Posted on 22 Comments

Solar system embroidery

I finished a large project this week, so a few photos to celebrate, and explain some of the process and thoughts behind my latest space embroidery.


This embroidery is a depiction of the inner solar system: the Sun, Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars. I placed them in their (approximate) correct position according to where they were on the day I started.

Yep, I know it’s not to scale. The orbits are roughly right, but the size of the actual bodies is all over the place. I just made them the size I felt happy with. And they do, they do make me happy.


Conceptually, this piece started with the idea of the Sun radiating its energy outwards into the void. But the void is not empty. It’s a complex, structured space – gravitational and magnetic fields, electromagnetic radiation, dust and debris surround the system. Debris like us.


I started by mapping out the orbits and the planetary positions, and transferred that to the fabric by tacking through a sketch. I then tacked on the radial lines and the planets. Using the tacking as a guide, I then filled in all the blackwork blocks. I started with darker colours near the sun, then faded in intensity further away. I decided on a blackwork pattern for each sector as I went, this meant lots of unpicking as there were some I was unhappy with after I’d surrounded them.

Next I couched down gold cord around the sun and stitched in the planets. I then couched down white cord for the orbits and sectors, and used outline stitch to border each sector in between – again fading to lighter colours on the outside sectors.


With its infinite variety of structured pattern, the blackwork technique just felt ‘right’ for the piece. And so I present the blackness of space rendered in blackwork, with not a black thread in sight.


Another project done, time for framing. It’s like finishing a good book: I’m feeling a little lost, but ready for a new project!


  • fabric: 40 count permin linen
  • threads: cotton and metallic
  • dimensions: 35cm circumference
  • started: May 5, completed: August 12, 2013

22 thoughts on “Solar system embroidery

  1. WOW! A hearty and HUGE Congratulations on such a spectacular finish!!! I’ve really enjoyed watching this project develop, and the final result is awesome, as in: I am literally in awe of your creativity and cleverness πŸ™‚ From concept to completion, your Solar System is just incredibly cool and unconventional!

    The detail is astounding πŸ˜‰ The way you’ve broken up the pattern lines and lessened the design and colour intensity at the edges, as if the known universe is gently fading away into a realm we cannot yet perceive, is so striking! And the shading is masterful!

    Also, this line – “And so I present the blackness of space rendered in blackwork, with not a black thread in sight” – just sums up the amazing way that you’ve made such a cold, hard scientific fact so lively, bright and light! Still enigmatic, but engagingly so. Seriously, this is incredible work! Wow, just – wow πŸ˜‰

    1. Woah, thank you πŸ™‚ As always, you make me blush! *>.<* Hopefully once it's framed the fading at the edges will still work. AND I need to ask the landlord if we can put some more picture hooks up... hmm, I should get onto that. πŸ˜‰ I had lots of fun with it, and am already busily sketching out the next project... always another project.

  2. Amazing, what a fabulous project, well done

    1. Thanks! :@)

  3. Incredible!

    1. Thank you πŸ˜€

  4. Wow ! You should be very happy with this, it’s beautiful!

    1. Thanks, I’m happy now it’s finished, and full of more ideas for the next project! Really enjoyed playing blackwork games!

  5. Gorgeous! A real stunner!

    1. Thanks so much Kaye πŸ˜€

  6. Oh my dear ~~ what imagination and creativity! Your night dreams must be
    whoppers of conjuring….. The design is ingenious and in 3 months’ -completion?
    Onward and upward with the next!

    1. My brain definitely buzzes with stitches as I fall asleep…. but I don’t think I ever dream of them… or if I do then I forget all the dreams! Ah well.

      Thanks for your kind words, I had lots of fun with this πŸ™‚

  7. Just incredible. I am in awe. Bravo πŸ™‚

    1. Thanks! πŸ˜€

  8. PS – is the pic in your banner of Teresa Wenztler’s peacock in a pear tree cross stitch? I started that many moons ago…

    1. And yes, it is πŸ™‚ Completed it earlier this year. I made myself finish it before starting my own designs, so it became a bit of a chore, but I’m happy with it now it’s framed and on the wall.

      Quarter stitches, so many quarter stitches. /shudder.

      1. Oh I know but I cant do cross stitch without them – it does give such a beautiful result. Its the bazillions of backstitches that kill me LOL. I have half finished Lady of Shallot – so man hours have been spent on it but I haven’t touched it for years πŸ™ One day …

        1. I love Teresa Wentzler’s designs, I’ve completed… five now. My first was The Castle (only little!), and then Pegasus (that was insane), Rapunzel (another slog!), Angel Procession (lots of fun), and then Peacock Tapestry. I have the Unicorn chart, but haven’t stitched it, it’s supposed to be the complement to Pegasus. I also have a kit for the Enchanter, but haven’t started it. *guilty eyes*
          Annnd, all of them except Peacock Tapestry are all still back at my parents house in storage :0( The joys of moving house too much. *sigh*

          Lady of Shallot looks beautiful. But I must not buy more TW! πŸ˜€

          1. hehe My fist TW was The Castle too! Its leaning up against a wall somewhere…. None of my cross stitch is hanging. Well we’ve only been here 6 years …;)

  9. Wow! Amazing. I love it. I wonder how it would look done in different bargello stitches…

  10. Spectacular! stunning! are just two words to use to describe your work. I love blackwork but have never achieved this standard. Your creativity and design abilities are amazing.

    1. Thank you! This piece was a lot of fun, something a bit different for me πŸ™‚ I’m glad you like it – I love your work! (You’ll notice I’ve been gazing intently at your amazing photos on flickr πŸ™‚ )
      Craft hugs!

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