The Plaited Braid Stitch was one of the reasons I wanted to do this course. There are instructions in at least half of my books on embroidery, and I’ve watched Tracy Franklin demonstrate the stitch. I even spent a whole day practising it at one of her courses. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t, and frustratingly, I never felt I knew what I was getting wrong.
Consequently, when I sat down to tackle this month’s Stitch, I was expecting frustration and fury to reign. I started with Pearl Cotton, thinking that I would be less fretful about errors if I was not conscious of using an expensive thread. I watched the animation first, and although you can see that the first inch of my practising got very tangled up, I’m sure that it helped.
As I’ve repeatedly mentioned in my posts about this course, I’ve become acutely aware that the question of scale is critical to the success of some of these stitches. My first effort in pearl cotton was at too large a scale, and the thread floats were too floppy. In the case of the second trial, I reduced the size of the stitch, and suddenly found it coming together, which gave me some confidence that I was beginning to understand the structure of the stitch. The tension was still a little slack, but all in all, it was beginning to make sense.
So then I found a piece of scrap linen, and started playing with gold thread. Again the two rows are at slightly different scales, but now I really feel that I am going to master this stitch.
I also think I’ve cracked the problem of why the vast number of books I have on the subject don’t help. With the honourable exception of The Right Handed Embroiderer’s Companion, by Yvette Stanton of White Threads, they all use the same inadequate set of diagrams, presumably copied from an earlier publication. Furthermore, judging by the (slightly differing) diagrams in Tricia’s notes and Yvette’s book, they diagram the left-handed technique. Since all their other diagrams are for right-handers, these books provoke considerable confusion! Still, I now know where to go when I need to be reminded how to do the stitch, and I feel confident that with a bit of practise I will be able to pick it up any time I need to.
And I will need to. I have a few ideas buzzing around in my head, and Plaited Braid Stitch will take its’ place in them!