Friday, March 21, 2014

Bargello Basics, Part 2

This time we are going to concentrate on two areas:  following a linear pattern row to make an all-over design, and using straight stitches to create curved lines and shapes. We will start with a sample pattern sheet again, so you should have your materials at hand to practice the new stitches and patterns. I'm still going to be working on the “Mesas and Monuments” canvas and using it to illustrate techniques. In addition, we will revisit some bargello patterns from previous posts (May 1, 2013 and January 16, 2014.)
Part 2 Stitch Sampler Sheet
Part 2 Stitch Sampler Sheet

Look at the rows of turquoise stitching at the upper left. The top one shows short upright stitches over two threads of canvas. Moving from left to right, we skip one thread so that the second stitch is above the first. We continue until there are four stitches rising diagonally. Then we repeat the fourth stitch as the start of four stitches descending diagonally. This is a 2.1 step pattern. The second row is the same, except the fourth stitch at the bottom of the descending diagonal is also doubled still a 2.1 step pattern. In the third row, the stitch count is the same, but each stitch is over three threads of canvas This is a 3.1 step pattern. The fourth row is different in two ways:  each stitch covers four threads and two threads are skipped between each rising and descending stitch, except where the stitches are doubled. This is a 4.2 step pattern.

Diagonal Stitch Sample
Diagonal Stitch Sample
Any of these four rows would make the basis for an all-over pattern, but let's use the fourth one. The turquoise row is the primary pattern row. From there, I worked first downward, then upward, using three other colors of yarn. If I had continued downward, the next row would have been in turquoise again. Notice that the color order was reversed when I worked upward from the primary row. As the deep blue and aqua rows demonstrate, there are places where it is not possible to complete a pattern row. In such cases, I work as much of each stitch as I can. These are called compensation stitches and can be vital to a design, as we shall discover when we work on “fabulous four-ways”.

Simple Flame Stitch Sample
Simple Flame Stitch Sample
 The 4.2 step pattern is the basis for many bargello patterns and for many other pattern stitches (remember the brick stitch from Part 1?) Patterns with points or peaks formed by stitches belong to a family called “Florentine stitch” or “flame stitch”, names often loosely applied to bargello as a whole. This picture shows a pillow done in a similar if somewhat more complex pattern. Here the peaks or points represent evergreen trees in a northern forest rather than flames. The principle, however, is the same.

Evergreen Forest Bargello Pillow
Evergreen Forest Bargello Pillow

Arch Stitch Sample
Arch Stitch Sample
Now let's consider how we can make straight stitches form curved lines. Look at the red arches below at the lower left on the stitch sampler. These are all 4.2 step patterns. The only difference between them is the multiplication of certain stitches. First is a triple repeat of this sequence; single, single, double, triple, double, single, single. We can write this as 1,1,2,3,2,1,1. Below it is a double repeat of the sequence 1,2,2,3,2,2,1. See how the arches become broader? At the bottom is a single arch in the sequence 1,2,2,3,4,3,2,2,1. I repeated that arch in the lower center of the canvas. Then I turned the canvas upside-down and repeated the arch in dark blue directly below the red one. This made a medallion shape which I filled in with white and antique gold. Such a figure could easily be used in a repeat pattern over a large area, using compensation stitches between the medallions.

Ocean Waves Bargello Pillow Top
"Ocean Waves" Bargello Pillow Top
Further to the right, I stitched a taller, broader arch in the sequence 1,1,1,2,3,3,4,3,3,2,1,1,1 in red. Then I turned the canvas upside down and made an identical arch in dark blue. Together the two make a wave pattern. Adding singles to the pattern of each arch would have created higher “crests” and deeper “troughs” in the waves. Adding more and larger multiples to the waves would have made them wider and flatter. You can see how I used this technique in my “Ocean Waves” pillow top.

Aspen Bargello Pillow Top
"Aspen" Bargello Pillow Top
Now look at the tree shape at the upper right of the pattern sheet. Can you see how the “treetop” is made of a series of arches (sequence 2,2,4,6,4,2,2), with some stitches entirely missing or replaced by compensation stitches in the bottom two arches where the treetop narrows above the “trunk”? The picture shows how I used this technique in making the “Aspen” bargello pillow top, as well as how I fitted the tree motifs together to make an all-over pattern.

Finally, let's look at how I have incorporated the new techniques into the “Mesas and Monuments” picture.

Mesas and Monuments In Progress Collage
"Mesas and Monuments," In Progress

First I made an arch in the center of the foreground. This arch is a little more complicated than the ones I have shown you so far, but you could make a similar one with what you have learned. This arch is reminiscent of Delicate Arch at Arches National Park in nearby eastern Utah. For a more realistic rendition, see the latch hooked rug in my June 16, 2013 blog post.

Then I used peaks of varying heights to represent a distant mountain range in the background of the picture. These are made with a 4.1 step pattern. (I know that “purple mountains” are a cliché, but I determined from the outset that this piece would be like a poster stylized, symmetrical, with flat areas of color.)

Finally, I used gentle scallops in a 2.1 step pattern to indicate rolling foothills at the base of the mountains, then filled in voids with compensation stitches.

Now practice the new stitch patterns and try to invent some of your own. They're there, just waiting for you to discover them.

Happy experimenting,


 Creative Commons LicenseThis post by Annake's Garden is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Bargello Basics, Part 1

I'd like to return to some of the concepts I first explored in my "Bravo Bargello!" post, and show you how to build up wonderfully complex patterns from very simple building blocks. We're going to approach this project in two ways. First, I'll show you a number of simple stitch patterns and demonstrate ways that you can use them for all-over bargello patterns.
stitch sampler sheet
Stitch Sampler Sheet
 The stitches are shown on plastic canvas, so I encourage you to supply yourself with several sheets of that canvas, tapestry needles (big eyes, blunt points), scissors, and small balls of scrap yarn in at least three colors. I recommend that you practice the stitches and patterns on the plastic canvas and save your samples in a folder or binder for quick and easy future reference. I'll refer to the cross-bars on the plastic canvas as “threads” because you will be working over threads when you “graduate” to needlepoint or quickpoint canvas.

At the same time, I'll be working on a large (18-inch square) quickpoint canvas project, using a different stitch pattern for each element of the design, tentatively entitled “Mesas and Monuments". We'll be showing you this canvas, step by step, as it develops. 

upright Gobelin stitch sample
Upright (vertical) Gobelin stitch sample
In the upper left-hand corner of the stitch pattern sampler, you will see a sample made up of three solid rows of red, white, and blue stitches. The straight stitch that makes up these rows is upright Gobelin over four threads, a basic element of many bargello patterns. You simply bring your needle up from the back of the canvas through a square of mesh, move it down past four horizontal threads, and push it through the canvas into the next square of mesh. Then you move a space and put in the second stitch parallel to the first one, leaving no canvas uncovered. You will see that you have skipped three empty squares of mesh. It is tempting to proceed by counting squares instead of threads. Don't do it! It will cause trouble when we move to more complex patterns. Count threads from start to finish. You will notice that each white stitch begins inside the same square of mesh where the red stitch above it ends and ends in the same square where the blue stitch below it begins. The first half of the sample has not been modified; the second has been back-stitched along the dividing line with gold.

Mesas and Monuments canvas step 1
"Mesas and Monuments" canvas - Step 1
When you look at my large canvas, you will see that I have stitched areas in horizontal rows of this stitch, all in the same color, and back-stitched between the rows in the same color. The stacked blocks of stitching form the “mesas” of the title. Because the spaces of the #5 quickpoint canvas are so large, I needed to use two stitches to fill each space, rather than one. I laid the stitches in side by side, using the thumbnail of my free hand to keep them separated and flat. In addition, I used a yard of yarn for each set of stitches, rather than my usual 18 inches.

Horizontal Gobelin stitch sample
Horizontal Gobelin stitch sample
Despite the fact that it is called “upright” Gobelin, this stitch works as well horizontally as it does vertically, as you can see in the next example to the right on the sampler sheet. In order to back-stitch the dividing lines, I turned the canvas 90 degrees so I was working a horizontal line of stitches. Moving to the right on the sampler sheet again, you will see a nice little checkerboard pattern. This is done in two colors, alternating every four stitches. You can work all the squares of one color first and then fill in the second, or simply work alternatively with two needles, dropping one to the back while you are working with the other. The horizontal gold stitches are back-stitches; the vertical, overcast or whipped stitches. (If you have done some tent stitching, you may think of those as columns of half-cross stitches.)

checkerboard stitch sample
Checkerboard stitch sample
Now it is time to practice the first two examples (and the checkerboard if you wish). It is important to secure both ends of your yarn. A waste knot is not as effective on canvas as it is on fabric. When I pull the first strand of yarn through the canvas, I hold the last inch and a half flat against the back of the canvas with my free hand, working stitches over the piece of yarn until it is secured. I stop stitching when I have an inch and a half of yarn left in the needle and secure that end by running it under finished stitches on the back of the canvas.

Mesas and Monuments canvas step 2
"Mesas and Monuments" canvas - Step 2
Meanwhile, I've completed another section of the big picture, using vertical rows instead of horizontal ones. Rather than making all of the stitches over four threads of mesh, however, I have varied the stitch length from over six threads at the bottom of the “pinnacles” to over two threads at the tops.

more complex stitch sample
While both the stripes and the checkerboard can be used quite well as all-over patterns, let's look at something a little more complex. The lower left side of the pattern page shows an interesting all-over pattern developing. Start with a block of four vertical stitches. Then make a vertical stitch that starts in the same row where the last stitch of the block ended and covers four threads downward. Repeat this process twice more to make a diagonal line of three stitches. Repeat the whole motif (block and 3-stitch diagonal) until you have reached the bottom of your canvas. Then start a block of a second color directly below the first block. When you have completed the left side of your canvas, turn it 180 degrees and complete the other side. Don't forget to reverse the order of your colors at the same time that you reverse direction.

You may use as many colors as you like, but add another stitch on the diagonal line for each additional color. If you use four colors, for example, your pattern will be a block plus four stitches in a diagonal line. This pattern can be subtle if you use shades of the same color:
more complex stitch pattern in greens and multicolors
or it can be as bold as you want to make it.

Now let's look at the patterns in the center of the pattern sheet. These use the same upright Gobelin stitches, with odd-numbered stitches just as you have been making them. To make the even-numbered stitches, however, you need to count down two threads before you begin the stitch.
Interlaced Gobelin and Brick stitch samples
Interlaced Gobelin and Brick stitch samples
This is another pattern that works as well vertically as horizontally. If you look at the example on the right, you can probably see why this is also called “brick stitch”. It resembles the way bricks are overlapped in the making of a wall. You can get a somewhat different effect by doubling the stitches each time, like the example at the bottom center.

Mesas and Monuments canvas step 3
"Mesas and Monuments" canvas - Step 3
As you can see, I have done another section of the big picture in this stitch. I used the stitches upright, so they don't appear so brick-like. I often use novelty yarns in my compositions. This variegated acrylic yarn is called “Desert Camouflage” I thought that was quite appropriate for representing the sand-and-sagebrush country here on the eastern edge of the Great Basin.

Finally, the block of four stitches, each over four threads, is the basis of a technique known as Nordic Stitch. It is a great way to enlarge a small motif for use on a larger article. As you can see on the right side of the pattern sheet, I did a small motif of an apple in tent stitch. Then I reproduced the motif by using a four-square block of stitches to represent each tent stitch. We will return to Nordic Stitch in a later post. For now, practice your stitches and try making some patterns of your own devising with them.

Have fun!


 Creative Commons LicenseThis post by Annake's Garden is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.