Thursday, August 9, 2012

Gilding the Lily

There's a decorative little embroidery stitch called "Pekingese Stitch" (also spelled Pekinese). It's composed of a line of backstitches that are then interlaced with a second thread. (This is a good page to look at, and it has a link to another page with some yummy eye candy!)

On Spine Rib, the half-stitch edges of the ribs can serve as the backstitching to be embellished. I've used a contrast color of the same wool, but you can choose almost anything that serves your purpose. (As always, the materials need to be colorfast and compatible for cleaning. You'll also want to make sure that the second yarn can be pulled under the strands without damage.)

With the work held sideways and the edge of the rib closer to you than the center, join at the left hand edge. Skip one half stitch. Bring your threaded needle, pointing away from you, under the next half stitch. You'll be taking the needle under the strand only; it will not go to the wrong side of the knitting. For the second step, point the needle towards yourself and bring it under the skipped strand. Gently tighten the stitch. Skip to the first empty strand and repeat across. From the second stitch onward, the second step will go into spaces that already have been used, so try not to split the yarn.

(This is how righties do it. I'm very strongly right-handed, so I can't really judge for lefties, but there is a book called The Left-Handed Embroiderer's Companion.  A bit of eye candy on this site as well.)

Now, how to use this technique? It does change the lacy character of the knitting, so you'd probably want to use it only on objects that need to be more solid. Imagine red and green contrast yarns for a Christmas stocking. In this case, I'd work the Spine Rib on needles that are slightly small for the yarn; it will help the stocking hold its shape better. Since the edges on two adjacent ribs are closer together than the two edges of a single rib, I'd use one color for the adjacent edges of two ribs and another color for the remaining edge of one rib and the adjacent edge of the next.

Another idea would be for a project to be fulled (felted). In this case, you would use loosely spun yarns and knit loosely as well.

Until next time.

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