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Silk Thread Comparison Table

I found a silk thread comparison table at

It is quite a long alphabetical list, detailing

thread name,
filament or spun,
flat or twisted,
where to buy, and

Useful, assuming the data is reasonable up to date and correct!

Queen Stitch History and Variations

Firstly, some pictures (got to have pictures!)
The sky has been done in Queen Stitch and is described as “shimmering”.
The original, and the full picture with two lions, can be found at·
Probably American, Philadelphia, first half of the 18th c.
Flowers in the margin done in Queen Stitch
(main page at )
Historical References to Queen Stitch

While looking through samplers to find a good design, I noticed a pretty little knotwork pattern (Browne and Wearden, p. 37, plate 9) done in queen and plaited braid stitch.
Although the sampler is dated to the early 17th century, this knot is quite typical of Elizabethan design.
Similar motifs were used as far back as the 1540’s when the then-princess Elizabeth made a gift to her stepmother Katherine Parr of The Miroir or Glasse of the Synneful Soul, a translation from French with an embroidered binding. This sort of design also shows up in many gardening books of the period (See the first chapter of Beck, Gardens, pp. 6-35, on Elizabethan Gardens).
Although none of the surviving examples of queen stitch can be firmly dated to the 16th century, there is an interesting written reference to the stitch in 1592 (quoted in Epstein, p. 73):

Pan: Not for want of matter, but to knowe the meaning, what is wrought in this sampler?
Syb: The follies of the Gods, who became beasts, for their affections.
Pan: What in this?
Isab: The honour of Virgins, who became Goddesses, for their Chastity.
Pan: But what be these?
Syb: Mens tongues, wrought all with double stitch, but not one true.
Pan: What these?
Isab: Roses, egletine, harts-ease, wrought with Queenes stitch, and all right.

In the 1640 edition of “The Needles Excellency,” John Taylor printed this list of some of the stitches in use at this time:
“For tent worke, raised worke, first worke, laid worke, net worke,
Most curious purl or rare Italian cut worke.
Fire, fern stitch, finny stitch, new stitch, chain stitch
Brave bred stitch, fisher stitch, Irish stitch and Queen stitch,
The Spanish stitch, Rosemary stitch and mowle stitch,
The smarting whip stitch, back stitch and cross stitch;
All these are good, and this we must allow,
And they are everywhere in practice now.”

Period : WILLIAM AND MARY (1689-1703), QUEEN ANNE (1702-1714) and GEORGIAN (1714-1809)
…… Another teacher advertised that she taught the following: Embroidery, Tent work, nuns ditto, Queen stitch, Irish ditto and all kinds of shading, also point, Dresden lace work, Shell work and artificial flowers.

The Isabella Brackin 1832 Sampler
Reproduction of an American sampler, reputed to be an Ohio sampler. The reproduction of the Isabella Brackin sampler is stitched on 28 count Sandstone linen from Wichelt Imports using au ver a soie silks from Access Commodities.
The Isabella Brackin sampler is stitched primarily in cross stitch over two threads with a small amount of queen stitches and cross stitch over one thread.
The reproduction measures approximately 17 and 1/8 inches wide by 16.75 inches tall.

Needlework as Art by Marianne Margaret Compton Cust Alford (1886) :

“Fine fern stitch, finny stitch, new stitch, and chain stitch, Brave bred stitch, fisher stitch, Irish stitch, and queen’s stitch, The Spanish stitch, …”

That’s the latest reference I could find.
Queen Stitch Variations

  • Diagonal Queen Stitch



This is a combination of cross stitch and queen stitch, and is very ornamental when properly done.
You work in plain cross stitch three rows, then leave three threads, and again work three rows as before ; thus proceed until your canvas is covered, leaving three threads between every triple row of cross stitch.
Then across the rows work in queen stitch with double wool ; but instead of taking two distinct threads for each stitch, you may take one thread of the preceding stitch ; this will give an added thickness to your work.
It will be advisable to work the wool over slips of card or parchment, as doing so will make it better to cut.
If you work it in squares, they should not be larger than seventeen stitches; and to look well, they must each be placed the contrary way to the other.

Velvet Stitch is also described at

Queen Stitch with a Centre Line :
(Step by step instructions with photos shown at the site)
and also from the same site :-

Apart from leaving out the centre line, there are a number of other variations that can be worked to queen stitch.
You can vary the number of stitches to the left and right. Two and three are most common but you could have four or even five.
Eventually you would be limited by the size of the hole at the top and the bottom of the stitch.

Queen stitch can be worked singly, in rows, blocks or clusters, and you can play around with the spacing.
You could experiment with different colours, perhaps using alternate colours or even different colours within one queen stitch although that would be rather fiddly.
Queen stitch looks particularly good worked in metallic thread, or in wool on a canvas background.

Queen Stitch : To Pull Or Not to Pull

Historically, queen stitches were tightly pulled.

Here are some examples :

Mid 17thC sampler from


Needlework Purse from 1745, from

Purse Detail :

How Could they achieve such a tight pull?
Tricia Nguyen of Thistle Threads says (quoted with permission)

“The linen is a lot looser on the originals. Therefore they were able to get more pull. They also had them in slate frames, secured on all sides so they could pull them better.”

Non-Pulled Queen Stitch
After extensive searching on the Net, I could find one stitch diagram that *wasn’t* pulled – at the Kreinik site.
There are a few examples of non-pulled stitches in various blogs, but the great majority are pulled.
How much should we pull the stitch?

Tricia Nguyen of Thistle Threads says (quoted with permission) says it’s up to the individual.

How to pull a Queen Stitch in shown in

Rachel of 

        “You don’t need to back the linen, in fact if you want to work the
        Queen Stitches as pulled stitches, you mustn’t, because the backing
         would interfere with the pulling!

          In the same way, I quite specifically did not shrink the linen, because
          having the thread slightly space made the counting and the pulling much easier…”

Martha of, in an e-mail to me on 28th June 2010

“I’ve been thinking about photos and this stitch, and I’m beginning to think that the pulling often gets lost in the photography and just becomes part of the overall pattern and texture.
I know with mine, I occasionally hold the piece up to the light to just spot check that the pull is more or less even. . . although it’s not totally consistent.
In my own stitching, it especially seems that the stitches that are off by themselves seem to pull more. Perhaps this has to do with my personal hand. .. or maybe it’s that there are no neighboring stitches to even out the pull.
Please note that I am definitely NOT an expert. . . am just reporting some personal observations.”

and in an e-mail on the 25th June

“It seems to me that you should think about how much pull you want before you start stitching. . . since I’d assume you’ll want all the stitches to look about the same.
The look of pulled stitches will also be more pronounced if you move to a lower thread count ground or a more loosely woven ground.”

Thankyou so much Tricia, Rachel and Martha, for adding your valuable opinions.

Queen Stitch, Hints and Tips and More

Alternative Names for Queen Stitch

Renaissance stitch is also known as Queen stitch and is a variation on Roumanian stitch which creates a beautiful regular pattern.

The back is worked in rococo stitch, known as queen stitch in the 16th and 17th centuries. – 22 Nov 2006 21:42 GMT

……the Queen Stitch which was known in the American
Revolution era as the Rococo Stitch since the Americans did not want anything to sound Royal.

Note : Renaissance stitch diagrams look quite different : and
so I’m not worrying about investigating that further, since it’s Queen stitch we’re concerning ourselves with.
Why Can Queen Stitch be a hard stitch to do?
Brenda Lewis – 15 Dec 2005 18:49 GMT

It seems like a number of people find Queen Stitch ornery. What is it about the stitch that is challenging?
It is a time-consuming, detail-oriented stitch. It takes so long to do a single queen stitch some people never find a rhythm for them.
Most of us could fill in a solid color area with cross-stitch or tent stitch when half-asleep but queen stitch requires a LOT more attention.
(Needleworker not in paradise)

Part of my problem is just the fiddly nature of this stitch. You are taking four vertical stitches and anchoring them down with a single stitch over one vertical thread. It’s just tiny stuff.
I believe with proper lighting and most importantly good tension, I can conquer this. And maybe even come to love this stitch as some of my friends have.

Hints and Tips
Boohoo1971 – 07 Jan 2004 16:02 GMT

The trick in working a queen stitch is adjusting the tension a bit looser on the two outside threads than on the two center threads.
When you work it, you will see that a number of threads go
into the same hole. Don’t worry about that hole getting bigger…that makes an interesting design in a bunch of worked queen stitches.

This stitch was one I struggled with for years, until I took a class with Eileen Bennett.
I found that, contrary to my brain’s logic, they really do work best if stitched left to right and all tacking stitches are taken right to left (or vise versa – tied down stitches right to left, tacking stitches left to right).
They don’t turn out the same if you do the two outside (or inside) tied down stitches first and take the tacking stitches always from the inside out. I don’t know why. They also have to be stitched fairly tightly.

as opposed to :
PaulaB – 10 Jan 2004 01:59 GMT

My experience and that of my students has been to work the queen stitch symmetrically – choose whether you prefer to work the outer stitches first or the inner ones first.
I prefer the outer ones. So I work the outer left, then the inner left, then the outer right, and last the inner right.
If you go straight across from left to right 1-2-3-4, then the stitch tends to have a non-symmetrical, windblown look to it.
Just try it in every possible configuration (number or label them somehow so you remember which is which!) and
find the one you like best!
I also prefer to start at the top of the stitch, but starting at the bottom is also perfectly accceptable, *as long as you are consistent.*
Some prefer to pull the holes open at the tops and bottoms and some prefer to leave it more of a diamond shape (I prefer the holey look – if you look at old samplers, they
often pulled holes open with this stitch, especially when they’re in groups) – and again, either is correct, as long as it is consistent.

as opposed to : 

Martha of, in an email to me, 25th July 2010
I personally work all the long stitches in order either from left to right or right to left (more on this below), but my small tie down stitches are always from the center of the stitch to the outside (tie downs of 2 right long stitches go from left to right, those of left long stitches go from right to left). This is the best way I've found to make sure the two outside legs make a nice diamond shape.

I work the stitch in such a direction that my last stitch (for me an outside tie down), goes in the OPPOSITE direction of where my thread will go to begin the NEXT stitch. This way, all parts of the stitch have tension maintained on them.

So if I am doing a stitch <<>> and want to do the next stitch to the RIGHT of that, I work this stitch from right to left, with the last stitch being the tie down of the far left long leg.

I do a similar thing when determining whether to work the long legs top to bottom or bottom to top. I start the long leg where it will be under tension from the previous stitch.

For me, it's easier to get even tension working the stitch on a diagonal.

A friend of mine SWEARS by a totally different working technique. She stitches the tie down stitch (probably doesn't pull it tight), then threads the long leg under it. I believe this technique is taught by designer/teacher Eileen Bennett.

(Note the second mention of Eileen Bennett, with a different stitching technique! - Elmsley Rose)

Ellice – 11 Jan 2004 06:06 GMT

Personally, I find using little needles helps a bit (it may be in my head) when it’s getting crowded!
I use 26 petites, instead of the normal 26s or 28s if on some really fine count
PaulaB – 11 Jan 2004 13:52 GMT

The more I have clumped together, the easier it is for me if I do pull them tight – it just gives me that much more room.
…… I tried doing queen stitch with a group of separated strands and it worked quite well. The original tightly twisted thread was too round to spread out sufficiently to cover the area of the stitch, but when untwisted, it did this quite nicely.
Comment on In_Which_We_Explain_Queen_Stitch post from the blog NeedleWorker Not In Paradise:-

The Chilly Hollow Needlepoint Adventure said…
I can see why it might drive you nuts, particularly on a small count.
When I diagram stitches, I use 10 count plastic canvas. It enables me to see just how a stitch is constructed and how the thread path twists and turns. Helps me get the smoothest look.
It might help you figure out the best way to do this, which might not be the way it is diagrammed.
Jane, trying to be helpful from CH
Comment on this post, copied here because of it’s value, from Yvette Stanton :

“I was doing some queen stitch in hand on the train the other morning. It was turning out to be a mess, with stitches in wrong places and therefore not aligning.

When I got to my destination, I found my hoop (which wasn’t with me on the train) and used that. I also decreased the number of strands I was using which made it less full, but enabled me to see what was going on better.

With fewer strands and a hoop, the queen stitch turned out beautifully.”

Stitch Diagrams

  • Step by Step Photos with explanations :

(4th reference, keep hitting “Next”)

  • Stitch Diagrams :

    and says “The best illustration I’ve seen is in this book:

    The Proper Stitch
    by Darlene O’Steen
    ISBN: 0932437036
    Symbol of Excellence Publishers, Inc.
    405 Riverhills Business Park
    Birmingham, AL 35242

    • Stitch Animation :
    (click on Queen Stitch in the left hand column)

    For Left Handers

    Yvette Stanton’s new book ““The Left-Handed Embroiderer’s Companion: A step-by-step stitch dictionary”” is the only one I know that diagrams Queen Stitch for Left Handers. It also diagrams
    all of the other silk stitches we use in this project, and the first two gold thread
    It is available from her site, from Nordic Needle, or ask your local Needlework shop if it has it, or can get it in if not.

    Mary Corbet of NeedleNThread reviews the book at

    Pulled Queen Stitch
    Scroll down to “Rococo Stitch”
    Accompanying Stitch Diagram (click on the tiny diagram next to the stitch description to get your own enlarged copy)

    On the page mentioned in Step by Step Diagrams,, there is the sentence :

    “Some designers like to open the space at 1 and 2 with an awl. It adds to the details of this stitch and makes very uniform stitches in your design. Remember to lock your stitching by always pulling when the thread is on top of the fabric. You just need to give the thread a slight tug to lock it.”

    Since the name “Eileen Bennett” came up twice, I had a look and found she’d done a couple of relevant books :
       From : The West Kingdom Needleworkers' Guild Annotated Booklist - General Embroidery Book List

    A Notebook of Sampler Stitches

    Bennett, Eileen
    self-published, Grandville MI, 1990

    50 of the most common stitches as seen in early 17th C. samplers.
    Quite useful to a solid understanding of the stitches and how they were
    used. SB Intermediate)

    The Evolution of Samplers

    by Eileen J Bennett of the Sampler House

    An embroidery and sampler time line, covering a four hundred year history of sampler making

    Buy from

    There are more books by her that may be of interest, if you google her name, including one on the Bostocke Sampler.


    Posts on Queen Stitch yet to come :

    • A look at whether the stitches were pulled tight or not (in quick summary, all the historical extant pieces I’ve seen have the holes pulled tight. A few modern pieces and one stitch diagram shows the stitch unpulled.
    • Tracing Queen Stitch through History
    • Variations on Queen Stitch (just for interest)

    Detached Buttonhole Stitch vs Brussels Stitch

    In a couple of books I have where I’d expect Detached Buttonhole Stitch to be used, Brussels Stitch is used instead for the same purposes.
    These include :

    • The Barbara and Roy Hirst Raised Embroidery/Stumpwork books
    • Elizabethan Needlework Accessories by Sheila Marshall

    I wrote to the Historical Needleworkers List and asked why this may be.
    The answers (quoted with permission) were :
    “I have always thought that the Brussels (Bruxelles) Stitch, the Detached Buttonhole Stitch, and the Venetian Cloth stitch were basically the same stitch, just invented or used in different situations.
    Getting from one row to the next is different in Brussels stitch than Detached Buttonhole, because one is doing different things. But my understanding is that the stitches are basically the same stitch.
    I would expect that one would identify the stitch as one or the other based on where one had first encountered it. 
    That is, if one did needlelace before coming to Elizabethan raised work, one would continue to call that stitch a Brussels stitch.  So I don’t think it strange at all that Sheila Marshall’s book identifies it as Brussels Stitch – I bet she has done needlelace.
    I suspect that the same stitches have been reinvented many times, for many situations, and that is how stitches get multiple names.”
    - Baroness Eowyn Amberdrake
    Another answer I got was
    “Brussels stitch is a needle lace stitch. The method of working is similar to button hole stitch except in Brussels it is upside down. Instead of the needle coming out at the top through a loop, it comes out the bottom through a loop and those loops are built upon in successive rows in pattern.”
    - JoEllen/HighlyUnlikely (that’s her net name, not a comment)
    Brussel Stitch also comes Corded (with a Return thread), Double and Treble (ref New Designs in Raised Embroidery, Hirst)
    (the second image being Detached Buttonhole Stitch, from Jane Nicholas’ Complete Book of Stumpwork Embroidery”.
    The first image is from New Designs in Raised Embroidery by the Hirsts.
    Note that with the Brussels Stitch, the thread is wrapped around the outline, rather than the outline being pierced through the ground as is done with Detached Buttonhole Stitch.

    Primrose Variations
    shows various primroses, which “have been around since Elizabethan times”.
    Using an orange centre with my yellow primrose is inspired by what they call in their catalogue the “You and Me Yellow Primrose”
    Normally, primroses were embroidered in yellow. This image is from from the Victoria & Albert Museum’s Textile Collection: Embroidery in Britain from 1200 to 1759 (King and Levey) Figure 36
    but I’ve found some embroidered variations.
    This is another type of primula vulgaris (also from King and Levey):
    and this one – yellow edged with red (also shown in the catalogue above as a hose-in-hose type). There looks to be gold braid (plaited braid stitch?) outlining the pods.
    This image is from book The Embroidery at the Burrell Collection, Liz Burrell, page 106
    (Sorry it’s not clearer – the original image is tiny)
    So they can vary in colour – from purple to pink to blue to yellow – but that calyx pod is a dead give away that it’s a primrose.
    One thing that crossed my mind was “I hope I’ve got the proportion of the calyx to the flower correct”. I found this nice diagram at
    from the book “An Illustrated Flora Of The Northern United States, Canada And The British Possessions Vol2“, by Nathaniel Lord Britton, Addison Brown.


    Primroses in the 16th and 17th Centuries and in my Historical Sampler

    I have 3 primroses to embroider.
    What primroses are relevant to the 16th/17th C?
    Turning to my trusty Elizabethan Flowers site
    I get :
    Primula auricula
    Auricula brown; pink; white; yellow; red; purple
    Florilegium/1612, Emanual Sweerts/Amsterdam & Frankfurt

    Primula elatior
    Checklist of English native plant species, Dr. Chris Preston/England

    Primula farinosa
    Bird’s-eye Primrose
    Checklist of English native plant species, Dr. Chris Preston/England

    Primula polyantha
    yellow, double form
    Florilegium/1612, Emanual Sweerts/Amsterdam & Frankfurt

    Primula species?
    Rariorum plantarum historia (illus. with woodcuts)/1601
    Carolus Clusius/Netherlands

    Primula veris
    Florilegium/1612, Emanual Sweerts/Amsterdam & Frankfurt

    Primula veris
    Checklist of English native plant species, Dr. Chris Preston/England

    Primula vulgaris
    English Primrose
    Unicorn Tapestries/ca1500, Unknown/Brussels?

    Primula vulgaris
    Checklist of English native plant species, Dr. Chris Preston/England

    What do these primroses look like in real life?
    Here is a picture from the back flap “The Medieval Flower Book” by Celia Fisher, of an Oxslip Primrose (beloved for it’s narcotic properties).
    It has red freckles on it’s petals, unlike other primroses, but the basic structure is the same.
    The Elizabethans seemed to always show the pod or calyx just below the flower rather than just the frontal view of the flower.
    Uncut “slip” of a primrose, silk embroidered in tent stitch on a fine linen ground, c. 1590
    This is a picture of a primrose from “Exploring Elizabethan Embroidery” by Dorothy Clarke (the cover)
    All the primroses I’ve seen in Elizabethan embroidery seem to be Primrose Vulgaris (the English Primrose) with bright yellow petals.
    Primrose I :
    I found some thin yellow perle in my embroidery box – I don’t know where it came from.
    I used this with some Jap Thread No. 1 threaded into the same needle to do double detached buttonhole petals. I used the Jap to give some sparkle, since it’s next to the Burden Stitch leaf, which is very sparkly indeed.
    This is the first time I’ve used perle for Detached Buttonhole. It certainly gives a different texture to DMC/YLI! Much thicker and woolier.
    I padded the pod with two layers of green felt and outlined it in chain stitch in a light leaf green, as shown in the Exploring Elizabethan picture.
    I am currently chain stitched the pod itself in dark green Gilt Sylke Twist. With the very small stitches I’m using, the Sylke Twist is building into a solid mass of green glitter – rather like a beetle’s wing.
    I then need to put a light leaf green chain stitch down the middle (this is one of the veins on the pod, of which there are several in the real flower, but only one of which ever seems to be shown).
    I plan to put in an orange spiderweb for the centre. The real flower has um, little ‘feelers’ which I could do in wire. I haven’t seen this done – the centre is done flat.

    In other news, some more Lurex arrived in the mail a couple of days ago and I’ve used nearly another yard to complete the braid as far as I can do it without impinging into ‘unexplored territory’.