Thursday, January 5, 2012

Chicken Scratch

 I was searching all over the internet for something called "Spanish embroidery" but all I found with that designation was intricate tapestry type photos and blackwork. Not really what I was looking for. What I wanted was something that is done in Panama [oh, never thought to search under that designation]. Instead what I found was: chicken scratch embroidery or depression embroidery. It is embroidery done on gingham material using the squares for stitch placement. You might remember seeing it on aprons, curtains etc in Grandma's home. I wanted it for a class for the women's group here in Colombia.


According to "Guide to Gingham Embroidery Book One" by Laurie LaTour (an eBook purchased from Future Christian Homemakers)...

"Gingham Cross Stitch, reached its height of popularity in the 1940’s and 50’s as women looked for ways to create beautiful things for their home on limited budgets. In the 1980’s, Pegasus Originals produced several books of gingham embroidery patterns and coined the term “Chicken Scratch” because that’s what the lines in the patterns looked like to them! 
"Gingham Embroidery" because it encompasses all the lovely techniques used to turn this humble fabric into a thing of beauty. 

but in Panama they call it Spanish embroidery, hence my difficulty in finding anything online.

I spent all day Monday interpreting and practicing from copies of patterns that I received from a friend in Panama. (copies of her work) so that I could teach a preliminary class on Tuesday. I used what I had available - DMC Perle #8 and an appropriate sized sharp needle.

The obvious question was anticipated ... "It is beautiful but how can I use it when you use gingham for the fabric?" With this in mind, I decided to make a small example on how to incorporate this form of embroidery into something along with other forms. . Valentine's Day is coming up and I do have a pillow form that is currently bare, having taken off the Christmas pillow cover. This is what I came up with (a little lopsided, but I wasn't planning it - only stitching it).

This allowed me to show them how to also use an available fabric - Aida - to do this. I just wish that waste canvas or mono canvas was available to use as well. The women are interested in putting this kind of work onto blouses, skirts and such that are very plain, which they can buy fairly cheaply. So now I will experiment with the Aida to see if the threads can be pulled. hmmmm t-shirts?

I left them with all the copies of the patterns, and ideas. It will be interesting to see what the more industrious of the women bring back next week. What they asked of me, which is very normal, was could I buy and bring them various threads which in turn they would pay me for. For the most part, this works well, but I have yet to break even on this type of venture.

Keep tuned for the follow-up ...

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