I have a new metal thread that I’ve been wanting to experiment with. It is made in France by the same company which puts out a line of very good quality silk thread. Most metal threads are couched, or laid down on the surface of the embroidery. Apparently this one can be stitched through the fabric without becoming a snarly mess!

My inner magpie is captivated…

So, actually I did experiment with it a little while back, to get a feel for how it works and I ended up pulling it all apart because I wasn’t happy with the result. It was a bad choice of stitch, too complex, for the thread.
A pall was cast upon my enthusiasm and I set it aside…
Of course, that’s been brewing away in the back of my mind and so I decided to have another go. Whatever shall I make, I said to myself.
Oh, I know… a pall…


I’m working on an altar cloth this week. It will have very simple embroidered crosses, only the centre element of the design above, so I thought I might work up the cross more fully because I am craving colour and sparkles. I had a nice piece of the same linen (as the cloth) ready, so traced out the design from the cartoon using my light-pad and an art pen.

I’ve quite recently moved into a new space. Moving any kind of studio is, well, something else. I’m in the danger zone of about 80% organized… and I haven’t organized all my threads properly yet so I dumped the whole lot out onto one of my worktables. I am not sharing a photograph of that with you. Sorry!
Anyway I found the reds I was after, both cotton, a floche and a floss. They’re not actually the same shade but I wanted subtle differences in sheen and shade.

This is in a frame, not a loom!

Recently someone asked how I held the fabric while I was stitching and the answer is in the hand or in a hoop or frame (and this depends on the embroidery stitch in question), but not a loom! I think they had weaving and embroidery mixed up but that’s fine, none of this stuff is critical information (unless you’re embroidering or weaving!)
You can just see the little frame I used for this job at the side and top of the picture. You attach the fabric top and bottom and tighten it up until its really taut. A bit like a rack, I suppose!

After the central cross element (floche, split stitch), I stitched those four dots in the floss with a Rhodes stitch but I forgot to take a separate photo because I was all excited about the new gold thread. I have it in several thicknesses, of which I used two, actually stitching through the fabric rather than couching… it worked well… nice…!

My studio or workroom (it’s a basement actually) has west facing windows. Well of course I wanted north facing windows with movable panels (that artists’ northern light thing) but knocking a hole in the wall is a bit much, even for me! Anyway, I have to use quite a lot of task lighting throughout the day but… at the end of the day I am rewarded with warm, glorious, golden sunlight streaming though those west windows. Here is the finished piece.

At the end of the day…

There is something quite breathtaking about the angled sunlight catching the gleam of the metal threads. So beautiful.
All that remains is for me to finish it as a pall (that’s the little square which is placed upon the chalice to protect the Precious Blood – from flies and such) and I will do that after I’ve completed the altar cloth.

What an impression…

And finally, here is something which perhaps gives a sense of the relief of the piece. Part of the finishing of an embroidery is pressing and blocking and all that stuff. I always press embroidery from the back onto something very padded (because why would I ruin it by squashing it with an iron??) I use about eight layers of flannel. Isn’t that kind of cool?

Thanks for reading.

3 thoughts on “A Chalice Pall

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