Many moons ago, while meandering in the haberdashery department of the beautiful Liberty's, London, I spied something tiny. It caught my eye and didn't let go, so I made my purchase and took my little treasure home. My cherished haul was a small blackwork kit featuring a handsome swine (from the 'blackworks beasts' series, by Jane Greenoff) I was drawn to it, finding it fascinating and beguiling.
I dabbled over the years, initially making my own blackwork pieces by drawing in pencil on the reverse of my fabric and winging the fills; this is how I still work on personal projects sometimes. Eventually, after realising that of course I am not alone in my love for blackwork, I worked to chart up some designs in an organised fashion and so The Steady Thread came to be.
Blackwork is an old technique. Chaucer wrote this wonderful description of it in the 14th Century:
'Of white, too, was the dainty smock she wore, embroidered at the collar all about with coal-black silk, alike within and out.'
It can later be seen in portraits; Holebein stitch (used in blackwork) was named after Hans Holbein the Younger who painted portraits of Henry VIII and his family wearing clothing adorned with beautiful blackwork embroidery. I am inspired by these historic designs but like to also add my own creativity.