Sashiko, a traditional form of Japanese embroidery using the running stitch, is a great source of inspiration for blackwork. Both techniques employ geometric patterns, and both rely on the contrast between the embroidery and the ground cloth – although Sashiko is not counted and typically uses white thread on indigo fabric. This month’s blackwork pattern was adapted from a Sashiko pattern called Mukai kikkō (facing tortoiseshell), which gives an almost 3D effect. In the diagrams, 1 grid square equals 2 threads on evenweave / linen. The repeat is highlighted in yellow.
While there’s no “right” way to stitch blackwork, you can make it easier for yourself by taking the time to understand how a pattern is constructed and planning a “route”. Here is the route that worked well for me, with new stitches shown in red.
1. Work a row of vertical lines over 4 threads.
2. Work little squiggles in-between the vertical stitches.
3. Work a line of zig-zags over the top (counting 2 threads up/down and 4 threads across).