Mom always says, "never cut a knot, always untie it. If you can't figure out how to untie a knot, you'll never figure out how to solve your problems."

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

a stitch is just a stitch or a stitch

Long short stitch::Split back stitch

 My post today is  to show a bit of an "experiment" I did in response to a post at Jude's Magic Diary.  November 22nd. Jude did a video on dense stitching where she discussed filling in the negative space with her split back stitch.  This prompted me to ask, in the comments, " i don't know if you noticed but on the cloth that i'm working on now, LEFT, the filled in figures are done in long and short stitch. as you point out the space does provide another element...lift, dimension and it does take a while. I'm going to try the split stitch on the next figure I will be filling in but i just wondered if you have an opinion on these two stitches, different contrast kind of thing." To which Jude responded,  " what i like about the split stitch is the spliting of the stitch actually, it connects the stitch in a more durable way and makes a more integrated surface. more like a woven tapestry without too much pattern in the stitch itself.  i kind of made it up before i even knew it was a stitch. i also like how splitting the stitch spreads the thread, widening it and also allowing you to shift the position of the thread by catching it, moving it into place and then anchoring it. it hugs the cloth really nicely." Therefore, I offer the image above as a demonstration of the two stitches next to one another. Jude also mention the suzani (no relation, ha...sorry about it but couldn't help myself) stitch as another stitch that adds density. November 22nd Magic entry (for members)

Visually the stitches might look the same but technically there are some differences that I have observed. The split back stitch for one is "easier" to do in the respect that the orientation of the stitches are consistent.  The long and short stitch has to be formed in such a manner that oddly shaped corners can easily throw off the pattern.  The long and short stitch is really done best on measure canvas, like needle point and crewel. One other observation that I made and want to stress, is Jude's suggestion to "thumb" press the stitch when you make it and before you "split" it.  I initially did not do that and then I took a closer look at Jude's example, watched the video from her sidebar stitch reference and noticed that she explains the pressing.  Once I started doing that it made a big difference.  Since you will be most likely using more that one strand of floss when doing this type of fill work, the strands can twist very easily - the stitch will not lay flat on the surface of the cloth and you end up with a "skinnier" look spot...and there is some loss of the tapestry effect that you would get otherwise.  There really is a lovely texture that is created with this method...but as Jude points out, it is a time consuming stitch and you will use a lot of thread so if you want to maintain the color of the area that you are working in, have a good supply of the color.  It is a silent, slow, calming stitch that takes concentration and therefore, for me, relaxing.  I can drown out most of the noise around me as I'm holding the cloth and focusing on that little patch between hands, cloth, thread and myself. 

 I'm showing a few example of the stitches just to illustrate the technique:

           stitch comparison
I am also include the stem stitch here because that is what I used to outline the figures.  It is another stitch that my mother used a lot and taught me.  She was an absolutely magician with the Long and Short stitch.  Today sadly her hands and mind don't have the patience for such detailed work...but the clothes hold their memories well.
 I am going to have a detailed update on my cloth and memory, which I was to include here but decided to keep it separate.  But in the interim here is a shot of a corner I just finished, hoping to catch your fancy.

Can a shadow cast her own shadow back?
The "boxed" shadow is done in split back stitch,
whereas the retreating shadow is done in
Long and Short stitch. 


  1. the dense stitching is just magnificent. i love the texture it creates. and the corner looks fabulous. can't wait to see this when it's finished. i can picture it in my mind's eye.

  2. well the split back stitch is certainly dense... i love the way the stitches you've chosen contrast with one another. the overall effect i potent - they speak volumes. xoxo

  3. WOW! What amazing texture you've created here! I'm loving the corner too.

  4. I too love the dense stitching you are using to create your own tapestry.

    I too am much inspired by the suzani stitching - that bokhara couching that is so closely packed it looks like weaving. I have used it a little, but would like to use it in a larger way.

    Your post was very informative. I have used the stem stitch as a filling stitch - packing it in so that it looks like cloth, yet also looks like drawing depending on what kind of thread is used.

    I have never tried the stem stich - but now I will thanks to this post.

    Good work, and thanks for your intelligent blog.

  5. i like this piece...i will go back and read! sometimes i get too excited by images that i have to make myself go back and read.


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