Mary Corbet

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I learned to embroider when I was a kid, when everyone was really into cross stitch (remember the '80s?). Eventually, I migrated to surface embroidery, teaching myself with whatever I could get my hands on...read more

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Stitch Fun! Can You Name this Stitch?


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I’ve been playing with several embroidery stitches lately, to add some tutorials and stitch ideas to the Stitch Fun series here on Needle ‘n Thread.

This latest stitch I’ve been playing with is, I think, one of those under-appreciated, not-often-used stitches, but it has great potential, especially because it’s easy!

There’s nothing complicated about it at all, and yet it yields results that rival some of the more complex braid stitches.

Stitch Fun: Name This Stitch

The sample above is worked in Soie Perlee. This particular sample is not the most attractive – the stitch works up better in cottons and wools as opposed to this type of silk. The silk is slippery and a bit on the boingy side, so it takes a little more work to get the stitch to hold its place.

Stitch Fun: Name This Stitch

This sample is worked with two strands of Fine d’Aubusson wool, and the clingy, rough nature of the wool holds the stitch much better.

I’m not trying to trick you or stump you, really! If you can name the stitch, that’s great – and if you can’t, that’s ok, too, because it’s not normally seen like this.

My point in asking if you can name this particular stitch is to illustrate how easy it is to alter the look of a stitch, simply by changing its spacing, both lengthwise and width-wise.

We can draw stitches out and make them longer and completely change the way they look. We can work them closer together than they normally would be, and again, achieve a completely different look!

We can make a stitch that would normally be wide, narrow. Or we can do the opposite – a stitch that would normally be narrow, we can make wide. And this changes the look of the stitch.

In changing the look of a stitch, we can also change its application.

If you look at the green wool example above, you can see that the stitch creates a nice braided line – similar to several more complicated braid stitches. And yet, this is a much simpler stitch, made up of familiar components.

The stitch would make a beautiful and dense stem, branch, vine and so forth in crewel work and other types of surface embroidery, don’t you think? But in its more commonly worked form – the way you’d see it in most stitch dictionaries – it doesn’t usually look like this!

So, can you name the stitch? Feel free to leave your insights below!


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(84) Comments

  1. The stitch looks like a knotted pearl, or possibly a cast on stitch to me. If I had to pick one, I would pick the knotted pearl, but in any event I’m curious to find out what that pretty stich is, actually.

  2. I’m guessing a plaited braid stitch.

    Typically used in goldwork, the thinner gold thread lets you see the braid effect more easily. It’s difficult to see with a larger thread.

    But that’s what it looks like to me.

    Carol S.

  3. Hm, to my admittedly inexperienced eye…it looks like chain stitch worked closely and at angles? It looks great–braid stitches have always intimidated me so if there’s an easier way, I’m in. ^_^

  4. Dear Mary

    mmmmm not sure it looks like some form of braid stitch but you’ve said it is a much simpler stitch so I’m not sure. Whatever combination of stitches you have used I can’t wait for you to reveal the stitch, I do love stitch fun and look forward to the answer and to more stitch ideas which I always find so interesting and useful. Thanks for sharing this with us and encouraging us to try and explore different techniques in stitching.

    Regards Anita Simmance

  5. It looks like Spanish Knotted Feather Stitch to me! I am curious to know! I do hope you are feeling much better! Happy stitching!

  6. Mary,
    This is a good brain-teaser. It reminds me of turkey work, two rows facing each other, rather than with long loops to cut.

    This made me realize that I don’t have a good way to look up a stitch that I’m not familiar with, even though I have several stitch dictionaries.

    What do you recommend as resources?

    Keep up the challenges!

  7. This stitch looks very familiar to me. But since I’m at work and have none of my stitch books with me I’m not going to take a guess.
    I do love your stitch fun postings, Mary.

  8. On first sight I thought I knew the stitch – Paulustrina knot stitch last used to edge my gold work scissor case. But not sure it is. Looks a great stitch for some crewel work. Pity I have just finished my latest offering.

  9. At first I thought it was a Herringbone l
    Ladder Stitch, but I don’t see the ‘side rails’ of the ladder.
    My guess is Spanish Knotted Feather Stitch, worked a little wider than usual.

  10. Hi Mary. I’m new to you although I’ve been reading your website for awhile now. I think it may be Chain stitch rosette? I’m sucker for a new stitch to learn! Love your website soooo much.

  11. It looks like a coral knot stitch–zig-zagged and set very close with a second path interlaced. I can follow the path of the thread and it looks like it goes over and then under, over and then under which is why I said the second path was interlaced with the first one.

  12. My first thought, looking at your stitch today, was some kind of chain stitch and then my second thought was of a knotted feather stitch. I do not know the names of these but think the knotted feather stitch resembled this the most ?????

    Our group is doing just this when we meet – take a stitch we all know and come up with variations. Fun. Thank you.

  13. Hi , I’m Michal from israe and I’m specialist in traditional embroidery …. From my point of view its chain stich very little almost tiny and very think tread. We USA it in yamanait em broidery thanks for challenging!!!love to help with any problems or gest to warm words

  14. I don’t know, but I do know I could replicate it using the many varieties of chain stitch- the most beautiful and versatile of all the stitches!

  15. Since you said it’s an easy one, I’ll also guess it’s chain stitch worked in an unusual fashion. I think I see chain stitch in the center of it particularly in the silk work. Have to say the overall effect is of a very complicated stitch.

  16. Mary i love every bit of your site. im having a lot of fun.

    ITHINK that stitch is centipede, or looks like it.

    Keep your good work.

  17. This is a good one. I can’t wait to see the answer. I just did a reversed palestrina stitch on a doodle cloth and it looks similar. I thought it might be a Hungarian braided chain stitch so worked that up on my doodle cloth too. It didn’t look as similar. I love reading all the different responses. It’s like life – we all see it differently!

  18. Mrs. Corbet,
    The letters in the monogram/cipher (the last picture in the article you wrote a few days ago), are they M U V?

    1. Chuckle, chuckle. You don’t like being left hanging for an answer, do you? Well, I’m going to write about monograms again in the near future, so I’ll reveal it then! Hang in there!

  19. I’m going to go for herringbone chain stitch! Interlocking stems of the chain to look like a herringbone pattern and with the loops on the outside.

  20. Turkey work. I use it in needlepoint for beards and feathers but is it used in embroidery? Enjoy your website. Juluet

  21. On first inspection this stitch reminds me of gimp, yes, upholstery gimp. So, I’m stewing over “galloping gimp “or “simple gimple.” I may write again with another idea; like you, things often need to percolate a bit.

  22. Is it a variation of the Rope Stitch? Instead of only coming up on the left, you alternate comind up on the left, then the left?

    Or perhaps a variation of the Van Dyke?

  23. This is a good puzzle! It does look like the traditional braid stitch but there is a nuance to it that reminds me of the rosette chain stitch that is reversed every stitch.

  24. Alternating Twisted Chain? It looks like there is a lazy daisy in there somewhere that has been twisted and then a mirror image stitched opposite.

  25. What a wonderful way to get us to look closely at how a stitch is constructed! Every possibility listed here deserves exploration. My guess is Spanish feather.

  26. My educated (of course!) guess would be Spanish Feather stitch or whatever variation of the name is used in your part of the world. I imagine it would be tricky with boingy silk thread but it works well with cotton perle.

  27. Dear Mary you must be feeling better to be having fun and teasing us GOOD.I have dug out the old Barbara Snook Embroidery Stitches my when in doubt book. Is it braid stitch? single or double on page 11? lots of other thoughts but none quite fit. Got us all thinking and checking out our stitches!!Lots of fun thank you so much Chris Munge

  28. Hi Mary, This is a tuffy…………….Interlaced Band,Raised Stem Stitch, Portuguese Vandyke, Stitch Border Stitch…??……..jUDITH

  29. With your reply to the “turkey” work comment, I change my first guess from plaited stitch to Palestrina. I use turkey work in a lot of my embroidery just for the “fuzzing” up for effect.

  30. How Many Times can we guess? Is It The Cable Plaited Stitch??.This Is Driving Me Nuts………………)But its fun…Judith

  31. I got quite a chuckle from your description of the silk thread being a bit on the “boingie” side. Thank you for my daily chuckle.

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