Book review: pattern couching and Or Nue with Sue Dulle

Couching is a surface embellishment technique in which one thread is laid on top of the ground fabric and secured with another thread. Sounds boring from the description, doesn't it? Well, think about this for a moment: since you aren't stitching in and out with the thread, you are able to use all weights of thread, all kinds of fibers, just about anything as the laid thread. It can be laid straight, freeform, or in patterns. Make the couching thread a matching or contrasting color, tacking either with a straight stitch, decorative stitch or even beads, and you start to get the idea: there are unlimited variations and techniques that can be used in couching.

Exploring the creative world of pattern couching is the focus of Sue Dulle's new book, Celtic Origins. Two designs are offered to help you practice couching, experiment with variations, and bring this beautiful technique to colorful life. The projects feature Kreinik threads for sparkle and contrast in the couching patterns. The heavier Kreinik threads— 1/16" Ribbon, Medium #16 Braid, and Heavy #32 Braid — are perfect for this type of embroidery. The two designs are almost like stitch notebooks suitable for framing. 

"The choice of designs will allow stitchers to choose a design they are comfortable stitching," Sue says. "The Celtic Knot is designed to be worked on congress cloth, the Shamrock design is stitched on 18-count mono canvas. Both will allow beginning stitcher as well as advanced stitchers to study pattern couching in a logical order." The center of each design is Or Nue while the two border areas are pattern couching designs. You may  have heard of Or Nue; it is a form of couching using solid laid fillings. It's a beautiful technique that is gaining popularity right now, thanks in part to teachers like Sue creating new Or Nue patterns.

This book begins with a glossary of couching terms, so you know the language right away and begin your lesson with small steps. There are wonderfully clear and detailed charts, which is ideal when you are learning a technique through a book. This is as close as it can be to having the talented teacher Sue standing right next to you as you learn. Charts are in black and white and in color. Stitch diagrams are detailed as well. Sue also includes blank graph paper pages for the stitcher who would like to create their own creative pattern designs. She knows that once you start exploring pattern couching, you will run wild with ideas.

As a side note: Sue's models of the two designs in the book were entered in the 2013 Woodlawn Plantation Needlework Exhibit in Alexandria, Virginia, and were awarded third place ribbon (Celtic Knot) and honorable mention ribbon (Shamrock). 

Ordering info:

The book can be ordered directly from Sue, $40.00 with either check or PayPal. Shop inquires are welcome.

Sue Dulle
SD Designs
Kansas City, MO


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