Thank you all for your kind and congratulations after last week's blog post! I am still chuffed that my fox won first prize at Beating around the Bush.
And a very warm welcome to all the new readers joining after Mary Corbet mentioned my goldwork project 'St. Laurence' on her excellent blog! I hope you won't be too disappointed that today's blog is on white work :).
This past Saturday, I was fortunate enough to attend another of Verena Schiegg's enjoyable classes on Appenzeller white work (for those of you new to this technique, please click 'Appenzell' in the categories list on your right for more information). So far I've learned to make padded satin stitches in the Appenzell fashion and drawn thread filling patterns. This particular class was going to be devoted to Lääteli (=Ladder). Verena had several old prickings for me to choose from and I set my eyes on the one above. It is one quarter of a very fine handkerchief.
Lääteli are a combination of ajour stitches (pulled thread) and couching. You work with two different threads. A thicker one to be couched and a finer one to do the couching and ajour stitches with. In the above original, I work with a #65 for the ticker thread and a #80 for the couching stitches. Currently, I am not aware of any other white work technique using this particular stitch combination. Please do let me know if it rings a bell with you! To be clearer, I've made a tutorial for Graadi Lääteli (= straight ladder).
To be able to make good pictures, I've upped the scale a little. The fabric used is a 36 ct linen. My thicker thread is a #25 DMC cotton a broder. The finer thread is one strand of DMC embroidery twist. Start by drawing two parallel lines, five threads apart, onto the linen. Take your thicker thread and cover the bottom line with a single straight stitch. Keep the stitch taut while working, but don't end it yet.
Anchor your couching thread on the upper line. Come up with your needle three threads from the start and in the middle between the two lines. Wiggle your needle a bit to widen the hole (this isn't essential when working on such coarse linen, but it is when you work on very fine linen).
Go down at the start in the middle between the two lines. Pull a little so that the fabric threads are pulled together.
Come up in the hole you made wiggling your needle. Now place a couching stitch over the ticker thread by going down over it, parallel to the hole.
Move down the middle between the lines, skip three threads and wiggle your needle to make the second hole. Come up with your thread.
Go down in the first hole and gently pull the threads together. Come up in the second hole and make the parallel couching stitch over the ticker thread.
Continue in this manner until you reach the end of your drawn line. Finished is the first half of your Lääteli. Turn your work upside down and start by laying your thicker thread over the other line.
Thread your needle with the thinner thread and come up in the first hole. Go down at the start and repeat all the previous steps. The second half of the Lääteli works up much quicker as you don't have to count threads: the holes are already there! The 'open ends' of the Lääteli are closed with a padded button hole bar. This is a great place to start and stop your threads.
As you've probably guessed, Graadi Lääteli are a counted thread technique. The Lääteli I've stitched on the handkerchief is a Chrommi Lääteli (=crooked ladder), you can't count threads here. And then there's a third form where the Lääteli gets combined with buttonhole stitching so that a sculpted edge is formed.
Lääteli would be perfect to stitch as a simple edge decoration. It works up quicker than a traditional drawn thread border as you don't have to withdraw threads first. And sometimes, your linen is not very well behaved and you can't easily withdraw threads; in comes the Lääteli!
Did the Lääteli whet your appetite and would you like to learn Appenzeller whitework? Then why not join Verena's courses? She's an excellent teacher with many years of experience and one of the very few people who is proficient in this form of very fine whitework. Contact Verena for more details. If you would like to stitch Lääteli with the original materials, then send Verena an email with your requirements. As far as I know, she is the only person selling these very fine, traditionally blue, whitework threads.
Jessica M. Grimm
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