Posted on 12 Comments

Jupiter Embroidery

Okay, well. I hadn’t intended for this blog to be about old pieces of work. But the whims of ‘The Internet’ intrigue me, and over the last couple of days, a piece of my work has been highlighted on MAKE craft zine, and has thence been bumped around on tumblr/twitter. I feel flattered by everyone’s kind words in emails and on tumblr, and have also received quite a few questions about the work, so I thought I’d write a little about it here.

The piece in question, my chain stitch Jupiter embroidery:

Jupiter in chain stitch
Jupiter in chain stitch

And a link to my (very brief) post on tumblr, with more pictures:


This is a small embroidery: about 9cm wide and 13cm tall. It’s stitched with a needle and thread onto ivory linen fabric. [Note that it’s not knitting or crochet, I can understand how some folk might be confused by that, as chain stitch ‘en mass’ can look a little like stocking stitch, the most common knitted fabric stitch.]

I used this sequence of images from NASA as the basis for the work, but I reinterpreted the sequence a little so that I could do the squiggliness I wanted.

Jupiter’s red spots via JPL

I sketched the bands and spots onto paper, and decided on colours. Next I used measurements from my sketch to draw this on the linen using a water soluble embroidery marker. Once I started stitching I worked from the top down. I attempted to stitch from left to right when I imagined the bands moving left to right, and vice versa. The top section is fairly linear, broken up by the occasional jovian spot in satin stitch. As I worked further down towards the turbulent areas I started to mix up the directionality more, working from the edges of each band into its centre, rippling out around the large spots.

Jupiter in progress
Jupiter in progress

I wanted my stitching to demonstrate that the jovian bands are fluid, moving around the planet and swirling it up a storm at region boundaries.

I chose to use almost entirely chain stitch for two reasons:

  1. I loved the way chain stitch could be used to create curves, as well as straight lines with directionality. Related to this, I also like the way as a chain stitch line curves, it lifts slightly on the outside edge. This gave such a subtle, graceful wave-like sense to the curve that I wanted for this fluid surface.
  2. And more pragmatically and slightly embarrassingly: I wanted to learn how to chain stitch.

I’ve played with lots of little experimental embroidery pieces in many different stitches in the past. I’ve also completed many charted cross stitch pieces. But I wanted to delve more deeply into embroidery, and so decided to concentrate on one technique and work towards mastery, and I started with chain stitch. Obviously I’m not expecting to attain mastery, but I’m a strong believer in striving for it. Anyway, I ramble.


Currently the piece is tucked away waiting to be framed. I’ve since completed another chain stitch piece, larger but simpler in many senses: a stitched Voronoi diagram with some organic globules pushed up against it. I might blog about that some other time.

The Jupiter piece isn’t for sale for a combination of reasons:

  • I made it for my own pleasure. It’s a subject that I love, that I made to hang in my own house. It’s for me.
  • I made it to learn and practice a technique, so I don’t feel it’s a piece that’s made as a saleable, quality piece.
  • I have no idea how long it took me to do, so I can’t honestly put a price to it. It took a long time, many, many hours, so I doubt anyone would be willing to pay what it’s worth. If you love embroidery, you know what I mean 🙂

I am honestly humbled by the interest this piece has attracted. But I’m also very inspired by knowing that I’m not the only one that loves to combine science and maths with art, craft and beauty.

And Jupiter really is a beautiful place.

12 thoughts on “Jupiter Embroidery

  1. Would you consider producing a pattern for this? I’d love to make one of my own, but I find the idea of creating the template for it rather daunting 🙂 I bet a lot of other people would like to try it too!

    1. Wow, that’s an idea I’ve never considered before. I’ve never made a pattern before, perhaps I should try 🙂

      1. What Lolly said. 😛 I haven’t embroidered since I was a kid, this makes me want to pick it up again. Well done, you do beautiful work. 🙂

        1. Well I have to admit that I’m chuffed to think it might inspire some folks to pick up a needle and some delicious coloured thread. Maybe I can create a simpler version for those who’re starting out with embroidery… Hmm, I will have a think/play.

          1. Yes, definitely! This is so gorgeous. Have you thought of doing other planets?

  2. […] Jupiter in chain stitch, and it sparked something. My dad has his PhD in astrophysics and cosmology, and he taught […]

  3. Let me add my name to the list of folks who’d love to have a try at your beautiful Jupiter piece.

    1. I really need to consider this, huh? 🙂

  4. I’d love to have a pattern of this. It’s beautiful.

  5. Never be embarrassed because you wanted to learn a new stitch! I do it all the time and I’ve been stitching for years.

    Patterns are the way to go at this point…embroidery is so time consuming that we can’t possibly put a price on it to reflect the amount of work that went into it.

    Fantastic job. Interesting subject. I love this piece!

    Maybe next you can take up the magic chain stitch 😀 It’s one of my moderately pointless favorites. I’ve never been able to find much of a use for it except for garland for embroidered xmas trees and the like but I love it.

    1. Woah, magic chain stitch looks fun. You could use that in lots of ways… I’m thinking about how that would look with two different variegated threads…. Possibilities! Thanks so much 😀

  6. […] do you get when you combine subjects like science and crafting? If you’re tumblr user pardalote, then you turn your considerable embroidery talents towards the heavens and the results speak for […]

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