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An Egyptian ‘mixtape’ of embroidered material

I’ve recently completed another cross-stitch piece, which is now hanging on my wall. It’s a collection of brightly coloured squares, each with its own geometric pattern:

A cross-stitch piece embroided on a brown fabric, with twenty brightly-coloured squares laid out in a grid. Each square uses a couple of colours (red, blue, green, yellow, white, or black) and has a simple repeating pattern. For example, one square is yellow with repeating black and red vertical lines; another has a red background with concentric white diamonds.

I got the pattern from issue 6 of Xstitch Magazine, and it was made by Arlene Cohen, who goes by the handle WorksByABC. The pattern includes a full list of materials and threads, and I got it mounted by Landseer Picture Framing.

The magazine entry explains that these squares weren’t chosen at random – they were taken from an 1856 design book The Grammar of Ornament, and based on patterns found in Egyptian art. I found a digitised copy of the book, which has several plates featuring similar designs.

I can spot some of the squares from the cross-stitch pattern in the digitised plates, but not all of them – I wonder if they’re from elsewhere, or if they were created by WorksByABC?

One of the reasons I enjoy cross-stitch is that I can just follow the instructions in the pattern, and soon I have something that looks nice. This piece exemplifies that more than most – once I’d worked out the repetition, I could keep stitching without having to refer back to the cross-stitch pattern. Indeed, I even spotted a few places where the cross-stitch pattern deviated from the repetition, and I was able to fix hem.

This isn’t my biggest or most interesting piece, but it was fun and easy to make, and it adds a splash of colour to a previously blank wall.