Blackwork Basics

So I've been tooling along, talking about blackwork and sharing my patterns, thinking everything is hunky dory.  Suddenly it hits me. I never explained what blackwork was.  Yeah, there are a thousand sites that tell the story of Catherine of Aragon, Henry VIII, and Holbein. And yeah, there are some really great tutorials out there with wonderful diagrams.  Why should I reinvent the wheel?

I'm not, really.  I'm just consolidating information, making it easier for you when you come to visit.  And besides, I have these nifty pictures I took and they shouldn't just take up space on my hard drive.

So here it is. The Basics of Blackwork.

Work the stitch in passes, or journeys.
On the first journey, work the even-numbered stitches: 1,3, 5 etc.

On the return journey, work the 'in between' odd-numbered stitches: 6,4,2 etc.

You will end up where you started.

Side trips are worked as their own little journey.

Work the element in one direction, turn around...

...and join back to the main path

Voila!  In the traditional sense, blackwork looks the same on the back as it does on the front, 
though modern blackwork may or may not hold to that tradition.  


  1. Thanks for this tutorial. I might be being a bit thick here, but I've never done blackwork. I know that redwork is basically embroidery in red, but it looks like you're working on evenweave? Is blackwork a counted thread method?

  2. Thanks for asking. Blackwork is a counted thread method, Wendy, and is worked on either aida or even weave. I prefer it on even weave as most blackwork is done with a single thread and it just looks better overall.

  3. For a long time I kept trying to figure out how you did peavine as a double running stitch with no interruptions or breaks, now I'm saying DUH to myself...thanks for posting this!


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