Monday, May 16, 2011

E is for Eek! and Ermine Stitch

You can see we're starting to zero in on some of our favorite motifs here - I seem to have crammed quite a few into our limited space!  And we're introducing a new stitch as well.  Again, just a very few stitches to let you try out something new.  Becky is the mastermind behind these stitches, and something tells me she has a doozy for us when we get to "F"!  

To find the chart, click on the picture, or go to the sidebar and click on Freebies - that will take you to our Freebie page which now lives on our website and has links to all the free charts and tutorials we've done here.

EEK - a very handy word, used when scared, in trouble, impatient, angry or just generally distressed!   'Eek' supposedly sounds like a mouse's cry, though I think it's more often sounded when a mouse is seen and not heard! 

Our special stitch this time is the Ermine Stitch - it's used just for the few tufts of grass in front of the gravestone.  Normally not a counted stitch, it's used as a filling stitch for lots of different embroidery. Used in a high-contrast setting, it resembles the ermine's winter coat, and of course, came into use as ermine fur began to be used for the finest garments. 

How to do the Ermine Stitch: A couple of examples for ways to create this stitch.

The Ermine in History

Throughout the Renaissance, the ermine was a very important symbol of purity. The ermine is depicted in heraldic symbols, royal gowns, and in significant portraits of the Renaissance. The ermine, classified as Mustela erminea, is of the weasel family, and is commonly found in Canada and Northern Europe. The ermine is known for its pure white fur with its noticeable black tip on its tail, which has been highly prized by trappers since the 16th century. Ermines are very small animals, only 6 to 12 inches from head to rump, with a long, bushy tail. It is the tail that is prized by traders to make coats, stoles, or robes for monarchs, clergy, and the extremely wealthy. Legend has it that the ermine, with its beautiful white coat, would die before soiling its fur, which idea has lent itself to the ermine as a symbol of purity and chastity. We can find numerous examples in art, literature, and heraldry of the ermine representing the purity that its white coat suggests. 

The above paragraph is just an excerpt from the following article that gives you some history on the Ermine, its importance in the Renaissance period and the symbolism which gave this stitch its name.

The following timeline outlines the historical use of ermine fur, stitched in fashion through history as opposed to the use of the stitch, but is interesting because the use and design of the fur relates to the Ermine Stitch.

I'm sorry this link is so long - if it is broken, you can copy and paste this one into your browser and get the same page, but it will not work as a direct link for me.

As promised, while I was away in Hawaii, I worked on my alphabet and have a couple of pictures to show you.  I started with D is for Devil, as I wanted to be able to show you the detached buttonhole section.  You'll see it's really a small bit, and just gives you a taste of the stitch.

I outlined the ball of wool at the top of the staff and worked my detached buttonhole across, reaching down to the monkey's top hand.  I did not attach the stitches at the bottom, but left the edge loose to be able to shape it a bit.  I continued just a narrow band between the monkey's hands to indicate the wool being shaped into thread.

My alphabet is being stitched over one on Lakeside Linens Vintage Tarnished Silver, 28 count.  I think it adds a "dark" touch!  I'm using lots of different silk threads, rather than the suggested DMC colors - and I urge you to try your own favorite threads.  While the suggestions are there to help you see the colors I had in mind, each of these alphabets will be different, and you should choose the colors you think best.  Along those lines, here are Jo's - she has gotten a LOT done, and it looks great, doesn't it?

Jo's pictures, along with mine and any others I might receive, will be over on the website, in the "Art Gallery of Friendship" - why not go over and take a look?

Prize Winners
I also promised to send out the prizes from our last giveaway - but I've only received about 7 addresses so far - please email us at if you haven't sent us your address yet.  We're still waiting to hear from:

Cathy Lloyd 
 pj from iowa

Please let us know where to send your prize.  Meantime, the Gallery Guides for all those who have sent an address will go out tomorrow!  Thank you so much for letting us know you're reading the blog and enjoying it!


  1. I am not a lover of Halloween at all, but you have me rather enthused with this quirky alphabet, ladies! Oh glory, another start, sigh!

  2. Oh, come on it - it'll be fun! :D I love the whimsy of these designs and it's so wonderful that we have so many designers out there creating them these days.


  3. Thank you so much for another lovely block!

  4. I won something??? I've emailed you -- must have missed that post. lol! I'm excited!

  5. Love the hairs on the back of the cat! Just finishing a Drawn Thread freebie today so can start on E tomorrow! Yay!!
    BTW if anyone is wondering - my fabric is a 28 count evenweave tea-dyed by myself. I scanned the piece this time and the colour is much more true than any of the photos I've taken.

  6. Oooh - thanks for the info, Jo - I love the color you got with the tea-dyeing.


  7. Thank you very much for the brochure, it arrived safe and sound this week.

  8. So glad you got it, Karoline!



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