Berlin Woolwork is a needlework phenomenon that began around 1850 with the invention of aniline dyes. These dyes made mass production of beautifully colored yarns possible, which in turn, launched the Berlin Woolwork needlepoint craze that continued into the 1930’s. Enterprising European artists, especially some in Berlin, began painting stitch charts for gorgeous florals, landscapes, animals and geometric motifs. These charts were grids on which each tiny square was painted individually to represent each stitch on canvas. They are very beautiful in their own right, although not as precise as we expect our charts to be, today.
Many years ago I stumbled upon a large collection of antique charts that had been destined for a new textiles museum in New England. The museum never opened, however, and the charts became mine. I have stored them for years, waiting for a time to share them. Here is the first (above), a narrow panel of flowers with detailed cartouches. I especially love the little fuchsia, which I have graphed in a larger format to share with you.
In the photo below, a digital photo of my original chart lies on top. You can see that I have begun working the pattern on two different sizes of canvas, which makes the difference between a bellpull and a rug!
It would also be fun to use the pattern for ribbon embroidery or to isolate the flowers and rearrange them into other patterns. Feel free to adapt any of the ideas from this chart. The color scheme, layout, and individual motifs could each be starting points for original projects. If you would like to have a copy of the entire original chart, it is available here. I will also be posting more elements from this chart in the future.