The Lord’s Prayer – an Aramaic transliteration in surface embroidery: 5 – ‘Hallowed be Thy name’ and ‘Thy kingdom come’ lines

I really enjoyed designing and stitching these next three elements of the Lord’s Prayer panel.

The first line that I wanted to decorate was the line that is usually translated ‘Hallowed be Thy name’. Neil Douglas-Klotz’s translation from the Aramaic suggests that a more accurate translation would be something like ‘Focus your light within us – make it useful’. He says that whatever you focus on in your life becomes ‘holy’ for you – you have given it importance. So, I wanted to get that across somehow. I used this border design as my inspiration for the embroidered border around the words:


The border design was simplified down to the clusters of three beads (a lovely scrunchy bright red seed bead that I’ve had in my stash for years).


I outlined each cluster with lazy daisy stitches with one strand of Coats Ophir gold thread, then worked stem stitch in dark brown (one strand of Anchor), and highlighted that with a single couched line of Coats Ophir gold. The green stems and leaves were done in split back stitch with a single lazy daisy stitch for each leaf.

As I was designing the positioning of the letters for this area, I deliberately left a space off to one side (rather than centre the lettering, and therefore fill the space), as the idea for the ‘focus’. I added this ‘focus’ in the form of three large flat gold sequins, held in place with a royal blue silver-lined seed bead – the central sequin having more prominence. A few dark red and gold stitches drew the elements together. I finished this section by outlining the box with couched Kreinik #16 braid.


The next box featured the line “Teytey malkuthakh”, which is usually translated “Thy kingdom come”, but another translation might be “Unite our ‘I can’ to Yours, so that we walk as kings and queens with every creature”.

For this section, I wanted to make a feature of the top of the box more than the lower part, so that there is a feeling of ‘moving up’, and improving – achieving something in life. So, I stitched on some gold bugle beads first, then added various French knots and seed beads. The bottom corners of the box just had three simple gold seed beads  – so, they have decoration, but are not as dominant as the upper corners, so that the viewer’s attention is drawn up.


These little figure of eight motifs are placed towards the centre of the panel, and for a long time I wasn’t sure how to render these, although I liked the heart shaped centres.


I decided that it was the fact that the motifs in the ‘World of Ornament’ book were coloured black that was putting me off. Hearts are red, right?! So, I appliqued tiny metallic red kid hearts onto the fabric, and things started to look much better.


I couched a double line of Coats Ophir gold thread round the outside of the shapes, including the appliqued hearts, then added beads and blue thread in three shades.


These linked the various areas and colours of the panel, so that it was starting to look much more ‘full’.


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The Lord’s Prayer – an Aramaic transliteration in surface embroidery: 4 – Two medallions

The decorative elements that I chose to add to embellish the Lord’s Prayer panel that I made over the summer were taken from a fantastic book called ‘World of Ornament’ by A. Racinet and M. Dupont-Auberville.


There are various versions available – including a cheap edition by Dover, which has selections from this great book. And it is ‘great’…. it’s the largest book I own. It’s hardback, and weighs about 10 kilos, has 528 pages, and measures 18 x 11 x 2 1/2 inches. It’s enormous! It has colour plates illustrating the decorative styles from every historical period you can think of, and what makes it so useful to me is that all the designs shown are copyright free, so it’s OK for me to use them in designs. The best part of having this particular edition is that inside the back cover of the book is a CD with all the designs on, as individual elements, making it very useful indeed!! But it wasn’t cheap. In fact, I’m not going to tell you how much it cost  🙂  I justified it by counting it as a business expense.

Anyway, the design elements I show here were taken from that book, and here’s the first one:

Abwoon19aI interpreted this medallion by keeping the idea of the central ‘flower’, but simplifying it a lot. And I wanted it to look more red than blue.


I couched three rows of Kreinik #16 braid with Gutermann silk thread, adding highlights in Anchor 1006 red – couched lines, stem stitch outline and a few fly stitches.


I worked the central area of the medallion to resemble a flower:


The medallion on the right hand side of the sampler was a similar one, with a different central design, but up the other way.


With this medallion, I used a green sequin in the centre, held down with lazy daisy stitches filled with a single straight stitch, surrounded by dark green fly stitches and three pink French knots.


The long lines extending from each medallion were embellished with tiny gold seed beads. At the end of each line I had been planning to use shisha mirrors, but when I put them on the panel before attaching them, I realised that they looked far too ‘silver’ and just didn’t look right against the yellow fabric, especially as quite a bit of gold Kreinik had already been added by then as well. As the ‘goldness’ had already been set, silvery shisha mirrors just wouldn’t have worked. So I decided to stitch Rhodes stitch circles in red instead:


I defined these first with split back stitch, then worked the actual Rhodes stitches using four strands of Anchor 1006 Red, to make them stand out.


Tiny 2mm sequins filled the gaps in between, and single lazy daisy stitch / fly stitch combination finished off the line.


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The Lords’ Prayer – an Aramaic transliteration in surface embroidery: 3 – Completion of the lettering

Over the next couple of weeks I managed to complete all of the lettering on the Lord’s Prayer panel that I made over the summer. This is what it looked like after about twenty hours of stitching:


It was already starting to look a lot more ‘solid’, but I wanted to get the lettering filled in. This took HOURS! The smallest font has letters barely a quarter of an inch high, so each stitch had to be very precisely placed, or the letters became indistinct. As this isn’t ‘English’ (it’s a transliteration of Aramaic, the language that Jesus spoke), then unless the letters were clearly depicted, the phonetic spelling wasn’t going to be readable, so I had to be very careful.  So, all the small lettering was worked in one strand of Anchor stranded cotton, in split backstitch – doing the outline first, and then filling in with more rows of split back stitch. Most of my free time during August this year, then, was spent working on the filling in of the lettering of the panel:


The word ‘Abwoon’ (usually translated ‘Our Father’) and the word ‘Ameyn’ were going to be given much more prominence on the panel than the rest of the lettering. I did this by outlining the letters first in the same way that I did for the smaller fonts:


Then, using four strands of Anchor stranded cotton, I worked several rows of loose stem stitch in the shapes. I didn’t work right up to the edges of each shape,though, so that when I satin stitched across the letters, the profile of each letter would be gently rounded.


This shows the word Abwoon, partially done:


Next up, is the good bit – starting to add the decoration.


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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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