Embroidery is a wonderful way to add detail and adorn your knits with something extra special. For this post on the blog we’re taking you through the process of adding the flower motif to the Rosemaling Mitts from Loop’s 10.
Make sure you read to the end of the post to find out how you can win an embroidery book!
We’re using the Pigeon Roof Studio Mini Skeins in Pistachio for the main part of the embroidery. The gradient shades and high twist of these little skeins make them ideal for this project. We also recommend the Madelinetosh Unicorn Tails and St. Pierre Darning threads as they come in small amounts and a huge range of colours. Plus you could also use any scraps you find in your stash! Needle wise, try a chenille needle as these have a pointy tip and a large eye.
Sew the mitts together using mattress stitch, remembering to leave a gap for your thumb. As the purl side of stocking stitch is the right side for this project, you’ll be working mattress stitch in a slightly different way.
With the right sides facing you and the edges of the piece lined up, weave your needle back and forth catching the bottom ‘bump’ of the wave of each row. We’ve shown it here in a contrast colour. To get started it can help to look at the knit side and identify the ‘bar’ you need to pick up (more tips on mattress stitch here)
Once your mitts are sewn together, block to measurements being careful not to stretch the rib and leave to dry thoroughly.
To make sure you don’t catch the other side of the fabric while you are sewing, cut a small rectangle of cardboard to slip into the mitts.
The pattern suggests making a stencil of the flower design. We copied the image using tracing paper (but you could use greaseproof paper in a pinch) cut out the main shape and pinned this to the mitt. Look at the pattern photography to help with placement and you might like to (carefully!) try on the mitt to decide where the flower should sit. You could even use washi tape to mark out where the design will be.
Take the darkest colour of yarn and use running stitch to mark the outline of the stencil of the flower. Remove the stencil and using long and short stitches of satin stitch (a flat stitch that covers the background) work round in a spiral to fill the petal shape. Try to vary the central point that your needle enters slightly so that the middle doesn’t get too over crowded. Don’t worry if there are gaps as you’ll be able to fill these in later.
As with knitting, the even tension of your stitches is still just as important! You’ll need to strike a balance between making sure that you are not pulling too tight and distorting the knitted fabric (which still needs to stay stretchy so you can put on the mitt) and not leaving the stitches too loose so they catch. If you are unsure, why not practise on a little swatch first?
If you prefer to have a more definite guide we suggest water-soluble embroidery film, available from craft shops or online. You can trace the outline of the design (we found permanent marker was the most effective drawing tool and will not leave a mark afterwards) and then use this guide to help you plot the position of the flower.
Finish the ends by working a small stitch at the back, being careful not to pull the yarn all the way through so you make a little loop. Pass the needle through this loop, pull the yarn taut to fasten and weave the ends through the fabric as you would when knitting.
Make sure you are working on both mitts at the same time to ensure the woolly tattoos are the same. Or if they don’t look the identical, aim for sisters rather than twins!
Change to the next lighter colour and continue to work in the same way, filling the petals and building up layers of the different colours.
Continue adding layers of satin stitch until you are happy with the colours and shape.
Next add two branches using couch stitch – we’ve used some of Dye for Yarn’s Merino Silk in Golden Beehive to create some delicate tendrils. For couch stitch, make one large, loose stitch and secure in place with several smaller back stitches across the length to tack it into place.
In the same colour, add little leaves around the branches using lazy daisy stitch – bring the needle up and out of the fabric and enter back just where you came out, making sure to not pull the thread all the way through as this will be the petal loop.
Then catch the top of the petal loop with a small stitch.
Fill the lazy daisy stitches with the single straight stitch in a contrasting colour to pick out the detail of the leaves. The final touch is to add little lazy daisy petals in a contrasting colour around the green central motif.
We also added some french knots to the centre of the design. Create these by winding the thread around the needle before you enter the fabric just next to where you came out. The thread will coil up to create a little knot detail.
If you are using water-soluble embroidery film, pop the mitt in a bowl of water and the film will dissolve like magic! Leave to dry thoroughly.
And there you have a pair of beautifully embroidered mitts. This tutorial and pattern are just a starting point , so experiment with different stitches and details. You might like to look to Tiff Fussell for inspiration on her Instagram account dottieangel and the back catalogue of her blog.
To kick start your next embroidery project we have one copy of Stitch Encyclopaedia:Embroidery up for grabs for one lucky reader. Simply comment below letting us know what other tutorials you’d like to see on the blog and we’ll draw a winner out of the woolly hat next week. Make sure you get your comments in before midnight GMT Wednesday 6th April as entries made after this time do not count.
Good luck and Happy Knitting, Crocheting and Embroidering!