Stitching “Typed on Camelback in a Sandstorm”

U2511 Detail

U.25.11 Detail

The whole idea of this patch is to recall an incident that Mary Chubb describes, in which sand adhered to a freshly-typed page, creating “a rather pretty embossed effect”. In the end, I chose the grid reference of the Expedition House, where the team lived during the digging season.

I used a selection of silk threads from Mulberry Silks, from a colour family called “Old Cotswold”, which I’ve also used for the panel showing the Crock of Gold Hoard. It included a russet, a mid-grey and a very pale greyish-white as well as several sandy colours.

I used all of the colours this time, and discovered that the threads are not all the same, some being finer than others.  That’s perfect in this case – some of the grains of sand would be finer than others, and I could accentuate or reduce the differences by using more or fewer wraps in my French Knots. I think it looks really very sandy indeed!

U.25.11 Typed In Camelback In A Sandstorm

U.25.11 Typed In Camelback In A Sandstorm

It took a remarkably short period of time. And what’s more, considering that I’m not really a fan of French Knots (I never could get the hang of them when I began embroidering), I rather enjoyed it. Although I must admit, it was beginning to get quite tricky, what with all those layers of thread. I swapped over to a sharp needle and even that was a struggle!

Still, that’s another piece completed…

Sandy Stitching

Sandy Stitching  – click to open in a browser tab and run the animation

And, as a bonus – an animation. This was put together by Simon Walters (@cymplecy on Twitter), using some photos I provided. I’m impressed with what he produced, considering that I didn’t take the pictures in a very controlled environment, and it will give you some idea of the view I had as I built up the effect, colour by colour

Thank you, Simon!


  1. Dima says:

    Very nice! I’m not a fan of french knots either, but I love the effects this gives.

  2. I quite enjoy French knots – I use an extra sort of tacking stitch to keep them in pace, is that allowed !?!?
    An excellent animation – whilst admiring your work, I was also thinking of Tony Hart!

  3. Sue Jones says:

    I enjoyed watching the lettering come alive on the video.
    I sometimes use a second tack when I am doing a single, large FK on things like counted work when the exact placing matters a lot. I like using them in mass, scrunched together for a filling, to make a textured surface – especially with blended/variegated colours. (They don’t need an extra tack in that case.)
    When I worked at The Needlewoman Shop, I once had to try to explain French knots over the telephone to a bewildered customer. That was a challenge! I never did find out if she made sense of my explanation – I rather doubt it.

  4. Really love the effect and the colours – and the .gif is just fab – well done Simon!

  5. wendy says:

    French knots are one of those stitches that just takes practice and good tension. I’m sure with a bit more practice you won’t struggle so much.

  6. karen says:

    don’t you just love Mulberry silks colour packs? and you have used them with brilliant effect here…

  7. Penny says:

    Absolutely lovely and so ‘authentic’ looking. I love French Knots — they are definitely a stitch where you have to ‘be in the moment’ since the the work is so small and the correct tension so needed. Yours are gorgeous.

  8. Janice says:

    I agree. It looks very sandy indeed! I do love French knots!

  9. Lady Fi says:

    It really looks great!

  10. Terrie says:

    Rachel, the french knot and the color really lovely. I got inspiration from your stitches. I love your artistic embroidery. The french knots are easy for me to follow. As you noted I like to do the knots on my book cover. Really love the textures with only a few “twists”. Love all your works.

  11. Carolyn says:

    You have really captured the texture of sand. The colour choices make it look gritty. great result.

  12. Susan says:

    I couldn’t leave a comment on the amazing post you linked to the Stitchery Linky, so I came to see what you are doing now. Equally amazing! I love what you did, and the animation is great, so thanks for sharing that.

  13. Anita says:

    Looks great! Lovely colors.. It definitely looks sandy…well done Rachel!