Stitch of the Month
September 2004: One-Way Diagonal
Couching Pattern - Web Stitch
by Ann Strite-Kurz
The rest of the 2004 SOTM segments will focus on diagonal couching patterns. I decided to start with the web stitch because it is one of a very few traditional stitches that have laid rows. Long diagonal tramé rows are laid first and then secured with small perpendicular tent stitches in a staggered or “bricked” arrangement. This structure forms a dense small scale pattern that will fit comfortably even in narrow tapered areas.
Chart of Overall Pattern. Web Stitch.
Tent and encroaching Gobelin are two other stitches that fit comfortably in small areas. However, both of these stitches form relatively smooth patterns whereas web is layered and the tent tiedown stitches create an interesting bumpy texture, especially when the pattern is executed in two colors or contrasting threads. Because both the laid threads and the tiedown stitches are easy to compensate, this pattern fits irregular shapes nicely as well.
Whether it is executed in a single color or in contrasting colors, this pattern must use an alternating sequence whereby a single Step 1 laid row is executed and then followed by a single Step 2 row of tiedown stitches. Because the laid rows are only one thread apart, it would be impossible to add the tent stitches if all of the laid rows were completed as Step 1. Both ends of every tent tiedown stitch will eventually be covered by laid rows in the finished pattern except along the outside edges, so it is easier to add these tiedown stitches immediately after each laid row is placed. As a result, the tent stitch needle will be able to come up comfortably in open holes, wrap over the laid row and sink at an angle under the previous laid row. Where the sinking holes of the tent stitches are concealed, the final pattern will actually appear woven.
Sequence for a One-Color Pattern. This version uses one threaded needle and follows the continuous numbered sequence shown below. The tramé row is laid in one direction and the tiedown stitches are added in the reverse direction.
Chart for a One-Color Sequence.
Sequence for a Two-Color Pattern. This version uses two threaded needles in an alternating sequence. The laid row in this version is always Step 1 and the tiedown rows always follow in the same direction as Step 2. When not in use, the idle needle should always be parked on the front side of the canvas, preferably in the next starting hole, if it can be anticipated.
Chart for a Two-Color Sequence.
A stitched example of a two-color web pattern is shown below on a black 18-count canvas. The laid rows are executed in a #12 gold metallic braid and the tent stitches are stitched in a #5 red pearl cotton for full coverage. The stitched examples of web variations that will follow are also stitched in the same threads on the same canvas so that the views make better comparisons.
Two-Color Web Example.
Over the years I have developed a number of useful variations of the web stitch. Each one has a unique appearance, but the general rhythm and sequences are the same, so there is no need to provide sequence charts for these patterns.
Variation 1. Open Web. The first variation is an open version of the traditional web pattern The laid rows are now two threads apart and the tent stitches straddle every other intersection in each row, forming a network of squares. Both a sample of this pattern and a charted view are shown below.
Stitched Example. Open Web.
Charted View. Open Web.
Variation 2. Open Web with Reverse Tent Stitch Rows. This variation has the same main network as the first one, but there are rows of reversed tent stitches added between the laid rows. In the stitch sample below, these rows are added in a #8 red metallic braid using back stitch paths.
Stitched Example. Open Web with Reverse Tent Rows.
Charted View. Open Web with Reverse Tent Rows.
Variation 3. Open Web with Undulating Outlines. This variation has the same main network as the first one, but additional rows of reversed tent stitches are added strategically between the laid rows to produce a wavy outline. In the stitch sample below, these rows are stitched in #5 red pearl cotton so that these stitches merge with the tent tiedown stitches.
Stitched Example. Open Web with Undulating Outlines.
Two charted views are provided of this pattern. The first one shows the three separate steps. The reverse tent stitches are added in diagonal paths that are perpendicular to the laid rows. The second view shows how the pattern will appear if Steps 2 and 3 are stitched in the same thread.
Charted View I. Open Web with Undulating Outlines. View of Three Separate Steps.
Charted View II. Open Web with Undulating Outlines. View with Steps 2 and 3 Merged.
Since all of these variations have the same main framework, I thought it would be useful to see them together on the same doodle cloth. Can you identify the examples shown in the comparisons below?
These three variations were first used in a design called Flurry of Butterflies. Three unusual butterflies with narrow wings and split bodies embellish the center of a fancy plate in this design. Trying to come up with small scale patterns that would have enough repeats inside these narrow shapes was a challenge and I used these same three web variations in the split areas of the bodies.
The patterns have been rotated 90 degrees to fit the symmetrical shapes better, but I think you will recognize the same three variations that were discussed earlier. This design is also on 24-count Congress cloth, making the patterns appear more delicate. Notice how many repeats are able to fit into these very small spaces.
Variation 4. Enlarged Web. The last variation is my favorite because of its close resemblance to Alicia lace when both layers are executed in the same color. Both patterns are open and form small diamond outlines on the canvas. The web variation does this with far fewer stitches, however, since the laid rows eliminate all of the back stitches in one direction. This illusion is most effective when dark colors are used because it is harder to notice the absence of the individual tent stitches. This alternative is definitely no substitute for the consistent dimpled effect of Alicia lace that is produced by all of the individual tent stitches, but it is a viable alternative for the situations indicated. Views of both stitches are shown below. I also added a view of the regular web pattern that is the same size as the enlarged web view so that you can compare the differences in scale more readily.
Charted view of Alicia Lace Pattern.
Charted View of Enlarged Web Pattern.
Charted View of Regular Web Pattern.
The laid rows of the enlarged web are spread out more — two threads between each row like the open web pattern — and the couching stitches straddle two intersections rather than one. These tiedown stitches have staggered placements in the alternating rows, forming a similar bricked effect like the arrangement in the regular Web pattern. This pattern is open rather than solid, however, and there will be visible open holes and perhaps some slight canvas "peekaboos" as well. The latter can usually be eliminated with the use of heavier thread weights so adjust accordingly.
In executing this pattern, use the same rhythm that was discussed for a regular two-color web stitch. Use two needles and alternate the two steps until the area is filled.
CONCLUSIONS. Web stitch is one of the most versatile couching patterns and I consider it a basic staple in my collection of favorite stitches. I usually include it — or one of its variations — in almost every design because there are so few small scale stitches from which to select. I hope this discussion has exposed you to some new possibilities for developing variations from parent stitches as well. Spreading out the tramé rows, enlarging or spreading out the tiedown stitches and adding additional fillings are all ways to change existing couching patterns. These simple alterations can be applied to diagonal patterns as easily as they are applied to vertical and horizontal patterns, so the possibilities are endless.
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