One of my Christmas traditions is to watch Kirstie’s Handmade Christmas. This is a seasonal TV show on Channel 4 here in the UK, presented by the queen of craft, Kirstie Allsopp. In each episode she hosts a contest, and lots of other crafty goodness.
During last year’s season, there was a lady in the stocking contest who did Bargello and it instantly piqued my curiosity.
It was cute, and simple, and so of course I had to try. And my first step to trying anything new is to take to the internet. I need to know two things. Firstly, what does Wikipedia say about Bargello. Secondly, what does Pinterest say?
Well the first one is easy. According to Wikipedia:
Bargello is a type of needlework embroidery consisting of upright flat stitches laid in a mathematical pattern to create motifs.
Simple! There are a few more pertinent pieces I took from the Wikipedia page.
- Traditionally, Bargello was stitched in wool on canvas.
- In traditional pieces all stitches are vertical with stitches going over two or more threads.
- Traditional designs are very colourful.
- The patterns are naturally geometric.
It also says that “Bargello is considered particularly challenging, as it requires very precise counting of squares for the mathematical pattern.”
I can skip a little of that complexity, by using patterns that already exist. Which leads me to Pinterest.
Pinterest found me a lot of very pretty images.
There is so many colours and ideas on there. So much to pick and choose from. But to start with I selected a fairly simple motif.
As for materials, that was easy. You need yarn, stiff canvas, and a needle. I have all of those.
I split up some of the yarn into the different colours.
And I started in the middle of the canvas, with purple.
It felt a little too sparse, so I went over it again.
That’s better. Nice and thick. Full coverage, with the stitches well defined.
And when you add the other colours, it looks even better.
Repeating that motif wasn’t too bad.
Being lazy and choosing not to switch colours on the next row makes it a little difficult. You can see here that that I used the rest of the pink yarn section that I was using. And then I didn’t finish the pink on the second row because it was complicated.
You can also see that I switched a lot between colours. I have no idea why I did that. It was partly that it wasn’t as easy to work out where to stitch as I assumed. I really should have listened to Wikipedia.
But I did end up with a very pretty looking piece.
It needed finishing off, so I whipped around the edges with black.
This was a little hard to do with so many threads in each little hole. So for the second piece – did you notice I had two squares of plastic canvas? – I did the black border first.
For this one I did a simpler pattern, with fewer colours. But I still think it looks freaking awesome.
Both pieces are very cool.
I have many thoughts.
To make the yarn look less sparse I ended up using two threads, which made it look fuller but also made it very very bulky.
Because I was using a single skein of yarn, the lengths of thread that I was using were quite short – especially once I’d doubled it. So I had a lot of ends to weave in. Of course, I cheat with most of them and hold them flat against the canvas while I stitch so that they’re secured that way. With those, and with the ones that I had to actually sew in, there was more bulk.
These were done with whatever stiff canvas I found in my stash, so I was limited in size.
I enjoyed the process and I definitely want to do more, but I’m going to make some changes. I bought some plastic canvas, with a higher count – that means there are more holes per inch, and the holes are smaller. So you don’t need several threads to make it look full.
I’m also planning on using embroidery thread. Partly because of the smaller holes and partly because that way I can use longer sections of thread and get more per section. Plus, a wider variety of colours.
I will do more Bargello, and I will blog about it again. One day. I’ll make sure to link back to this block when I do.