AREA 4: Tortoiseshell Filling

By Anna-Marie Winter

Threads Used:


Laying The Background Grid

Use 1 strand of Kreinik Very Fine (#4) Braid 308 (My Thread ___________) for the foundation grid.

This pattern is worked in a series of layers, building one layer over another until the geometric design has been completed. A laid grid of Kreinik Very Fine (#4) Braid forms the base. A geometric blackwork design is then worked over the grid using a single ply of silk to produce an area rich in pattern and texture.

The background grid is worked using long lengths of metallic thread laid across the surface of the canvas, both horizontally and vertically to form the grid. Begin and end all threads in a previously stitched area where they will not show.

Thread a long length of metallic thread into a #24 tapestry needle. Anchor the end of the thread securely in a completed area adjacent to this one. Beginning in the lower left corner, work a series of long vertical stitches, alternating the working direction from bottom to top, then top to bottom with each stitch. Each vertical stitch is separated by two vertical canvas threads.

Work vertical stitches first. When the vertical stitches are in place, then complete the grid by laying the horizontal stitches across the vertical threads beginning at the top edge and working down.

Filling Pattern

Use 1 strand of Splendor 822 (My Thread ___________) for the blackwork pattern worked over the foundation grid.

A blackwork pattern is worked over top of the stitched grid. These stitches form a geometric pattern that secures the long threads forming the grid. Begin and end all threads in a previously stitched area. Using a single strand of silk, begin along the top edge. Work each stitch in the order indicated in the diagram, compensating the pattern as necessary along the edges.

The pattern is worked in horizontal rows using a double running stitch in four journeys or trips. The first two journeys complete the top half of the stitch units. The first journey travels across the canvas from right to left, working the short horizontal stitches of the pattern. The second journey travels from left to right, completing the top half of the stitch unit by taking the diagonal and short vertical stitches of the pattern. Follow the direction of the arrows carefully when working this pattern. See the above diagram for the entire numbering sequence. The individual rows below show each pass in each direction.

The last two journeys complete the bottom half of the stitch units. The third journey again works from right to left, working only diagonal stitches across the row. The fourth journey completes the row by working the remaining horizontal and vertical stitches.

Repeat all 4 journeys to fill in the entire area with this pattern.

Embellishing the Pattern

You can embellish the pattern and add more detail by adding stitches to the centers of the large octagons that form the main part of the pattern. By using darning patterns or other stitches, you can break up the larger spaces into smaller ones, creating a secondary pattern.

One way to break up the space is to add a series of small horizontal and vertical running stitches. By using a single strand of silk and working a running (darning) stitch over 2 and under 6 canvas threads as shown in the diagram below will break up the space. Work all vertical stitches first, and then complete the remaining two sides of the box by working the horizontal stitches in the same manner.

An interesting effect is achieved when some of the octagons are left unfilled or voided. Voiding groups of four octagons will produce a four-sided petal effect while voiding single octagons will produce an almost circular effect. See the above diagram for the entire numbering sequence. The individual rows below show each pass in each direction.

Note: The red sample shows the embellishment on the first and third rows and no embellishment on the second row.

Leave long tails on all starting and ending threads so that you can weave them in to finish them in adjoining areas.

Designer Biographical Information

Anna Marie Winter is a Canadian teacher, designer, lecturer and author. She has taught in Canada, the United States, Bermuda and Europe. Some of her designs have appeared in Piecework and Needlepoint Now