Pearl purl and gold passing thread borders

Gold and black – it’s a classic combination or “an eternal theme” as Kimmy mentioned in her comment. As I add more gold to the blackwork. it looks richer and more elegant. I’ve chosen to use three different materials: pailettes, gold passing thread and gold pearl purl for a variation of texture and sparkle.

All four of the tulip shapes and two of the leaf shapes are edged in gold passing thread #5. Two of the leaf shapes are edged in chain stitch in black silk to give a bit more weight to the piece. The center…

…is edged in gold passing #7 (thicker than #5). The large center shape is bordered in pearl purl stitched in every valley with black silk, so the gold and black are combined.

For the outside border I’ll be using the same technique of pearl purl with black silk but I’m planning to use a slightly larger size of Pearl purl. The center shape is worked using #1 pearl purl (the finest) but I”ll be using #3 for the outside border.  After using couched pearl cotton in the border of the Colors of India project, I may repeat that application here and use black pearl cotton next to the gold. I feel that the piece needs a bit more black on the outside edge to pull it all together. The short lines that radiate out from each of the pailettes topped with black beads will be couched with rough bullion.

I’m going to be sad to see this project finished as I really enjoyed it. Blackwork may be slow going but it’s so rewarding. In the RSN Certificate course one has a choice of blackwork or canvas as the fourth module. Can you guess which I’ll choose when the time comes?


14 thoughts on “Pearl purl and gold passing thread borders

  1. Is it mandatory to have blackwork looking good on both sides?

    I seem to look at blackwork as a puzzle — of how to properly go from ‘hole to hole’ so as to not cause an ugly back.

    Perhaps I’m just plain scared of ‘doing it wrong.’

    I love looking at your work …

  2. Wow! Your work is simply wonderful, the patience you must have as I know this goes very slowly. I’ll never in a million years manage that. Good on you!


  3. Wow, how wonderful it looks Kathy. You really do stitch to a very high standard.

    I would suspect you may choose blackwork, but which ever you choose will be wonderful.

    • Hi everyone,
      Thanks all so much for the kind words! I can’t possibly describe how much it means to me. I am stitching in a void here in Berlin (as I imagine most of you are) and getting feedback is so important to any creative endeavor. I know that very well as a music teacher. I have always said that the most important part of my job is first to be the encouraging audience and secondly the teacher. Creativity and skill will blossom – even flourish – with geniune praise and gentle guidence.

      This week I would suggest that each of us finds someone new or different to share our needlework with and listen to all the good things they say to us. So often we are reluctant and shy to share the lovely work we do and then, when we are praised, we brush it off as unimportant, often telling whoever has priased us that “really, it’s nothing and see here…there is a mistake…and I should have done this better…” Does thi ssound familiar? Well, over the next week try to find someone to show your work to and then listen for all the GOOD thing sthey have to say. Let yourself feel great about the beautiful legacy you are creating!

      Liebe Grusse,

  4. Beautiful work Kathy. I have a little suggestion for you. Have you tried wrapping your gold pearl purl in the silk thread before you attach it to the fabric. if you leave a 3 inch tail at the end and just wrap the silk around, it sits nicely in the valley’s. If you are using stranded silk, you could use two or three strands – perhaps more, to give weight to the colour. Doing it that way means you can couch down the purl with a single strand every 3rd or 4th ‘purl’. You just sink the extra ends of silk when you’re done and secure on the back.


    • Hi Carol,
      Thanks for the suggestion! I know about this technique but was really afraid that if I didn’t couch the pearl purl down at every valley the gold thread wouldn’t cover the drawn lines that surround each shape. I’m finding it very difficult to cover the lines I drew with my micron pen on this project since the threads are so fine. I will try your suggestion on the border that surrounds the whole design. I know it would be a lot faster!
      Liebe Grusse,

  5. Kathy, this is absolutely gorgeous! I wasn’t that excited when you first began, but every time you show us what you’ve done, I grow more enamored with this piece! Your work is truly beautiful! Thank you so much for sharing it with us.

  6. It looks awesome! I am getting ready to try some goldwork so I am interested in how you attach the purl. Looking forward to seeing which way you do it, so that I may follow. The gold really does set it off doesn’t it.
    I imagine you will take the Blackwork class while at RNS, if you don’t it will surprise me.
    Cathy S

  7. Hello, Kathy!
    Just wanted to say Hi & let you know I enjoy reading your blog! Congrats on the acceptance into the Royal Academe! That is so exciting! I don’t always comment but I do read your post! I love to hear about how people approach their projects and I love to see all of your detail shots. Your blog is very informative and fun to read!

    have a great day!
    My Etsy Shop

  8. I leave in Nairobi Kenya and would like to know the prices of the following products and how to get them in Kenya
    1.Gold Smooth PEARL PURL NO.7/8 LACE
    2.Gold Rough ” ” ” ” 1. Gold 1/2”
    3.Gold Super ” ” NO.1 2. Gold 1/4”
    4.Silver Smooth ” ” ” 7/8
    5.Silver Rough ” ” ” 7/8
    6.Silver Super ” ” ” 7/8

    • Dear Peter,

      I do not sell thread of any kind. You might want to contact Golden Hinde who does sell thread.

      Liebe Grüße,


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