I am teaching my first class in blackwork embroidery at Twelfth Night in the Canton of Ealdonordwuda on at 2:00 pm on January 7th, 2012, and my next class will be at Val Day on February 11 in the Canton of Three Hills! The class is an introduction to the beautiful blackwork embroidery popular during the 16th century. Students will receive a small kit with everything they need to make a simple needlebook case, including:
Students will have the choice to use either the Aida cloth or the linen cloth (it’s easier to see the threads on the Aids cloth, but the linen cloth is actually period-appropriate) as well as the choice to make a small design or a more elaborate one. It’s possible to start with the simple design and move to the more elaborate design if it’s appealing. Here is the simple design on Aida cloth, which I anticipate can be completed within the space of my class:
The blackwork design on my needlebook is based on the blackwork collar seen in the miniature of Mrs Jane Small by Hans Holbein in 1536. I did alter the pattern very slightly to depict a small heart rather than a cross inside the diamond, but otherwise I believe it appears very similar.
I’ve charted the pattern out so that it can be stitched to appear the same on the reverse side of the fabric, too! Here is the reverse of the simple diamond-and-heart design:
When the needlebook is complete, it fits neatly inside the lid of the wooden box, which an in turn be used as a small sewing kit!
Concepts that will be taught during the class and/or covered in the booklet:
- Brief history of blackwork
- Stitches employed in blackwork embroidery (backstitch, Holbein, etc.)
- Materials required (fabric, thread, needle, etc.)
- How to count threads in fabric
- How to wax and thread the needle
- How to start with a “waste knot” and how to finish to minimize knots and tails
- How to stitch a reversible design
- Tips and tricks (lighting, posture, untwisting thread, pattern marking, etc.)
There is no fee for the blackwork kit. Students should bring a pair of scissors and reading glasses if they need help to see small things up close. There is a limit of 12 kits (first come, first serve), but observers are welcome. This is the actual class description as it appears on the Class Schedule:
Blackwork Embroidery Make-and-Take
Instructor: Lady Genoveva von Lübeck
Ever been curious about the stunningly detailed blackwork embroidery popular during the later periods? In this class you will learn the basic techniques of blackwork, including the Holbein (double running) stitch and backstitch, and tips on preparing your ground cloth, starting and stopping stitches, and using beeswax to strengthen and aid stitching. No embroidery experience necessary! Also covered will be a brief history and ideas on finding historically-based patterns. Participants will receive a “make-and-take” blackwork kit that includes everything you need to make a small needlebook with a blackworked embroidery cover (thread, needle, cloth, and instructional booklet). Please bring a pair of scissors and magnifying glasses if you have any difficulties seeing up close (I will have a couple of these on hand if necessary, too).
Class limit: 12 for hands-on and kits, but watchers are always welcome.
I’m really excited about teaching this class, and I hope I get to pass on what I’ve learned to others.
Update: My first class was a success! So far I have seen evidence that four of my students completed their blackwork kits at home, which thrills me to no end! Read about it here.