My main embroidery thing for the last year or so has been brickstitch, a counted thread technique common in 13th-14th century Germany. The repeating patterns makes it an excellent technique to do in front of the tv or while listening to audiobooks, as you don't have to give the embroidery your full concentration. Or, at least not after the first two pattern repeats or so.
There are several different patterns used in the original textiles, and a good number has been charted by fellow enthusiasts, such as from Kathy Storm
and Richard Wymarc
(among others). Some of the original pouches and altar frontals can be found in museums such as the Met or the V&A, but otherwise you are limited to those illustrated in Kroos' book Niedersächsische Bildstickereien des Mittelalters
(1970). Unless of course you live near one of the monasteries in Germany which still own and display a few of the embroideries.
To experiment with different patterns I've done some needle books. Two of them were intended as leaving presents for two friends from Thamesreach (London), soon to be residing in An Tir (NW Canada/USA). Since they have now received the needle books, I can (finally) show the pictures.
The patterns are drafted by Kathy Storm (Patterns #2
), and embroidered in 60/2 spun silk from Handweaver’s studio
. The border is made using lussenvlechten
, where two loops of yarn are sewn to the fabric. I have no idea what this is called in English, so you'll have to make do with the Dutch term. Machteld from Medieval Silkwork has done a good tutorial of lussenvlechten
, which was very helpful to me.
The fastening loops were made by the leftovers of the lussenvlechten, and as I conveniently used four strands in each colour, this translated as an eight-loop fingerloop braid
with the following pattern: right 1 to left 4, right 4 to left 1, right 2 to left 3, right 3 to left 2. Repeat. What is important here, as not to repeat my mistakes, is to cut the loops open before you begin, untangle them and re-knot the loops. If you don't untangle them, and think that surely it must be possible to tighten the fingerloops enough while making the braid, you will find that you are wrong.This is how it's supposed to look. Note that the braid starts just at the needle book.And this is a sign of my optimism. The braid starts after a few millimetres of twisted yarn.