2015 stitchalong, part one

OK, so those of you who took part last year can probably skip to the end, unless you need a technical refresher, because we’re going to start with the basics of laid and couched work.

If you haven’t already marked out your pattern you need to do that first – pdfs are embedded in my previous post. You need to work under tension. I don’t recommend hoops, as even the good ones’s won’t keep the work tight enough (it needs to be drumtight), but a simple frame works well


You need a crewel type wool – tapisserie wool gives horrid, lumpy results (but you can sometimes get very good results with finer knitting wools, the important part is the wool should be very fine. If you’re using anything other than appletons crewel or the wool from my kits I suggest doing a trial piece first to establish how many threads you need to use).

You can still order a kit if needs be, just let me know.

For this first stage we will be using a doubled strand of wool.

It’s best to start in the centre of the design and work out, so I’d normally begin with her belt, but if you’re new to the stitch it’s best to have a nice big area to get your teeth into, so here I’m going to do her dress.

Direction of the first, laidwork, stitches isn’t really important. If you look at original pieces the direction is all over the place. The most important thing it to make the least amount of work for yourself, so choose the longest line you can run across the area to be covered, and then bring your doubled thread up at the edge of the design


then span the thread right across the design and bring the needle down at the far edge of the area you want to cover. You don’t have to start at the edge, it’s often easier to begin in the middle of a complicated shape and then work out.


Then bring the needle straight back up again, right next to where you went down – the laidwork thread doesn’t travel across the back of the work.


Then continue back and forth across the face of the shape until you’ve covered it. Do not take your thread across the back, but also don’t worry if you make the occaisional mistake(one thread across the back isn’t the end of the world)


At this stage all that should be visible at the back is a tiny row of stab stitches.


Obviously this is quite unstable, so we proceed to the couching stitch next, which will stabilise the laidwork. Work one area at a time, stabilising each once you’ve finished it.

The couching stitch is worked in a single strand of crewel wool.

Bring your single strand up on the long edge of the laidwork.


and lay it down at right angles over the top of the laidwork before taking it back down.

Next bring the needle up through the laidwork, and stitch down the couching thread. Do each couched thread as you come to it, working up and down, don’t try to put down all the couching threads before couching them as it can lead to very messy and uneven results.




It’s important to space the bars and the stitches that couch them down nice and evenly. Don’t try and space the bars too far apart or the piece will lack stability once you remove the tension. three to four millimetres distance between each bar is about right, the same between each couching stitch.

You should now start to see some stitching at the back


Cover the laidwork with couched bars. This first stage is essentially one of colouring in. We are ignoring details at this point and just blocking out colour


block the large areas of her dress first before moving on to smaller details.

block the areas below in your chosen colours


Note that I have not blocked her face or hands – we will be doing those next time in split stitch.

the same basic instructions from last year are available here

and you can post your progress pics on the flickr page

~ by opusanglicanum on October 10, 2015.

15 Responses to “2015 stitchalong, part one”

  1. I heard the postie yesterday afternoon – she was late, but stopped at our gate. ‘That will be my final assignment for the year’, I thought. My tutor had emailed me to say to expect it on Friday, Monday at the latest. So I ignored the mailbox until last light. To my delight it was as a big blue squishy parcel, not a boring stack of papers.
    So I can get started today – BEFORE the dreaded workbook gets here.
    Denial and escapism all in one day – bliss.

  2. How do you order a kit? Thanks!

  3. Looks good. Wish I were joining you, but maybe next time….

  4. You’re quite right about the hoop. Last year I did the dragon in a hoop, and it was a hoop with a smaller diameter than the dragon’s size. It worked out ok, but I had to re-tension the fabric about every day I stitched (at least once), and the tension issues got worse when I had some parts already embroidered and and some parts blank wool stuck under the border of the hoop.

    That’s why I never started the leopard from last year, I don’t have a frame and my hoop is too small to fit the whole animal from last year into it.
    (If I had a big enough hoop I would use it anyway 😉 )

    • I’m idiotically busy this next week or so, but when I get back from Nottingham I will try and remember to do a tutorial post showing you how to use an old picture frame to stretch it – if I forget feel free to nag

  5. I’m looking in your posts for October and September of this year, and not seeing the link for the pdf files of the lady and her knight. I’ve got the images printed on the fabric (from the kit), so I don’t need them for the stitch-a-long, but wanted to save them for future use. Turns out, I’ve got a LOT of naturally-dyed yarn that’s very close to the same thickness as what was sent in the kit (although a little more tightly plied), so I thought it would be cool to make a couple more (later this winter) as presents for friends.

    Oh, and random question…my kit included a nice little bit of purple yarn. Is that dyed with logwood? Asking because I know some of those shades can be a little fugitive, and I’d want to warn the intended recipient of the finished purse. =)

  6. I love doing Laid-Couch-work, and I agree that the yarn/threads need to be very fine indeed.

  7. For a long time I have wanted to do opus anglicanum and I am delighted now to have the opportunity. Thank you for your clear and fascinating instructions.

  8. […] and This first stage is quite simple and straightforward, with no fancy stuff. Just block in the areas shown using laid and couched word as per the previous tutorial […]

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