Blackwork Math Miracle

For the past few days I’ve been working only on my blackwork piece. Usually I try to alternate projects on the site so you get read about something different every day, but I’m just so excited to get the blackwork bits all finished and move on to the gold, that this is all I’ve been doing!

Yesterday I was moving along nicely stitching the final filling (from the RSN Essential Stitch Guide Blackwork) and discovered a small blackwork math miracle. I say miracle because it was totally unplanned and I do NOT know how it worked out so perfectly – but I’m glad it did!

Look at the lacy pattern below that fills the large flower shape in the middle of the piece. You can see it’s made up of two different shapes: one shape that’s like a plus sign or cross with four equal sections and one shape that’s long and narrow with two sections that are longer and two that are shorter.

When I started stitching, I chose to begin at the top of the flower shape where two of the curved petals join. I began the filling by aligning the tip of the long, narrow shape with the point where two of the curved lines of the petals join. Why did I choose to do it that way? It seemed the most straightforward place to begin, simple as that.

But yesterday, when I put the piece down to get one of the many cups of apple tea I’ve been drinking lately (with honey – delicious!) I noticed an amazing thing had happened. Look at the photo below – can you see what I”m talking about? The arrows should help…

By some wonderful coincidence (or miracle!) the filling is lining up perfectly with the places where the petals come together every 45 degrees. Imagine the flower as a clock face: the pattern is lining up at 12:00, 3:00 and 6:00. It will line up at 9:00 as well. At each of those points, the long narrow shape emerges. This means that the count of the fabric, the number of stitches in the filling pattern and the placement of the design on the fabric all line up. I didn’t plan it this way! It’s a bit spooky! Maybe someone who has a better understanding of math, pattern and blackwork will be able to explain, but I can’t. To me, it’s a little miracle.

And now, on to more mundane things…I looked forever for a filling for the little leaves. Each leaf will be edged in gold passing thread and the vein in the center will also be gold so the filling needed to be pretty unobtrusive. I finally decided on this simple straight line pattern and it’s perfect. The direction of the stitch changes for the center leaf but other than that it’s as simple as could be.

If you have any insight about this minor stitching miracle, please leave a comment!


8 thoughts on “Blackwork Math Miracle

  1. Geometry is very interesting. Are you finding the precision of Blackwork more interesting than the freeness of Crewel work?

  2. It is so nice… I have been following your progress faithfully and love what you are doing.
    Good for US as I need inspiration all the time.
    Thank you.
    France, Québec, Canada

    • Hi Deborah,
      I love pink and black together and it’s a great idea for a future project – something very Chanel looking. Maybe an original design…
      Thanks for the idea!
      Liebe Grusse,

  3. Well, the lining up at the bottom is just because it’s directly vertically down, but I have taken differential equations and I think the only way I could get that lining up at every 90 degrees to work would be with just some straight-up graphical pre-planning.

  4. Hi, I would guess that your miracle occurred because the stitch pattern is worked over the same number of threads. Say a repeat of 4 or 6, you can find the repeat by counting the number of threads you work over before the pattern begins again. Most blackwork patterns are quite small in repeat size, which will probably be a multiple of 2.
    Hope this isn’t too confusing. Repeat patterns and multiples is something that you have to work with when you design any type of counted work that includes a border. At times it can be frustrating to make it fit right. I am glad that yours worked out so well without all the math!

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