City and Guilds: Contemporary Sampler

My second assignment for the City and Guilds Level 2 Certificate in Design and Stitched Textiles was to create a sampler using the exact same stitches (straight, cross, French knots,Bullion knots, detached chain, seeding and both woven and whipped wheels) that I used when making the more traditional sampler. Unconventional fabric and threads are to be used.

Initially I wanted to use boiled wool. I love the texture of boiled wool and it’s in plentiful supply here in Germany. Boiled wool jackets and coats are very popular. However, I wanted a white or off-white fabric and couldn’t find it in the shop near to my home. However, I did stumble across a roll of cork fabric. I’d never seen cork fabric before and, when I picked up the roll, I wasn’t sure what it would feel like.


Surprisingly, it’s flexible and relatively lightweight – something between a vinyl placemat and a vinyl table cloth. Getting the needle through the fabric was quite easy. I am using a tapestry needle with a good, sharp point.

I decided to use mainly threads from Oliver Twists. Most of them are synthetic but I’ve included some raw silk lace weight yarn and thin string for interest. I’ve got two small spools of Valdani 3-strand floss that I might use.

The fabric is mounted in a large hoop with a table clamp, which is working beautifully and keeps the fabric nice and taught.

This piece will be determined by the materials. I don’t have any idea how any given stitch will work or look on cork fabric so it’s a matter of trying something and seeing what happens. The focus is on the texture of and patterns in the cork fabric. I’d like the threads to highlight those textures and patterns.

Beginning with straight stitch seemed the simplest so I chose a length of thread that has metal strands running through it. I put in the first vertical stitch and was pleased (and surprised!) at how easy it was to embroider on cork fabric! I loved how it looked, so I kept going. As I stitched, I imagined rain, or even rain with lightning.

Having had success with vertical straight stitches, I moved on to horizontal ones. Changing threads, I put in some horizontal stitches. I liked those, so I added some long stitches that crossed the horizontal stitches. I tried some gimp thread (on the left below) but didn’t like it as much, so only did the three experimental stitches.

At this point my hand was tired (but I’m doing VERY well after my surgery, thank you!) so I stopped. As I looked at the large piece of cork fabric with only a few stitches in it, I was struck by how the combination of colours brought the desert to mind – a beautiful desert at sunset,  perhaps.

It was a great first foray into using new materials in a new way and I can’t wait to see what comes next!


C and G Textured Stitches Sampler – Finished

I should explain that there will be more – far more! – than one sampler worked for the City & Guilds Level 2 Certificate in Design and Stitched Textiles. This is the first many assignments.

The requirements for this sampler were to work a traditional sampler using the required stitches on a plain fabric using stranded cotton threads or similar. The stitches (to remind you) are straight, cross, French knots,Bullion knots, detached chain, seeding and both woven and whipped wheels.

There was no proscribed design for the sampler, which gave me the freedom to experiment with using the stitches in different ways and arranging them as I pleased on the fabric. This freedom was what I enjoyed most!

Below are close up photos of each section the sampler. They are in the order that I worked the sampler from the top to the bottom.


Above are the first rows which included straight stitches, vertical, horizontal and diagonal cross stitches and French knots.


Below the top rows of stitches I decided to embroider the whipped and woven wheels to create a focal point in the centre. While I was working the whipped wheel I noticed how similar the whipped spokes looked to bullion knots so I added this in the centre area as well.


Following on with the spoked motifs, I decided on star shaped seeding on either side of the centre area. The white thread gives the areas on either side of the centre a snowy, wintery feeling which I’m really pleased with!


Below the centre area I decided on half flower shapes done in detached chain stitch with bullion knots centers. Below those are more straight stitch designs, French knots and individual detached chain stitch. There are also areas of teeny, tiny seeding using a mix of simple single seed stitches and “V” shaped seeding stitches.

The very bottom rows are more cross and straight stitch patterns.


I’m really pleased with the finished piece. The balance of colours is good, the patterns created by the textured stitches interesting and the centre area gives the piece a focal point.

Next time, my first foray into contemporary embroidery using cork fabric and synthetic threads but the very same stitches you’ve seen here!



C and G Textured Stitches Sampler – Snow!

Happy New Year to all of you!

Christmas has come and gone without any snow in Berlin. I love snow and am missing the crisp, quiet freshness of newly fallen snow this year. So, to compensate, I’ve made my own snow!

The stitches that we need to include in our textured stitches sampler include both whipped and woven wheels. I haven’t used these often, but I have done them before. Last time I did them using wool which made quite fuzzy wheels. This time I’m using floche a broder and I like the results much better.dsc_2746

Floche a broder is thick enough to fill in the space between the spokes on the whipped wheel (red wheels above). When I worked the whipped wheel (white wheel above) the floche a broder laid smoothly along each spoke and made a nice, smooth wrapped spoke. I included long bullion knots in this part of the sampler and those, too, look great worked in this thread!

I love the visual link between the spokes of the whipped wheel and the long bullion knots. When I was thinking about the seeding, I remembered these “star” seeding stitches shown in Tracy A. Franklin’s book Crewel Work and decided they would work in the general style of the whole centre section.


Originally, the area on either side of the wheels was left empty. However, I wanted to experiment with this style of seeding and decided it was a great way to extend the spokes design element of the centre section.


You can see that the top area of the sampler is more linear than the middle. Everything is in rows and made up of straight lines or dots – which are in rows.


At the bottom of the lower section I decided to do a bit more traditional seeding using simple seed stitches and small ‘v’ seed stitches. This pattern will continue across the bottom of this section, using all three colours.



Below this area of tiny seeding stitches I’ll do more linear work but haven’t decided exactly what it will be yet.

I’ve so enjoyed the challenge of using a set of stitches but being given the freedom to arrange and use them however I choose! Have you ever done anything like this – where you make it up as you go along? Do you like it? Why?