HNW - Needlework I like to do acacia at
Sun Aug 2 01:22:44 PDT 1998

Greetings all, delurking here

Majority of blackwork in SCA period was actually done in free form style.
The earlist known work was the Altar fragment from Fulda 1170-80 which was
destroyed in WWII.  

The name blackwork is quite misleading as it was also popular in red's and
green's - perhaps monochrome work would be more exact.   

Free form blackwork was quite popular throughout the 14 and 15 century in
Italy and Spain and can be see usually on on the edgeing, collars and cuffs
of the chemise of the dress.  I can give a lot of examples of this but for
starters have a look on the "lady in Green" by Bronzino (1503-72) - great
collar.  Another example is the 'lady in green' by Raphael (1483-1520) -
look at the chemise edging and the patten on the sleeve.

I would also suggest looking at the work of Holbein the elder (1465-1524)
and Holbein the younger (1497 - 1543) as well.

Blackwork became popular again in when it was introducted into English
Court by Catherine of Aragon and was often called Spanish work (with all
the interesting spelling variations of the time), I have also seen it
referred to as Holbein work.

The work we know today as counted black work was a form of filler stitch
popular in the later half of the 16th century.  The outline of the patten
was often done in free form black work and then shaded using the geometric
design.  You can see examples of this in any 16c costume book.

Prior to this the popular form of filler stitch was a speckling or seeding
stitch (which by the way is very fast and easy to master) - see also assisi

There are two great surviving samplers in the V&A museum of blackwork, one
is dated 1598 and the other early 17c and they are reproduced in a lot of
historical needlework books.

I have also read that alegories (sp?) were often worked into the design of
the blackwork - Jane Seymours cuff for example was suppost to include the
stairway to heaven, the three crosses at calgary, surrounded by the crown
of thorns. (can't remember now were I read this - doh!)

Remember also that 16c blackwork was often red, mixed with gold threads and
also beads and spangles.

Majority of free form blackwork is done in stem stitch - I personally
prefer free form as their is no counting of treads and it is surprisingly
fast when you get into the swing of things

good luck on your project  (engage lurk mode)

Acacia d'Navarre (Chris d'Aquino)
St Florian-della-Riviere, Lochac, West Kingdom (Brisbane, Queensland,
acacia at

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