Blackwork embroidery is easy!  If you have a couple of minutes, I can show you how:

Gather your materials: colourful silk or cotton floss, (blackwork doesn’t have to be black)  Aida or Evenweave fabric, scissors, and a tapestry needle.

stitching materials
stitching materials

Each line on the pattern is a stitch on your fabric, in a straight line up, down or across.

Where the graph lines cross, that is the hole in your fabric.

the stitch outlined in red

stitching straight

A stitch can be on a diagonal:

diagonal stitch
Diagonal stitch on outline

Sometimes there’s a half stitch:

This is where your fabric forms a square, so it may be easier to

poke a hole in the fabric with a sharp needle

before completing the fractional stitch

Half stitch

 There are also long stitches:

Long stitch
Long stitch

Stitch the outline of the pattern object first.

Use one strand of floss for all stitches if you are using different coloured flosses for the outline and the fill pattern.

If you are using the same colour for both the outline and the fill pattern, then use two strands of floss for the outline and one strand of floss for the fill pattern, so that there is some contrast between the two.

Continue stitching the fill patterns.

stitching in progress

That’s it, you’re stitching blackwork!

If you’ve ever cross-stitched, then you will recognize this as a backstitch.

The traditional stitch for Blackwork embroidery is a Holbein Stitch, where you skip a stitch after every stitch, then turn around and fill in the missed stitches. This allows you to create the same pattern on both sides of the fabric.

When working with variegated threads, I find it easiest to stitch a backstitch because this keeps the stitches grouped together, and the colour changes in the floss flow nicely.

There are free patterns here and also here, to give you a start.

Happy stitching! 🙂

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