Week 9 ✂ Couched and laid threads (TAST)

I have missed about 5 weeks of the TAST challenge…at this rate I may never catch up! But I’m pushing, this late Sunday afternoon, to upload my stitch sample for the current week. Week 9’s stitch on Take A Stitch Tuesday is Couching.

It’s not completely done, but I’ll be damned if I am going to miss yet another week’s stitch! Not after I nearly lost my mind today, working this diabolical Turkish basket-weave couching with Japanese gold thread. Five tries, and I really thought it would do my head in! It’s harder than I thought it would be…I’d never tried couching metal thread before.

couching stitches— for TAST 2012 (detail)

(Incidentally, the pink-couched black cord is a prime example of Baluchi work…sort of on the opposite end to the skill of the Turkish emboroiderers, Baluchi women do a very coarse couching, using big, visible stitches in contrasting colors.)

Jacobean couching, below, along with satin couching, long and short couching, and thorn stitch couching…
couching stitches— for TAST 2012 (detail)

Bayeux Stitch (a.k.a. Algerian, or Italian couching)

couching stitches— for TAST 2012 (detail)

and, to the right of it, a spiral of single metal thread couching, worked in Japanese gold #4, and again in Kreinik metallic pale pink.
couching stitches— for TAST 2012 (detail)

This started out as zig-zag or to-and-fro couching of a length of mohair yarn…but the resulting puffball was such an unruly little thing that I tried to pull it in with a trellis reminiscent of jacobean couching.
couching stitches— for TAST 2012 (detail)

Bokhara couching
couching stitches— for TAST 2012 (detail)

And a very exciting (to me, at least) couching technique employed by Japanese embroiderers: a foundation of laid threads are couched down securely using the same color thread ( I have used a dark purple, to show the stitches) and further embroidery is worked over this foundation. Embroidery over embroidery is probably the one thing that really sets Japanese embroidery (nuido) apart from the rest of the world’s.
couching stitches— for TAST 2012 (detail)

Okay, the more experienced among you will call my bluff right away…no couching involved here, not really. I ran out of ideas and steam…laid the threads one way, and then started to fool around with needle-weaving in the other direction. Pretty textured effect and pattern, yes, but not couching. 😉
couching stitches— for TAST 2012 (detail)

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UPDATE 10 March 2012:

Okay, it’s done! I just filled in the remaining circle, and continued the laid and couched line that spirals around the design.

In the circle below, I tried my hand at making patterns with the couching thread…this reminds me of friendship bracelet patterns. Bordering the circle is a black cotton yarn couched using blanket stitch, then I snuck in a couple of bullion stitches, and when that didn’t thrill me I shifted to a wrapped couching technique (three wraps, one couching stitch, three wraps, and so on).

I also turned the tables on goldwork by couching the cotton yarn down using Jap gold…

couched and laid3

Over on the other side, just a length of bead couching, to round the bunch of techniques off.

couched and laid1

If you know of a couching technique that I missed, please let me know! I found this sample a great learning and discovery process, as I’ve never really given couching much thought before. Definitely a family of techniques that I will enjoy adding to my repertoire of working stitches. I’ve replaced the bottom photo with one of the finished sample:

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This small embroidery sample is for the Take a Stitch Tuesday 2012 Challenge. The idea was to combine my love of embroidery with my love of typography.

19 thoughts on “Week 9 ✂ Couched and laid threads (TAST)

  1. I love embroidery, it’s great to see some more of the unusual stitches used that I’ve seen in my embroidery books and I think it may encourage me to have a go, so thank-you!


    1. That’s just what I did…tackled some of the techniques in my embroidery books that I’ve only ever looked at. Wasn’t as easy as the diagrams made it out to be, but rewarding… Thank you for dropping by!


  2. I love your site you have so inspired me and made me very very hungry. I am talking about the sushi!!! how could anyone not know what it is???? that would be my question


    1. And to learn, which I did on this particular sample…the fast and fun ones are like play for me, but one in a while I’ll tackle something that I’ve only read about, like working with gold thread, and give it a go. ‘Twasn’t easy, but the learning curve was worth the tears and gnashing of teeth.


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