't remember who it was that was asking about this subject a while

ago (i.e., whether the bands of Arabic writing found on clothing were

ever embroidered as opposed to being woven in). The January issue of

Piecework magazine has a photograph of an embroidered tiraz band from the

14-15th century (if I recall correctly -- the magazine was at someone

else's house) done in a black double-running stitch (sometimes known as

"Holbein stitch", I believe) on white, with rather angular letters that

appear as outlined shapes. (Oh, I give up on the description -- go buy a

copy of the magazine.) It's only the one example, but I think is exactly

the sort of thing the original question was looking for.


Tangwystyl verch Morgant Glasvryn



From: Kim.Salazar at em.doe.GOV

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: CRAFT:  Embroidery

Date: 27 Jan 1995 08:44:41 -0500

Organization: The Internet


   To the accomplished gentles assembled here on the bridge, a plea for

   assistance in a minor matter:


   I am looking for a special ground fabric used in period counted thread

   embroidery (or a modern equivalent of that cloth).  The particular

   stitching style I wish to recreate was popular throughout the 1500s

   and early/mid-1600s.  


   The kind of fabric I'm interested in was called "Burato", and was an

   extremely fine open weave linen mesh.  Burato was first cited by name

   in a German embroidery book published in 1530, although pieces that

   predate the mention survive.


   The structure of Burato is similar to the double weave of Penelope

   canvas (an invention of the mid-1800s), but the individual threads are

   extremely fine, comparable to those found in muslin or 60-count even

   weave linen. There are about 15-20 Burato meshes per inch.  


   When embroidered in Spanish Stitch (also called double running stitch,

   or Holbein stitch) the overall effect of Burato worked in monochrome

   silk is that of a crisp, bold design floating on a web-like

   background.  I have not been able to find any modern equivalent by

   mail order or in specialty stores.


   Regular even weave linen or the modern counted thread ground fabrics

   are way too coarse.  I've even tried taking muslin and fine linen and

   drawing out threads to approximate the mesh structure.  The result is

   too fragile, and the remaining threads are too easily displaced while



   Has anyone seen something similar to Burato, or does anyone have a

   lead on potential sources for really esoteric embroidery materials?  

   My thanks for your help, and apologies for broadcasting such trivia at



   Ianthe d'Averoigne, OR, OL                 kim.salazar at em.doe.gov

   Forever a Carolingian



From: habura at vccnw03.its.rpi.edu (Andrea Marie Habura)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Embroidery Stitches

Date: 9 Mar 1995 16:04:11 GMT

Organization: Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy NY


For M. Gyelle: Much depends on the style you're trying to emulate. While

there are large numbers of different stitches, materials, and designs

that are appropriate for 13th c. Europe, there were distinctive styles.


One of the most famous is _opus Anglicanum_, which was in its golden age

in the 13th c. The "typical" stitches of this style are split stitch and

underside couching, although a number of other stitches were used when

a specific effect was desired. German whitework used neither stitch

extensively, if at all; if my memory is good (my copy of Staniland has

gone walkabout) the predominant stitches in _that_ form were various

drawn- and pulled-thread techniques, plus some cross stitch. There are

a few Scandinavian pieces that use cutwork and applique, with gilded

leather for glitz. Some researchers date Assisi work to the 13th c.


I guess the question would be: how firm are you on a 13th c. date? If the

answer is "very", I'd skip using the Bayeux Tapestry couching technique,

which I have been unable to find anywhere else. Is it Period? Sure.

Was it in use in the 13th c? I have no evidence that it was. Similarly,

you'd want to avoid techniques like _or nue'_, which seems to be a

15th c. innovation.

If, on the other hand, you just want "period", then there's a lot more

out there. I haven't mentioned later forms like blackwork and stumpwork,

which are more characteristic of the later parts of our period of study.


I would encourage you to attempt a temporally-consistent work, though.

It is very satisfying when the piece is completed; the work has a certain

balance and "rightness" to it that seems, to my eye at least, to be lacking

in pieces that mix elements of several styles. I will be delighted to help

if you'd like to try this. On the other hand, if you just want to use

Period stitches in a way that pleases you, I can help there too.


Alison MacDermot



From: priest at vaxsar.vassar.edu

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Embroidery Stitches

Date: 13 Mar 95 10:44:45 +1000

Organization: Vassar College


Greeting from Thora Sharptooth!


One of my favorite needle jocks, Alison (habura at vccnw03.its.rpi.edu), wrote:

> I guess the question would be: how firm are you on a 13th c. date? If the

> answer is "very", I'd skip using the Bayeux Tapestry couching technique,

> which I have been unable to find anywhere else. Is it Period? Sure.

> Was it in use in the 13th c? I have no evidence that it was.


There are fourteen extant Icelandic medieval/renaissance embroideries that use

the laid and couched technique of the Bayeux Tapestry.  In Icelandic it's

called "refilsaumr," or "refil stitch,":  "refil" is the Old Norse/Icelandic

word that signifies a horizontal frieze-style wall hanging.


The Icelanic pieces are variously dated; the earliest piece seems to be from

the second half of the fourteenth century.  Many are Renaissance (in date, not

in style; they look very "medieval" to me), and some are even post-period.


The persistence of this stitch plus its name, evocative of early period frieze

hangings, suggests to me that it was indeed in use in Iceland in the thirteenth

century. But of course that's just a guess.


My source is Elsa Gudjonsson's TRADITIONAL ICELANDIC EMBROIDERY (Reykjavik:

Iceland Review, 1985).  There are some interesting photos of late period

embroideries, including 15th and 16th century lacis work, in this book.  My

favorite is the medieval pattern-darned interlace piece.


Carolyn Priest-Dorman                    Thora Sharptooth

Poughkeepsie, NY                  Frosted Hills ("where's that?")

priest at vassar.edu                      East Kingdom

           Gules, three square weaver's tablets in bend Or




From: habura at rebecca.its.rpi.edu (Andrea Marie Habura)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Embroidery Stitches

Date: 19 Mar 1995 13:37:53 GMT

Organization: Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy NY


For M. Gyelle: Ah! So it's to be an actual tapestry kind of tapestry.

Gotcha. There's another (more German) style of narrative tapestry work that

is (I think) 13th c.; my copy of Staniland's _Medieval Craftsmen: The

Embroiderers_ is *still* on walkabout, but if you can get your hands on

a copy, it's in there. The technique uses fine polychrome wool in some

variety of tight filling stitch; it looks like it might be split stitch,

but it's hard to tell. It will be more work, though, beause the entire

surface is embroidered, as opposed to the Bayeux Tapestry method of

leaving the background blank. The hanging I mention tells the story of

Tristan and Isolde.


Alison MacDermot

*Ex Ungue Leonem*



From: habura at vccnorth12.its.rpi.edu (Andrea Marie Habura)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: looking for an embroidery book, please?

Date: 30 Mar 1995 15:25:36 GMT

Organization: Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy NY


For Simonetta:


The question is, is this the correct title, or the correct author? My book

(my God, I'd forgotten about it!) is called _The Embroiderer's Companion_.

The _Esemplario_ is a copy of a late-period embroidery book, and was

reprinted by Falconwood Press, an SCA publisher (the owner is Shoshona

Jehane ferch Emrys.) Both have buff covers. The _Companion_ has a design of

interlaced needles on the cover and is comb-bound; the _Esemplario_ has

woodcuts of women embroidering on the cover and is stapled together.

(Yes, I have copies of both---how could you tell?)


Alison MacDermot

*Ex Ungue Leonem*



From: Kim.Salazar at em.doe.GOV

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: A&S OOP? (embroidery)

Date: 18 May 1995 16:27:14 -0400

Organization: The Internet


   Lady Chimene [DUNHAM%EUGLIB at mred.lane.EDU (PATSY DUNHAM)] writes:

>Tatiana's wonderful quote on how the ladies passed their time brought me back,

>in stream-of-consciousness fashion, to an embroidery question I have harbored

>for years.


>In Diana Norman's _Fitzempress' Law_ there is a list of embroidery stitches:

>        "frilled work, German and Saracen work, scalloping, the perroun, the

>        melice and diaper work, the peynet and the gernette, double-samite..."


>on p. 221, in the section describing the way the young women who were Henry

>II's wards were spending their days.  I've never heard of most of these terms,

>and wonder if anyone out there could point me toward some documentation.





   To Lady Chimene, from Ianthe d'Averoigne, fair greetings.


   I am writing this from work, and have no recourse to my full library

   or notes.  Please take anything said here as suggestion - not canon

   truth.  I'll keep digging.  If I turn up any more, I'll post it too.  

   I haven't run across a couple of the terms you mention, and I'd love

   to find out if anyone else has more information on them.  


   An educated guess as to what was meant, based on some research I've

   been doing:


   Frilled work:  I'm not sure.  


   German and Saracen work:  Probably counted thread work.  Opus

   Teutonicum was an elaborate form of pattern darning in which areas of

   the design were outlined with a heavy stitch, then filled in with

   different patterns in darning.  This was usually embroidered in

   natural colors or very light colored linen thread on linen ground.  

   Saracen work (aka Moorish work) sometimes referred to step

   stitch-style counted thread patterns embroidered in dark colors on a

   linen background - the ancestor of Jane Seymour's cuffs.  


   Scalloping:  Early pattern books (circa 1524) use "scalloping" to mean

   a style of applique in which a strip of fabric intended to be applied

   is cut longitudinally in a manner in which the two halves when

   separated, were identical (Clever!  No waste!).  The two haves which

   (until they were cut apart fit together like puzzle pieces) were  

   appliqued end to end.  Some German pattern books published in the late

   1520s feature intricate patterns for use in this manner.  I've never

   attempted drafting up a sample to try out.


   Perroun:  Again, not sure


   Melice and diaper work:  Diaper work is pattern darned linen - usually

   though not always worked in the same color as the ground fabric.  Such

   over worked linen was especially absorbent.  The modern usage of

   "diaper" (cover for a baby's bottom) is a descendent of the use of the

   term to mean a generic (very) absorbent cloth.


   Peynet and gernette:  And a third time, not sure.


   Double samite:  Samite was a heavy fabric, presumed to be silk.  Could

   double-samite refer to quilting together two thicknesses of samite,

   with trapunto style stuffing inserted in the pattern areas?  I know

   this style of quilting was practiced in period, but quilting is not my

   area of research.




   Synge, Lanto.  Antique Needlework.  London:  Blandford Press, 1982.  


       Opus Teutonicum, samite, general reference


   Staniland, Kay.  Embroiderers.  Toronto:  University of Toronto Press,


       General reference, Diaper.


   Paludan, Charlotte and Lone de Hemmer Engeberg.  98 Monsterboger til

   Broderi, Knipling og Strikning (98 Pattern Books for Embroidery, Lace,

   and Knitting).  Danske Kunstindustrimuseum, 1991.

       Catalog of early pattern books in Danish Folk Art Museum.  Partial



   Ianthe d'Averoigne, OR, OL                 kim.salazar at em.doe.gov



From: UDSD007 at DSIBM.OKLADOT.STATE.OK.US (Mike.Andrews)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: colored, patterned cross-stitch

Date: Mon, 31 Jul 1995 19:53

Organization: The University of Oklahoma (USA)


jcole at ux1.cso.uiuc.edu (cole joan) writes:

>I believe the author is Pamela Warner.  I checked this book out recently

>from the Champaign Public Library.

>Unfortunately, I also returned it, so I can't cite the ISBN now.


From the Library of Congress:


Warner, Pamela.

Embroidery : a history / Pamela Warner.  London : B.T. Batsford, 1991. 208

p. : ill. (some col.) ; 26 cm.


LC CALL NUMBER: NK9243.A1 W37 1991





DEWEY DEC:  746.44/0942 dc20



Includes bibliographical references (p. 203-206) and index.


udsd007 at ibm.okladot.state.ok.us

Michael Fenwick of Fotheringhay, O.L. (Mike Andrews)  Namron, Ansteorra



From: brettwi at ix.netcom.com (Brett Williams )

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: opus

Date: 7 Aug 1995 20:31:49 GMT


psyche at io.org (Psyche) writes:

>Once upon a time, Habura at vccnw02.its.rpi.ed said to All...

> Ha> ground fabric is covered with stitches. The medieval name for this

> Ha> form, according to EGI Christie,  is _opus pluvinarium_.

>Does anyone know of any books with more informtion about this, or any other,

>medieval and renaissance embroidery?  I've run through everything at the local

>public library.

>Lady Edelgard Erzsebet von Wuerttemberg


I have a copy of Traditional Embroidered Animals, written by Sara Don,

ISBN 0-7153-8967-X, in hardback, that addresses a lot of period

embroidery techniques within the context of the title, that of animals.

It's a general survey book-- there's a section here and there on just

about every major period embroidery technique. And, it has projects.


My personal favorite is Canis The Dog, based on a medieval bestiary

illustration from a Latin manuscript translated by T. H. White. When I

checked my copy of the bestiary translation, the project illustration

exactly copied the style and form of the illuminator's dog.


ciorstan macAmhlaidh, CHA, AoA



From: mie at faline..bellcore.com (Martin I Eiger)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: **Embroidary Patterns**

Date: 11 Aug 1995 02:16:06 GMT

Organization: Bellcore MRE


Lonewolf <h903 at jupiter.sun.csd.unb.ca> writes:

>We are just starting into the SCA, and my Girlfriend is looking for some

>books on mediaval Embriodary patterns....and I am looking for patterns

>and etc for armor...I have a few but any help on ht earmor would be

>appreciated, and the Embriodary books I'd be forever in debt for...



For embroidery patterns, you might try consulting the FAQ for



Some books I've found useful are:


Bahouth, Candace. Flowers, Birds, and Unicorns: Medieval Needlepoint.

NY: Harry Abrams, 1993.


Don, Sarah. Traditional Embroidered Animals. NY: Sterling Publishing

Co., 1990.


Drysdale, Rosemary. The Art of Blackwork Embroidery. NY: Charles

Scribner's Sons, 1975.


Montclare, Kay. Patterns From Seventeenth Century European Samplers.

(self-published; Available from Special Projects, 232 Osgood Road,

Milford, N.H. 03055-3430.)


O'Steen, Darlene. The Proper Stitch. Birmingham, AL: Symbol of

Excellence Publishers, 1994.


Note that these are basically how-to books with pretty patterns that

are passably very late period.  As far as I know, there aren't a lot

of books out there that provide reasonable patterns _and_ a scholarly

study of the textiles.    


Recently, I saw an announcement for a book that looks promising, _The

New Carolingian Modelbook_ by Ianthe d'Averoigne (mka Kim Salazar).

Perhaps someone else on the Rialto can provide more information (such

as whether it is available yet, and how much it costs)?


Hope this helps!


Elisa Montagna del Susino

Azure ermined or, a sea unicorn naiant reguardant argent


Elisa Eiger

elisa_eiger at prenhall.com



From: connect at aol.com (CONNECT)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Period technique (Banners)

Date: 18 Aug 1995 16:31:09 -0400


Eilidh Swann of Strathlachlan said:


for the heraldically-challenged is the swirly brocade-like decoration

of a background).  Oh, does anyone know what period diapering was

specific to?<<<


I don't know if this helps or not, but Blackwork has a lot of "diaper"

patterns for doing backgrounds. Blackwork is an Elizabethan mixture of

embroidery and cross stitch, and you can see a lot of it on Tudor and

Elizabethan portraits. It also wasn't always black on white. <g>



Rosalyn MacGregor of Glen Orchy

Pattie Rayl of Ann Arbor, MI



From: ksalazar at saltmine.radix.net (Kim Salazar)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Kim Brody Salazar - Please read

Date: Mon, 30 Oct 1995 01:07:12 GMT


JANA R. Covacevich <75231.147 at CompuServe.COM> wrote:

>I have just various posts regarding a book called The Carolingian

>Modelbook. Sounds great!  I would like to purchase.  Please

>email info to me.  Thanks...


>Jana in New Orleans...


To Janna from Ianthe, fair greetings,


Please excuse me for posting this information for all on the Rialto to

see. I've had many inquiries about The New Carolingian Modelbook, and

I thought that public announcement would help stem the general tide of



Here is the full citation for the book:


Salazar, Kim Brody (writing as Ianthe d'Averoigne).  The New

Carolingian Modelbook.  Albuquerque:  Outlaw Press, 1995.  ISBN



The publisher's addresses are:


outlaw at rt66.com


The Outlaw Press

160 Washington SE, Suite 43

Albuquerque, NM  87108-2749


TNCM contains more than 230 counted thread patterns from before 1600 -

all with specific citations of provenance and date.  You can view a

sample of the book at this WWW site.




Please let me know if you have any problems ordering the book.


Happy stitching,


-kim                                          kim.salazar at em.doe.gov

                                                 ksalazar at radix.net



From: outlaw at rt66.com (Robert A. Goff)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca,,rec.arts.books.marketplace,,rec.crafts.marketplace

Subject: NEW BOOK ANNOUNCEMENT: Medieval Embroidery

Date: Tue, 07 Nov 1995 10:17:59 -0700

Organization: The Outlaw Press





                A N N O U N C I N G



        * The New Carolingian Modelbook *

        *               by              *

        *      Ianthe d'Averoigne       *


   Counted Embroidery Patterns From Before 1600


In the tradition of antique embroidery pattern books,

author Kim Salazar has collected nearly 200 of the

most beautiful Medieval counted embroidery patterns

directly from their original sources. These patterns

are painstakingly reproduced in 81/2" x 11" format

with descriptions and source references on the facing



Kim Salazar, writing as Ianthe d'Averoigne, is a

recognized authority on embroidery in the Washington,

D.C.-area historical embroidery community.  She has

won several awards for her needlework, including the

Nellie Custis Lewis Prize in the prestigious Woodlawn

Plantation Needlework Exhibition. She is a long-time

member of the Society for Creative Anachronism, an

international Medieval re-creation organization, and

has earned its highest honor for technical merit, the

Order of the Laurel. Several of her award-winning

patterns are included in the book.


Available Now!


For more information, contact:

The Outlaw Press

160 Washington SE #43, Albuquerque, NM 87108-2749

(505)266-3057            internet: outlaw at rt66.com


Or visit our Online Catalog:



   Feel free to distribute this announcement.




Robert Goff, Head Scribe and Vellum Scraper, The Outlaw Press

(505)266-3057 - outlaw at rt66.com - http://www.rt66.com/outlaw/




From: habura at rebecca.its.rpi.edu (Andrea Marie Habura)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: info on houpelandes

Date: 9 Dec 1995 19:40:49 GMT

Organization: Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute


The ornamented houppelande: A qualified "yes".

My main area of research is High Medieval embroidery. Here's what

I know:


1) 50 years before the houppelande turned the fashion world on

its ear, English and French nobles were wearing elaborately

embroidered mantles and surcotes. Said garments are specifically

described as embroidered in Wardrobe inventories, and contemporary

pictorial evidence suggests that a lot of the embroidery covered

the entire garment; a design with twining vines enclosing animals,

objects, and/or monsters was quite popular.


2) There are several portraits of Philip the Bold, Duke of

Burgundy, wearing a houppelande decorated with the very same twining-

vines pattern, enclosing his badge, a wood plane. The design is

in gold, highly consistent with the 14th c. examples.




3) The consensus of several researchers is that the English embroidery

industry took a header around 1400, due (some suggest) to the

increasing skill of the Italian weavers in producing highly

ornamental cloth. It is certainly true that the textiles of the

period are stunning.


My guess: 15th c. pictorial evidence is inconclusive; the ornaments

on most decorated houppelandes (for example, those on the nobles

in the _Tres Riches Heurs_) are regular repeats, which could

easily be reproduced by weaving. Equally true, however, is that

the same sources show what must be embroidered clothing; two of

the noble servitors in the January page of the Tres Riches Heurs

wear hosen with ornamental bands that I believe to be embroidered.

My gut says that houppelandes could have been ornamented either

by use of brocaded cloth or of embroidery, but that the embroidery

became rarer as the cost differential continued to increase.


Alison macDermot

*Ex Ungue Leonem*



From: jpathomas at aol.com (JPAThomas)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Medieval Embroidery

Date: 22 Mar 1996 03:59:16 -0500


Are you looking for period examples or for instructions in period

techniques? There's a lovely book from the V & A on their embroidery

collection, currently in print, called _Embroidery in Britain from 1200 to



Hedgehog Handworks, one of our local merchants,  does mail order, has a

huge book selection and specializes in period stuff:  their phone number

is (310) 670-6040.


Best of luck!


Mistress Angelina Nicollette de Beaumont

MKA Karen Allen



From: habura at lib103.its.rpi.edu (Andrea Marie Habura)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Medieval Embroidery

Date: 22 Mar 1996 15:09:40 GMT

Organization: Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute


Hi, Caelainn!


In my opinion, the best in-print embroidery book for our period is Kay

Staniland's _Medieval Craftsmen: Embroiderers_ (University of Toronto

Press, 1992). It's expensive for a paperback but worth every penny.


You will also want to go and make friends with the Interlibrary Loan

folks at your local library. Look for books on textile history,

medieval liturgical garments, and portraiture.


You can also Email me. My specialty is Gothic embroidery.


Alison MacDermot

*Ex Ungue Leonem*



From: brettwi at ix.netcom.com(Brett Williams)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Medieval Embroidery

Date: 22 Mar 1996 17:07:58 GMT


"John H. Hagen" <hage0176 at tc.umn.edu> writes:

>I would like to learn more about Medieval Embroidery and would like to

>find some good source books to buy. I have already looked in the Known

>World Handbook so I have a list of maybe 10 books that I am sure

>are out of print. Do any of you currant Needle Jocks have any

>suggestions for other source books that may be easier to find? I am a

>beginner, so at this point I have nothing.

>Thanks in advance...

>Caelainn Mhoireach

>MKA Dawn M. Hagen


I have a recent copy (1990) of Sara Don's "Traditional Embroidered

Animals", a British import (ISBN 0-7153-8967-X) which is chock-full of

pictures of SCA period works. It's organized by one technique per

chapter (1: The Bayeux Tapestry; 2: Animals in Medieval Ecclesiastical

Embroidery; 2:Sixteenth Century Canvaswork;4: Elizabethan

Creatures...). There's even a pretty good black and white photo of a

seal bag in the Guildhall in London that holds a charter dated 8 June



While it's in way really scholarly or truly comprehensive, it's a good

way to start. I particularly like the 'project' for "Canis the Dog", an

embroidery interpretation of an illustration from a mediaval bestiary

translated by T.H. White-- someday I'll attempt it in my Copious

Amounts of Spare Time...*sigh*...someday.





From: alisoun at bcn.net

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Medieval Embroidery

Date: 23 Mar 1996 15:43:26 GMT

Organization: The Berkshire County Network        


>   "Caelainn Mhoireach" <hage0176 at tc.umn.edu> writes:

> I would like to learn more about Medieval Embroidery and would like to find some good source books to

> buy.


Here is a selection of fairly recent books. My interest is Elizabethan embroidery, so there is a strong slant

toward the late 1500's. Also, stop by my home page, http://bcn.net/~alisoun for some photographs of my

embroidery, lace and clothing re-creations.


Lady Alisoun Fortescue of Maplehurst




Arnold, Janet. Queen Elizabeth's Wardrobe Unlock'd,

   Leeds: W. S. Maney & Son, 1988.


Crowfoot, Elisabeth, Frances Pritchard and Kay Staniland.

   Textiles and Clothing c.1150-1450, London: HMSO, 1992.


Epstein, Kathleen. A New Modelbook for Spanish Stitch,

   Austin: Curious Works Press, 1993.


King, Donald and Santina Levey. The Victoria and Albert

   Museum's Textile Collection Embroidery in Britain from 1200 to

   1750. New York: Canopy Books, 1993.


Montclare, Kay. The Jane Bostocke Sampler. Privately

   Printed, n.d. (available with a kit from The World in Stitches, Littleton Common, MA)


O'Steen, Darlene. The Proper Stitch. Birmingham, AL:

   Symbol of Excellence Publishers, 1994.


Staniland, Kay. Embroiderers. Toronto: University of

   Toronto Press, 1991.


Wardle, Patricia. Guide to English Embroidery. London:

   HMSO, 1970.


Pat LaPointe                      

alisoun at bcn.net                      





From: rgoff at outlawpress.com (Robert A. Goff)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Medieval Embroidery

Date: Mon, 25 Mar 1996 14:23:40 -0700

Organization: The Outlaw Press


"John H. Hagen" <hage0176 at tc.umn.edu> wrote:

>I would like to learn more about Medieval Embroidery and would like to

find some good source books to buy.


You might try a catalog called Hard to Find Needlework Books, 96 Roundwood

Road, Newton, MA   02164-1217, 617-969-0942.  They carry, among other

things, our "New Carolingian Modelbook: Counted Embroidery Patterns from

Before 1600".


Robert Goff, Head Scribe and Vellum Scraper, The Outlaw Press

          (500)447-0070 - (505)255-9801 (fax)

   rgoff at outlawpress.com - http://www.outlawpress.com/outlaw/




From: Tonya Stapleton <needlewerk at tiger.avana.net>

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Medieval Embroidery

Date: Mon, 25 Mar 96 19:31:47 PDT

Organization: Avana Communications Corp.


> I would like to learn more about Medieval Embroidery and would like to find

some good source books to

> buy. I have already looked in the Known World Handbook so I have a list of

maybe 10 books that I am sure

> are out of print. Do any of you currant Needle Jocks have any  suggestions

for other source books that may

> be easier to find? I am a beginner, so at this point I have nothing.


> Thanks in advance...

> Caelainn Mhoireach

> MKA Dawn M. Hagen


Good Gentle,

   You might wish to try Erica Wilson's Embroidery Book.  It gives good

illustrations and period reference in an easy to understand format so that you

can experience the different aspects of Medieval Embroidery.  You might also

wish to try the Victoria & Albert's Embroidery in Britain from 1200 to 1750.  

It gives excellent pictures of extant pieces found within the museum's

collection as well as a good description of the stitches used in the piece.

If you find yourself in need of more assistance, feel free to e-mail me at the

above address.


Happy stitching!!


Mistress Erina Shanahan

mka T. Stapleton



From: Sadira bint Raya al-Asiri <robinson at avana.net>

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca,

Subject: Beadwork on Middle Eastern Garb

Date: Wed, 08 May 96 17:34:57 PDT

Organization: Avana Communications Corp.


I have just made a major documentation run on the local university (looking

for embroidery, primarily but also beads and beadwork). A few tidbits:


--Oldest extant embroidery (satin and stem stitch) is on a funerary shirt for

King Tutankhamen, dated roughly 1400 BC


--Maghrebi style of embroidery first used 600-700 AD in Arabia and North

Africa (Morocco)--largely geometric patterns, highly elaborate,designs similar


to S. Italian and Balkan motifs, Indistinguishable from Aegean (Naxos),

Palestinian designs; used stem stitch, thick cross stitch, satin stitch, split


satin, chain


--Predominant color red, predominant ground color indigo, black, dark green,

ground cloth linen or cotton, embroidery material silk and metal, rarely



--What was embroidered: anything that stood still and that people might

see--pants, coats, shirts, hankies, turban covers, shoes, scabbards, quivers,

saddles, animal hangings, tents, bags, etc.


--Where was it embroidered: anywhere people might see it--you don't embroider

what will be covered by something else (except for thawbs)


--Designs: If it is on an oriental carpet, it is fair game for embroidery--the


motifs and patterns were used for both and were often village or tribal



and now....


BEADS!! SEED BEADS ARE PERIOD!!  Very small beads were first produced in

Pharaonic Egypt, but glass beads of 1-3 mm size were being produced in Arabia

from 700 to 1400 AD, when the Mongols invaded, and glass beadmaking moved to

Venice, which became famous for seed beads about 100 years later.


Now I have to document putting the damn things on clothes--altho I found

PRIMARY DOCUMENTATION of a complete set of Turkish woman's clothes which was

elaborately beaded--1545, Topkapi Saray museum.


Sources: Harris, Textiles, 5000 years

         Taylor, Ottoman Embroidery

         Dubin, The History of Beads

         Trilling, Aegean Crossroads  


In service to the Furtherment of Things Middle Eastern,

Sayyida Sadira bint Raya al-Asiri



From: MMS6824 at tntech.EDU (Mary M Spila)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Magazine Antiques

Date: 27 May 1996 11:37:22 -0400


This month's issue of "The Magazine Antiques" (June 1996), has a wonderful

article on English needlework.  The article is called "The Needle's Excellency:

English Needlework of the Tudor and Stuart Periods in the Museum of Fine Arts,

Boston", pages 850-861.


THe article has wonderful photographs of items including an embroidered bodice,

gloves and a small purse/bag.


If there is anyone here from the boston area, I would love a picture of the

front of the bodice shown.  I would love to try to reproduce the pattern, and

possibly the embroidery.


thanks - M


Mary Spila                              Lady Marian O'Liam, Clann Kyle

TTU P.O. Box 5224                       Seneschale, Shire of Ezaret

Cookeville, TN  38505                   Kingdom of Meridies

mms6824 at tntech.edu



From: hrjones at uclink.berkeley.edu (Heather Rose Jones)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Initials

Date: 3 Jun 1996 16:22:15 GMT

Organization: University of California, Berkeley


Larkin O'Kane (larkin at webstar.net) wrote:

: A lady in our shire has proposed a question to me and I pass it on to those

: assembled on  the bridge.   How would (if at all) a lady in Ireland around

: 1400 embroider here  initials on a purse.  If the ladies first initial were

: "C" and here last name was "O'Kane" would she embroider "C K", "C O'K", "CoK",

: or what?


Based on the examples I've seen of medieval items decorated with personal

initials, the general choice seems to be using only the initial of the

given name.  Often decorative initials would commemorate a marriage, in

which case a design incorporating the initial of both given names would

be used.  (I will add a caveat that the majority of examples of

decorative initials I've seen have belonged to high nobility and royalty

-- who may or may not represent more usual practice, but they're the ones

whose artifacts have survived!)


Tangwystyl verch Morgant Glasvryn



Date: Mon, 28 Jul 1997 15:48:45 -0400

From: karen at georesearch.com (Karen Green)

To: sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu

Subject: Re: Applique for Circles


Lady Carllein wrote:

> A lot of period applique had cord appliqued around the edges.  Not only

> would it be authentic, but it would help hide the edges of your circles if

> you could not get them to come out perfect.


I've seen an example of this in Staniland's book on medieval

embroiderers; the gold cord (which could be simulated by a Kreinik thick

gold braid -- I'm not sure exactly which one, though) seems to have been

couched over the place where the base fabric and the appliqui meet.

Very spiffy-looking :)


Karen Larsdatter

Barony of Ponte Alto, Atlantia

bringing some DMC gold metallic to work on embroidery at Pennsic :)



Date: Mon, 04 Aug 1997 11:59:43 -0400

From: karen at georesearch.com (Karen Green)

To: sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu

Subject: backstitch/cross stitch


Lady Mairi Broder wrote:

> M'lady,

> Backstitch WAS used in Azzizi work to outline the figures.  I don't have

> my docs. handy, but could look them up for you    in a day or two.

> Azzizi work [if you haven't seen it] is  done by outlineing the figures

> with backstitch and then filling in the background with [usually] a long

> arm cross stitch.  We did an Estrella War Point where that was one of

> the A/S categories andour then Minister of A/S Her Ladyship Fiona Gwylt

> Winn         did a wonderful job of putting together some doc. for those

> of us who needed it. I still have mine.....somewhere....


I've seen Assisi work too (called "voiding" in period, I suspect; the

relatively recent and OOP renaissance in this style of stitching was

based in Assisi, Italy) ... generally the background is done in a

monotone, and the backstitch outlining the voided image is in a slightly

darker color.  However, it's not always cross stitch and backstitch; it

can also be Italian cross (a reversable cousin of cross stitch) with

double running stitch on the outlines (also reversable).


What I was talking about on the "Elegant Tapestry" is the fact that the

backstitches are used to outline and define curved figures on the

surface of the embroidery (the backstitch in Assisi generally defines

the border between the stitched space and the white space, or outlines

in either of the above) and is in multiple colors to suit the different

objects being outlined, which AFAIK isn't period ... I suspect the fact

that backstitch on Assisi/voiding work is period isn't enough to justify

the backstitch on the "Elegant Tapestry."


Karen Larsdatter

Barony of Ponte Alto, Atlantia



Date: Mon, 04 Aug 97 14:22:24 EST

From: Terry_A._Harper at hud.gov

To: sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu

Subject: Re: backstitch/cross stitch


         I just received a book from Amazon.com that's called

         "Medieval Textiles from Egypt, 300 A.D. to 1300 A.D."  this

         was published by the Carnegie Museum of Natural History.  

         There is an example of backstitch embroidery from the

         Byzantine period (I think I'm recalling this correctly, the

         book is at home and I'm at work).  This embroidery seems to

         be a trim looking remarkably like blackwork, although it's

         done in backstitch only.  Black wool on linen ground.


         HL Rhiain ferch Muirgheal



From: mmy at fp.co.nz (Maggie.Mulvaney)

To: sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu



Tarrach Alfson wrote;

>Greetings, I am looking for references or information dealing with

>embroidery practices in northern europe prior to 1066.  Specifically, I

>am interested in learning what sort of thread diameters and stitch sizes

>they were using as well as info on what types of stitches were commonly

>employed. Any help in this quest will be greatly appreciated.


There is quite a lot of information. I haven't got any of my

references near me right now, but look for references to Oseberg,

Birka, St. Dunstan, Maaseik... Slightly later there is of course the

Bayeux tapestry and Mammen (which was heavily embroidered).


In summary (of what I've seen on the topic, which is certainly not

complete and please everyone do fill in/correct me), stem stitch was

the major stitch, and much of the embroidery of the time would

actually be rows and rows of stemstitch, filling in an area defined by

an outline, sometimes in a different colour or shade, but still done

in stemstitch. Split stitch was also used, as was underside couching

with gold thread. Various intriguing variants were also used, for

example in the Oseberg find there's 'olympic rings' over a seam. I've

got a picture of that one at the bottom of the article on Oseberg on

my fledgling webpage,=20




On the net, you can also check out Ravensgard's homepages, and see

what the Anglo-Saxon groups have got, there's Angelcynn for example.


As for the thread, embroidery I've seen is either wool, gold, or silk.

The wool embroidery and tablet weaving threads tend to be two-ply,

quite thin. I've used the stranded tapestry (not the DMC type, that

tends to be woolen and too weak) wool as an off-the-shelf replacement,

but now I'm starting to be able to spin fine enough thread and am

experimenting with different natural dyes. Hopefully a small-scale

merchant opportunity for Canterbury Faire. :)


Silk is usually very fine, single stranded. Gold thread was foil

wrapped around a silk core in the north-west of europe, and drawn

solid gold in scandinavia (as a rule, not hard and fast). 'Jap' gold

thread is still done as foil on silk, and comes in different

diameters, but it's quite expensive. Underside couching is quite

difficult (I feel), so I'd suggest to practice on something cheaper

until you are confident about it.


It's a start... I'm sure the more knowledgeable here will fill in more





* MMY             *               Maggie.Mulvaney at fp.co.nz *

* Maggie Mulvaney * http://www.fpnet.co.nz/users/m/maggiem *




Date: Tue, 26 Aug 1997 22:23:55 GMT

From: mmy at fp.co.nz (Maggie.Mulvaney)

To: sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu



>Can you pleasepleaseplease explain to me what underside couching

>is? I've heard of this before, but none of the multiple books I

>have show or explain it.  Sounds like fun............<g>


ah. hmm.


OK, start by thinking about couching. You lay one thread on top of the

fabric, and stitch it down. The thread you used for couching comes up

on one side of the embroidery thread and goes down on the other. The

actual gold thread lies flat on top of the fabric.


Underside couching is when you have the couching thread coming up and

going down in the same stitch hole, forming a loop around the gold

thread and *pulling it through* the fabric. You end up with the gold

thread disappearing through the fabric at regular intervals, and the

couching thread lying flat on the underside of the fabric.


The stitch is the same as your sewing machine uses, with an over- and

underthread. If you set the tension on the overthread too loose, the

underthread will pull the overthread through the material and form a

little loop underneath, yeah? That's underside couching.


The reasoning behind it is that a normal couched embroidery of metal

thread will be very stiff. With underside couching you get a 'hinge'

in the metal thread, and so the fabric will move easier.=20


does that help at all?




* MMY             *               Maggie.Mulvaney at fp.co.nz *=20

* Maggie Mulvaney * http://www.fpnet.co.nz/users/m/maggiem *




Date: Wed, 27 Aug 1997 17:39:23 -0400

From: karen at georesearch.com (Karen Green)

To: sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu

Subject: References (was Re: EARLY PERIOD EMBROIDERY?)


Alban wrote:

> If anyone comes up with such a set of references, could you copy me?

> My Laurel's an embroiderer, and she might be interested in such things.

> Heck, quite a few embroideres would be interested. . . .


Here's a few of my personal faves ...


- Kay Staniland, "Embroiderers (Medieval Craftsmen)"


- Donald King and Santina Levey, "The Victoria & Albert Museum's Textile

Collection : Embroidery in Britain from 1200 to 1750"


- Pamela Warner, "Embroidery: A History" (it's out of print though)


- Thomasina Beck, "The Embroiderer's Story: Needlework from the

Renaissance to the Present Day" (not really about early embroiderers --

it starts out in the Elizabethan era -- but it's pretty neat, it goes

into who was embroidering and why)


- Liz Arthur, "Embroidery 1600-1700: At the Burrell Collection" (again,

not early period stuff, but it sure is purdy) ... it says it's out of

print but I know I've seen it at Border's Books, and recently too


Then there's always Schuette ... sigh ... sure wish I could find a copy

in the library ... or have a copy willed to me by a long lost auntie ...


Other books on the Karen Wish List (many of which I'm considering

ordering from Hard-To-Find Needlework Books

[http://www.needleworkbooks.com/]): Remington's "English Domestic

Needlework," Epstein's "German Renaissance Patterns for Embroidery,"

Clabburn's "Samplers," Visser's "Merklappen uit de lage landen,"

Epstein's "New Modelbook for Spanish Stitch," and Montclare's "Patterns

from Seventeenth & Eighteenth Century Spanish Samplers" ... but then and

again I'm into later-period stuff mostly.  (Atlantians, look at yer

ACORN covers this month) ;)


Yours in Service to the Dream,


Karen Larsdatter

Barony of Ponte Alto, Atlantia



Date: Wed, 27 Aug 1997 15:21:41 -0700 (PDT)

From: lifitz at wco.com (Conny Fitzsimmons)

To: sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu

Subject: Re: References (was Re: EARLY PERIOD EMBROIDERY?)


Greetings Karen


I purchased my copy of the Schutte & Christensen book from Bette Feinstein

Hard to Find Needlework Books two years ago this past July. It was really

expensive. I got a discount on my copy because a couple of the black and

white plates had been misprinted, but all 29 of the color pictures were in

perfect condition.  Anyway a couple of years the book in perfect condition

was $475.  Lord knows what it costs now,  it is worth every penny.


An other really good book that you can get on an inter library loan is

Enbglish Medieval Embroidery by A. G. I. Christie.  The book was printed in

1938. This book resides at the University of Iowa in Ames Iowa.  Their copy

of the book is an original that has been rebound.   I live in California and

requested the book from my local library and was able to keep it about two



In service to the Dream,

Lady Catherine Lorraine of Stonegate Manor



Date: Wed, 27 Aug 1997 16:38:49 -0700

From: "gcarnegi" <gcarnegi at quiknet.com>

To: <sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu>



Hi Alban;


Do you have a University library near you?  If so there are several

articles from archaeolgical journals on the Maaseik embroideries that are

well worth the reading.


Bundy, M.; Tweddle, D.; "The Maaseik embroideries",  Anglo Saxon England, #

13, pages 65 to 95

Bundy, M.; Tweddle, D.;  " The early medieval textiles at Maaseik,

Belgium", Antiqities Journal, # 65, pages 353 to 389


I can't find the photocopy but one of these has some great color pictures

at the end of the article too. The date for the pieces is around 897? or

close to it. Last I checked Bundy & Tweedle were working on a book but I

haven't seen it released yet but it should be soon.


Someone earlier mentioned the Maamen embroideries too.  The only work I

have on those is found in Ancient Danish Textiles from Bog and Burials by

Hald. There are some photos in black and white on pages 107-110 and some

text on pages 102 to 105. Chapter 6 is needles and sewing which includes



The Maamen period is from around late 9th to the end of the 10th century-

off the top of my head.


Gwyndolynn Anne the Obscure, OL

West Kingdom



Date: Thu, 28 Aug 1997 01:00:01 GMT

From: mmy at fp.co.nz (Maggie.Mulvaney)

To: sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu



Ms Gwendolyn the Obscure wrote about some sources for early



>Someone earlier mentioned the Maamen embroideries too.  The only work I

>have on those is found in Ancient Danish Textiles from Bog and Burials by

>Hald. There are some photos in black and white on pages 107-110 and some

>text on pages 102 to 105. Chapter 6 is needles and sewing which includes


>The Maamen period is from around late 9th to the end of the 10th century-

>off the top of my head.


That would be me. I've got a great source for Mammen;



Grav, kunst og samfund i vikingetid

Ed. Mette Iversen, published by Jysk Arkaeologisk selskab in

conjunction wiht Aarhus Universitetsforlag (A great publishing house!)


The title means 'grave, art and society in the viking age'


Despite the title it's not all in Danish; the book is the result of a

symposium held in Mammen in 1987, and each of the people there had to

write at least one article for the book. Articles are written in

Danish, Norwegian, Swedish, German and English, all with summaries

(mostly in English). All captions are in original language and

English. All aspects of the grave and the runestones are discussed,

there's a very detailed article on the wax candle, for example.

The article on the textiles goes into a fair amount of detail on the

embroieries, and also has colour pictures. There are analyses of the

textiles (weave, thread, wooltype) and a separate on on the dyes.


Can you tell I like this book? :)


I do have the advantage of reading Scandinavian languages, so I get

full use of it, but I've lent it to a number of people who have still

gotten a lot of information out of it.




* MMY             *               Maggie.Mulvaney at fp.co.nz *

* Maggie Mulvaney * http://www.fpnet.co.nz/users/m/maggiem *




Date: Thu, 28 Aug 1997 09:02:37 -0400

From: karen at georesearch.com (Karen Green)

To: sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu

Subject: Re: References (was Re: EARLY PERIOD EMBROIDERY?)


Concerning a few of the books that I've got at home (and a few of the

ones on my wish list), I wrote:


> >- Book on the history English embroidery that I recently bought but

> >can't remember the name of it (it's out of print anyway) but will get

> >the title out tomorrow (pretty much the same thing as King & Levey but

> >with more pictures and in black and white and with a better opening

> >section IMHO)


Carol at Small Churl Books replied:


> This second book sounds like "Guide to English Embroideries" by Wardle.  It

> is out of print but is still being sold by remainder wholesalers.  It is an

> interesting book (and cheap), also based on the incredible embroidery

> collection at the V&A.


As a matter of fact, that's precisely it  ... and I had bought my copy

from Carol at Pennsic.  :)


Karen Larsdatter

Barony of Ponte Alto, Atlantia



Date: Fri, 14 Nov 1997 15:17:02 -0500

From: Becky Needham <betony at infinet.com>

To: sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu

Subject: Re: Embroidery Judging


> question how much we really know about the artisans employed in producing

> embroidery.  Was embroidery exclusively done by women in period?


Not by any long stretch of the imagination, milord.  St. Dunstan in the

10th century is an excellent example of a man who could both design and

execute embroidery.  Many monks of the period were experts with the

needle as were the nuns.  In fact, there were times in earlier centuries

when the high clergy had to chastise both monks and nuns for paying more

attention to their needlework than their devotions.


>         My greatest interest in this question concerns the period of my

> persona--the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. Perhaps the most ridiculous

> answer to my question is in the movie "Becket," which includes a scene

> where Eleanor of Aquitaine and her ladies in waiting are embroidering the

> Bayeux Tapestry.


Some have supposed that it was Queen Mathilda and her ladies, but it

isn't likely highborn ladies would have the time to devote to such a

huge masterwork.


Was embroidery a primary pursuit of such noble women, or

> did nobles employ specialized artisans to do their embroidery?


According to my sources: Staniland's "Embroiderers," A.F. Kendrick's

"English Embroidery," Pamela Warner's "Embroidery a History," Schuette

and Muller-Christensen's "A Pictorial History of Embroidery," and

Jourdain's "The History of English Secular Embroidery," (plus Christie's

and King's works that I haven't had the pleasure of reading yet) detail

this question for you.  Nobles used anyone with talent - man or woman.

Some were exclusive to the Household of the King or the Pope.  It was a

bonus for the King or other noble if anyone in their family had the

talent - you just needed to pay for the materials. ;->>  As far as the

Bayeux Tapestry goes, the back of it is very messy and I have the photos

to prove it.  Anyone can see the same in Bernstein's "Mystery of the

Bayeux Tapestry."  I am of the opinion that these people who worked on

it were highly skilled and justly proud of those skills - and they had

no time to be fussy about how the back looked, considering the scope of

the task they were set to accomplish, mostly likely by Odo, William's

brother or half-brother.  I seriously doubt there were huge strings and

huge snarls merely because materials cost quite a bit, but snarls,

knots, and strings were there.  To be fair, laid and couched isn't

reversible blackwork, but honestly...is any King, Pope, or other notable

going to rip up a cope or a cloak or a dalmatic to see the embroidery's

back? No.  That's not sensible unless they had the wealth of Croesus

and even then their contemporaries would likely consider them a bit mad.


>          The twelfth and thirteenth centuries were the era of opus

> anglicum, the magnificent gold embroideries preserved in garments such as

> ecclesiastical copes.  I maintain that these garments were not the work of

> individual artists but were rather probably produced at embroidery shops.

> Does anyone know anything about such shops?  Were they located at

> nunneries or monasteries, or did they have secular sponsors?  Were such

> shops staffed by women or men?  Perhaps some shops had men and others had

> women embroiderers.


See the above sources, especially Staniland.  In brief, the shops were

clustered in and around London, but weren't chartered as Guilds till

1560. Nunneries and monasteries had their own spaces much like the

illuminators, I should think - how else could they see as candles

weren't sufficient?  There were eccles. and secular sponsors, sometimes

contracting gifts one for the other.  Shops were staffed by both and

some shops were familial in nature, and some were same sex only

perhaps. The "Guild" policed itself for all it's rules long before they

were chartered, too - that is why I specifically mentioned the candles -

members (don't know about the clergy) were not allowed to stitch by

candle light or they would be fined.


>         If anyone can refer me to a book which answers my quesitons, I

> would be happy to read it.  While in more recent times embroidery has

> become something done "traditionally" by women, I find it hard to believe

> that men were not at least sometimes involved in producing the great

> works of embroidery from the period 1050-1300.


Lord Henry, men were producing great and beautiful works well before

that time period.  I hope the books I have mentioned will give you a

good start and many hours of pleasure.  If you would like to, and have

the time, I would love to chat over all these things.  My last piece was

based on the evolution of opus anglicanum - thousands and thousands of

split stitches - oh my!  ;->>


Lady Betony ferch Myrddin ap Emrys, OW (Bet for short)

Apprentice to Maistreas Ciara ni Mhaille

Tirnewydd Pursuivant



Date: Fri, 14 Nov 1997 23:50:31 +0000

From: Karen at agent.infodata.com (Harris, Karen)


Subject: Noblewomen Embroideresses


Unto the Artisans of the Known World -- greetings and salutations!


Lord Henry Percivale Kempe pondered the existence of noblewomen

embroideresses within the time frame of the SCA's period, to which I

shall supply the list with a few quotes from some of the sources in

my own little library.  (Anyone wanting to peruse it may come and

visit at the next Ponte Alto-Stierbach Needlework Night on

the Feast Day of St. Catherine, A.S. XXXII, being Tuesday, November

25. E-mail me for details!)


Yours in Service to the Dream,


Karen Larsdatter

Barony of Ponte Alto, Atlantia






        From earliest times, embroidery seems to have enjoyed the

rare distinction of being a craft regarded as an acceptable

occupation for noble women, and many are the queens accredited with

great skills by chroniclers.  King Canute (1016-35), for example, is

said to have presented altar-cloths worked by his first wife, Aelgifu

of Northampton, to the abbeys of Croyland and Romsey; William of

Malmesbury recorded that Queen Edith, wife of Edward the Confessor

(1042-66), embroidered with her own hands the robes worn by the King

at festivals ...

        In the eleventh century, the lady Aethelswitha,

daughter of King Canute's second wife Aelgiva (Emma), "rejected

marriage and was assigned to Coveney, a place near the monastery [of

Ely] where," so Thomas of Ely recorded, "in retirement she devoted

herself, with her maids, to gold embroidery.  At her own cost and

with her own hands, being extremely skilled in the craft, she made a

white chasuble." Church vestments seem to have been the main product

of this little workshop, some of which was presented to Ely

Cathedral. A beautifully embroidered white headband is later

mentioned in an inventory of Ely's possessions as having been made by

Aethelswitha, and is listed among a number of other headbands where

the giver, rather than the maker, is specified.  The fact that the

chronicler bothers to comment on something made "with her own hands"

implies that most of the work was done by, or was expected to be done

by, the maids or young girls in Aetheswitha's charge.


>From THE CROSS STITCH BOOK, by Mary Gostelow:


        The best known of all applique hangings must surely be the "Oxburgh

hangings," called after the National Trust house in Cambridgeshire

where complete panels can be seen:  other applique motifs from the

set are displayed in the Victoria & Albert Museum.  Mary Queen of

Scots (1542-87) is thought to have worked some of the square,

octagonal, and cruciform canvas appliques during the 18 years of her

imprisonment, from 1569, at the hands of her cousin Elizabeth, whose

crown she claimed.  (See Margaret Swain's THE NEEDLEWORK OF MARY

QUEEN OF SCOTS, Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1973, for a detailed

description of the panels known to have been worked by the Scottish

queen.) Some of the other pieces were probably worked on by the wife

of her "guardian," the Earl of Shrewsbury.  Better known as "Bess of

Hardwick," Bess had several embroiderers working for her, usually men

who were part of her household.  Her embroiderers drew designs for

Bess' clothes and stitched them, and when not so employed they might

have worked on cushion covers and larger pieces.  We know, too, that

an upholsterer called Florens Broshere often stitched backgrounds of

the designs, thus leaving he more exciting main motifs to the needles

of the ladies of the household."



PRESENT DAY, by Thomasina Beck:


        In the New Year of 1600, Arabella Stuart, grand-daughter of Bess of

Hardwick, sent Queen Elizabeth a present of her own making ...

Arabella's gift was a "scarf or head veil of lawn cutwork flourished

with silver and silk of sundry colours," which would have taken many

hours and great skill to embroider ... Arabella must have been

relieved to hear that her [gift to the Queen] had been noticed and

that the Queen had "taken an especial liking" to it, and even more

gratified to receive a message that Her Majesty "would be glad to

know how she did it."  Queen Elizabeth speaks here not as a

sovereign, but as one embroiderer to another, expressing admiration

for Arabella's originality and faultless technique, and a possible

interest in trying out something similar herself ...

        In great houses, in the manor houses of the gentry and homes of

prosperous city merchants and farmers, girls were taught to stitch

from earliest childhood.  "This worke," wrote William Barley in 1695



        Beseemeth Queens of great renown

        And noble ladies of a high degree,

        Yet not exempt for Maids of Any Towne

        For all may learn that thereto willing be.


His book, intended for "the Profit and Delight of the Gentlewomen of

England," contained a variety of cutwork patterns, as needlework was

"not only requisite, but also in great request among the Gentry."  He

pokes fun at "maidens but of base degree" who saw it as a way of

moving up the social ladder and becoming "esteemed among the noblest


        [Karen here ... my fingers are getting tired and I have some

silverwork yet to do on High Table napkins for Twelfth Night.  So

before I close, I'll mention that Thomasina Beck goes into a long

tirade about renaissance-era embroiderers; noblewomen embroiderers

she mentions include Katherine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn, Queen

Elizabeth, Grace Sherrington, Lady Margaret Hoby.  Just buy this

book, boys & girls, it's worth the $27 I shelled out for it.  

Thomasina Beck does lectures at the V&A on various topics, often

relating to renaissance embroidery, so she gotta know something ...]



Date: Sun, 16 Nov 1997 15:23:29 -0500 (EST)

From: <Varju at aol.com>

To: sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu

Subject: Re: Embroidery Judging


<< Was embroidery exclusively done by women in period? >>


I can only speak for my own region, but late in period embroidery on fabric

was done exclusively by women and embroidery on leather was done exclusively

by men.    Women of all classes did embroidery as a method of decoration for

their family's clothing and young women traditionally embroidered all of the

pieces of linen included in their dowers with the help of their female

relatives. The embroidery on leather that men did was done done as part of

the leather worker's guild and was the most commonly found on saddles and

sometimes footwear. ( All of this information is from _Hungarain Domestic

Embroidery_ by Maria Varju-Ember, and _The Influence of Ottoman Textiles

Textiles and  Costume in Eastern Europe_   by Veronila Gervers)


On the topic of noble embroideresses it was extrememly common in Hungary and

Transylvania as well, Varju-Ember and Gervers both mention letters between

noblewomen discussing embroidery patterns and sharing samplers.





Date: Tue, 18 Nov 1997 12:49:50 -0800 (PST)

From: lifitz at wco.com (Conny Fitzsimmons)

To: sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu

Subject: Re: Laid and Couched Book


A good book for techniques on a lot of different stitches is:    Marion

Nichols Encyclopedia of Embroidery Stitches, Including Crewel.   It is a

dover publication and costs around $9.00  the chapters are family of

stitches including Couched or Laid Stitches;    The book is 217 pages great

illistrations on how to execute the stitches and hundreds of different

stitches. Of course they are not all period stitches,   but stem, chain,

and laid and couched work which you are interested in are.


Mistress Catherine Lorraine, OL



From: seton1355 at aol.com (Seton1355)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: embroidery site

Date: 19 Sep 1998 18:16:24 GMT





Date: Tue, 6 Oct 1998 21:09:47 -0400

From: Karen at stierbach.atlantia.sca.org (Larsdatter, Karen )

To: sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu

Subject: Re: Assisi Embroidery


Lady Clare asked:

> I have several documentation sources referring to Assisi

> embroidery. While one or two are pretty decent, most of

> my information is somewhat encyclopedic or tertiary.

> I am looking for some better sources but keep

> drawing a blank.  Can anyone help me with this?


Sure! There was an article in a recent issue of the Westrealm

needleworkers' guild on this topic.  I can get you the name of the

newsletter editor if you'd be interested in seeing the article ...


There's also an article in the March/April issue of "Piecework" on a

17th century band of this style of embroidery (the term "Assisi

work" really wasn't used until this century, when the style of

embroidery became popular in, of all places, Assisi).  ;)  It also

went into a history of earlier pieces, but had a very good and

detailed picture (as well as charts) from this one band.


There's a small (very tertiary) mention of the existence of medieval

work in this style in "Assisi Embroideries," published in 1954 by

the DMC Library.


There's a picture of what may very well be this style of embroidery

(the photo is unfortunately not detailed enough to see what the fill

stitch is in Mary Eirwen Jones' "A History of Western Embroidery" -

- the caption says "ITALY Tree of Life, 12th century. Prototype

design, probably Sicilian."


Karen Larsdatter



Date: Wed, 7 Oct 1998 22:50:23 -0500

From: "Helen Schultz (KHvS)" <meistern at netusa1.net>

To: <sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu>

Subject: Re: Assisi Embroidery


In the book "Assisi Embroidery, Old Italian Cross-Stitch Designs" by Eva Maria

Leszner (ISBN: 0-7134-5595-0), published in Britain in 1988 by B.T. Batsford

Ltd, Ms Leszner points out that the Assisi style of cross-stitch (which is

usually, but not always the long-arm cross-stitch) "...was done in bright,

cheerful colours..." she goes on to say that in the 13th and 14th centuries a

different style of cross-stitch was developed that became even more popular in

the 16th century... this being Assisi style of work, where the background if

filled in and the body of the design (which was usually animals or grotesques)

was left voided of stitches.  I believe the outline stitch someone else

mentioned is not the stem stitch, but rather what is now called the Holbein

stitch. In the 16th century, the backgrounds were mostly reds, greens, or



This book has some wonderful patterns of traditional designs in it.   I first

purchased a copy of it in German (as the patterns were very easy to follow) and

then later purchased the English version.  The author seems to have taken much

care to present her topic quite well.


Hope this helps a few people out there wondering about Assisi cross-stitch.

Another interesting Italian embroidery technique is Bargello, which I think

stems from the 13th or 14th centuries as well.  Bargello is an up-and-down style

of needlepoint.  (Well, actually I think it started in Bohemia and was brought

to Italy when a Bohemian Princess married an Italian Count -- or something like




Date: Sun, 11 Oct 1998 22:31:53 EDT

From: <Seton1355 at aol.com>

To: sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu, H-Needlework at Ansteorra.ORG,

       sca-bead at makelist.com, sca-garb at coollist.comscribescastle.org

Subject: Check out Embroidery Picture Gallery


I just found this site for embroidery.  It has beautiful pictures.  It's a bit

late for our purposes, but the embroidery is stillbeautiful to look at.

Enjoy! Phillipa

<A HREF="http://www.geocities.com/Paris/Rue/1663/embpics.html";>Click here:

Embroidery Picture Gallery</A>



Date: Thu, 10 Dec 1998 18:44:34 -0500

From: "K. E. Reinhart" <keran at hancock.net>

To: sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu

Subject: Russian embroidery


Someone was looking for Russian embroidery

I just found:

       Gostelow, Mary.  Embroidery of All Russia.  New York:

               Charles Scribner's Sons, c1977

               ISBN  0-684-15184-7

               there are pictures of

"St. Sergius' shroud' a funerary pall worked in 1450"


Detail of 'The Story of Veronica's Veil' 14th cent.


Early 16th cent cloth


Detail of the 1561 shroud


"The Ascension" a detail from an icon veil, 1525


"The Sleeping Virgin" cloth, Moscow School.  Early 16th cent.


"plashchanitsa (sepulchre veil) circa 1600


Keran Roslin




Date: Sun, 3 Jan 1999 22:52:58 EST

From: <EalasaidS at aol.com>

To: sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu

Subject: Re: Thank you


Had time to go exploring in my bookcase.  Here are some good books to look

out for regarding embroidery:


Embroidery: A History

Pamela Warner

B.T. Batsford, Ltd.  London


The Victoria & Albert Museum’s Textile Collection:

Embroidery in Britain From 1200 to 1750

Donald King & Santina Levey

Canopy Books, a division of Abbeville Press, Inc., New York


Guide to English Embroidery

Patricia Wardle

Victoria & Albert Museum


Medieval Craftsmen:  Embroiderers

Kay Staniland

University of Toronto Press


Assissi Embroidery:  Old Italian Cross-Stitch Designs

Eva Maria Leszner

B.T. Batsford Ltd., London


The first one, "Embroidery:  A History",  has an example of period cross-

stitch. It is worked in silk threads on linen fabric.  The design is a

grouping of fruit (pears and apples if I remember correctly) and some



The background is completely covered with stitches, and the work consists of

only cross-stitches.  It is dated at around 1580 and is a cushion or seat

cover (I can't find the book at the moment...).  I recently did some research

for a lady who does beautiful cross stitch, but doesn't want to try any other

embroidery techniques.  She asked me if I had any sources for period cross

stitch. I was skeptical, but said I would look.   I was surprised at what I



The Jane Bostitch sample, dated 1598, has a lot of blackwork (in all colors,

by the way) and cross stitch (tiny little cross stitches!)  The Oxburgh

Hangings have small panels working in cross stitch, silk threads worked on

linen. They have been appliqued to velvet.  They are dated to 1570.  The four

samples in the "V&A  Museum's Textile Collection" are:  marigolds beneath a

sun (with a face); a cherry tree; a camel; a chicken.


It sounds like you are just starting in cross stitch.  One word of advice if

you wish to enter your work in an SCA Arts and Sciences competition.  Wean

yourself away from Aida and other even weave fabrics just as fast as you



Graduate to working on linen (or linen-cotten blends) as soon as you can.

Although cross stitch is period, Aida cloth is most definitely not, and most

judges cringe when they see it.  As was mentioned in an earlier post, you can

find some wonderful linen napkins, table cloths (and even curtains) at thrift

stores. I've paid $1.00 for two yards of linen at the thrift store.  There is

also a product available to facilitate cross stitch on non-even weave fabrics.

I believe it is call "tear away canvas".  You can find it in any craft or

fabric store that has a good cross stitch section.  It looks a little like

needlework canvas (very open weave).  It is held together by starch.  You

baste it onto your fabric and embroider away.  Once you are done, you emerse

the work in water and the starch is washed away.  You can then grab each

thread and pull it out of your stitches.  I leaves no evidence behind that you

used it.  You just have to be careful not  to pierce any of the threads with

your needle (or it won't pull out).


Good stitching!

Ealasaid nic Shuibhne, OL



Date: Fri, 1 Jan 1999 17:03:13 -0700

From: Chris Laning <claning at igc.apc.org>

To: sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu

Subject: Re: Cross stitch and other stitches....


>I am pretty much brand new to the SCA and I have recently started

>learning cross stitch.  By doing research I do know that cross stitch as

>it is known now is not what was used in the middle ages.  I found

>references to long armed cross stitch.  I'm not sure how to do this or

>how it was used.  I'm also interested in trying blackwork but I need a

>little help. Any advice would be deeply appreciated.


I highly recommend Kathleen Epstein's _An Anonymous Woman: Her Work

Wrought in the 17th Century._ (Curious Works Press, 1992, ISBN

0-9633331-1-9, available from <http://www.greenduck.com/index.shtml>; and

other booksellers).


Yes, this is slightly post-1600, but she has very clear diagrams of how to

work long-armed cross stitch, blackwork stitches, and double-sided cross

stitch, together with a number of VERY nice patterns in a style very

similar to the patterns being worked before 1600 (as you can see from other



Unfortunately the question is usually phrased as "is cross-stitch period?"

and both the Yes and the No adherents get quite hot under the collar.

Actually, from what I have found in my research (and my estimable Laurel's

advice), neither Yes or No is really a complete answer.


Yes, those little X-shaped stitches were used. However by and large they

don't seem to have been used in quite the way we in the 20th century would

expect. One common use of cross-stitch, for instance, was solid wool or

silk embroidery on canvas  -- like what we call "tapestry" or

"needlepoint," only with cross stitches instead of tent stitches. If I'm

remembering correctly, there's a very nice example on the Web at

<http://web0.tiac.net/users/drbeer/joyce/emb/westbox/westbox.htm>;. (If

that's not right, try the Medieval Embroidery home page at



Cross-stitch (and blackwork) were also worked in fine silk thread and used

for decorating church and table linens. The Blackwork Embroidery Archive

page mentioned (<http://www.pacificnet.net/~pmarmor/bw_cost.html>;) has

extremely clear directions for working double running stitch (a basic

stitch of blackwork), but as far as I know, the actual patterns she gives

are ones she designed, and are sometimes a little different in style from

those common before 1600. Besides Kathleen Epstein's works, Countess Ianthe

d'Averoigne has written _The New Carolingian Modelbook_ (Outlaw Press,

1995, ISBN 0-9642082-2-9) which contains many *very* well documented

Renaissance cross-stitch and blackwork patterns. (In fact, it's a good

lesson on the meaning of the words "well documented"!)



(lady) Christian de Holacombe

Windy Meads, Cynagua, SCA



Date: Fri, 19 Feb 1999 11:31:31 EST

From: <SNSpies at aol.com>

To: sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu

Subject: Needlework Kits


I would like to draw your attention to a small British company that makes

drop-dead gorgeous historical needlework kits.  Do have a look at their


http://www.millennia.demon.co.uk Millennia Designs Homepage


I just looked at the site myself and was very impressed.


Ingvild (Nancy)



From: mariannep <mperdomo at my-deja.com>

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: A more period embroidery kit?

Date: Fri, 09 Jun 2000 10:22:16 GMT


jillandbruce at my-deja.com wrote:

> What I'm working on is a less modern-looking embroidery kit.  So far

> I've got a nice wooden box, and I've got my floss wound on some small

> wooden spools.  I've got a small pair of medieval-ish scissors, and some

> wooden needle cases.  So...I'm at least happy that I'm not toting

> everything around in a plastic floss organizer, but I don't know if any

> of this is actually period or not.

> My question to those of you who embroider is...what did a medieval or

> Renaissance embroidery kit consist of?????  Am I on the right track?


I don't know much about period emvroidery kits but my guess is that

you're almost there. What I would use instead of the plastic carrier is

simply a basket of adequate size. I don't think covered (picnic-style)

baskets are period (at least I haven't seen one in period pictures) so I

would cover the whole thing with a piece of cloth when not in use.


If you have so many types of thread that you actually need to "organize"

them somehow, I think I would go for either several shallow woden boxes

(like the ones used for cigars - pity they're usually stamped with

un-period stuff but maybe that can be covered) or one wooden box in

which things can be stocked vertically.


One day (soonish) I hope I'll have a kit like yours - it must look great

when you're using it!!


Marianne | Leonor



From: <hrjones at socrates.berkeley.edu>

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: A more period embroidery kit?

Date: 9 Jun 2000 19:03:54 GMT

Organization: University of California at Berkeley


jillandbruce at my-deja.com wrote:

: My question to those of you who embroider is...what did a medieval or

: Renaissance embroidery kit consist of?????  Am I on the right track?


I don't know of any surviving artifacts along this line (which isn't to

say that there are none -- it's not one of the fields I've researched

specifically), but there are a good number of representations in period

art of women doing handwork.  One particularly concentrated collection of

illustrations of this type is in an article by Robert L. Wyss entitled

"Die Handarbeiten der Maria: eine ikonographische Studie unter

beru"cksichtigung der textilen Techniken", i.e., "The Handwork of Mary: an

iconographic study inconsideration of textile techniques" (in "Artes

Minores: Dank an Werner Abegg", Verlag Stampfli & Cie A.G., Bern, 1973).


The work-containers I can identify in the plates there are as follows:


Figure 8 (German 1460): working on embroidery stretched on a large frame,

held on her lap -- a small oval box (about the size of a hand) sits on top

of the work, but the detail is not good enough to identify contents.


Figure 11 (German 1503): One woman works with a box-loom in her lap, with

the materials visible in the box itself (only spools of thread are

identifiable.  One woman is working on some unidentifiable item in her lap

and holds a quill of thread; at her feet is a smallish oval basket/box

containing a couple of balls of thread/yarn.


Figure 15 (French 1407): working on a horizontal tape-loom, there is a

medium-sized wooden chest (about the same in length as the woman's

forearm, but don't trust perspective measurements in this stuff!) with the

lid open sitting behind her, but it is impossible to make out the contents



Figure 16 (British 1445): working on a horizontal tape-loom, there is a

small box shaped much like a cigar-box with the lid open at her feet, but

the contents are not visible.


Figure 17 (Italian 1410): working on a horizontal tape-loom, there is a

medium-small wooden box with open lid sitting at her feet (intermediate in

size between figures 15 & 16) with indeterminate contents.  The picture

also includes a skein-winder whose base is a box, also with indeterminate



Figure 18 (French 1450): same work and paraphernalia as in figure 17, but

the box appears slightly smaller (like a tall cigar-box) and appears to

have some threads hanging out of it.


Figure 19 (British 1420): same work and paraphernalia as in fig. 17, but

the work-box is a chest of sittable size and clearly contains a few balls

of thread/yarn.


Figure 21 (French 1410): working on a horizontal tape-loom, medium-sized

low box with open lid but contents not visible.


Figure 22 (French? 1420): horizontal tape-loom, no separate work-box, but

another figure is winding a ball off a box-footed skein-winder, in the box

of which are several balls of thread/yarn.


Figure 25 (French 1507): horizontal card-loom, next to the worker is a

medium-sized basket (with small handles on the rim) in which balls of

thread/yarn are visible.


Figure 37 (French/German 1420): worker is doing something with a small

amount of yarn, at her feet is a long, low wooden box (about as long as

her forearm) with the lid open to show balls and hanks of thread/yarn, on

the table beside her is a small-medium oval box with lid (looks like it

might be bent-wood) with unidentifiable contents.


Figure 38 (German 1409): a spinner and a woman winding thread off a

vertical skein-winder set into a box which contains several balls and

quils of thread/yarn.


Figure 39 (German 1400): a spinner with a medium-sized basket of balls of

yarn at her feet.


Figure 42 (German late 14th c.); a knitter working from balls of yarn kept

in a medium-sized circular basket with a single carrying-handle (the sort

you can carry over your arm).


Figure 43 (German 1480): working in some fashion on the hem of a shirt,

there is a small-medium oval box (bent-wood?) at her feet with a couple of

balls of thread/yarn in it.


Figure 46 (Belgian 1461): a spinner, with a medium-sized round basket

(with two small carrying handles on the rim) containing quills of



No doubt there's lots more of this stuff out there -- this article was

focussing on examples involving the Virgin.




Heather Rose Jones         hrjones at socrates.berkeley.edu




Date: Sun, 25 Jun 2000 17:20:01 -0400

From: Carol Thomas <scbooks at neca.com>

To: sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu

Subject: Back in print


I just heard that the Needlework of Mary, Queen of Scots has been reprinted!


There have been quite a number of excellent books reprinted lately.  There

must be enough of us for the publishers to notice.



Small Churl Books catalog: http://www.neca.com/~scbooks/



Subject: ANST - Re: ösenstich

Date: Thu, 10 Aug 2000 08:06:07 -600

From: gunnora at realtime.net

To: ansteorra at ansteorra.org (ansteorra)


Isabeau <STDRLC13 at shsu.edu> asked:

>Can anyone get in touch with me and diagram or show me how to

>do "osenstich"? I want to do some embroidery in a Viking style

>and Gunnora's web page mentioned this as being very

>scandanavian. I just can't seem to find clear and precise

>instructions on how to do the stitch.


Isabeau, the technique that Geijir calls "ösenstich" is almost a wire

jewellry technique.  To start with, you'll want to take a look at:


Geijir, Agnes, "The Textile Finds from Birka," in N.B. Harte and K.G. Ponting,

eds. Cloth and Clothing in Medieval Europe. London: Heinemann. 1983. pp.



I personally haven't tried this technique, though I feel pretty sure that I

can make things that look like the items Geijir shows in the article above.

I'll tell you who I would contact to see if there are more resources on this

technique -- try asking Mistress Þóra Sharptooth (Thora Sharptooth), a very

informative Laurel from the East.  Her email address is

<capriest at cs.vassar.edu>


Thora's web article on Viking embroidery (




"...ösenstich is not primarily a needle technique, even though it makes use

of the same topology as some common embroidery stitches. It is much simpler

to work with the wire by itself instead of going to the trouble of threading

it through a needle first (Jensen, passim). Briefly described, ösenstich

requires using a wire approximating a 26-gauge beading wire to work rows of

closely-spaced mesh stitch into strips of tubing, flattened metallic trimming, or three-dimensional shapes such as teardrops. The finished wire constructions were sometimes sewn to garments as ornaments. The most common of the ösenstich variants was worked somewhat like a Vandyke stitch; see below for a redrawing or the diagrams in Geijer (p. 110) for more information..."


The Geijir publication that's being referred to here is:


Geijer, Agnes. 1938. Die Textilfunde aus den Gräbern. Birka: Undersuchungen

und Studien III. Uppsala: Kungl. Vitterhets Historie och Antikvitets



Don't worry about not being able to read the text -- it has good pictures.

Alas, I don't have copies of this one. If you need text segments, you can

usually get a workable translation using an on-line translator, such as Intertran (http://www.tranexp.com:2000/InterTran?).


The Jensen reference Thora mentions is:

Jensen, Jørn V. 1990. Vikingesmykker: Elegante Smykker i Kobber- og Solvtråd

med Vikingeteknik og enkelt Væktøj. Haarlev, Denmark: Privately published.


Thora says:

"Parts of the English section of this work were brought to my attention by

Barbara Bishop (Lady [now Countess] Brigit of Mercia). It is impossible to

reconstruct the original pamphlet from the pieces I have seen, but it is possible to learn the ösenstich technique from it. I believe it is marketed at the museum at Lejre, Denmark."


This should get you started.





Date: Sun, 03 Dec 2000 20:10:37 -0500

From: rmhowe <MMagnusM at bellsouth.net>

To: sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu

Subject: Re: Embroidery motif question


> Does anyone know a good scholar of 18th century embroidery? Middle

> Eastern embroidery?


Got a book in ex Design Library, NC state U.


Suggest you review The Traditional Crafts of Persia

Their Development, Technology, and Influence on Eastern and Western

Civilizations, by Hans E. Wulff

MIT Press, Massachusetts Instutute of Technology, Cambridge, Mass

an London England, 1966     LoC # 66-22462


Covers making gold threads among a host of other techniques.

Tremendous amount of technology covered, not always to my satisfaction

though. Leaves you wanting to see the other books referenced, some

in German. Gives a whole lot of Farsi (Persian) terms for everything.

Textiles, a little leather, cloth soled shoes, metals, engineering,

etc are covered.


Magnus - supper's getting cold now.



From: "willowdewisp at juno.com" <willowdewisp at juno.com>

Date: June 20, 2007 3:51:49 PM CDT

To: ansteorra at lists.ansteorra.org

Subject: [Ansteorra] persona Anglo-Saxon embroidery


Early period people did a lot of embroidery especially the Anglo Saxons. I read somewhere that the Normans really showed off the tunics they got from England and many of them desired Anglo-Saxon wives because of their skills with the needle.


This site give lots of info on embroidery and patterns and stitches





From: "Suzanne DiRocco" <sdirocco at suddenlink.net>

Date: June 21, 2010 3:47:40 PM CDT

To: "'Barony of Bryn Gwlad'" <bryn-gwlad at lists.ansteorra.org>

Subject: Re: [Bryn-gwlad] Silk Ribbon Embroidery



If such documentation exists, you might be able to find it here at the historical needlework resources website: http://medieval.webcon.net.au/index.htmlhttp://medieval.webcon.net.au/index.html

It is a HUGE resource for almost all things embroidery.              




From: bryn-gwlad-bounces+sdirocco=suddenlink.net at lists.ansteorra.org [mailto:bryn-gwlad-bounces+sdirocco=suddenlink.net at lists.ansteorra.org] On Behalf Of pancua

Sent: Monday, June 21, 2010 3:23 PM

To: Barony of Bryn Gwlad

Subject: [Bryn-gwlad] Silk Ribbon Embroidery

I've been playing with embroidery for some time and always had a fancy towards silk ribbon embroidery. 

My preliminary research shows that it can be dated back to 17th century but before I give up too much hope, was wondering if anyone has found anything else about it being more in period?


In humble service to The Barony of Bryn Gwlad, 

Lady Magdelena "Dena" Cortez

MKA Katy Hendrick

Cell: 512-585-4172



From: Rosemary <rosemary_2024 at yahoo.com>

Subject: [tri-temp] Re: Period Embroidery and Cross Stitching

Date: October 13, 2010 3:33:15 PM CDT

To: trimaris-temp at yahoogroups.com


> Can someone tell me who contact or where to look for books, patterns,

> examples of period embroidery and cross stitch. I have loved to do this for

> a long time now and wish to incorporate my love of the art into the SCA.


> Ld Diderick van dem Mere


Good Day Ld Diderick van dem Mere


Here are some sites online which should help .. if you need anything more please feel free to ask me to look up for you ***



Catherine Rose FitzEdmunds of the Canton of Peregrine Springs*


1. Mathilde's Medieval and Renaissance Embroidery Page



2. How to do Medieval Embroidery



3. Bayeux Tapestry online; Encyclopedia Britannica



4. Medieval/Renaissance Embroidery Home Page




From: Bonnie Booker <Aspasia1 at gmail.com>

Subject: Re: [tri-temp] Period Embroidery and Cross Stitching

Date: October 14, 2010 3:21:54 PM CDT

To: trimaris-temp at yahoogroups.com









I could go on all day. Can you narrow it down to place and/or time?





From: Kellie Hultgren <caoilfhionn.ban at GMAIL.COM>

Date: October 14, 2010 1:01:20 PM CDT

To: CALONTIR at listserv.unl.edu

Subject: Re: [CALONTIR] celtic viking angle-saxon embroidery


I have a copy of the book, and it is not useful for SCA research. The

artist talks about being inspired by the past to make works of modern

textile art. The history given is extremely general and hasn't

inspired confidence in me so far.


Very pretty book, though, and fine if you're a fan of the artist or

interested in contemporary textile arts.




<<< Okay, I'm looking at a book called celtic viking anglo-saxon

embroidery by Jan Messent.  It's listed for 49.95.


Before I invest that much money in a book - I want to know if it is

worth it?  Or is it just cover modern stuff?


I know the words times past are used in the review - but that tells me

nothing about the centuries covered.


Kateryn >>>



Subject:     [Medieval Trivia] New website: 16th c needlework

Date:  Thu, 02 Feb 2012 20:35:20 -0500

From:         Tchipakkan <shaneb at ij.net> (by way of Shane B <shaneb at ij.net>)

To:    medievalTrivia at yahoogroups.com


*Mistress Kathryn Goodwyn has finally gotten her website up, and asked

friends to pass the word to anyone who'd be interested. It's 16th

century needlework.


www.flowersoftheneedle.com http://www.flowersoftheneedle.com/





Date: Mon, 24 Sep 2012 21:45:05 -0700 (PDT)

From: Megan McConnell <madilayn at yahoo.com>

Subject: Re: [Lochac] What is a Broiderer?

To: "The Shambles: the SCA Lochac mailing list"

        <lochac at lochac.sca.org>


Lady Madilayn le Mercer said:

<<< Following discussion and requests, monthly meetings of the Worshipful Companie of Broiderers of Lochac will take place on the third Friday of each month at the River Haven Hall from 7.30 - 9pm >>>


Interesting phrase. What exactly is a "broiderer" and how does it differ from an "embroiderer"?





Broiderer is a Middle English term and is the same as embroidery.


A little (very little) more info at http://en.academic.ru/dic.nsf/cide/22828/Broiderer


Interestingly enough, the prefix "em" is the same ad the prefix "en" and both mean "to make into, to put into, to get into"


So, we can say that an embroiderer is one who puts into, makes into or gets into Broidery. I have seen references in period inventories and wills to something being "broidered" or decorated with "broidery" (and after a bit of searching I can't find the references - I may have to look further again). I have also seen some 18th century references to Broidery (and as an alternative spelling "Brodery"


Megan McConnell

(SCA - Lady Madilayn le Mercer)


From: baine <baine at WINDSTREAM.NET>

Subject: [CALONTIR] FW: [HNW] books available as pdfs

Date: February 23, 2013 11:14:35 AM CST

To: CALONTIR at listserv.unl.edu


This might be interesting to those of the needlework persuasion. I have one of her blackwork books and itΓÇÖs well-written.





From: h-needlework-bounces at lists.ansteorra.org

Sent: Friday, February 22, 2013 9:53 PM

To: h-needlework at ansteorra.org

Subject: [HNW] books available as pdfs


With the kind permission of the list moderator, I am delighted to announce that my books are now available as pdfs and can be purchased directly from me with payment through PayPal.


Please see my web page for prices. ¿Also, please feel free to disseminate this announcement to any list or individual that might find it of interest.


Nancy Spies

Arelate Studio


snspies at aol.com

"Ecclesiastical Pomp and Aristocratic Circumstances: A Thousand Years of Brocaded Tabletwoven Bands",

"Anna Neuper's Modelbuch: Early Sixteenth-Century Patterns for Weaving Brocaded Bands"

"Here Be Wyverns: Hundreds of Patterns Graphed from Medieval Sources"

"Here Be Drolleries: Hundreds More Patterns Graphed from Medieval Sources"



From the fb "Artisans of the SCA" group:

Christine Lee


Flowersoftheneedle.Com for extant embroidery patterns


Flowers of the Needle

I am assuming that most visitors will be members of the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA). As such I will




From the fb "SCA Arts and Sciences" group:


Verity Lynn Coghill

November 13 at 9:43 PM

Greetings! I have a simple (I hope) question about embroidery. How can I keep cotton floss from tangling while I doing needlework? I'm still very new to this and feel like I missed a crucial step.


Jennifer Elizabeth

Waxing the thread helps. Thread Heaven, if you can find it, or beeswax works.


Christina Violette

There are several things that can cause tangles. One or more may be at play there.


You may be using a length of thread that is too long. Try using a shorter length. This also helps keep the thread from getting worn and fuzzy looking from being passed through the cloth too many times by the time you get to the end.


Are you twisting the thread as you work? Try holding your work upside down every now and then, to let the needle dangle, and let the thread untwist.


Try running the thread over a lump of beeswax to help the thread glide. Also helps reduce the fuzziness.


Are the tangles on the back? You may have not pulled the thread all the way through, or may have caught the thread on your needle. I find this happens when I use a scooping motion from just the front side, instead stabbing the needle straight down, then stabbing it straight up from the back side.


Staci J Roth

Hello, and welcome to the passion of needlework! I agree with the other posts- keeping the thread short will at first annoying, but it will get better, waxing the thread will make it glide through the fabric and holding up the work and letting the needle dangle will obviate the thread twisting on itself. And please feel free to post pics-I for one enjoy seeing progress.


Debbie Coyle

Also what brand theead are you using? DMC or other name brand will give much better results than the cheaper brands.


Terri Blaisdell

How many strands are you working with and how did you separate them? I used to grab two strands and separate them from the hank together. It was a battle, things got tangled and the threads always twisted as I was stitching. If you remove the strands once at a time from the hank and then recombine them for stitching, not only are they easier to separate but some of the twisting that occurs when you stitch is alleviated.



Patricia Webb

When separating single threads, hold all strands between thumb and index finger, pull single threads straight up, then reunite the 2or 3 single threads to use. Most right handed people put a slight twist to the left as they pull the stitch through fabric causing a tangle or knot. Try making a slight twist of your needle to the right( clockwise) as you pull up the needle.


Ellen Johnson

also, you can let the needle and thread hang down after a row of stitching to let it unwind the twist.


Kateryne Hindscroft

One thing that a lot of needleworkers don't know is that some brands of embroidery floss (such as DMC) are directional. If you use the thread with the "grain", it doesn't tangle as much. However, if you use it "against the grain" it can tangle no matter how careful you are. I can feel the difference by running my fingers one way, then comparing it to running them the other way. It feels ever so slightly "rough" when going against the grain. (And I do know that there are many people who can't feel the difference. That makes it tough to be a really good needleworker.)


Waxing it does take away the need to worry about the "grain" of the thread, but it also changes the appearance of the thread (which may be counter to how you want it to look.)


Jennifer Sadler

While I'm doing cross stitch I'll find the embroidery thread starting to tighten up and try to tangle, so I'll let the needle and thread hang and "unwind" for a while.



From the fb "Medieval & Renaissance Cooking and Recipes" group:


Ea Fleming


Embroiderers: While this exhibition closed two years ago, there are a four articles with brief videos about aspects of different medieval garments.



Opus Anglicanum: Masterpieces of English Medieval Embroidery


This exhibition explored a selection of the most outstanding examples of English medieval embroidery. Featuring surviving examples of exquisite craftsmanship, it revealed the artistic skill of the makers and the world in which they were created.


<the end>

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