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!

A (slightly) unusual 4way bargello

This was to be my final small piece to get me over the holiday period. Alas it turned out to be not quite so small. With one thing and another I have only managed to finish the stitching today. It is another Four Way Bargello piece from Dorothy Kaestner’s wonderful book of the same name.  However as you will see it is slightly different. IMG_7341

Regular, common garden four way patterns are in the shape of a square.  While this one is very clearly a rectangle. Which means that the four way pattern only emerges at both ends. In compensation the centre is somewhat elongated. There are a few of these patterns in the book, which Dorothy Kaestner refers to as a bench as opposed to the usual square.

My original idea was to do a very, very much simplified version of the pattern. But once I got started and discovered that I had enough fabric to more or less complete the whole pattern in the book, I was hooked. I am quite pleased with the finished piece, both the elongated shape and the colours.

The fabric is my usual 18ct Aida in light green. Most of the threads are Anchor cotton, thought a couple are from the DMC range. What I find interesting is that the ecru colour really stands out, though the outline is stitched with a dark wine colour. The very dark sections are not black, but black brown. This slightly softer black fits in better, I think, with the rest of the colours.

Christmas and New Year is well and truly over. At the moment I have only a very hazy idea of what projects will emerge over the year. Wish me luck!


I am currently working on my first attempt at Sashiko embroidery. This is a traditional Japanese form of embroidery, which was originally used by by rural communities as a way of recycling old textiles. It has now taken on a new life to become a popular craft as people try to keep alive traditions from the past. The project I am working on is a design for a cushion cover and is a pack that Emma brought back for me from her holiday in Japan.

Working from a pack is a good way to start with Sashiko, as everything you need is in the pack. The special strong needles, the cotton threads, a needle threader and the fabric – a very fine, 28 ct linen. Of even greater advantage for a beginner the pattern is pre-printed on the fabric. I have since discovered that this particular pattern is known in Japan as Hemp Leaf, apparently a very common and popular pattern. I am about half way through the work and here is a section.

IMG_1240 As you can see this version of the Hemp Leaf is well spaced out, again eminently suitable for a beginner. Traditionally Sashiko was stitched with white threads on indigo blue fabric. Mine is clearly a thoroughly modern style. The stitch itself is simple enough – a basic running stitch. The difficulty for me at least, is that you are expected to work without a frame of any kind. A further difficulty is that the needle is meant to be held still and the fabric pushed onto the needle in successive pleats at the same time. So far I have not mastered this art. I can just about manage two bits of fabric at the one time.

I am enjoying this adventure into the world of Sashiko embroidery, and will probably try some more. The simplicity of the designs is most attractive and similar in many ways to blackwork. I particularly like the white on blue combination. A good way to use up some of my stash of blue linen.

While away on holiday in Switzerland, visiting Emma and Alessio, I managed to keep up some embroidery.  I brought out material for a two more Four Way Bargello pieces. I finished off one, which I left behind with Emma. The other was almost complete, but I ran out of the grey thread and could not find a thread shop in Kilchberg. So I had to bring it back with me and finish it off here. Both are now ensconced in IKEA frames. I used the same design for both – tulip pattern from the book Four Way Bargello by Dorothy Kaestner. The first one was stitched with purple and yellow threads and the second with blue and orange threads. In both cases the background is in grey. I used three strands of Anchor cotton throughout. Here they are.IMG_1078 IMG_1232