Stitch of the Month
March 2004: Traméd Hungarian

by Ann Strite-Kurz

Since the first two Stitch of the Month segments have covered uses of brick stitches as couching stitches in one-way tramé patterns, it is logical to follow with arrangements that are couched with a larger upright stitch called Hungarian, which forms a diamond shape. Because this stitch is actually composed of three individual stitches, I prefer to use the word "unit" rather than "stitch," so this word will be used hereafter.  

Brick stitch patterns tend to be delicate, especially the open ones, but larger units usually create bold patterns. A regular Hungarian pattern is solid but a tramé could easily be added to produce a different effect. I have placed a chart of the regular pattern below along with a chart of the same pattern with tramé rows added. However, no sequence charts are provided for these simple versions since a brief discussion will suffice.          

Traditional Hungarian is executed in horizontal rows, laying the three stitches of each unit in sequential order.  With the traméd version, each laid row must be placed and then followed by a row of Hungarian units in the same manner that the traméd brick pattern was executed in the January Stitch of the Month segment, alternating the two threaded needles in each row. 

The ends of the tall middle stitches will be concealed by laid threads in every row, and the center stitches of the next row must sink under the laid thread of the previous row. If the Hungarian stitches are thin and do not cover well, the canvas threads will show between the stitches within the units as shown in the left view. If the Hungarian units are dense and the three parallel stitches touch each other, the finished pattern will likely resemble the right view with the laid thread only showing between whole units.

 Hungarian Pattern
Example 1. Hungarian Pattern 

Example 2. Traméd Hungarian Pattern Views 1 and 2

Example 3. Variation I. Since Hungarian units are composed of three parallel stitches, they are especially beautiful in stranded plies. The first variation is an open version of Hungarian with a tramé foundation. The laid rows are now three threads apart instead of two, but the Hungarian units in each row still have one open channel between the units.

Charted View.

This time I am presenting the same arrangement on light and dark grounds to show the difference in the contrasts. Both samples are executed on 18-count canvases using a soft yellow Sparkle Rays for the laidwork and three strands of Leah's #12 overdyed pearl cotton for the Hungarian units. The left sample is on a white ground and the right sample is on a black ground.

Two Views of Example 3

NOTE: The sample on the white canvas appears to be perforated since there are open holes around the exposed canvas threads. In the sample on the black canvas, the canvas threads and the backing fabric are both black so the two parts merge and appear more as a high contrast background. When patterns are open, one must always consider how the canvas and the backing fabric will affect the pattern, and any negative space around the stitches becomes part of the pattern.


Step 1. Lay the horizontal rows back and forth, as discussed in the Introduction.

As mentioned earlier, the traditional order for creating Hungarian units is to lay the side-by-side upright stitches in sequential order in a left-to-right or right-to-left direction. These stitches should touch for full coverage but the normal tension from the traveling paths sometimes makes the stitches overlap the previous stitch a bit when executed in this order. To correct this natural lean, I now execute the side stitches first and place the tall center stitch last when multiple strands or plies are used. This allows the center stitch to spread out evenly over the side stitches if there is an overlap, making the symmetrical units appear more uniform. This solution is ideal for all units composed of parallel stitches (e.g. mosaic, pavilion, Scotch, etc.);  however, don't bother making the adjustment when twisted threads are used because any improvement is less obvious.

Step 2 Sequence Chart

Example 4. Variation II. The second variation is an expanded version of the first one that spreads out the Hungarian units further and adds a brick stitch between the units in a contrasting color. This time I used the same threads for the laidwork and the Hungarian units but a gold Petite Very Velvet thread is used for the brick stitches. Small tent stitches are also added in the open areas between the rows in a flip-flop or mirrored arrangement. These are worked in a #8 black Kreinik metallic.

ex. 4, var 2  
Charted View of Expanded Pattern.


Step 1. Lay the horizontal rows back and forth, as discussed in the Introduction.

Step 2. Add the Hungarian units in horizontal paths, using the same lowercase sequence provided for the earlier pattern but placing the units farther apart.

Step 3. Add the brick stitches in vertical rows of darning or running stitches, as indicated in the numbered sequence provided. This method will keep the stitches straight and spread out the traveling paths as well. To travel properly between rows, one would normally carry the thread to the edge and take tacking stitches in the backing of the outline to hold the thread as you travel to new starting points. In the small sample simply take a tacking stitch in the backing of one of the Hungarian units at its center and travel to the new row behind the laid thread. After stitch 2, place the tacking stitch behind the unit below the last brick stitch. After stitch 5, use the unit to the right for this maneuver.  

Step 3 Sequence

Step 4. Two options are provided for this step. The lowercase sequence at the top of the chart adds these stitches in horizontal rows of running stitches. The capital letter sequence at the bottom adds these stitches in horizontal rows of alternating running stitches and back stitches. This sequence will wrap the stitches with more tension. It also guides the traveling threads so that they fall behind the canvas threads instead of between the tall stitches of the Hungarian units. These same sequences can also be worked both ways in vertical paths. When a shape is longer than it is wide, I usually choose this direction because it means fewer individual rows and fewer turns - a bit more efficient and a time saver.

NOTE: If you are frugal and plan to use an expensive thread for this step in a large area, the running stitch option is definitely a better choice since it uses less thread than the alternating sequence.

Step 4 Sequence

Example 5. Variation III. The third variation spreads out the Hungarian units even further so that there is room for a pair of tent stitches in the Step 4 areas. More of the laidwork will show and the tent areas will become denser and more prominent, especially in the high-contrast black metallic used in the sample.

Overall chart of second expanded pattern 


Steps 1-3 are executed with the same sequences suggested for the previous pattern - only the placements have changed.

Step 4. Flip-flop Tent Pairs. This time a back stitch sequence must be used for each pair of tent stitches in order to maintain a good "continental" backing rather than a minimal "half cross" backing. All of the stitches are laid in a constant bottom-to-top direction since the sequence starts at the top of the pattern and the new rows are below this row. The first pair (a-b) is stitched right-to-left and the second "mirrored" pair (c-d) is stitched left-to-right in order to maintain the desired continental technique with maximum tension and backing. This alternating sequence also conceals the traveling threads behind a canvas thread. On the second row, the order changes to accommodate the changes in both the row direction and the stitch directions. The tent clusters are arranged in a four-way position around the Hungarian units, making these adjustments necessary. The previous pattern had a similar arrangement but fewer adjustments were needed for the single stitches.

Step 4 Sequence.  

NOTE: The variations in this segment have introduced the concept of expanding a "parent" pattern in order to derive an interesting variation. Spreading out the original elements creates more open space that can be further embellished with other stitches.  Such open arrangements can also be used without the additional accents for a background treatment, and the presence of the laid threads will enable the traveling threads between the spread-out units to be concealed.

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