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Saturday, May 28, 2011

Huck, huckaback or Swedish embroidery

One project in the Spring issue of the Canadian A Needle Pulling Thread Magazine was a placemat and napkin set called Oh Caroline by Christine Allan of Lancaster, Ontario.

Christine Allan describes the style as Huck embroidery and says it is also known as Swedish embroidery. Other references also call it 'darning embroidery'. It is characterised by picking up the 'floats' - a layer of thread on the surface of the fabric.

I had no idea what this form of embroidery was called, but my very first school sewing project, at the age of eight, (before I progressed to the desk cover and pinwheel) was a simple handtowel in this style, on white huckaback fabric. It got a lot of use and shows it!

I had even forgotten the name 'huckaback'. A bit of web searching turned up many references to huckaback embroidery.

Although A Needle Pulling Thread says this embroidery was popular in the late 20s to early 60s, it was also popular in the 1890s using silk thread. It received a boost in 1904 when mercerised cotton became available and the huckaback fabric could also be woven or dyed to produce colours other than white or cream.  (This didn't seem to have arrived at my primary school in 1955!).

I really enjoyed making my little towel. I remember the magic of creating the coloured lines so simply. I tried a version of it on one of my bags before Christmas, using fabric left over from another project.

Although not huckaback, the fabric had the surface thread quality that allows you to embroider without piercing the fabric.

I love Christine Allan's design and, although I am not into placemats, I might find a way to use it on a bag.

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