Sunday, April 3, 2011

Quite the Stitch-up

Close-up of a queen-stitch pinball
in the Winterthur Collections

During my visit to Winterthur last weekend, I spent a lot of time with some absolutely gorgeous needlework pieces. Actually, I spent so much time with them that I joked to Tyler that he should have brought a book to read while I photographed everything in sight. He didn't contradict me.

There's a wonderful variety of work in those sequestered rooms, but one type of needlework that I found to be very prevalent can be seen above in the photograph of an extant pinball. At the time, I may have said, "Look, Tyler, it's more of that funny eyelet-y stitch!" Upon further investigation, I found that it's something called a Queen Stitch. I've also seen it called the Rococo Stitch and the Renaissance Stitch, but most commonly "queen stitch."

In all the examples I saw at Winterthur, the stitch in question was worked as "ground cover," so to speak, with any blank spaces (such as on this pinball) being part of the design, rather than dead space.

Queen stitch sampler
Winterthur Collections

Keeping in mind that I am abysmal at needlework, I decided to give it a try. I like the look of it, and I have a thing for pinballs. However, since I'm not sure I've got the fortitude to actually undertake a whole project, I asked my mom for some materials. She does Hardanger embroidery, so I borrowed some 22-count fabric and sz 8 Perle cotton to try my hand.

I used the directions found here, and the diagram for the queen stitch heart linked at the bottom. It took me about half a heart to find a method that was most comfortable for me, and I actually found it easier to work the stitch sideways than upright. All in all, though, I don't think it turned out too badly.

A bit chunky, but not bad!

If I were to take on a project, say, doing a repro pinball or pocketbook, I would use an even-weave linen with a slightly larger gauge, and a finer thread. However, for an experiment that took half an hour at most and cost nothing, I'd call it a success!


  1. It turned out lovely! That half an hour was well spent!

  2. Oh wow! What a great close up! Nice work on the sample, too. Did you ever make one up?

    1. I've started one, but it's been slow going! I started this at an event in August, and am slowly making progress. I've been experimenting to figure out the scale, too, so that's been interesting. We'll see how my follow through is--I'm notoriously bad when it comes to attention span. :P