PieceWork Fall 2018

PieceWork is the only magazine for those who love all things made by hand and the history behind them. Every issue explores the life and work of traditional needleworkers, takes an in-depth look at historical needlework techniques, and gives instructions for making heirloom-quality projects of your own.

United States
Long Thread Media LLC



Embark with us on a PieceWork journey that celebrates “fine work.” We travel the globe and present examples of especially fine embroidery, knitting, needlepoint, and crochet. In trying to describe the textiles shown in this issue, the words “intricate” and “exquisite” seem, at best, inadequate. Your journey begins with the four examples shown here. These are embroideries worked by Miao women in the Guizhou province of China. The Miao tradition of embroidery is long—spanning centuries upon centuries to the present—and storied. The embroiderers use a wide variety of techniques; among them are the two shown here. The examples at top and bottom left are cross-stitch; the other two are folded cloth piecework. In all four, the stitches are so tiny, they are almost imperceptible. These are from the collection of Linda…


Exquisite Case Needle cases in brass and exotic woods from Heritage Crafts By Jen make a perfect gift for any needleworker. Each case holds needles up to 2½ inches (6.4 cm) long, and each is designed not to roll on flat surfaces. Select from bocote, cedar, chakte coc, cocobolo, koa, maple, rosewood, and goncalo alves (shown). www.heritagecraftsbyjen.etsy.com. Silky Smooth Working with fine threads such as silk floss requires that your hands be smooth and soft. Eucalan’s Wrapture Balm, created in collaboration with noted knitting and crochet designer Kristin Omdahl, will help soothe the driest skin. This lightly scented vegan balm contains essential oils and absorbs quickly. Shown in Jasmine. www.eucalan.com. Colors of Fall Thread your needle with the latest shades of Watercolours, a hand-dyed Pima cotton thread from The Caron Collection. Each variegated three-strand skein…

the queen’s embroiderer

This is among the earliest surviving depictions of the interior of an authentic shop, the emporium of a known merchant, in this case, Jean Magoulet. Magoulet is identified in the caption printed below the handsomely etched image as “brodeur ordinaire,” or official embroiderer in the service of the queen—that is, Queen Marie-Thérèse, the Spanish infanta who from the time of her marriage in 1660 to her death in 1683 ruled France as Louis XIV’s wife. The caption adds that the queen is “deceased,” so we know that the scene depicted took place after 1683. Jean Magoulet, the Queen’s Embroiderer, wears the accoutrements of everyday aristocratic dress—a perfectly curled periwig, fine muslin cuffs and cravat—and his younger assistant is similarly attired. But one element is missing, and that absence distinguishes the merchants’…

a miniature petit-point tree-of-life carpet

I stitched the Tree-of-Life Carpet on fifty-six-count silk gauze with fine overdyed Tudor Gloriana silk floss. The carpet has a total of 180,600 tiny stitches; 468 ends form the fringes on two sides of the rug. Spending from eight to twelve hours daily, this piece took me eleven weeks and one day to finish. I then spent seven days blocking, finishing the sides, and fringing. However, don’t be intimidated by the fine count of the silk gauze: all you need to create a masterpiece are good tools, such as a magnifier and a strong lighting source, and your patience. Silk gauze lets you create realistic-looking images that are made to scale and depict a lot of details per inch (2.5 cm). Silk gauze is a thin fabric made of fine but…

a miniature petit-point bird to stitch

The Tree-of-Life design is versatile—motifs from this pattern can be used to create cushions, seat covers, bookmarks, pincushions, bell pulls, and more, ranging from medium to tiny sizes depending on the thread count of the ground fabric or canvas used. For this project, I chose forty-eight-count silk gauze and cotton embroidery floss. Both are easier to work with than the fifty-six-count silk gauze and silk thread that I used in my Tree-of-Life Carpet. The word “gauze” is somewhat of a misnomer; it’s actually a form of needlepoint canvas—a tiny grid with open squares that are called “holes.” The fewer the count number, the larger the holes; as the count number increases, the size of the holes shrinks. I hope you will enjoy this introduction to the worlds of miniatures, silk gauze,…

the not-forbidden knot stitch

The Peking knot, a signature stitch of ancient Chinese embroidery, comes with a resumé clouded by the twin mists of myth and misinformed opinion. It suffers from identity issues, too. Like other embroidery stitches, the Peking knot is known by various names: Pekin knot, Chinese knot, blind knot, and forbidden knot. The last two of these—blind knot and forbidden knot—have given rise to more than one entertaining theory concerning the knot and its history. The Peking knot was branded the “blind knot” by those who believed tales of embroiderers going blind from working this often-tiny, always-exacting stitch—a riveting indictment that is largely untrue. Some further believed the stitch was forbidden by law for the same reason, which is equally untrue. It is more likely that a lifetime of long, grueling hours…