More Bargello

Another Bargello project now completed, or at least stitched. The pattern is from Four Way Bargello by Dorothy Kaestner. Clearly not a four way design, but a lovely diagonal pattern.

The fabric is my usual 18ct Aida in pale, almost faded green. For this piece I used three different wool threads. The pinks are from the Fine d’Aubusson range. This is a very fine wool thread from France. I used two strands. The greens are just one strand of Paternayan Persian wool. Finally the white is from the Anchor tapestry range. This is a four ply thread and I somehow managed to divide it into two. A bit of a hassle to be honest, but it worked well when stitching.

I did the stitching in a larger hoop and then transferred the work to a small one. The idea was to have no edge. Unfortunately it is proving very difficult or more honestly, impossible, to get the fabric really smooth and taut in its new hoop. Looks OK, but is a bit soft and giving when touched. I think that using wool threads on such a soft fabric may be the cause of this problem.

All in all this piece took me 28 and a half hours to stitch. Quite pleased with the result and the dazzling colour scheme. My next project is some Blackwork and trying out some small Christmas decorations

A 4 Way Stretched Bargello

Today I finally finished this little Bargello project. A comment on one of my previous posts asked if I had ever worked on a Four Way Bargello project. I have, but not for a long time. So this timely reminder got me to revisit this lovely version of Bargello.

The design I fixed on is not a basic Four Way pattern, but an interesting variation. I like to think of it as a Stretched Four Way. The two end parts are in the traditional Four Way pattern, while the central section is just basic Bargello. Here it is.

This composition comes from one of my favourite embroidery books – Four Way Bargello by Dorothy Kaestner. Thoroughly recommended if you are interested in trying some Four Way Bargello. The author calls this variation a bench, but I prefer to call it a stretched Four Way.

The fabric is an 18ct Aida in a very pale yellowy green. The main pattern is stitched with two strands of DMC Tapestry wool. Four shades of green and two shades of blue. The blues do stand out against the greens. To finish the piece off I decided to fill in the background to make a rectangle. For this I used a single strand of Appleton 2ply crewel wool in Early English green. I chose just the one strand as I didn’t want the background to dominate.

I really like this design, thought if I were to do it again I would seriously consider extending the central section by at least one other diamond. As it stands it measures 175mm x 137mm. A bit longer and it might fit as the base of a tray with a glass top.

The stitching of the main pattern took me just under seven hours, while the background involved just under 10 hours. Anyway time well spent. I have already started on my next project, which is a simple, ordinary Bargello. Happy stitching!

5 Easy Pieces – Series 3, No 2

Another of my Bargello pieces finished yesterday. All feature five sections, hence the titles. Usually I use five different patterns, but this time I limited it to three.


For the central section I tried out an oval shape. A bit of a palaver to stitch this, but I think it works OK. This section is stitched in four shades of green. The other two colours, rose and lavender, make up a split complementary scheme to the green in the RGB colour scheme. At least that’s my story.

The three patterns are all quite different, which I hope makes for a harmonious whole. The fabric is a 14 count Aida. A soft fabric, but easy to stitch on.

The coloured threads are all from the DMC Tapestry range. A lovely wool yarn and good to work with. It worked well on the 14 count Aida, leaving virtually none of the fabric showing through.

I wanted a design that used some wavy lines. These I stitched in whipped stem stitch, using a 2ply Appleton wool in a very dark purple. Not sure if this really works. But overall I am quite pleased with this piece. Now to start thinking about No3! Happy stitching.

Free form Bargello in Blue and Yellow

Finished this piece last week. I have stitched quite a few works in this style. In this case it was partly to use up the remains of some Paternayan wool threads.IMG_0561I first came across this type of Bargello work in Brenda Day’s book, Bargello – a fresh approach to Florentine embroidery. This lovely book includes a design for a zebra cushion. I have never made the cushion, but have subsequently used the zebra pattern idea for many pieces.

The fabric is a 16ct Aida in white. The threads are all from the Paternayan wool range. I used a mixture of blues and yellows.  Sometimes I draw an outline of a design on the fabric, but this time I just stitched away with no firm plan in mind. Quite pleasing working in this way for a change. The piece was completed in 11 hours. Nice easy stitching!

On holiday now, so a little gap in embroidery for a couple of weeks. Happy stitching!

Five Easy Pieces – Series 3 No 1

I keep returning to this compositional form again and again. As you can see from the title, this will be my third go. Previously the compositions were more or less symmetrical in some way. This time I have let myself go a bit wild. Still just five sections though.IMG_0470

I have with this one at least kept to the colour scheme of two related colours and a contrasting one, which would be used just once. Though in this case I didn’t have enough of one of the colours to use twice, so I ended up having to use the contrasting colour – green – twice. Gives a different look to the finished piece. But OK.

The fabric is a 18ct Aida in pale green. The threads are all from the Fine d’Aubusson range of merino wool. This is very fine wool and is made by La Route de la Laine for Au Ver à Soie. I used two strands of the yarn for the stitching.

The two central sections are stitched with three shades of pinkish colours. Though Fine d’Aubusson give them more exciting names – raspberries & cream, hot pink and magenta. For the bottom section I used three shades of Azalea/Rose. The contrasting sections are of course in greens.

The different Bargello patterns all have names, which is not always the case. They are – Ripples, Rondel, Pink Parfait, Diamond Panes and Mini Check.

I need to somehow stretch the fabric to make it as regular as possible and then think of what to do with it.

Three Bookmarks

This was a challenge set by the chair of our local branch of the Embroiderer’s Guild. A little something to keep us busy during the latter half of April, while the branch is no longer able to meet. I did three bookmarks as I had three suitably sized pieces of fabric available. For bookmarks I tend to use Aida band as the sides will not fray, so you only have to worry about the top and the bottom. Here they are.IMG_0461The first one features the heart motif, one of the many traditional motifs used in Palestinian embroidery.  I used a red and a light blue cotton thread from the old Clarks range. Two strands in cross stitch.

The middle bookmark is from a border pattern from Bargello Magic by Pauline Fischer and Anabel Lasker. For this I used a light and dark green thread from Anchor’s Tapestry wool range. Unusually for Bargello this pattern is stitched only with horizontal stitches, as opposed to the normal vertical stitches.

The final bookmark was a bit of an experiment. I wanted to do one with a Blackwork pattern. Usually I work Blackwork on a 30 or 32 count fabric. This time I was using a 16c count fabric. So the pattern comes across as much larger than normal.  The other experimental bit was to use a variegated thread, again not usual with Blackwork. Anyway I used one strand of the Tequila sunrise thread from Watercolours by Caron.

This was a simple, but fun challenge, with a end product that can actually be used. Most unusual for me. Happy stitching wherever you are.

Francavilla No 3

My next project during lockdown was to revisit one of my earliest pieces. This was one based on the tile pattern on the dome of the Chiesa Madre church in Francavilla Fontana in Puglia. Here is a view of the dome.P1010134zzWe were there in September 2008 in order to celebrate the second birthday of Alessio, our Swiss born grandson. His paternal grandparents came from Puglia in southern Italy, and his grandmother is from Francavilla itself, which is a busy little town with some beautiful buildings dating back to Roman times.

I was very impressed with the tiles on the dome, with their, to me, Islamic origin. So much so, that on my return to Scotland I decided to try and adapt this pattern for embroidery. Below is my first attempt at this.P1000112z 2

As you can see I used a very simple vertical stitch for most of the work with a very small horizontal stitch for the rest. It is almost a Bargello type pattern. As the pattern was based on the church in Francavilla, I decided to stick as closely as possible to the original colours – white, green and a reddish brown. For the embroidery I used Anchor tapestry wool. This was a trial attempt, which I liked. Since then I have used this same pattern and colours to stitch a larger scale piece. In fact I have made two pieces using this particular pattern and colour scheme. One of which I gave to Pompeia, Alessio’s Italian grandmother as a memento of her hometown.

Back to now. I have always been very fond of this pattern and reckoned it was time to revisit it. This time I wanted to use a completely different colour scheme.


As this was also a bit of a trial I limited myself to the smaller version, shown above. This time the yarn is a luxury silk from Debbie Bliss, made in Romania. I picked up some of this yarn at a sale in Pittenweem many years ago. This is a lovely, soft yarn, mainly used for knitting. I only have three colours in this yarn, so no choice. But the colours are really nice and bright – gold, red and purple.

I really like this version and may do it again on a larger scale. As regards this current piece, not sure what I will do with it. Happy stitching!

Red on Black Bargello

This latest piece is a rather unusual Bargello project. The basic design comes from a placard I saw on a TV programme about fashion designer Issey Miyake. I have used this design twice before, which you can see here and here. This time I wanted to made a bold statement so I used red threads on a black fabric.IMG_0394The photo doesn’t do justice to the piece as somehow it looks narrower on the right, which is not the case. Anyway it gives a good idea of the work. The fabric is a 16ct Aida in black. The threads are from the Paternayan Persian yarn range – a light and a very light Christmas red. I used two shades as I wanted the pattern of the Bargello to stand out, and I felt this was more likely with two shades.  To get the fabric fully covered, or at least as fully as possible, I used two strands of the wool.

Stitching on black is quite the challenge! All too easy to miss the right mesh. I needed to hold the piece up to the light to get any chance of getting this right. Worth it though as it does make a statement. The stitched area is 29.5cm x 9.5cm and it took me 23.5 hours of stitching over 15 days to complete the work.

Not sure if the final version will be as shown above or the more usual vertical version. I plan to attach a light backing to the fabric and then fold over the black edges so that only the black spaces between each row will show. Will try this first, but perhaps leaving a little black fabric all round may be better at framing the red. Time will tell.


Bargello in Reds and Turquoise

I have been quite busy, embroidery wise, recently. I had two projects on the go and then had to devote myself to a commission of sorts. Unpaid commission of course. I have managed to get myself involved in a group working on a Dundee Tapestry. As part of their work of securing funding from trusts etc they wanted a couple of samples of what the tapestry might look like. So, as the only embroiderer at their last meeting I got landed with this task. Not particularly difficult, but a bit time consuming. I can’t show any photos of this work as the group has still to get copywrite permissions.  The two samples were Denis the Menace and the Strathmartine Stone, which features some Pictish drawings. They look pretty good, so I hope to be able to show them some time in the future.

Back to my ongoing projects. One is now completed – a free form bargello design in reds and turquoise.  Here it is.IMG_0301The fabric is my usual 18ct Aida in pale green. For the thread I used one strand of Paternayan Persian wool, a lovely, soft yarn. The three reds are from their Christmas red collection, whilst the two turquoises are part of their Caribbean blue series.

As with most of these free form bargello pieces the pattern emerges as I go along. There is no design to follow. It is a fun way to work, though it does require a bit of thinking ahead. Just to make sure that there is a reasonable balance among the reds.

While I was working on this project I remembered I had done something similar with the two turquoise threads. Checking back I discovered that in March I had in fact completed another free form bargello. Then the base colour was purple. As with the current piece, the threads are all from the Paternayan Persian wool range. For some reason I didn’t post about that piece, so here it is now.IMG_8735All goes to show just how easy it is for me to forget what I have done only a few months ago! Old age is beginning to show, alas. Anyway happy stitching everyone.

Bargello Interrupted 3

Yesterday I finally succeeded in finishing my latest Bargello piece. I have titled it Bargello Interrupted as the bargello patterns are broken up by various lines. This is the third time I have used this particular composition. For the previous two I used cotton threads. This time I went for wool threads. Here is the finished work.IMG_9858I decided on wool threads as this gives the finished work a more substantial look and the threads pretty much fully cover the fabric. This is a 16 count Aida in white. The wool threads are Fine d’Aubusson, a very fine merino wool from Au ver à Soie in France. It is a lovely wool to work with and to ensure I fully covered the fabric I used three strands of the wool. For the colour scheme I went for a mixture of violet and rose.

The dark blue lines are the interruptions.  In the previous versions of this composition these lines were just vertical or horizontal stitches in keeping with bargello embroidery. This time I wanted to try something a bit different and the two horizontal and vertical lines are made up of a simple diagonal stitch over two meshes, using one strand of thread. It worked well for the horizontal lines but not so well with the vertical lines. The stitching was fine, but I guess the extra thickness of the three stands of wool meant that when the bargello stitches were added the vertical lines got a bit compressed. Will need to think about this if I repeat the composition.

The wavy lines are stitched with split stitch, using two strands of thread. For this, and the vertical and horizontal lines, I used cotton threads from the Caron Watercolours range of variegated threads. Blueberry is the name of the thread and though variegated, there are only very subtle colour changes.

All in all I rather like the finished piece. It took me 18 hours over 12 days to complete the stitching. The size of the piece – 21.5cmx17cm – was designed to fit into the frame, which I had acquired from a charity shop.

I am already working on my next piece which features two traditional Palestinian embroidery motifs – carnations and snails.