Take a Stitch Tuesday 2012: Week 5 – Herringbone Stitch

February 5, 2012 at 11:59 am | Posted in Embroidery | 4 Comments
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The fifth week of TAST 2012 brings us Herringbone Stitch. Another one of those stitches where I wasn’t quite sure what to do with it. So, as usual, I started with the obvious:

After those first two lines I didn’t want to continue with more lines, so I looked for other ideas. In search for inspiration I remembered one of my favourite Project Gutenberg Ebooks. Art in Needlework is basically an embroidery textbook, going systematically through the different kinds of stitches and their variations. One of the fun parts: the book often shows the backside of a sampler in addition to the front, giving a very good idea about how the stitches are worked even before reading the extensive description. So here’s the herringbone stitch sampler:

Two things caught my eyes here: the variations where the stitches in the back are going from side to side (E in the sampler) and the leaves in closed herringbone stitch. So I stitched I leaf, which I quite like, and a line in the side-to-side version. I thought a bit whether to include this one: is this even a variation of the same stitch? What I see as a defining point for herringbone stitch is that each stitch overlaps the previous one. While that other version for me looks more like a fishbone than the traditional one, only the second stitch overlaps the first, and the third one doesn’t overlap either. I guess I could think about that for hours without getting to a result, but at the end, it’s the result that counts, and knowing which stitch to use for what effect.


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  1. I just wanted to say that I admire your patience and skill. I have been reading each of these stitch experiment posts, and, while maybe it doesn’t seem warranted, I’m impressed. I seldom have patience to just experiment with these things, if I’m investing time, I’m working on a big project, whether I’ve utilized required skills before or not, I’ll figure it out as I go. But, as I see what you do here, taking the time to try the same stitch a variety of ways, with each result almost looking like a different stitch (to me, as I don’t embroider all that much), I can certainly see the benefits to such experimentation. And those leaves, this one and last post’s, are beautiful. 🙂

  2. I especially like your use of Herringbone as a means to couch the ribbon. Very pretty.

    I also am reminded with your notes on showing the back of stitching that another use of Herringbone is in “Shadow Work,” where you do the Herringbone as a filler inside outlined pattern on the back in colors and let the pale essence of the stitching indicate the color and pattern on the front. It is beautiful (when someone other than me does it!)

  3. i like wehre you’ve used to couch ribbon – thats pretty

  4. your work is beautiful, and it’s very interesting so see the back of your embrodery. It is very clear. My backs are even a mess

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