by Beth Hester
The Basket Maker's Catalog
Please print these FREE instructions and share with your friends.
I became interested in needle weaving in 1979 when I met Vadie Conner Williams, an Allen County Kentucky Library patron on my bookmobile route. Vadie was in her 80s and she stitched the most beautiful inset panels of “lace” on pillowcases and sheets. Her linen tablecloths and napkins held woven corners she called “wheels” or “spider webs”. One day I was invited into her bedroom where she revealed, perfectly ironed and folded in her dresser drawer, dozens of pieces of “drawnwork” on the edge of mantle cloths and tea towels— many she’d made on feed sacks. As our friendship grew she took me under her wing and taught me the stitches she’d learned as a girl from her mother. Years later I saw similar designs, woven on wire foundations, with pine needle baskets, gourds and jewelry—it is a small world!
Other names for this type of needle weaving (woven on radial spoke threads) are teneriffe and sun lace. Our Waxed Linen Ornaments can be woven on a variety of wire shapes including round, oval, hexagon, petal, and figure 8; you’ll find it simple to adapt these instructions, written for the diamond-shaped wire, to other shapes.
Enjoy, and have fun creating your ornaments!
Materials / Supplies
|Description||Item||Add to Cart|
|1 ea. - 2" Diamond Wire Shape||Item 2364E||Add|
|8 Yards - Salmon Waxed Linen 4-Ply||Item 7143Y||Add|
|You may also use a different Wire Shape (Diamond,Square, Round, Etc.) and any color 4 -Ply Waxed Linen.|
Size: 2” Square, 2” Diamond or 2.25” Round
1. Cut 4 yards of 4-ply Waxed Linen Thread.
2. Fold thread in half, with equal amounts on each side. Attach thread to the apex of your wire shape by laying folded end of thread on top of the wire. Pull tails of thread around the wire and upward inside the loop of the fold. See Photos 1a and 1b. Pull loop tight around wire.
3. Now, you’ll cover the wire with buttonhole stitches, using the 2 ends of thread alternately. Stitches should touch each other; however, the loop where the tail of the thread extends should be loose enough to later insert your needle. Be as consistent as possible with your thread tension.
Make a loop to the right with one thread, laying the thread on top of the wire. See Photo 2. Bring the thread’s tail under the wire and through the loop from below. See Photo 3.
Pull the tail to tighten the loop around the wire. See Photo 4. You’ve just completed your first right-hand stitch.
Drop the thread you’ve just worked and pick up the other end of thread. Make the next stitch, looping to the left, going over the wire, under the wire, and upward through the loop with this left-hand thread. See Photo 5a. Adjust tension of left-hand stitch. See Photo 5b showing first 2 stitches completed. Make a stitch with the right-hand thread—adjust tension; again with the left-hand thread, etc.
Note: Pay attention to consistency of tension as you wrap then tighten each stitch; don’t pull thread too tightly. Do leave stitch loose enough to later insert the needle through the “loop” but snug enough and close enough to the previous stitch to cover the wire (the stitch you tighten should touch the previous stitch).
After you’ve wrapped 1” of the wire, check your stitch count—12 or 13 stitches per inch on each side is optimum. Check that you’re able to insert the needle into the loop of each tightened stitch. See Photos 6a and 6b.
4. Continue until the entire wire is wrapped and you’ve returned to the starting point. Join the threads to the starting point by passing each thread through a beginning loop—one thread to a loop on the outside of the wire and one to the inside—and pulling the thread tight. The thread you’ve stitched to the outside will be used to make a hanger for your ornament and the inside thread will be used to create spokes.
5. This instruction is for a simple “cross” design. You’ll, no doubt, enjoy creating other designs using more spokes and variations of this basic design.
Our next step is to create the spoke threads on which to weave. Outline the wire shape on a piece of paper and cut out the shape to make a pattern. Fold the pattern in half and in half again. Open the paper and draw along the folds with a pencil. By looking at your pencil marks and laying your stitched shape on top of your paper pattern, you can visualize the center spoke threads horizontally and vertically. You’ll need a spoke that corresponds to these marks, and you’ll need 2 additional spokes (evenly spaced) on each side of each center spoke. See Fig. 1.
6. Locate the end of thread that’s on the inside of the wire and thread its end onto your needle.
7. Insert the needle into one stitch/loop on the inside of the wire directly opposite the starting point. Pull the thread through until it’s taut. This is Spoke 1.
8. Stitch in and out of the loops, on the inside of the wire, from point 1 to point 2a. See Photo 7. Carry the thread across the middle to point 2b. Insert needle through a loop and pull the thread through, you now have Spoke 2 in place. Check that both spokes are taut.
9. Stitch in and out of the loops from point 2b to point 3a, carry thread to 3b to create Spoke 3. Pull spoke taut. Continue in this manner until you have all 10 spokes in place.
Stitch in and out of loops from point 10b to point 1, see Photo 8. Stitch around the wire and through a loop once or twice; cut thread close to wire.
10. To create a loop for hanging your ornament, first thread the needle with the waxed linen that remains at the starting point. Make a loop of thread that’s about 3” long and secure the loop through a stitch on the outside edge of the wire. Wrap thread around wire and back through loop to anchor. Next, make 3 or 4 buttonhole stitches, covering both loop threads. Thread needle back through the stitches; trim thread. See Photo 9.
11. Cut 3 yards of 4-ply waxed linen. Tie one end around all the spokes where they cross in the center/middle of your ornament leaving a thread tail about 1” long. As you weave, secure this tail alongside one of the spokes. Consider the knot you’ve just made to be the back/wrong side of your ornament.
12. Thread the opposite end of waxed linen into your needle. The cross design has 4 “arms” or sections. Each arm has a center spoke and 2 spokes on each side of the center for a total of 5 spokes per section; weave each section separately. See Fig. 2.
Note: Using waxed linen thread, you may notice a slight build-up of wax as you pull the thread through the weaving.
13. Locate the 5 spokes in one section and weave over, under, over, under, over across all 5 spokes. Pull the thread through and, using your needle, pack this row toward the center. See Photo 10. Weave in the opposite direction, each stitch opposite the previous row.
Pull thread through and pack; repeat stitching pattern of first row. See Photo 11. Weave as described above, back and forth, using all 5 spokes for about 18 rows (about half the distance from the center knot to the wire).
Continue to weave, weaving only across the center spoke and one spoke to each side of this center spoke. When you’ve completed this section, bring thread along center spoke on the back/wrong side of your ornament, running the needle under the weaving to the center. See Photo 12. Use thimble or pliers to move needle through the weaving.
14. Weave the remaining 3 sections as described above. Return to center after the final section and make a couple of stitches in the center to secure your thread. Trim the thread.
Variations on a theme: 2” square and 2” diamond wire shapes.
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