Stitch of the Month
January 2004: Burden Stitch and Variations
 

by Ann Strite-Kurz

Burden Stitch. The most basic published couching stitch is the burden stitch, which has a unique basketweave appearance when completed. I particularly like the fact that this pattern can form a natural elongated diamond, and the stitched example shown exhibits this shape. This pattern is usually a solid filling that is executed with metal or metallic laid rows and multiple strands of cotton or silk floss for the couching stitches. The long stitches maximize the amount of light play on the flat satin stitches to produce an elegant sheen. The laid rows are horizontal and are placed two threads apart. The couching stitches are vertical and straddle 4 threads.

Stitched Sample
Overall Pattern - Stitched Sample - Diamond Shape

Charted Pattern Sample
View of Charted Pattern Sample 

Sequence

Step 1. Lay one horizontal row in the left-to-right direction shown in the capital letter sequence as Row A.

Step 2. Follow the laid row with one row of the couching stitches, shown in the lowercase lettered sequence as a-e.

Step 3. Lay a second horizontal laid row in a right-to-left direction as row B. Notice that this row lies in the same channel as the base of the Step 2 couching stitches. It will cover these stitches, making the final pattern appear woven rather than stitched.

Step 4. Add a second row of couching stitches in the reverse direction as f-i. This time the needle must be placed at an angle in order to sink under the Step 1 laid row.

Hereafter these four steps will alternate until the area is filled. In most patterns, the Step 1 rows can all be completed before any Step 2 rows of couching stitches are added, but when the rows overlap, it is more practical to work with two threaded needles at the same time and add the steps in alternating sequences.


Sequence Chart
Sequence Chart


Tramé Brick This stitch is a reduced version of the burden stitch that I find particularly useful on 24-count Congress cloth. The horizontal laid rows are only one thread apart and the couching stitches are smaller brick stitches that straddle two threads instead of four. This pattern is also solid as well as small in scale and the sample provided forms a  regular diamond or "baseball" diamond, rather than an elongated diamond.


Sample


Sequence. This smaller version also has the same woven appearance as the burden stitch, so alternating sequences should be used again to build the pattern. The sample sequence below is identical to the previous one for burden stitch. Only the placements of the laid rows and the size of the couching stitches have changed.


Sequence Chart
Sequence Chart  

Open Tramé Brick This pattern is identical to the regular tramé brick except that the laid rows are two threads apart instead of one, matching the arrangement for the burden stitch. The shorter couching stitches make the pattern open, however, with what I call canvas 'peekaboos' showing around the stitches. This lighter effect with exposed canvas threads is especially attractive when pastel shades are used, and the example shown combines a star coral metallic with a slightly darker bittersweet overdyed floss.


Sample

Sequence

This time the two steps will be done the traditional way.

Step 1. Lay all of the horizontal rows back and forth, as shown in the capital letter sequence. Row C is the repeat point so no further letters are needed.

Step 2. Add the couching stitches in horizontal paths, as indicated with the lowercase lettered sequence. Stitch l is the repeat point since it marks the start of the second left-to-right row, so no further letters are needed.


Sequence Chart
Sequence Chart  

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