The Project Pages

Klosterstich projects

by Christian de Holacombe

PROJECT 1: Needlebook or notebook

If you’re looking for a “bite sized” project to try klosterstich for yourself, a small square needlebook or notebook is something that’s always useful and doesn’t take long to do. Here’s one made by Kathy Stormberg from Crosston. She has combined a frame and a central 5-petaled rose from the Malterer tapestry to make a nice little design.

 

Hers is rectangular, but it’s just as easy to make a square one, and perhaps slightly easier to draw square diagrams. I’ve drawn a diagram for a square frame and central rose from the same sources (the diagrams from this issue will also be available online in the WKneedle Yahoo group’s Filum folder).

Above is Racaire’s diagram for Klosterstich. Drawing 1 shows the laying down of the single long vertical thread that will be couched down in the next step. Drawing 2 shows the couching stitches, which are taken in the same direction as the twist of the plied yarn.

Below are pictures of one of Racaire’s stitching samples, showing the right and wrong sides of the stitching. This gives you an idea of a good length and spacing for the couching stitches. This is something that varies quite a lot in the historical pieces: some are very closely stitched with tiny stitches and others use fewer or longer stitches. It seems to be a matter of individual style. You can tell from the reverse side of both Racaire’s and the historical pieces that the couching stitches tend to be taken at more or less regular intervals, at approximately the same places in each row.

A little bookmaking

Making the finished embroidery into a needlebook is easy. Embroidery for the front can be done on a scrap of heavy linen about an inch larger than the needlebook all around. If the back is embroidered, both front and back can be done together on a rectangular piece, or the back can simply be covered with fabric. The finished cover can be pressed and lined, perhaps with some light stiffening between the layers, then folded in half to create the book. Pages cut from felt or wool can be attached with a few stitches at the book’s spine.

Making this project into a small notebook is also easy and practical, especially as a gift for someone who doesn’t sew. The front and back embroideries can be stretched over cardboard to make firmer covers, and each square can be lined. The two squares can be joined by stitching them to the edges of a piece of ribbon, creating a “spine” for the little book. Several pieces of paper can be trimmed to a slightly smaller size than the covers laid out flat, then folded and stitched through the middle to form pages. The little booklet can then be stitched to the middle of the ribbon spine.

PROJECT 2: Embroidered cuffs

Racaire’s own first project in klosterstich was a pair of embroidered cuffs for a gown (seen here finished, but not cut out and applied to the dress). The pattern for these is taken from the vine with red and white roses (enlarged at the bottom of this page) that forms the left-hand border of the Tristan tapestry.

Like many historical embroideries, the pattern for the original seems to have been drawn more or less freehand, perhaps with templates used for the rose and leaf, placed freely within the curves of the vine with leaves fitted in around them. As you can see, neither Racaire’s drawing or the one below are exact copies of the original. If you’ve always depended on patterns or exact diagrams for your needlework in the past, this is a good opportunity to try designing in a style that is a little freer and more “improvisational!”

The back side of the cuff embroidery

 

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This particular web page last updated on December 14, 2008.