Blackwork is about as far from crewel work as one can get in terms of the number of stitches you have to do to cover an area of fabric. Each stitch is so tiny. It takes so many stitches to fill each shape. I stitch and stitch and stitch and then look at what I’ve accomplished and am stunned to see I’ve covered up about a 1/2″ square of fabric! You’d think – me not being the most patient person on the face of the earth – that I’d hate this. But you’d be wrong. I love it!


30 minutes of stitching


In my younger days at university I learned meditation (at the request of a boyfriend who no doubt wanted me to mellow out. Ha! Good luck with that endeavor!) I practice yoga today, which is a form of meditation for me, and both meditation and yoga put me in the same frame of mind that these tiny stitches do. It’s completely absorbing and requires relaxed concentration. The process is as important and rewarding as the finished product.

Here’s the pattern I’m working from (courtesy of String or Nothing). There is a definite mathematical element to blackwork and perhaps that’s why it’s so soothing.

I worked on this yesterday afternoon and evening and all of this afternoon. At a guess, 3 hours? I took Marney’s advice and stopped often enough to rest my eyes as they do get quite tired. But my brain doesn’t get weary and my patience never wears thin. Very interesting…not the reaction I expected when I began blackwork.

And it’s so tiny when it’s finished. I stitch using my magnifying lamp and only when I stop and look at my work away from the lens do I realize just how tiny everything is!

The heart I finished this afternoon is only a little larger than the hole in the handle of my embroidery scissors! It’s great überlegungszeit! (thinking time).

9 thoughts on “Überlegungszeit

  1. I love blackwork too, it is such a satisfying technique, but I do agree with you about the stitches being so tiny. i did yoga a lot of years ago, so might need to take it up again to learn a bit of patience. Great work…Love your blog.

  2. I totally agree with you about the comparison to meditation. I find that when I am couching beads or gold threads. I think that the rhythm of the stitching has something to do with it.

  3. I find that when hearing the sound of the needle / thread go through the drum tight linen I has a very soothing effect that brings peace.

  4. Kathy, this piece is turning out beautifully. I really like how you placed the blackwork pattern in the heart shape.
    I don’t do yoga, but do find that when I work on an embroidery piece in the evening, rather than watching TV, I sleep a lot better. Must be the meditation factor!

  5. OOH I’m thrilled. You are the first person checking in with a WIP using fills from the blackwork fill collection! I await further posts with gleeful anticipation.

    It’s interesting to note working style differences. I think of this pattern not as a series of waves with filling between, but as a march of stripes that get fatter and skinnier. So when I work it, I don’t work the stripes first like you do, filling in the lozenges. Instead I start on one stripe and work it in two sided logic, in double running – finishing up near where I started. Then I hop to the next stripe and do the same thing.

    For the record, both your logic and mine are perfectly correct. Just different.

    Again love your work. Hope this post (unlike my last one) sticks and shows up. -kbsalazar

  6. I am impressed as was my husband when he saw how small it was. He said he could cover the heart with his thumb. He has made remarks about my stitching before, but never about someone elses. I like the filling stitches and I bought the RNS Blackwork book and am willing to try to do somethings that are not ONLY geometric patterns.
    Stitching in itself is a meditation for me. My mother is a quilter and she says the same thing. she used to get up 2 hrs early just so she could quilt before going to work (in a very hectic office). I guess I learned it from her! GO MOM!!!

    • Hi Cathy,
      Isn’t it great when our husbands are interested in our embroidery? I think, in the right context, you’ll enjoy stitching backwork patterns. The design I’ve drawn will only be 8 bits of the tiny, geometric patterns (4 hearts and 4 flowers). The rest will be goldwork and “other stuff”. Wow, I can relate to your mother! I believe it’s always a great idea to make sure you take care of yourself first so you can go through your day and take care of everyone else who needs you.
      Liebe Grusse,

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