[HNW] Klosterstich definition

Sarah Randles s-randles at adfa.edu.au
Sun Sep 8 18:32:49 PDT 2002

Linn gave Pamela Clabburn's definition of Klosterstich:

>"Klosterstitch, Convent Stitch, Couching stitch.
>Basic stitch in couching, which has been traced back to Scythian
>embroideries of the 1st century, B.C.  One thread is laid along the top of
>the owrk and is held down by another thread crossing it regularly at right
>angles or obliquely.  It is used to outline designs or as a filling stitch
>and was much used in German and Swiss embroideries worked in the convents
>from the 15th to the 17th centuries"

I think this is too broad, and the dates are inaccurate.  Klosterstich is
indeed a form of couching, but it is a specific form.  It is executed in
woollen thread and is characterised by the same colour thread being used
for the laid thread as for the couching thread.  (It isn't necessarily the
same actual piece of thread as in Bokhara couching, although it can be.)
Klosterstich also is characterised by the fact that the entire ground
fabric is covered by the stitching, which is not the case in other forms of
embroidery.  In nearly all of the examples of Klosterstich I have seen, the
couching stitch is at an oblique angle rather than right angles to the laid

Note, too, that the term Klosterstich is the German term (and it doesn't
have a 't' before the 'c') and Convent Stitch is a literal translation of
it.  Couching stitch is a much broader description - it's not a translation
of the term.  Klosterstich is indeed characteristic of convent embroidery
in Germany and other German-speaking areas, but it is prevalent from the
beginning of the fourteenth century onwards in Northern Germany, spreading
southwards later.  Also, not all Klosterstich embroidery can be linked to

I hope that helps.

Sarah Randles
s.randles at adfa.edu.au

Australian National Dictionary Centre
Australian National University
ACT 0200
Phone: (02) 6125 0476 Fax: (02) 6125 0475
(On Thursdays and Fridays, I am at the School of English, ADFA on Ph: (02)
6268 8387, same e-mail address.)

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