The Lord’s Prayer – an Aramaic transliteration in surface embroidery: 2 – Starting on the lettering: ‘Lead us not into temptation’

This is the Lord’s Prayer design that I have been working on during the summer, as a gift for my Sufi teacher. It has been made to fit a frame 16 x 20 inches. Here is the paper version of the design that I was working from:


Before starting work on the actual thing, I decided to stitch a small sample of the lettering on a scrap of the yellow silk, as I wasn’t quite sure that I could get the detail of the letters accurately enough in the stitches I wanted to use.  I reckoned that if I was going to spend hours on this piece, then it warranted a sample. I don’t usually bother to do this, as I have little patience (regular readers of this blog will have heard this before!). So, I stitched the word ‘patsan’ as a sample first in split back stitch with one strand of Anchor stranded cotton (each stitch being about 2mm long), by outlining each letter first and then filling in with more rows of split back stitch. The capital letter W was stitched in padded satin stitch. The padding was done by stitching long, loose stem stitch rows perpendicular to the direction that the top layer of satin stitches would lie. When I was sure that these two stitches would work on the different sizes of lettering on the panel, I felt a lot more confident about proceding.


I didn’t buy any threads specially for this project – I just raided my huge stash. Here is the selection I chose (not all of them made it onto the final piece – the red ribbons were lovely, but never seemed to ‘fit in’):


The threads I actually used were these:

Anchor stranded cotton:

1006 Red

8 Coral

148 Deep blue

152 Navy

892 Pale peach

307 Deep gold

683 Deep pine green

352 Chestnut brown

2 Dark red

Cascade House stranded cotton:

1460 Yellow

Thread Gatherer Silk ‘n’ Colors:

1027 Leprechaun

House of Embroidery Perle 12:


Coral pink

Coats Ophir Gold thread no. 300

Kreinik Medium braid #16 002HL Gold

Golden Hinde Milliary wire

Rajmahal pearl purl (stretched)

Plus various seed beads, bugle beads, jewellery findings, sequins, etc.

So, I was then able to actually get started on the stitching. I decided to work the lettering from the bottom up, as I thought that the pencilled design might rub off if I were to constantly be brushing my arm across it by doing the lettering from the top down. I began with the line ‘Wela tahlan l’nesyuna, Ela patsan min bisha’. This is usually translated as ‘Lead us not into temptation, But deliver us from evil’, but that’s not a good translation. ‘Bisha’ does not mean ‘evil’. It means something more like ‘forgetfulness of the sacred in everyday life’. So, I wanted to indicate this ‘forgetfulness’ somehow in the stitching, and I decided to do that by fading out the shades of the lettering from the top to the centre, and then darken it down again as it reached the bottom. But even as I was stitching the outlines, I wasn’t happy with how it was turning out. The lighter shades just looked wrong, somehow.


Rather than continue with it if I wasn’t sure, I left that part and moved to the right of that area and outlined the other lettering at the bottom of the panel. All of it was done in split back stitch – the small lettering using one strand, and the ‘Ameyn’ using two strands of Anchor 152 Navy.

But the more I looked at the left side of the panel, the more I was convinced that the lighter blue section wasn’t working… the dreaded stitch ripper had to make an appearance  😦

I hate frogging. It’s so depressing. At least now I have a good stitch ripper to use, to get the job done quicker. This one is made by Clover, and has an ergonomic handle, with a grippy section about half way along, so that the tool doesn’t twist round in my hand as I’m using it, like the cheap one does that came with my sewing machine. Even so, it took me an hour to unpick the light blue stitching, as the stitches were so tiny.


It took as long to unpick as it had to stitch it in the first place, and I had this to show for it at the end. A heap of fluff.


But at least the pencilled design was still clearly visible, so I could then re-stitch it in 152 Navy to match the rest, and I could see straight away that it was right, even before I filled in the body of the letters.


This is better, isn’t it?


I still had to find a way to suggest the ‘forgetfulness’ idea that the meaning of the line had for me, but I thought I’d work that out later, when I came to embellishing the area.

What also became apparent, was that it is VERY HARD to take photos of yellow shot silk without it coming out a different colour each time, so you will just have to believe me when I say that the silk is a lovely colour in real life. Honest!


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3 thoughts on “The Lord’s Prayer – an Aramaic transliteration in surface embroidery: 2 – Starting on the lettering: ‘Lead us not into temptation’”

  1. Hi

    I did try to make this comment in the appropriate place but for some reason it was rejected even when I tried several different times.

    I agree with Kathleen’s comment: this is a very impressive piece of work and something totally different. I also agree with you about the light blue, I don’t think it looked as good as the navy and imho it didn’t really underline the forgetfulness aspect.

    May I ask you why you chose to use split stitch rather than the more usual satin stitch for the lettering? I am curious, not critical.



    1. Hi Chris,
      I chose to use split back stitch for the main lettering because the letters are so tiny – some of the lettering is only a quarter of an inch high, so to use satin stitch would have meant that the detail of each letter would have been lost. Even using split back stitch, I used one strand of Anchor stranded cotton in places, so I was splitting just a single strand with each stitch. I had to be really precise with the outlining for it to be readable, and satin stitch for each letter would just have been too ‘clumsy’. As you’ll see further on in this series of posts, I did use padded satin stitch for the much larger lettering at the very top and bottom of the panel (‘Abwoon’ and ‘Ameyn’).

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