Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Brattleboro Book Signing

I spent a lovely Saturday afternoon with some interesting women at the Book Cellar in Brattleboro, VT who wanted to learn embroidery. I taught them a bunch of stitches and we all made some beautiful bookmarks (that's them in the photo). Bookmarks make an easy first project - the instructions are in my new book Colorful Stitchery. They are lovely to send as a little gift in a letter or to tuck into a book you are giving to a friend.

But here's my question - and maybe someone out in blogland, can answer it. I am having a hard time understanding why knitters are so afraid of embroidery? Every knitter (well, almost every knitter) I speak with says "Oh no, I can't embroider." I don't get it? Maybe noone is interested in embroidery yet? Are they all trying to learn crochet - since it is the newest thing?

I can't understand why knitters fear embroidery - the dreaded duplicate stitch, the elusive french knot. With embroidery, you can be brash, mod, delicate, colorful or demure. The sky is the limit and your imagination can take embroidery places your knitting never will be able to go. There isn't a mass of stitches on a needle to count or drop. It's free and easy. Don't get me wrong - I love to knit too - it's just a different frame of mind that I put myself in when embroidering.

Combining embroidery with knitting can take your knitting to another level. Transform a plain piece of stockinette stitch fabric in about an hour by adding some simple embroidery stitches. It beats following an intarsia or Fair Isle chart. I have also done embroidery on old sweaters from the thrift store which I felted.

I'm hoping embroidery on knits is a new direction. Look for editorials in the Fall 2006 issues of
Interweave Knits, Vogue Knitting, and Knit It that I designed combining embroidery with knitting. I'd love to hear from you with your thoughts on embroidery.

The swatch below shows some embroidery stitches -- outline stitch, chain stitch, lazy daisy, fly stitch, french knot -- all on a simple checked Fair Isle background. It's a swatch I loved - but no editor loved. So here it is in my pile of sweater ideas that never happened. I still love it. All the stitches are in
Colorful Stitchery so you too can make something like this.


Marianna said...


I am a knitter and I LOVE to needlepoint (a new hobby I acquired recently). A while back I tried to embroider on knitting and failed utterly several times. I guess I shouldn’t say I failed more like I didn't like the way the resulting fabric felt and lay. The results were so unattractive to me that I haven’t tired to embroider on knitting since. I also suspect that the instructions I had seen in all the reference materials were not well written, due to the fact that knitting wasn’t stabilized at all. I now understand the nature of fabric (and the need for stabilizing it) a bit more and may meet with better experiences in the future. I can only convey my experiences, and surmise this may be true of other knitters as well.

Robin said...

I am a knitter who was an embroiderer years ago. I can't tell you how refreshing it is to see embroidery making a comeback. I think it adds that special touch to a plain piece of knitting. I am currently collecting new books on embroidery and can't wait to receive yours. Jane at Yarnstorm has really given us some eye candy with her embroidered tablecloths, which I appreciate greatly. Funny, I was always a closet embroiderer because it wasn't the "in" thing to be doing. Not any more! Thanks Kristin.

Robin said...

I loooove this piece of embroidery.

Britt-Arnhild said...

Your knitting combined with embroidery is beautiful. As a matter of fact I do both, but have not combined it much. You have inspired me:-)

Jessica said...

I know for me that embroidery is bit like drawing freehand whereas knitting is more like...building with legos.

Kristin said...

Lovely analogy - glad to see there is some interest. Anyone else?


Mardel said...

I was an embroiderer before I was a knitter, and have long loved embroidery on knitwear, but somehow when I began knitting I lost embroidery. Perhaps this was because it seemed so hard to find a place for embroidery in a stripped "clean" "modern" life.

Lately I have been feeling its loss and aching to take needle in hand again. I miss its exuberance, and the joy a few stitches can create.

Marsha said...


I love your embroidery on the knitted scrap! From one new to all things stitchy, embroidery is the easiest to pick up without a class or lesson. I've tried to self-teach crochet and knitting and it is not very easy. Instructions always take so much for granted. The embroidery samples in your book are very clear.

Oh, what is duplicate embroidery? YOu mentioned it in your blog. I've tried to do crochet from a little kit I bought and it's not pretty. Last year I knitted a couple of washrags after 30 minutes of instructions at a knit shop. But that is the extent of my "experience" I love the imperfect cloths. I use them in the kitchen. Nothing compares! I want to learn it all.

Currently also trying some quilting. Love crazy quilts.

Then there are the Japanese craft books I've been reading about.AAAHHH! Of course, there is the REAL job.


Kristin said...

I am pleased there has been comments in this post - it's nice to hear everyone's thoughts.

Duplicate stitch is when you stitch over the actual knit stitch to follow the loop - you can add extra colors on top of what you have knit and it looks pretty much the same as knitting - but makes the fabric a little thicker. If you look at my knitwear design page - http://www.kristinnicholas.com/knitwear.htm
the pillows in the middle of the page are covered with duplicate stitch. I knit them in Fair Isle (2 color knitting) first and then added the colors later. It is much easier than having lots of dangling threads.


Scribbles & Bits said...

Hi! I found you through Chef Messy. I started out as an embroiderer and actually didn't pick up knitting until a couple of years ago, so I wasn't really aware that there was a reluctancy. I actually find embroidery easier and more portable. Anyway, just wanted to say hi and I think the bookmarks came out great!

laura said...

I would definately prefer to embroider than intarsia - as it seems much simpler really,and I think that it adds a completely new demension, texture, as well as color to a knitted piece. Glad to see that you are persuing this direction!

p.s. followed your knitty link to here, love the tea cozy!

mehitabel said...

I've done crewel embroidery, counted cross-stitch (mainly sampler reproductions), needlepoint, knitting, crochet, quilting and beading, for many years now. I've combined beading with knitting and stitchery, but haven't embroidered much on knitting. I guess I just like the feel of a nice linen if I'm embroidering, although I will add some stitched details to an intarsia piece.
Welcome back!!

Anonymous said...

I actually want to learn this really bad. I think it is absolutely beautiful.1

Jill said...


I knitted a Christmas stocking and would like to add a name to it. Any suggestions for which stitch would work well, type of yarn/thread to use, other hints? I haven't embroidered in a LONG time but am interested in getting back into it!



Anonymous said...

Like Jill I need some help for embroidering letters on a knitted piece. Specifically since this is going on my new granddaughter's baby blanket which I hope will be loved and used often, I wonder how to firmly secure the embroidery so it won't unravel during numerous washings. Thanks.