This week’s block is called Greek Cross and it goes on one side of the last row to be filled. After this there are only 2 more lessons to complete the project. A Greek cross is one where all arms are the same length (i.e. the Red Cross symbol); this makes it well suited to patchwork. My Scrap Bag Needlepoint book has another Greek Cross pattern in it (available here).
Greek Cross is another simple block design where the large areas of the central cross and the side triangles are perfect for another simple and effective technique — laidwork. Laidwork often looks like fancy crewelwork, where intense patterns are surrounded by areas of plain cloth. Because the canvas shows behind almost all laidwork, this is a place to show off colored canvas and bright threads, especially metallics.
In general, laidwork is best used for the main part of the piece. However, if you choose threads which are close to the color of the background canvas, or which match it exactly, laidwork can be a very effective background technique. In these cases the technique would add texture to the background without adding much color and while still looking light.
This block uses the following materials:
- Felicity’s Garden 050 – Lavender
- Kreinik #16 cord 012C
- Thread Gatherer Silk ‘n’ Colors – SNC 065 Desert Dawn
- Impressions 1095 (background)
Laidwork is always a two step technique. Begin by laying down a grid of some sort which will then be tied down by additional threads stitched in a decorative pattern. The grid can be horizontal, vertical or, more rarely, diagonal. Sometimes, like the corners here, all the laid stitches go in one direction. Sometimes, as in the cross, the laid threads make a grid.
All the laid (base) stitches are done using the Kreinik metallic cord. These stitches completely cover the area, going from one side to the opposite side with no breaks. When stitching the base, keep virtually all the thread on the front of the canvas. To do this begin the second stitch on the same side of the area where the first stitch ended. This is different than the usual way of making needlepoint stitches and may take some getting used to, but it will make the work much neater and lighter in feeling.
Lay down the base according to the chart below.
Although the ties can be stitched at this point, it is easier to stitch the background next. Doing this provides places to start and stop threads and to move from row to row (as in the pulled work and pattern darning blocks). Doing portions of the background around open areas of stitching is a useful idea when using open techniques like laidwork, pattern darning and blackwork. It helps define the open spaces and provides a handy place to hide the beginnings and endings of the thread.
Stitch the background in Basketweave.
For the ties, use the multicolored silk for the central cross and the lavender silk/wool for the corners. The chart on the below shows the ties.
Begin by tying down the central cross. These intersections are covered by diagonal stitches. Since the ties are in a multicolored thread, make them in rows (either vertically or horizontally) in a consistent fashion throughout the cross. Since the ties go from one side of the intersection (and over the laid thread) do not worry about moving the laid threads out of the way. This is the simplest form of laidwork, where the stitches cover the base thread, but do not need to be tucked under additional threads.
Finally, stitch the corners, where the interaction of the more solid laid stitches and the blocks of ties gives this pattern a woven look. The contrast in texture between the laid thread and the ties enhances this, although it can’t be seen very well in the picture.
In this pattern the blocks of tying threads are covered by laid threads both at the top and bottom of each stitch. To make this look neat, be sure that the needle does not catch the laid threads but comes out from under them. This is not hard to do; move the covering threads out of the way with a finger or the tip of a laying tool, when the needle goes into or out of the canvas.
If you are interested in learning more about laidwork or want additional patterns, Jean Taggert wrote an excellent book (now out of print) called Laid Fillings for Evenweave Fabrics. It is currently out of print, but snap up a copy if you can find one.
Follow the entire project on-line: