Friday, February 1, 2019

Reticella - Should it be White?

Reticella embroidery has always intrigued me. It's a form of whitework embroidery that combines cutwork and needlemade lace and it's generally identifiable by the square shape of the motifs.

South African embroiderers may remember the extraordinary embroidery of embroider and designer Hetsie van Wyk. See photos of Hetsie's embroidery here and here. Following the detailed instructions in her book Embroider Now, I once tried doing a little piece of Reticella - in pink.

I had just been on a visit to family in Zimbabwe and I had been able to find some Zimbabwe cotton. At the time it was a favourite among local embroiderers because it was an inexpensive evenweave type fabric that could be used for counted thread embroidery, particularly cross stitch and pulled thread work.

It was ideal for experimenting and trying out new stitches and techniques and I was tempted to buy not only the traditional white or ecru, but also small lengths of coloured fabric.

I find there is something especially alluring about white embroidery on white fabric. The question was to see how a piece of traditional whitework would look when embroidered on coloured fabric with matching threads.

Although I need more practice with the technique, I was fairly happy with this little piece of Reticella on the pink Zimbabwe cotton. But, I still think it's hard to beat whitework embroidery embroidered with white thread on white fabric. I'd love to know what you think.

Till next time, happy stitching!


  1. This is lovely! I know what you mean about the beautiful traditional white on white. It is hard to resist the beautiful and innocence of it. But I also think there is a place for some non-traditional, coloured whitework. The stitches remain beautiful, but it does add a certain elegance or fun depending on the colours used.

  2. I think the actual colour/s also has a big impact on the finished embroidery. I recently saw white on dark blue linen and the contrast in colour showed up the white stitching to great effect. I really did like the overall effect too.

  3. it's beautiful!! i think it would be equally beautiful all in white. I love whitework, but I also love whitework with colour. I did a series of Hardanger pieces using blue thread a while back and I loved the effect.

  4. I can imagine your blue on white Hardanger embroidery would have a lovely fresh look. We are spoilt for thread colour choice these days and I think working with colours does give our creativity more scope.

  5. Look for Giuliana Buonpadre's books on Reticello and her wonderful floral creations in color, especially her book Herbarium.

    1. Thanks for the suggestion Susan.
      Giuliana's work is beautiful and so very different from the traditional Reticello embroidery.