Time to play with a stitch and have a bit of Stitch Fun!
This stitch is particularly fun, because it’s colorful, it’s a little complex, but it still works up fairly quickly.
Griffin Stitch is a lattice filling used in hand embroidery, counted work, and canvas work. As with most lattice fillings, it’s easiest worked on an even-weave fabric, but it can also be worked on a plain weave fabric, and I’ll talk about that as we go through this tutorial.
Let’s make the stitch. Ready?
I love this particular lattice filling technique! I’m almost tempted to relegate it to the “cute” category, but depending on the way you mix your colors, the threads you choose to use, the size of the area you’re filling, and whatnot, the look of the stitch can change quite a bit. You can add metallics in here, for a bit of glamor and sparkle, too. So when you play with Griffin Stitch, feel free to experiment with different threads, ok?
For this sample, I’m working on Legacy’s round yarn linen, which is a nice, all purpose, medium-to-heavy 25 count linen with very plump threads. It’s a great fabric for working samplers and the like! I’m using #5 perle cotton in three colors for the sample, but you can easily use four colors (and if you wanted to get Really Wild, you could use as many as six colors, but that might be a bit much…)
When working on linen or other fabric, use a hoop or frame when working lattice fillings.
For needles, I used a crewel needle in size 3, switching to a size 22 tapestry needle for the final step.
When working any kind of lattice filling, instead of taking a long stitch from A to B, and then coming up again under A to take another long stitch, step down to C for the beginning of the next stitch.
This stepping to the side for the next stitch instead of crossing again across the back of the fabric with a long stitch is called “laying” your threads. “Laid threads” are made with stitches taken in this side-stepping manner.
After coming up at C, take the needle and thread to the back at D.
The trick to a nice-looking lattice filling like this is that your laid stitches are equally spaced. Equal spacing is crucial to a satisfactory finish with any kind of lattice stitch.
Achieving equal spacing on even-weave fabric is easy enough – you just have to count the threads of the fabric. To achieve equally spacing on plain-weave fabric, you can either eyeball it (estimate the spacing by looking at it), or (for better accuracy), you can measure the distance with a ruler, and mark of the spacing on the sides of the filled area. If your marking is small and done with a light pencil in the direction of your laid stitches, you should be able to cover the marking up easily enough. Don’t mark the whole line, though – just mark enough so that you can see where each laid stitch should begin and end.
When you reach the base of your filling area and you’ve completed the horizontal stitches, take the corner to begin the vertical stitches in the filling. Your first vertical stitch should be just inside the corner, not a whole stitch-width away.
You can also start with your first vertical stitch just below the very center of the last horizontal line, and build your vertical stitches out from there, to ensure that the vertical stitches are centered over the horizontal.
In this case, since I’m working on even-weave fabric, I’ve already counted out the spacing, so I don’t need to start in the center.
Work the vertical laid threads the same way you worked the horizontal ones, stepping to the side for each stitch. The arrows map the direction of the stitches.
When you finish the second layer, you’ll have a nice boxy grid.
Now, following the same method of stitching, cross the grid with diagonal laid stitches. These stitches should cross over every intersection of the first two layers.
And then finally – you guessed it! – work the diagonal in the opposite direction. Notice that the four layers create first a box-like pattern, and on top of that, a diamond-shaped pattern with an “X” over every intersection and in the middle of every box of the lower grid.
These intersections are important to note, because each intersection will be couched in a certain way.
Now it’s time to change your thread color. I like to use contrasting stitches as the couching stitches in this type of work, just because they show up better and I think it looks neat. But you can actually do the whole filling in the same color if you want – the color scheme is entirely up to you!
So now we’re going to work with the first couching thread, which I’ve brought up in the top left corner of my lattice, just above the intersection of the “X” formed in the middle of the first full box on the left corner.
With this first pass of couching stitches, I’m going to couch all of these “X” intersections in the middle of each box, by traveling down the first column, up the second, down the third, and so forth, using the running stitch.
Each running stitch will pass over that “X” intersection and couch it, to hold it securely in place.
When you get to the base of the first column of boxes, head up the second column…
… and continue couching the whole lattice in this manner.
You could stop at this point if you wanted to. It looks ok, and the lattice threads are secure enough. But then, it wouldn’t be the Griffin stitch, would it?
And now, it’s time for the last step! This is the fun-fun part. We’ve had fun up to now, but this is when the whole thing comes together, and especially if you’re using contrasting colors, it’s exciting to see these last stitches go in!
I’ve switched to a tapestry needle now, and to a blue perle cotton. The area of the lattice we’re going to concentrate on now is the “X” that’s formed over the corner of each box from the lower grid. Notice that we have 8 threads intersecting at the corner of each box – four from the lower layer of horizontal and vertical lattice, and four from the diagonal lattice.
Bring the needle up just behind the top vertical thread. You’ll have to angle the needle a bit to get it to come out on the side of the thread.
Now, you can actually do this lacing part in either direction. I’m going to work clockwise around the intersection, but if you’re more comfortable working counter-clockwise, that’s fine, too!
The needle is going to go over the diagonal threads and under the horizontal and vertical threads, in an over-under movement around the whole intersection.
The needle does not pick up any fabric – it just passes over and under the threads.
Continue all the way around the intersection, going over and under and over and under…
… until you arrive back at the starting point, where you take the needle and thread to the back again, going down in the same hole that you originally came up in, behind that vertical thread.
Don’t cross over that vertical thread to go down in the hole! Go down on the other side of the vertical thread, right next to where you began, to give the illusion of a ring around the intersection.
Now, move up to the next intersection up the column…
… and work the same “circles” around the intersection.
Then step over to the next column and work your way down.
When I’m moving down a column, I start the circular lacing below the intersection, since I’ll be moving down in that direction.
Lace all the intersections, filling the whole lattice grid!
And this is what you end up with!
Isn’t it fun?! Gosh, I love embroidery!
Next time, we’ll look at some of the nitty-gritty involved in lattice fillings. It’s easy enough to work a lattice like this in a little square, and end up with a nice even lattice. But what about filling up a wonky shape with lattice work? We’ll go over that shortly, so you can start adding fun lattice fillings to all your embroidered shapes!
Stitch Fun is a series of tutorials here on Needle ‘n Thread, where we play with different embroidery stitches and combinations of stitches, just for the fun of it. If you’d like to see the other tutorials in this series, feel free to visit the Stitch Fun index, where you’ll find links to all the articles in the series. And remember – have Fun with your embroidery!