New project in wool

It’s time for a new project and it’s especially time to get back to doing more traditional embroidery! Although the Fallen Leaves panel is coming along, I’m still not really enjoying stitching it. The techniques are OK but the way the piece looks just isn’t great. That’s probably down to my lack of design experience. Although I know lots of stitches and feel pretty confident in knowing where to use them in a traditional design, now that I’m trying something more contemporary I’m missing the mark. The first panel will be finished – I do NOT want any ufo’s in my workspace – but it’s time to enjoy what I’m doing and I just haven’t really enjoyed stitching lately.

So, I’ve decided on a historically based project that ties in perfectly with my holiday plans for the summer. After I’m in London for the opening of Nicola Jarvis’ show at the William Morris Gallery, we’ll be travelling to Bayeux to see the tapestry (among other things!). Also, I had my first experience stitching the Bayeux stitch when I was working on the Acorn project and quite liked it. Doing more of that stitch is appealing.

This past winter I got The Bayeux Tapestry by David M. Wilson so I could learn all about the history, how it was stitched and have time to learn the story it tells before I was there, in front of it. This book in amazing and has a complete set of full color photos of the entire length of the tapestry. Each photo is 12 inches tall x 10 inches wide so the detail is excellent. It’s considered the best book on the Bayeux Tapestry and I agree with the reviewers – it is the best. I have others and they are good, but the detailed photos really set this one apart.




Having a book with such large photos means it is easy to make a pattern of a section of the tapestry that’s a good size for stitching. Carefully using a pencil, I laid a piece of tracing paper over the image I want to stitch and created a pattern to use. I chose a boat with men and horses in it (not the cover image)  because I am fascinated with the idea that the Normans brought not only men and weapons but also horses across the channel. What a task!



I always like tracing the design I’m going to use before I transfer it to the fabric. It feels like my eyes and my hands get to know the design better for having traced it. While I’m tracing I’m looking carefully at the lines. When I’m finished I look back at the picture to fill in any details I may have missed or gotten wrong. Tracing forces me to really see the design. When I copy it onto the linen I’ll have another chance to “see” it in my mind so when it comes time to stitch it, I’ll feel quite confident about the shapes in the design.

To know which stitches to use where and in what direction the Bayeux stitch should go, I’ll refer to the photo in the book. It is so detailed that I don’t think I’ll have any trouble knowing which stitches to use – when it isn’t the Bayeux stitch – which it is for almost all of the area to be stitched!

The threads I’ll be using are from Renaissance Dyeing. I couldn’t really choose any others since the colors Andie Luijk creates are just perfect for this! I have the colors I need already so I can get started and more is on it’s way to me in Berlin. If the dye lots don’t exactly match, in this case it’s fine – perhaps even better since the threads throughout the tapestry are different shades.


The colors I’m using are dark red #0403, dark blue #1009, fawn #1412 and soft aqua #1608. The fabric is a 36 count linen in an ivory color. I purchased it in the USA and don’t remember what company produced it.

I can’t wait to get started!


26 thoughts on “New project in wool

  1. I have that book also. I purchased it a couple of years ago, intending to do a little something from it, but I haven’t gotten around to it yet. I had some embroidered quilt squares and some other things to finish first…. Plus, I only have storage space for hoops, and couching on that large a scale I think people need a frame. I am sure I will eventually get around to it, though, for now, I will just have admire yours.

    There was a company (I do not know the name) a while back that had (I think) 3 or 4 different pre-printed Bayeux project kits to do, but they did not sell well. I imagine because most embroiderers prefer flowers and “pretty” things, not history.

    Now, get going this weekend so we can begin our admiration next week! 🙂

    • Hi RM,
      It’s on the agenda for every day beginning tomorrow! Hopefully the sun will be shinning so I can use the window as a light box and transfer the design to the linen.
      Liebe Grusse,

      • Thanks Linda! :-)I am glad something is posted so that kit lovers can do one if they like.

        I have personally hated kits since I was a teenager, because of the few that I did then, not a single one provided enough floss, and finding more of the correct dye lot (even DMC had dye lots then) was frustrating as all get-out. I gave up kits entirely and just do stuff myself.

      • Hi RM,
        I’m so glad Linda pointed us to the site of the shop in Bayeux. I hadn’t found it yet – just the tourist information site. I, like you, don’t like kits just because they seem to be more expensive than doing it myself. However, I love Philipa Turnbull’s kits so maybe I’m just cheap and figure if I can do it on my own I should! And, I must say, kits have gotten SO MUCH better in the last few years. For example, Trish Burr’s kits are first class too. I’m looking forward to being in Bayeux and seeing the kits in person to see what the quality of the thread and fabric is like. I’ll let you know this summer!
        Liebe Grusse,

      • Well, cost is also a big factor now, but mostly it is the lack of sufficient floss that annoyed me more back then.

      • Phillipas kits always have plenty of wool. and even when i have done reverse embroidery I have had enough to do it again. I adore her kits and when I spread the cost per week they are great value.

      • Hi dee,
        I agree with you about great value for money. I’m teaching Ana embroidery class at school to children and have been able to provide them with wool for a small project just using the left over wool from Phillips kits. They also take quite a while to stitch, bring complex, that they “last” a long time!
        Libebe Grusse,

  2. I am so glad to see that you will be doing some
    Bayeux embroidery. I haven`t seen much in books and will be watching your work very carefully.
    You and Mary Corbet are so good to help all of us by your photos and clear instructions. You can bet I will not miss your courriel. That will be fun to see how it is done. I am intrigue.
    France from Québec, Canada.

  3. Lovely to see you doing wool embroidery again.

    Is the

    You cover a lot of types of embroidery and I admire those who can cover them all. Sometimes we need to discover what we do not want to know what we do want. I cannot appreciate the contempoary so I cannot comment your leaf, but for me your I appreciate your traditional embroidery.

    How are you getting on with your teaching plans?

    I regret I have stopped embroidering as I am not able to find any classes in the midlands to attend.

    • Hi Ann,

      The teaching plans are coming along slowly but fine. it takes a lot more time to set up an online learning site than a blog! Hopefully it won’t be long now…

      Liebe Grusse,

  4. Kathy, this is exactly what I did a few years ago using the very same book and getting my threads from Renaissance also! It was a gift for my husband, and he loves it. But yours will be much, much better than anything I could have embroidered! Looking forward to seeing what emerges from your needles and thread!

    • Hi Edith,
      I would love to see what you did! Send a photo if you would like to – I can always use ideas and encouragement in the way of a visual image. I cannot imagine that mine will be a bit better than what you did! I’m a beginner at this stitch remember!
      Liebe Grusse,

  5. Why the choice of linen? Is it because you had that to hand or is there a reason for not using the linen twill?

    • Hi Ann again,

      The book by David Wilson describes very clearly the fabric of the Bayeux tapestry: “The linen seems to have been originally an off-white tone, and now has an off-white to greyish colour and is often stained by wax or iron salts. It is of relatively fine tabby weave – 18 or 19 warp and weft threads per centimetre.” So, this is as close as I can get to what it would be like to stitching the original I think. The linen I’m using is 36 threads per inch so that’s about the same weave. I prefer linen twill for the strength and solid feel while stitching but I’m willing to try this. I may back it with calico first…we’ll see. I’m just excited to begin stitching!
      liebe Grusse,

  6. I am just delighted to see you start this project! I know you will find it a most enjoyable project to work on. I just finished 14 feet 10 inches of the embroidery done in two panels. It took me 4 months working 6 to 12 hours a day – becoming absolutely obsessed… I also used tracings from Wilson’s book and chose excerpts to tell the story; starting with Harold pledging his support to William to where Harold falls to his death under the lance.

    I so wish you lived closer to Colorado USA. (grin) We could sit and chat about our choice of colors, what you choose to do where the tapestry was repaired, the different theories on the history of the piece and all the little decisions along the way. If you email me I will send pictures because it is always fun to see what others are doing.

    Please post pictures of you work often!!!

    • Hi Paula!
      It sounds like it was a labor of love! That’s how I felt about Trevelyon’s Cap and the Acorn. Hopefully this project will inspire me as much. I will certainly send you my email address so you can send photos! Thanks for the offer. I wouldn’t mind living in Colorado either – if I had a well paid secure job teaching music. What a beautiful place – you are very lucky. It would be fun to get together and chat about all the choices. I’ll be in touch by email and through the blog often, I’m sure.
      Liebe grusse,

  7. Kathy, I agree totally about David Wilson’s book. I have had it for a long time now (probably about 15 years or so) and I love it. But if I were planning to embroider any of the tapestry (and I might catch the bug, lol) I would also refer to Jan Messent’s book about the people who embroidered the original. She describes in detail how it was done, all about the fabrics (because it was done in different places, the fabrics vary along the length), the colours, the wools etc etc. I think it would be well worth the dollars to use alongside DW.

    BTW, the Messent book I am talking about is much better than her book on embroidered portraits (imho): the Bayeux Tapestry book and the one she wrote about the Anglo-Saxon/Viking embroideries are my favourites.

    • Hi Christina,

      I have that book and it’s great just as you say! I’ve already referenced it in terms of threads and fabric and will be talking about it more as I work on the piece.

      Liebe Grusse,

  8. This looks like a really fun project and I look forward to watching it develop.

    I am hoping to see the Nicola Jarvis’ show at the William Morris Gallery. I’ve watched a few pieces on various blogs and am longing to see them in the flesh. When does the exhibition open?

    • Hi Rachel,
      You are a mind reader – it has already! Working on only one project (the first time I’ve done that ever) is NOT a good idea. My mind needs different things to do and thin about so I don’t get stuck!
      Liebe Grusse,

  9. I think your wool project is going to be wonderful. I’m falling in love with that tapestry and plan to look for the book. I’m sure it will be a wonderful project. Thanks for sharing it.

    And about you not having fun with the new modern designs? Didn’t you post a mimeo on that very subject a while back? I’ve found it VERY helpful to remember what it said, that one’s taste develops in advance of one’s skill, and we just need to keep slogging through and do the work. So slog on!

    Happy stitching,
    Susan in Texas

    • Hi Susan,

      What an insightful comment! Yes, my skill is developing as I work on the leaf project and I’m now (int eh last few days) likeing it better. In fact, I’ve worked out something that makes the whole piece look better and I’m enjoying stitching it!

      Liebe Grusse,

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