Embroidery primer.

FRENCH KNOT

Bring the thread out at the required position, hold the thread down where it emerges with the left thumb and encircle the thread twice with the needle (see A). Still holding the thread firmly with your thumb, twist the needle back to the starting point and insert it close to where the thread first emerged (not in the exact place or it will simply pull back through). Pull the needle through to the back, leaving a small knot on the surface, as shown, or pass on to the position of the next stitch as at B.

BACK STITCH

Bring the thread through on the stitch line and then take a small backward stitch through the fabric. Bring the needle through again a little in front of the first stitch, then take another stitch, inserting the needle at the point where it first came through. In blackwork, a single back stitch is usually worked over one block on aida, over two threads on a single-thread evenweave, or over one pair of threads on 22 count Hardanger fabric.

However, when working on aida, a single stitch may need to be longer to avoid having to pierce through the centre of a block.

BUTTONHOLE STITCH

Bring the thread out on the lower line, insert the needle in position in the upper line and take a straight downward stitch, keeping the working thread under the point of the needle. Pull up the stitch to form a loop and repeat.

COUCHING STITCH

Lay down the thread to be couched, and with another thread catch it down with small stitches worked over the top.

BROAD CHAIN STITCH

Bring the needle up at A and make a small straight stitch to B. Bring the needle up again 0.5 cm below B at C, and pass the needle under the straight stitch (not through the fabric) from right to left, taking it down again at C. Bring the needle through again at D and pass the needle under the loop you have just created, taking it down again at D. Continue in this way, following the design line.

ROMANIAN COUCHING

To work Romanian couching, a straight stitch is made across the ground material and the needle and thread re-emerge to stitch the long thread down on the return journey (see diagram). The oversewing stitches are long, and placed close to the main yarn.

SEEDING

This filling stitch is made up of small straight stitches of equal length placed at random over the surface.

Choosing and creating your own patterns can be a challenge. I am a big fan of inspiration-shopping on flickr… How to copy a design onto fabric.
How to learn even more basic stitches.
A first lesson in drawn thread embroidery from The Heritage Shoppe. This is a 9 page pdf file.
For the embroidery experts, the “forbidden stitch” tutorial should be of interest.
Stitches in laid work: The Plaited Stitch.
A Nine-Lesson Tutorial in Needlelace from The Heritage Shoppe.
“How to do a Hardanger” instruction booklet.

Once you have a few stitches under your belt, you can take advantage of the many free patterns, designs, and tutorials online. A few of the prettiest I’ve found:

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