I have been pretty busy with various embroidery projects, some of which are still ongoing. Nevertheless I have managed to finish one small project. I am calling this Autumn as the colours are very autumnal. The yarn is a gorgeous mix of alpaca and silk and comes from Elvincraft in the Isle of Skye. Spun for knitting or lace making the yarn has to be cut into stitchable lengths for embroidery. This time I decided to cut the yarn into its three main colour groups – purple, orange and green. Here it is.

The design, if it can actually be called a design, is a rather haphazard medley of curvy shapes. The dark purple stands out which is why I used it for the smaller shapes. The stitching is silk shading or long and short stitch. The fabric is a fine linen. The outline is meant to be a circle, but turned out to be a somewhat wobbly one. It is now safely ensconced in its Nurge No 4 wooden frame, ready for hanging, if I only had a spare place to hang it. This work took up 33 and a half hours of stitching.

More Bargello

This project was a bit of an experiment. I started with a design from Bargello Needlepoint by Dorothy Kaestner. This was a variation on a green leaf border. I was quite taken with this idea and decided to try and complete it as a four way bargello. Easier said than done! But with a few adjustments here and there and a lot of blood, sweat and tears I did finally finish it off.

The fabric is a 14count Aida fabric in a pale grey. The threads are all but one from the Appleton range of wool threads. The odd one out is a DMC tapestry wool. With the Appleton threads I used three strands, but made do with only two strands with the DMC tapestry wool.

The central pattern, the leaves in Kaestner’s original, is stitched in four blues – royal blue. The lightest is the DMC tapestry thread. The little circles or half circles are stitched in greens – early english green – using tent stitch. I firstly tried to stitch these in bargello, but it did not work at all. So tent stitch it was.

The background is where it all got a bit complicated as the original was not designed as a four way pattern. And getting the alignment right to accommodate the little green circles was another headache. However it all handstickcame more or less acceptable in the end. For this part of the work I used four shades of fuchsia.

To finish the piece off I stitched a circle around the outside with two strands of dark royal blue in stem stitch. It is now safely ensconced in a Nurge No4 hoop. Altogether this took up nearly 29 hours of stitching.

Haven’t as yet worked out a title for this piece. Any suggestions?

Dutch Tiles

This was a rather grand project, a SAL offered by PeppermintPurple. As the title suggests the project is inspired by patterns on Dutch tiles, re-interpreted for blackwork embroidery. The designs came in eight batches, each one featuring two tiles. I started in March and finished the stitching at least, today 5th July.

The embroidery could be stitched on various fabric counts. I chose a 14 count Aida in lavender. This was to go with the thread I had selected – an Anchor cotton in violet, number 99. I think blue was the recommended colour, but I like all kinds of purples.

Most people who have done this SAL seem to have used just a single strand of thread. I nearly always use a mix of one, two and three strands when I do blackwork embroidery. In this case most of the work is with two strands, but each tile features some parts in just a single strand. I like the changes in texture this offers.

On the whole this was a relatively easy project to follow, though some of the patterns were a bit complex and demanded extra attention to the details.

Working on this took me 92 hours of stitching time spread over 45 days. The finished square measures just over 28cmX28cm. Will now need to smooth the piece out and stretch it even, before deciding what to do with it. Decisions, decisions!

I am also working on another SAL from PeppermintPurple. This one is a fee one and lasts all year, so just half way there at the moment.

Tree of Life

This little project is another one using traditional Palestinian motifs. These motifs, apart from one, all come from The Art of Palestinian Embroidery, by Leila El Khalidi. Here it is.

The finished composition only emerged gradually. When I started this project all I had in mind was to use a circular frame and a 14count Aida fabric in a pale grey and to limit myself to two colours – red and a light blue. I had no particular motifs in mind. After lots of flicking back and forth through El Khalidi’s book, I decided to start with the Tree of Life. Which is why I used this as the title for the whole project!

The next or concurrent decision was to stitch the Tree of Life twice, one in the upper left quadrant and the other in the lower right quadrant. This left the other two quadrants to fill. Once again, after much perusal of the book I finally went for a motif known as the Holy Star of Bethlehem.

So far so good, but there was still quite a lot of space to fill. Back to the book! This time I chose a variation of the Byzantine cross, which now occupies the top and the bottom.

@alister7More or less finished, but there was still a little empty space on either side of the trunk of the Tree of Life. On the this occasion I forsook Leila El Khalidi’s book and selected a little motif from a design by @jordannassar. Earlier in the year he had very kindly donated a traditional Palestinian design to @themosaicrooms, available free to all comers. I hope he doesn’t mind my borrowing this motif for my own design.

To complete the composition I stitched a circular outline with whipped backstitch.

This was a fun and enjoyable little project, which only took up 14 hours of actual stitching. The threads are all from the DMC pearl cotton range. The red is no. 321, light blue is no.334 and the dark blue for the outline is no. 311. The frame is a Nurge no 4 and is approximately 19cm in diameter. Just need to tidy up the back and find somewhere to hang it.


This was another project that took a very long time to finish. Mainly because it was well out of my comfort zone. The project was one of the Community Stitch Challenges from This particular one was by Sue Stone and the challenge was to turn a photo into a work of embroidery. Seemed a good idea at the time, and off I went to work, way back on 3rd April. Here is the finished piece.

Before I could begin stitching I had to spend a lot of time working out the composition itself as it involves a fair amount of appliqué. Still I did work out a framework and the fabrics and started stitching them together. As I don’t have a sewing machine, I had to do all this by hand, which explains why it is a bit messy in places. The various pieces were stitched together with a single strand of Sulky thread in blues. The outside with a simple backstitch and the inside with herringbone and buttonhole stitches. The background fabrics were all from pieces lying around.

The fabric for the photo is a Kona cotton in ivory. The photo I chose is one from a holiday we had in Palma de Mallorca way back in 2006. It has always been one of Kathleen’s favourites. I used tracing paper to transfer the image onto the cotton fabric.

For the striped top I used Kona cotton in white. The stripes are stitched with a whipped backstitch with two strands of DMC cotton in medium antique blue. For the shawl I used cut out bits from a shawl I bought in a charity shop. I originally wanted to try and fold the fabric, but found this impossible to do. Way beyond my pay grade! So I made do with some backstitches in a magenta Sulky thread to try and give the impression of folds.

The hair is stitched with various lengths of Ghiordes knot stitch. Single strands in bunches of three or four were used for each stitch. Four shades of DMC browns make up the hair – ultra very light mocha brown, light mocha brown, ultra dark beige brown and black brown. Most of the face is made up of a backstitch in black. The eyelashes are in black brown. For the eyes and the lips I used Sulky threads in light blue and red.

All in all I am quite pleased with this first attempt at this kind of embroidery. The stitching took up 21 hours over 11 days. The finished pieces measures 24cmx18cm. May try something similar in the future.


I have been very busy with embroidery over the last couple of months. However mostly with long term projects, a couple of SALs for example. So there has been nothing in the way of completed work to show. Until now that is. A few days ago I finally finished a Bargello piece I was working on. It is a slight variation on a design from Dorothy Kaestner’s book – Bargello Needlepoint. There she gave the design the title of Spindrift. Here is my attempt.

The sphere at the centre is a bit smaller than the one in Dorothy Kaestner’s design. I did this to make the piece more manageable. A big mistake! With a smaller sphere the rest of the pattern did not fit. It took me far too much time, restitching and a fair amount of anglo-saxon expletives to finally work out a solution.

The other change was to the number of blues. In the original there were 11 shades. Alas, I did not have 11 shades of any colour. So I made do with seven shades, which meant some of the shades were repeated. Still it works fine I think.

The fabric is an 18ct Aida in pale yellow/green. This does not show up in the photo, where it looks like a light grey. For the sphere I used three orange shades and two yellow shades, all from the DMC tapestry wool range. The surround in blue is made up of three shades of royal blue from Appletons 2 ply range, and four shades from the DMC range. For all the stitching I used two strands of the wool.

The finished piece is approximately 20cmx20cm. Now need to decide what to do with it! I spent 29 and a half hours on this, but spread over 21 days. I rather like this design and may well repeat it with an other colour scheme. But this time with the larger sphere!

Roman Rose

This is another piece to feature one of the traditional Palestinian motifs. This one is known as Roman Rose, and this particular design comes from Margarita Skinner’s book – Palestinian Embroidery Motifs, A treasury of stitches 1850 -1950. I have used many of the designs in this wonderful book, but this is the first time I have used Roman Rose.

The fabric is a 14 ct Aida in pale blue. It is a bit of a left over from a previous piece. The threads are all DMC pearl cotton No 8. I worked with two colours, lavender and rose, with two shades for each main colour. The idea was to have at least two colours for each rose, which I think works quite well.

The stitched area is just 23cmX5.5cm and I have finished it off as a wall hanging.

Blue on Blue

I have just finished stitching another Blackwork project. It features blue threads on a blue fabric, hence the title for the piece.

The fabric is a 14 count Aida in light blue. For the threads I decided to try out some Sulky threads. Lots of people on the Peppermint Purple SAL have been raving about these cotton threads, so I reckoned it was worth giving them a go. They are easy to stitch with and there is a good range of colours to choose from. The Sulky threads come in just a single strand, which is pretty close to a single thread of stranded cotton.

I choose quite an open pattern for this project and as is usual with me, I used the equivalent of one, two and three strands to add to the texture of the work. This pattern I found in a book by Rosemary Drysdade – The Art of Blackwork Embroidery.

The finished piece measure 5.5cmX23.5cm and too me just over 12 hours to stitch. It will end up as a hanging once I tidy it up and add a cord for hanging.

SAL – Weeks 3-5

I am now well into this year long SAL. Weeks 3-5 have all been stitched and outlined. With these patterns the SAL has move from the pinks to the blues.

The rectangular one on the right was stitched with one strand of light antique blue. It is quite an open design, but a bit fiddly to get right. The other two, square patterns were both stitched with two strands of light blue. All cotton threads from the DMC range.

These two were a bit more complicated to stitch, no doubt due to using two strands of the thread. The one on the left was particularly complex and I was never sure whether to stitch everything over just one mesh. I eventually decided to do most of it over one mesh with a few stitches over two meshes.

The square on the left looks quite a bit darker than the one on the right. Though of course both were stitched with the same colour. I guess the greater density of the pattern on the left gives this illusion of a darker shade.

I am currently cogitating on what border to stitch for this, if indeed to bother with a border at all. Most participants seem to include one. Alas, most of them look very complex, though very beautiful. If I do go for one, it is likely to be pretty simple.

Rose buds

My first completed project for 2021 is this composition using the traditional Palestinian motif of the Rose Bud.

On this occasion though I used only one motif, I compensated by using various colours. Four colours in fact and each one with two shades. The main colours are seagreen, turquoise and electric blue. These were all from the DMC stranded cotton range. The yellows are so old that they no longer have any identifIcation re. origin. The yellows were only used for some of the buds. They do stand out though. Perhaps there are too many in yellow?

The embroidery is all done with two strands of the thread. The fabric is a very bright Christmas red in 18ct Aida. I find Palestinian embroidery quite slow work and this project took me just over 30 hours of stitching time. Worth it though. The finished piece measures 15cm x 15cm. I now need to smooth it out and add a backing.