This week’s block is called Star Cross and features Blackwork. It completes the row with Box and Spool.
Blackwork is a great needlepoint technique and ideas for blackwork patterns can be found just about everywhere. This simple variation of the basic Nine-Patch block uses two different blackwork patterns, relieved by triangles of Tent Stitch. The five squares are stitched using the vintage color of Kreinik braid in a pattern of interlocking squares taken from Chinese latticework. Close examination of this pattern shows that it forms a tiny nine-patch pattern where the squares intersect, making this blackwork design a reflection of the basis for the piece as a whole.
The four triangle blocks are done using two strands of DMC floss in a triangle pattern.
The materials used for this block are:
- Kreinik Tapestry (#12) braid in 026V
- DMC floss 776
- Impressions 1091
In this pattern, all stitches go over two threads of canvas. When stitching Blackwork on canvas, always use mono canvas or Congress cloth (since so much canvas is exposed, this looks best). Because of the loose weave of mono canvas, stitches will need to go over at least two threads of canvas in order to keep them from disappearing under the canvas threads.
There are two methods to doing blackwork. The preferred method is to use the Double Running Stitch (pictured below). In this method you make two trips to complete each line in the pattern. Every other stitch is done in the first pass. The missing stitches are filled in on the second pass. The great thing about Double Running Stitch is that all the stitching and the backs of the stitches are in straight lines, so it looks very neat and clean. Even tension can be a problem when beginning to use this method.
The other method of doing blackwork is to do it only in Backstitches, completing each stitch in the line in one pass (pictured below). With backstitch there are areas where thread crosses from one motif to another or where the back is not a complete line.
Since first of all needlepoint is supposed to be fun, either method works for this piece. If you want to learn more about blackwork, my book, Blackwork Beauties (available here for $15), has two large sampler pieces as well as a number of smaller projects.
Begin this block by stitching the background areas using Impressions (charted below).
Now stitch the five square patches. These are all done using the Kreinik and the interlocking squares pattern charted below.
The diagram is of the pattern as a whole. For the center block use a large square as the center and work the interlocking squares out to the corners. For the corner blocks, use one of the areas of five small interlocking squares as the center. But other orientations are possible, just be sure all four corners match.
Fill in the diamond-shaped patches in the center of each side with the blackwork pattern shown above using two strands of the DMC floss. The triangles can look more filled by using three strands instead of just two. In general blackwork threads should be about the same thickness as a canvas thread for the best effect. Although it does not need to be, this pattern can be centered. On the top and bottom, run the straight lines horizontally, centering them in the area. The lines should run vertically on the left and right diamonds. Decisions like this come naturally to quilters and are important to the overall look of the piece. Making sure the same area of the design is used in all the same patches adds to the integrity of the design and sets up a nice repetition.
Do not forget to add the Cliff’s Stitch Border around the patch when it has been stitched. The chart for Cliff’s Stitch is found on page 4. Do not add this border to the right edge of this patch, it will have the wider quilted border added at the end.
Follow the entire project on-line: