Then I came across an old book which mentioned stitching pulled work in the hand. Really?! I wish I had kept the reference and not glossed over it and dismissed it because I realized later that although I was used to working with an embroidery frame, I had never really found it particularly comfortable.
About to start on a small pulled thread sampler, this seemed like the perfect opportunity to try out the idea of working in the hand without a frame. At first figuring out where to put my fingers and hold the linen was very awkward and I almost gave up. It was difficult to keep the fabric threads at right angles to each other so that I could count the threads and get the stitch pulling in the right direction.
But once I had figured out how to hold the fabric I found it most pleasurable. It's a more tactile experience having the cloth slide through your fingers as you move the linen and line it up for the next pass of the needle. And doesn't linen feel good? Also I seemed to have much better control of just how much tension to apply to each stitch. This may have been because it was an unfamiliar way of working and I was paying close attention to every stitch and each pull on the thread.
Working on a large piece of linen may be a different story, but for now I am reasonably pleased with the result. I'm not throwing out my embroidery frames just yet, but stitching in the hand is a good exercise in concentration that makes you focus on the formation of each stitch and it's good practice for paying attention to the tension. That's been good for me as I tend to work too tightly.
I'd love to hear of your experience of doing pulled thread embroidery without a frame or a hoop.
Till next time, happy stitching.