Sunday, November 6, 2011

Q is for Queen of the Night

If  you have been waiting impatiently for the next letter in the alphabet, wait no more!  We are lucky to find ourselves with lots to do and talk about, so we will intersperse a review of our travels and wonderful embroideries we saw with the letters in the Dark Alphabet.  Julie is hoping to finish off the alphabet by the end of January, which will leave us time and space to talk of what we saw on our most recent trip, as well as any new things that come up, and poor Pandora has been languishing away in Colonial America wondering what will happen to her next!  But for now, the stitch you knew was coming, yet dreaded at the same time, right?  The Queen Stitch!  But fear not - Becky has found two "Q" stitches, and while the Quodlibet stitch looks just as complex, I'm thinking it will be a little easier to do, and give a very similar look.  So if you don't want to use the Queen stitch, you have a good substitute!

There are several versions of the story of the "Queen of the Night," one of the most popular being the one told in Mozart's, "The Magic Flute." 

 This has the music we relate to the Queen of the Night and you can hear a version of that here:

An old Turkish tale is one I enjoy. And then there are the visuals of this bird like woman usually seen naked, but you can see Julie has decided to make her a bit more conservative here for your alphabet!

In the Turkish tale I enjoy this part which involves embroidery, and Julie decided to add this to her Queen - she holds an embroidery hoop and an extremely large needle! Two sisters have abandoned a younger sister in the woods and believe her to be dead, but find she is alive and living with the Queen of the Night as her daughter. They plan their mission and how to finish her off, for she is the more beautiful of the three and they are jealous. 

The women pretend to be overjoyed at finding again the sister they had mourned as lost, and congratulate her on her good fortune. When they had eaten and drunk of the good things she set before them, and were about to depart, the eldest sister produced from her basket an enchanted kerchief. 

"Here, dear Rosa," said she, "is a little present which we should like you to wear for our sakes. Let me pin it round your shoulders. Good-bye, dear!" she added, kissing her affectionately on both cheeks, "we will come and see you again before long and bring our father with us." "Do, dear sisters, and tell my dear father that I will go to see him as soon as my kind protectress may give me leave." 

Rosa watched her sisters from the window till they were out of sight, and then turned to the embroidery-frame, which she had laid aside on their arrival. She had not, however, made many stitches, before a feeling of faintness came over her; and letting her work slip from her hands, she fell back on the sofa and lost consciousness. 
When the Queen of Night came home, 

she went first, as was her wont, to the chamber of her dear adopted daughter, and finding her thus, she said, as she bent over the maiden and kissed her beautiful mouth, "She has tired herself, poor child, over that embroidery-frame; she is so industrious." 

Luckily the Queen removes the kerchief and the spell is broken. The story doesn't end there; this story is much like our fairytales from history and like many, in the end the good prevail!  

There are many versions of the Queen of the Night 

and much artwork and stories.  Again as usual we have only given you a taste of this history to tempt you to go further with your interest.

For the Queen we must have Queen Stitch

Queen Stitch is a highly textured diamond-shaped stitch.  This stitch did not appear on the earliest samplers but became one of the most popular stitches used in the 17th and 18th centuries for sampler making. Many small accessory items in Colonial canvas 

work were created from this stitch: pocketbooks, pincushions and 

needle cases. You can find more information on this stitch and its history in one of our favorite sources Eileen Bennett's The Red Book of Sampler Stitches

The other stitch that can be used here if you would like to try a different stitch in this project is the Quodlibet Stitch.  It is primarily a canvas stitch but can be used in counted work as well. You can use a variety of embroidery threads, but the stitch will be best shown in a flat thread, such as stranded floss or silk.  This stitch will make an interesting pattern when alternate rows are worked in contrasting color.  Our favorite guide for this stitch is The Complete Stitch Encyclopedia by Jan Eaton.

One last word on the Q stitches from Julie.  A few years ago, I took a class that talked about a Princess stitch - or the lazy girl's Queen stitch.  I don't find any examples on the internet, but it seemed to me to be a great solution for those of us who find that their Queen stitches look like blobs instead of nicely defined stitches...  Instead of four legs, the Princess has three, one in the middle, and one on either side, each tacked down in the center - you might try it if the Queen stitch seems a little daunting.  Of course, the Queen stitch is not meant to be looked at stitch by stitch, but as a whole ground - and it looks absolutely beautiful that way even if the individual stitches aren't perfect, I promise you.  We've had the opportunity to look at some stitching in very close detail, and what looks lovely overall is not always expertly executed.  That doesn't diminish it's beauty or value to us!

As usual, click on the picture of the chart to take you to our Freebie page, or click on Freebies in the side bar.  Happy Stitching!


  1. Thank you for the great addition to the alphabet!

  2. Another interesting post girls. I really enjoyed reading it.


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