Recently I became obsessed with Blackwork Embroidery. I've done some in the past, including an epic
design called 'Pearl' of an elegant lady many years ago and designed the free blackwork heart pattern. I thoroughly enjoy blackwork and find it more interesting than cross-stitch, so thought I'd experiment with it.
Blackwork appeals to my maths nerd side with the repetitive often geometric-like patterns. You can also create different effects and 'shades' just by changing the density of a repeat pattern which is fascinating, especially as you can do that using just one colour of thread if you wish.
I used to design and sell enamel pins, but it became virtually impossible to find a reliable manufacturer, so I went back to what I grew up doing- cross-stitch design. It seemed a shame to waste all the pin designs, so I set about converting them to cross-stitch patterns. But it came time to convert a very popular design of a squirrel, which has large solid areas and would be very boring to cross-stitch, so I needed a way to make the design more interesting- which led me to blackwork!
Now traditional blackwork normally has filling patterns that are very pretty but often non-specific and I felt more could be done with them. Possibly with my background of designing for various arts and crafts such as knotwork, quilts and scrapbooking papers I love playing with repeat patterns and patterns within patterns, so thought "Why not make the repeat fill pattern itself a picture?" and couldn't resist creating a squirrel filled with acorns and oak leaves... so I did! It's all kind of snowballed from there and I'm on a blackwork designing binge now.
By the way if you'd like the squirrel pattern, it is available now as part of the Pattern Library, exclusive to Patreon members- read more about that here.
Blackwork Zodiac Set
I was trying to think of other blackwork patterns to design and I'm a big fan of sets/collections, so thought I'd start a set of Zodiac patterns and release each one during the time of year that sign is in. We are currently in the sign of Leo so that is the sign I'm sharing first.
The set will be made up of the astrology sign filled with a repeat pattern combining the symbol (ie the Lion) and the sign itself in a variegated colour associated with that sign.
Leo Zodiac Sign
Represented by the lion, people born between 23rd July (my Mum's birthday) and 22nd August are apparently creative, bold, intelligent, ambitious, proud and make natural leaders.
- element: fire
- colours: gold, yellow, orange
- gem: carnelian
- flowers: sunflower and marigold
- numbers: 1, 3, 10, 19
- ruler: sun
Free Leo Zodiac Blackwork Embroidery Pattern
8cm/ 3 1/8" x 9.5cm/ 4 3/4"
stitches: 50 x 60
- cross-stitch needle
- fabric- I used 32hpi ivory evenweave which you would need 20cm/8" square which leaves enough for finishing.
- thread: I used DMC stranded cotton 4124
- Orange lines (fill pattern) DMC 4124 1 strand
- Dark lines (outline) DMC 4124 2 strands