Cretan stitch

Well, I actually did get to this one last week, but am only now finding time to actually get the info up. It’s a good thing this challenge is so flexible. Right now, life is busy, among other things, because I’m taking a sane machine quilting class. My embrace of quilting is wide-ranging!

Anyway, unlike detached chain, I found the Cretan stitch rather inspiring of varied treatments. My mind was just turning over on the various things you could do with it.

First off, I looked at it, and thought, “Chinese temple?” If you look at the shape of a Chinese temple, it’s like a Cretan stitch that grows a little larger with each level. So I tried to produce that, using a variegated green floss that seemed to connect with the serene ideal that I associate with Chinese religion.
(that very first example is simply my attempt to make sure I knew how to DO Cretan stitch; I had to go look it up in the stitch dictionary to be sure)

I think that this stitch has distinct possibilities for expressing this kind of shape and picture. I really liked that one.

So then I went on and got some other possibilities in.

Here I tried to do one Cretan stitch on top of the other, in differing colors, obviously. During the first half, I put the yellow underneath the green, and then switched and layered it on top. It made an interestingly subtle difference as to which color was dominant. I wonder what would happen if I alternated them. (Pearl cotton 5)

Then I decided to try a plain, large, measured out evenly Cretan stitch and then layer on another stitch as the crazy quilt embellishers do. The choice of stitch was scroll stitched, which turned out to be a mistake, as I was working with the wrong kind of thread and/or material. The stitch dictionary even told me that — after I’d already started, of course. I still like the idea, but ended up not being sure of what other kind of stitch I wanted to put in.

Then I decided to try actually producing a flower shape, since Sharon indicated that that was possible in her examples. Unfortunately, her examples were not large enough for me to see how she achieved it clearly. So I kind of figured this out on my own, although I have no idea what kind of flower that it might resemble. That’s detached chain in the middle — I actually was inspired enough by the Cretan stitch to actually see a possibility for detached chain. Pretty cool!

Who knows when and where ideas will hit? These came to me in the middle of church! I just had to scribble them down before I forgot. The circle on the right is what led to the flower shape above. The long trail to the left is my realization between the figure 8 pattern that I sometimes see in quilting stitch designs in sane quilting, that I also see in similar shapes in the fluid curves of medieval Arabic designs. In the middle, you can see the diamond shape (opposing fly stitches?) and detached chain stitch which could also recreated this same design, but nowhere near so fluidly as the double-layered Cretan stitch.

One of the comments on my previous examples kind of opened my mind to the relationship between buttonhole and fly stitch and detached chain, and I realized that Cretan stitch is a near relation as well; it’s amazing how something as small as the direction of a stitch will change the entire look of it. But then insights like that are why I decided to get involved in this challenge.

Now I have to go do my homework related to the sane quilting class I am taking, so I don’t how soon I’ll get to the chevron stitch. I’ll only say that the squared examples that Sharon showed really made me think of quilt blocks. Geometric patterns, you know?

I’ve suddenly realized, I should tell you that if you want to see the stitches in larger sizes, you can find me in the flickr group.



  1. Susan said,

    February 3, 2007 at 10:33 pm

    I just clicked on these pictures and they got very large. =) You did a lot of interesting thinking (in interesting places!) and came up with some good ideas. I like the temple piece – something I wouldn’t have noticed, but once you pointed it out, there it was. Did you like the green on top, or the yellow on top better?

    That’s a unique flower, and would look great in a grouping. I, too, noticed that the cretan, which I’ve never liked, was really just a different direction of the buttonhole or stretched out feather! I guess once your eyes start looking at things differently, all kinds of things are noticeable! =)

    Thanks for taking time from your busy life to post these pictures. What’s the quilt class you are taking? I’ll never give up quilting, not even for CQ!

  2. Bob said,

    February 4, 2007 at 11:17 am

    You might be interrested with simple Chinese painting models?
    With step by step explanations:

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