Adorn your hand knits with the perfect finishing touches with our embroidery masterclass, as Jane Crowfoot shows us some decorative accent stitches.
Embroidering knitting can lift a garment from everyday to exceptional. Designers such as Jan Constantine are really pushing the boundaries, bringing it bang up-to-date with contemporary designs such as ‘union jack’ and pop art-inspired looks.
Jeanette Sloan has also tapped into this trend adding embroidery to her Chrysalis cardigan (Shown above, and originally featured in The Knitter issue 18, page 54). Knitted fabric is a wonderful base for simple embroidered stitches and half an hour spent with a sewing needle and yarn can transform even the most ordinary of knits.
If you don’t want to knit a specific garment to try out these techniques, why not try them on an existing garment? Or boil-wash an old woolly cardie and give it a new life as a felted, embroidered bag?
Using a knitted fabric as a base for embroidery
A knitted fabric is a great base for simple embroidery stitches. Make sure that your base fabric is knitted to a good tension; it is better to be on the tight side rather than loose, as stitches worked into a fabric with a loose tension can pull or droop and could even accentuate gaps and holes. Embroidery stitches work better when working horizontally across the knitted fabric rather than vertically.
When working in a vertical line you may find that the stitches pull through to the reverse of the fabric and force the knitted stitches to open up, creating a slight ladder. A lightweight fabric such as soluble muslin or interfacing held at the reverse of the work can help dissipate this problem. Embroidered stitches are easier to work and are more effective on a base fabric made solely from wool or a wool-blend yarn and are especially effective on a felted background.
Embroidering onto cotton is a little tricky and stitches can accentuate holes and uneven tension. When working horizontal lines be sure to work straight across a knitted row. If need be, mark the row with a series of pins in advance or draw a faint line with a washable marker. Use a sharp sewing needle with a relatively large eye and work in good light at a table to avoid sewing your knitting to your skirt or trousers!
Next time we will examine three key embroidery stitches you can use to embellish your work: Running Stitch, Threaded Running Stitch and Whipped Running Stitch.
The third post in this masterclass series will cover Backstitch, Threaded Backstitch and Pekinese Stitch.
The final post in this masterclass series on embroidering your knitting will take you through Interlacing Stitch, Couching and Lock Stitch. ning stitch and Whipped running
About our expert
Jane Crowfoot is one of the UK’s leading knitting experts and author of the book Finishing Techniques for Hand Knitters (Search Press, £9.99) Find out more about Jane at janeknits.blogspot.com and www.janiecrow.co.uk