Finished embroidery: a ‘knot garden’ pincushion

The pincushion is stitched in various embroidery stitches, and measures nearly five inches square

I made this pincushion recently, and it was one of the most enjoyable projects I have ever done. The design is by Robyn Rich of Victoria, Australia, and the design was featured in Issue 17 of the fantastic Australian embroidery magazine ‘Inspirations’. Issue 17 is from quite a way back, now – from 1998. The style of the magazine has changed a bit over the years, and this design is from their most ‘romantic’ period, which I really like. The website of the magazine’s publishers, Country Bumpkin, often has back issues still available, which are well worth buying. (When I first came across the magazine, I thought it was so wonderful that I paid over £40 in postage costs alone to have ALL of the available back issues posted to the UK from Australia – and it was worth every penny! I had a wonderful few weeks, reading through the magazines, and planning the projects that I’d like to make – enough for several lifetimes, probably 🙂  )

I didn’t adapt the design of the pincushion much, as it was so perfect as it was. I did use Anchor stranded cotton instead of DMC, as that is the brand of thread I use in the miniature needlepoint kits that I sell, so I always keep the whole Anchor range in stock, and it seemed daft to buy even more thread!

The fabric I used was a cream glazed cotton fabric, which I’d bought years ago in a  junk shop. It’s so closely woven, that when a needle is poked into the cushion, it always makes a satisfying ‘popping’ sound!

The instructions suggest first indicating the areas of dense stitching in the four corners by painting the fabric with green fabric paint, which I did. But this seemed to come out quite a harsh green, so I turned the fabric over and stitched on the other side, where the green paint showed much more faintly.

The pincushion seen from above

The text given in the magazine ‘suggested’ ideas for where each kind of stitch for each kind of plant could go, rather than giving precise placement instructions, so it was a very creative project to do – lots of choices to make. The stitches used gave a good impression of each type of plant. For instance, the delphiniums I stitched in columns of French knots, the central roses in close-lying bullion knot rounds, and the lavender bushes  in lazy daisy stitches, done in short rows.

The border was great fun to do. Just short lengths of French knots, in lots of colours, worked randomly. The ‘cushion’ part, when embroidered and made up, is stitched to the base at the very corners only – the base being a piece of thick mount board covered in fabric. Tiny flowers are stitched at the corners of the cushion to cover the joining stitches. The seam of the baseboard fabric is covered with two rows of open detached blanket stitch, in two colours. The way that the cushion and the base are joined means that there is a kind of  ‘slight gap’ in between the two, which the article suggested using to tuck packets of needles, etc., into, but I think I’d worry that they would get lost, so I don’t do that.

I keep meaning to use motifs from this pincushion to make matching scissor holder, needlebook and scissor keep, but then there’s this issue of time…..


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4 thoughts on “Finished embroidery: a ‘knot garden’ pincushion”

  1. It is really beautiful! I can see why it would be fun to stitch. Very cool-headed and inspired on your part to simply flip the fabric when the paint color proved a disappointment. I adore your rendition of the delphiniums. A fan-shaped needle book with one of the corner motifs would be lovely!

    1. Each of the flowers was quite a ‘meditation’ in itself. They each needed concentration, but only for a short time – it was so enjoyable to do!
      Yes, a needlebook with one of the smaller motifs was what I had in mind, but those ideas seem to be at the end of the ‘to do’ list at the moment.

  2. wow – that is gorgeous. I’ve got a couple of copies of ‘Inspirations’ – they stock them in H*bbycr@ft sometimes (saves postage 😉 … and I’ve used so many of the wonderful ideas – but never followed one from scratch. Your pincushion is so stunning – the embroidery is just wonderful.

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