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A Special Treat from Piecework Magazine

Morris Impressions: Counted-Thread Embroidery
Designed by Ann Caswell

The finished project pillow Photograph by Joe Coca.

Encroaching or interlocking Gobelin.

Slanted or sloping Gobelin.Back stitch.



The Caron Collection Impressions 50% silk/ 50% wool thread:

1 skein each of 3056 light peach, 3064 medium rust, 5004 green, 7022 medium teal; 2 skeins each of 1144 gold, 7020 dark teal, 7024 light teal

Zweigart Lugana® 20-count 52% cotton/

48% rayon fabric, 264 ivory, 1 piece 11 ¥ 14 inches (27.9 ¥ 35.6 cm)

Tapestry needle, size 24

Fabric of your choice for the back of the pillow, 1 piece 9 ¥ 12 inches (22.9 ¥ 30.5 cm)

Sewing thread to match fabric

Hand sewing needle, crewel or sharps, size 10

Frame made from 4 artist's canvas stretcher bars: 2 pieces 11 inches (27.9 cm) long, 2 pieces 14 inches (35.6 cm) long; or needlework stretcher bars

Polyfil stuffing, 12 ounces (340.5 g)

About the Design

A William Morris's Artichoke panel inspired this counted-thread embroidery pillow. The silk and wool threads add a luxurious element to a sweet decorative accent for home or office. The pillow is stitched on evenweave fabric and measures 812 ¥ 1112 inches (21.6 ¥ 29.2 cm).


Fold the Lugana fabric in quarters and mark the center. Mount the fabric on the frame. Begin stitching from the center of the design, using one strand of Impressions throughout. Work the embroidery according to the chart and the stitch guide.

Click here for the Pillow Chart

When the embroidery is complete, remove it from the frame, place it face down between two layers of muslin, and press it lightly with an iron set on "warm." Trim the embroidered fabric to 9 ¥ 12 inches (22.9 ¥ 30.5 cm), centering the design. Right sides together, pin the pillow top to the backing fabric and stitch a 12-inch (1.3-cm) seam, leaving a 4-inch (10.2-cm) opening. Turn the pillow right side out and stuff it evenly with Polyfil. Make a twisted cord (see the sidebar below), using one skein each of the light teal, dark teal, and gold thread. Stitch it to the outer edge of the pillow, with a small overcast stitch, hiding the ends of the cord in the opening. Sew the opening shut with an invisible stitch.

 light peach 3056

gold 1144

medium rust 3064

light teal 7024

green 5004

medium teal 7022

dark teal 7020


Stitch Guide

Outer narrow border

Slanted Gobelin (green, light peach)

Large border

Large buds: Encroaching Gobelin (light peach, medium rust)

Small buds: Encroaching Gobelin (medium rust, medium teal, green)

Vine: Back stitch (green)

Corner motif: Slanted Gobelin(green, light teal, gold)

Inner narrow border

Slanted Gobelin (green, gold)


Large buds: Encroaching Gobelin (dark teal, medium teal, gold, light teal, green)

Leaves: Slanted Gobelin (green, gold, light peach)

Making the Twisted Cord (By Nancy Welch)

1. Without cutting the skeins, unwind one skein each of light teal,

dark teal, and gold, and rewind it into a 120-inch (304.8-cm) loop.

Each loop will make one strand of the cord.

2. Tie a knot in one end of one skein and slip it over a hook.

3. With your fingers, a pencil, a drill, or an eggbeater, twist the loop clockwise until it kinks back on itself. Clamp this end to anchor it while you twist the next loop. Repeat until all loops are twisted.

4. Carefully release one end of each loop from its anchor. Twist all the loops together in the opposite direction from the original twist. Knot the free ends together, release the other end from the anchor and knot that end as well.

Nancy Welch is the author of "Tassels: Universal Decoration".

About the Designer

Ann Caswell of Reston, Virginia, has been teaching needlework for companies, shops, and guilds since 1979 and is a past president of the American Needlepoint Guild. She is the design coordinator of Jacqueline Kreinik's upcoming book about metallic threads.


Impressions 50% silk/50% wool thread. The Caron Collection, 55 Old South Ave., Stratford, CT 06615. (203) 381-9999. Call or write for the name of your nearest retailer.

Lugana 20-count fabric. Zweigart Fabrics, 2 Riverview Dr., Somerset, NJ 08873-1139. (732) 271-1949. Call or write for the name of your nearest retailer.

Polyfil stuffing. Fairfield Processing, PO Box 1157, Danbury, CT 06813-1157. (800) 980-8000. Call or write for the name of your nearest retailer.

From early Colonial samplers to Japanese sashiko quilts to beaded Athapaskan dancing boots, handwork's history is human history. The clothes that warm us, the linens that adorn our homes, the finery that lifts our spirits- these works have come from hands that tell us who we have been and who we are. And using our hands to carry on handwork that reflects our history and culture is rhythmic and sustaining.

PieceWork magazine celebrates and explores historic and ethnic fabric-related handwork in stories and selected projects on quilting, knitting, crochet, embroidery, cross stitch, basketry, beadwork, needlepoint, lace making, dyeing, and other traditional crafts. Click Here to go to the Piecework website

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