Long armed cross stitch

Long armed cross stitch

Background

The first time I encountered this type of surface embroidery was along-side the excellent research on brick stitch on Richard Wymarc’s website, lo these many years ago. At that time I was more interested in the brick stitching, and I only glanced at the long armed cross stitch. The first time I saw someone use it was when Lady Anna de Byxe made a pair of seat cushions for the Prince and Princess of Nordmark. She used it efficiently to cover the background completely in an overall heraldic pattern.

Looking at this sort of surface covering you can see why the Swedish term for it is ‘tvistsöm’ as it looks almost like a twisted rope with the long arm of the forward cross stitch interweaving with the shorter back cross.

I have some background and further sources in a handout: Long-armed cross stitch

Further links

There are extant items from the 13th and 14th centuries, cushions covered with long-armed cross-stitch motifs, more on that on the West Kingdom Needleworker’s article http://wkneedle.bayrose.org/Articles/cross_stitch_patterns.html

There are also a few heraldic pouches from the 14th Century at the Germanisches Nationalmuseum, which seems to be done in this stitch. More on those at Medieval Silkwork blog: http://msilkwork.blogspot.se/2010/06/heraldic-pouches-continued.html

The legend that is Richard Wymarc has details on a 15th Century border with text done all in longarmed cross-stitch on his website A Stitch Out of Time: http://www.wymarc.com/asoot/asoot.php? show=crossPatterns

My own Projects

Nordmark kneeling pads

Following the good example set by Lady Anna de Byxe, the first thing I properly did with this stitch was a pair of kneeling pads for the use of the Prince and Princess of Nordmark. I used a large gague hemp ground fabric, which was donated to the project by Kerstin Tygmånglerska from www.medeltidsmode.se, and embroidered with Möbelåtta, woolen yarn for weaving dyed and donated to the project by Lady Åsa väverska. She provided me with white, black and blue yarn which was commercially dyed, and two shades of yellow which she herself dyed using onion peels.

The design was obvious – for the use of my Principality I wanted the heraldry, with an additional border all around it to frame it. The original intent was to just make pillow-cases to be stuffed at events with available pillows, so the dimensions I went for was 50×60 cm. This meant that once the heraldry was drafted out there was only room for a border at both sides and the top. The bottom border would have made the overall work too large, so I left it out. In the end I finished them off with two layers of modern cushion foam to create rectangular pads with the back covered by black and blue cotton velvet to be as hard-wearing as possible.