Updated January 15, 2022
Over the next few days, I’ll be rerunning the articles covering this great Blackwork project.
Today we’ll start stitching the Bath Mosaic. The chart for this week will cover the central medallion, the square around it and the first two borders.
The chart is shown in parts, in a small size below. To get the full-sized charts, click on the picture below. To help you find your place, each chart builds on the other ones.
The design, when stitched on Congress Cloth is stitched uses one strand of silk. If you are using 18 mesh canvas use two strands.
The key to the charts is as follows: blue squares – blue Needlepoint Inc 325, red squares – terra cotta Splendor S925, green squares – gray Splendor S920
The design uses Tent Stitch and Blackwork only. Since the Tent Stitches are only single or in straight lines, Continental Stitch will be the best choice. This will give the most coverage on the back and will prevent the stitches from disappearing on the canvas. The blackwork on the model was done continental style, always moving the needle up in a clean hole and down in a dirty hole. You could also do this as Double Running Stitch or Backstitch. I like the thicker look Backstitch gives blackwork because of the greater coverage on the back.
A note about the chart: I had great difficulty in rendering the chart and finally ended up doing it in the way it makes most sense to me. The central medallion and all curvy lines are charted like regular blackwork (i.e. the lines of the stitches are on the lines of the paper). Tent Stitches always take up squares on the charts. Because of this, you should check the counts on each border with your needle before beginning to stitch a side or section. Blackwork is terrible to unstitch on Congress Cloth!
To make the central medallion, begin in the center of the pattern. This is only a single Tent Stitch in blue. Four canvas threads from it begins the “sun” pattern in terra cotta. Make the circle of Tent Stitches first. Then add the backstitching over two threads in each direction. Use terra cotta for these stitches.
Now you can begin the first set of curves. The straight lines at the compass points begin one thread up from the sun’s rays and go over four threads. They are made up of two backstitches over two threads. I put these in first. Then I did each section of the curve. Generally, they use a 2 and 1 slope and curve around the area. Stitch the area in the same blue as the center stitch. For the innermost blue line, the central stitch in the curve is shorter.
Once you have completed the blue curves, you will do the first circle of “flower petals” in terra cotta. Do the edge of the petals in Blackwork first. Later you can fill them in with Tent Stitches. I have only charted the Blackwork edge of the petals so you could see the design more clearly.
Next make the outer row of petals in blue. It has a single Tent Stitch at each point.
This completes the central medallion (curvy part).
Now you are ready to square the central medallion, making the first border and corners. Unlike the central medallion, here the Backstitches are done over a single thread of canvas. This is where doing Backstitch in the continental style will really make your life easier. It creates a much stronger line because stitches do not disappear. This line of stitching is one thread beyond the outermost points of the petals. I began in the middle of a side and worked around. Once you have completed the square you can do the squares in each of the corners.
This chart illustrates the proper method to make Backstitches for this project. By stitching front to back the coverage on the back is thicker than the coverage on the front, making a stronger line.
As you work on the borders, the best method is to lay down the innermost line of the border first. Then determine the location of the outermost line and stitch it. Now using your unthreaded needle, count to find the locations of the border pattern. I make sure the count is right by slightly moving the threads of the canvas out of the way wherever there will be a stitch. That way it is easier to figure out if the count is correct. The Blackwork on this border is stitched in blue. The Tent Stitches are blue and terra cotta.
The second border is two threads beyond the first border. This one has only an outside line. Stitch it and then put in Tent Stitches in terra cotta next to it, every other stitch, all around the square. You will note on the chart that the stitches meet at the corners.
Put the inside line of the third border three threads beyond the second border. In order to place the outside border I put in the corner crosses first. This lets me know where the outside line for the border should be. I next stitched that in.
This border looks to me like a bunch of books, lined up with the spines at the back. This border is not even; one block on each side is three threads instead of four. It is easy to discover these kinds of problems and adjust for them before you stitch if you count the pattern out.