Last week, Janice sent me a photo of a piece of embroidery she found at a folk art/fabric art store where she lives. She wondered if I'd ever seen anything like it before. And I hadn't, although we both agreed that the center looked like the spider web stitch. I assumed it was some variation of that stitch and asked if I could post the photo on my blog to see if any of my readers had any info on it. Sometimes there are regional variations on stitches and I know I have a lot of readers who live in foreign countries. You never know.
So, this is the stitch...
Isn't it cool?
Janice emailed me back later to tell me that she thought it was called tenerife. I did a little research and it seems that the original technique is Spanish—from the Canary Island of Tenerife specifically—and is indeed called tenerife, or Sol Lace (more examples here). The base threads were originally stretched across pins with the cross threads woven into them. And the resulting lace is very delicate and pretty.
Janice's example, which has the base threads in the fabric corners and uses embroidery thread, seems to be a less delicate variation. At some point in history the Spanish introduced the original technique to South America and in Paraguay it's now called Ñandutí lace. Ñandutí means "spider web" in Guaraní, the official, indigenous language of Paraguay. Perhaps this is the variation we're seeing here.
Ruth, at Needlpointers.com has some examples here. (warning - music on the page)
Some instructions for a Teneriffe Lace Christmas ornament. And a butterfly design.
Have any of you tried this or know anything more about it?
*Updated to add a direct link to Deepa's blog post about Kamal Kadai, an Indian surface embroidery technique that looks a lot like our picture. Thanks for commenting, Deepa!