A : A Tonal Column in Stitchery.
To make the tonal column I used 10 cnt white canvas and a variety of black and white threads and yarns.
2.1 I started at the top with black double knitting wool and small cross stitches. This made the threads sit tightly together and no white canvas showed through. I continued using the wool on it’s own for about 1/3 of the column. I changed the size of stitches at one point as I wondered what effect it would have on the white of the canvas. It made very little difference to the canvas although tiny specks of white can be seen.
I then changed to stranded cotton and started with 6 threads. I gradually reduced the number of black threads by 1 and added that amount of white cotton until I had no black and all white thread.
Getting closer to the bottom of the column I changed to white crewel yarn and did a bottom and top layer of cross stitch just for interest. I added some single strands of black cotton over the white where I felt it needed it to continue the flow of change from black to white.
2.2. I often feel the back of work is more interesting than the front!
B: Tonal Effects using the Technique of Blackwork.
Blackwork is new to me so before I started I looked for more information about it.
I liked the phrase ‘delicate and ingenious’ I found in Blackwork Embroidery Designs and Technique by (name).
Evidence of blackwork dates back to the 16th century. There is evidence of it in Hans Holbein the Elder’s works showing the intricate embroidery on clothing at the time. It is thought it developed in Spain and travelled across Europe when Catherine of Aragon married Henry VIII.
Basic stitches include running stitch, Holbein and back-stitch, double cross stitch and Algerian eye stitch.
There are so many stitches that can be used today to create more modern designs and I find the Readers Digest Compete Guide to Needlework is an excellent resource for different blackwork stitches and many other sewing techniques too. I bought mine in a second-hand store for £1.00. It is a first edition and in perfect condition. A lucky find as they cost around £20.00 normally. (I also bought its companion Complete Guide to Sewing for £1.00 too! )
I used graph paper to design my own blackwork patterns. I bought this graph paper years ago knowing I would need it one day! (It has Woolworth’s written on the front cover!)
No.1 shows a basic diamond shape which gradually evolved into something more complicated. It reminded me of tortoise shell. (I am thinking tortoises instead of birds now!)
No.2 started off with simple crossed lines and gradually added more lines eventually creating smaller crosses inside the larger ones.
No.3 I called spaced spirals. I added spiralling lines into the centre which became a cross stitch. This began gradually stretching out from the centre. I think this stitch pattern had a lot of potential for further development.
No.4 started with zigzags. I added single lines and then crosses as fillers between the zigzags. I added more bars to the crosses which finally turned into z’s. As I progressed into darker territory the pen slipped. This became what I called a displaced zigzag as it became part of the design.
I used 28 cnt Toile a broder and black stranded cotton for this chapter.
Blackwork Tonal Columns
For this exercise I used I used 28 cnt Toile a broder and black stranded cotton.
Column 1 uses my diamond design and shows the pattern developing to show a darker tone.
Column 2 is a variation of my 2nd design by using crosses and spacing of the stitches to show control of tone.
Column 3 is based on design 4 using zigzags. The strands of thread gradually increased from 1 to 6, to change the tone from bottom to top.
I enjoyed learning about blackwork and I would certainly use it again although it takes time and needs quite a lot of patience and concentration to get right on such closely woven fabric. I would probably adapt it to other fabrics and threads.