Blackwork Needle Book: Adapted from a Pattern from Ensamplario Antlantio by Countess Ianthe d’Averoigne
Over the last few weeks, I’ve really been enjoying blackwork embroidery. It all started when I attempted to embroider a smock in a 16th century painting, and in researching it, decided that it must be blackwork. (It turns out I was wrong — it’s goldwork.) My first completed project was a little winged heart that I stitched onto the canvas cover of my packbasket. Then I moved on to the blackwork favor for Gregor. Still not satiated, I created a tiny wool-and-linen needlecase. And now I’m working on a full-blown caul with traditional blackwork and Elizabethan plaited braid stitching. I’m just loving this!
But today I want to talk about that little needle book I made. I love this thing. It was so simply to make — it took just a few hours — and it sits on my desk everyday, looking all cheerful and cute. All it took was a bit of leftover wool, some counted linen, some suitable thread, and a needle. All of these were just hanging about the studio, which made it very easy to make.
The design on the front of the needle book is adapted from Ensamplario Atlantio by Countess Ianthe d’Averoigne. Specifically, I was inspired by plate 19 (pattern 114) because, with a little modification, the center design could form four hearts. (Remember, I am using a winged heart for my device.) It was a joy to stitch!
The book I mention, Ensamplario Atlantio , is actually freely available online as a PDF at the author’s web site, String-Or-Nothing.com. The book is 40 pages long, with 35 plates of designs — over 220 or so individual all-over or filling patterns for double running stitch embroidery. The author is a Mistress of the Laurel for her blackwork embroidery. Her web site is FULL of wonderful ideas, projects, and musings on the subject. She is a real treasure, and I am grateful she’s chosen to share her passion with us through her web site and this book. Now if only I could get my hands on a copy of The New Carolingian Modelbook, but alas it goes for over $100 on the used book market now. I wish she could offer that book as a PDF — I would happily pay $20 or more for it. I wonder if she retained the rights to it, or can get them. Hmm, I should ask her! (Edited: Done!)
Anyway, I’m now looking for historically accurate patterns to put into the squares I’ve stitched on my caul, such as flowers, animals, or other things embroidered in the 16th century.