My blackwork rainbow and turning to embroidery to heal

I believe that embroidery nourishes our soul and has healing powers. It was a desire for this healing through stitch that lead me to create my blackwork rainbow.

Back in the spring I got pretty ill, most likely with covid-19. When I was beginning to recover I wanted to start doing more again. Since my energy levels were still pretty low and I had difficulty concentrating, this was difficult.

I’ve noticed that I get particularly drawn to embroidery when my body and mind need some quiet recovery time. This was no exception.

I managed to finish the canvas work toucan that I’d been stitching from the Royal School of Needlework’s online class. The simple repetitive stitching of the background’s regular pattern was just what I needed!

Completed canvaswork embroidery of a toucan sitting on a branch with a bright green background.

But when I’d finished that, I couldn’t really cope with any of my other ongoing projects. The level of concentration required was just too high and I got fatigued very quickly.

I seem to get especially drawn to counted embroidery techniques when I need embroidery’s healing powers. Perhaps because I did a lot of cross stitch when I was younger. I was yearning for that zen like state which some simple meditative stitching can give me.

So I got to thinking about blackwork – one of my embroidery obsessions!

The blackwork rainbow is born

Rainbows were everywhere back then and I thought it would be fun to experiment with some colourful blackwork. So I started sampling.

I wanted to include a couple of different blackwork patterns for interest. But only a couple, I had to fight my usual urges to ramp up the complexity!!

My first idea was to alternate between patterns for the different rainbow bands. But then I realised that I could instead incorporate a heart inside the rainbow by using blackwork shading techniques.

This felt far more appropriate as then my rainbow could be a symbol of both hope and love. I also knew that by focusing on these two feelings I’d be able to give my recovery a boost.

Side view of a blackwork embroidery rainbow that uses blackwork shading techniques to create a heart shape within the rainbow.

So with my design finalised, I happily got to stitching. I took it slow and enjoyed listening to uplifting music and podcasts while I was stitching to maximise the embroidery’s healing powers.

It was indeed just want I needed. The combination of being ill, a slow recovery and lots of troubling news around the world brought up all sorts of anxious feelings. My simple and repetitive stitching helped to quiet my worries. It was a perfect example of busy hands, calm mind!

Completed embroidery hoop of a blackwork rainbow that has a heart shape inside the rainbow.

For a bit of extra fun, I decided to experiment with making a movie of my stitching progress. I love watching embroideries come to life like this!

An animation showing the progress of stitching the blackwork rainbow.

Stitch your own rainbow

Since I got so much benefit from stitching my blackwork rainbow, I’ve written it up as a pattern. So if you’d like to stitch your own symbol of love and hope while enjoying the soothing benefits of stitching, you can buy the pattern here.


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