This is a guest post from Andrea, a sales associate and teacher at the Lion Brand Yarn Studio, our retail store in New York City.
I learned to crochet when I was four years old, and learned how to knit the following year, taught by my great-aunt. What came from her besides knowledge was an invaluable passion for crafting. Throughout middle school and high school, I had explored other areas of fiber-crafting, ultimately resulting in a minor obsession with embroidery. However, that skill was put aside to purse other things once I left home, and I let it slip from my memory. Working at the Lion Brand Yarn Studio has re-ignited that passion in me once again that has always been there lying dormant; not just for knitting and crochet, but for all things involving fiber and my hands.
At the Studio, we are always working on something for our elaborate and diverse window displays. When I was handed an inner tube for our recent Coney Island window that needed some lettering on it, I was amazed at how my hands were once again threading a darning needle and making a chain stitch! I had thought my embroidery skills were long forgotten, but what I discovered was that my hands and muscles never did.
Embroidery interests me mostly because of the minimal material requirement (all you need is a needle and colored thread or yarn!), and the range of designs you can create from very simple to the elaborate. I started with simple wall hanging kits I had inherited from my great-aunt, which have the pattern already drawn out for you in different colors;this was a great way to learn how the stitches can flow together and combine. After my mother had a sufficient collection of fruit and vegetable samplers, I began making my own designs. Designing an embellishment in embroidery is much easier than trying to write out your own color-work chart, or doing a whole lot of math to write your own sweater pattern from scratch. In fact, it is the easiest way to add some color to your work without a lot of commitment. If you don’t like it, you can just take it out! (The same applies for a mistake!!)
One of my favorite stitches, the duplicate stitch, looks exactly like the knit stitch, so you can use it to replicate an intarsia or Fair Isle pattern on your finished piece if you’re interested in trying some color-work, but aren’t quite ready to take on multiple bobbins or strands of yarn.
If you want to learn more about the duplicate stitch, you can find complete instructions plus step-by-step images in the Learning Center on the Lion Brand website (click the highlighted text to view it).
Embroidery is great for putting eyes on those cute Amigurumi, too. You can use a satin stitch to really build up a larger eye, or a simple French knot which really stands out from the fabric nicely. I also use French knots for a lot of other things, like the centers of the daisy stitch which is really adorable on baby items.
If you are interested in trying out some basic embroidery stitches and are in the New York City area, I am giving a class on these stitches and more on September 17th at the Studio. If you aren’t in the New York area, check out www.needlenthread.com for some videos and tutorials for hand embroidery.
And here are some great free patterns from Lion Brand, using embroidery embellishments, that you can tailor to your liking:
- Rosy Stitches Cowl – A good introduction to embroidery
- Just Ducky Baby Afghan – Great for practicing Duplicate Stitch!
- Felted and Mended Afghan – A really interesting way to explore modern embroidery embellishments