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The Illuminated William Morris Part 2b - Whirls & Swirls (Whipped Chain)

(originally published 29th July 2014)

Greetings all! :)

Following on from the last blog, having worked some swirls in trailing to create some thick lines in the background, I 'downsized' in thickness to work the rest of the very long lines. This effect was worked with a whipped chain:

Bring thread up at A and back down into the same hole,

keeping a loop of thread on the surface of the fabric.

I'm a great fan of the whipped stitch - stem, back and in this case, chain - the whip stitches can add texture, colour, or both, depending on your choices.

Bring the thread up at B, making sure the needle is

INSIDE the loop of thread.

As with most stitches (and most hand-worked techniques actually), the devil is in the detail - the stitch itself is straightforward, but a really good chain stitch requires each stitch to be the same as its neighbours...

Pull thread firmly, completing the first chain,

and beginning the second.

...not only in length, but in width as well...

Proceed as before, bringing thread up at C, with the

needle INSIDE the loop of thread; pull firmly and so on.

...which means that a good, constant tension needs to be kept on the threads at all times, and daydreaming kept to a minimum! :)

Chain stitch progressing along the paint line;

complete the chain before beginning the whip.

In this project I've worked the chain stitch with 2 strands of DMC cotton, but whipped it with just 1 strand of the same colour. This gives an interesting, subtle texture, if the whip stitch isn't pulled too tightly. A different colour would also give interest.

To whip the chain stitch, bring a fresh thread up to one side of

the first chain stitch, about halfway along the stitch.

Switch to a blunt-ended (tapestry) needle and scoop

whipping thread under the next chain stitch and back to

the starting side of the line.

I learned the trick to simply turn my embroidery needle around and whip my stitches with the 'eye' end, as it saved having to dig out a tapestry needle, but then I wear a thimble on BOTH hands, so I don't have to worry about personal injury!

Progress along the line, whipping each chain stitch

to the end, and secure thread invisibly.

Like any linear stitch, whipped chain works beautifully on outlines, recreating lettering and whole words, and is a dream when it comes to colours, as you can have two colours in the chain, and a 3rd in the whip, lush!

See you next time for the two-tone stem (sounds like a dance step)!

Love 'n Stitches,


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