[HNW] icky blackwork

Eowyn Amberdrake eowyna at sca-caid.org
Sat Apr 16 07:56:31 PDT 2005

On Sat, 16 Apr 2005 01:27:24 -0700
  Carolyn Kayta Barrows <kayta at frys.com> wrote:
>I'm back to feeling inept again.  The tatting cotton 
>arches over the surface of my linen in big flabby loops, 
>The ends of the stitches 
>don't match up even if the threads are coming and going 
>in the same holes, and what should be straight lines 
>aren't anything like straight or continuous.

So -- you have a tension problem (big flabby loops) and a 
problem with evenness.

If you want to use a hoop that can help, but I only use it 
for pictorial stuff that will be framed.  Costume stuff I 
do in hand, because the final result will not be under 
tension, so I don't want to start that way.

You are starting with an away waste knot, so that you can 
tug a bit, yes?

Everyone has been recommending double running stitch -- 
I'm going to recommend that you use back stitch.  If you 
tug it just slightly, the holes open up slightly, and the 
end of one stitch will indeed butt-up against the next. 
That will also solve the tension problem.  Historically, 
back stitch was used A Lot more than double-running.

Backstitch is more suited for things you will line, like a 
cuff, than things you see both sides of, like a ruffle. 
  But  backstitch does give you a crisper line, and it 
appears that is what you are looking for.  

Double running will not give you stitches that butt-up 
next to one another, unless you pierce the preceding 
thread.  If you are going to pierce threads (which is an 
acceptable way of working), then you need to use a sharp 
needle, not a tapestry needle.

  To get double-running to look nice, one generally does 
the return trip in a slanting style.  That is, come up in 
the same hole but above the thread of the preceding 
stitch, and place it in the same hole, but below the 
thread of the following stitch.

Also, I am assuming that you are working on something like 
30 -36 count linen, working over 2 threads.  If it is 
higher count linen, then go over 3 or 4 threads (a lot of 
the extant historical stuff is on a very fine, high count, 
and over an uncounted but close to 3 or 4 number of 
threads).  I have had exellent results using one strand of 
floss (same diameter as the tatting cord, but softer) over 
two ground threads on 22-count Hardanger cloth, so unless 
you are using something coarser than 22-count, stick with 


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