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Viking or Mammen Style Embroidery Stitches

By THL Lucia Thaylur
Early surface decoration of cloth

The concept of adding needlework decoration to clothing can be traced to 1500-500BC the Early Bronze Age ( Staniland, p 4). Some of the earliest examples of embroidery on cloth come from Iraq, Persia and Egypt, can be dated to the early 10t h c. . The ground was usually linen and chain, back stitch, satin and various types of counted stitch work were done in multi colored silks or cotton (Gervers, p 95-111).
Image to right Detail of the masks. Hald (p. 109) 

 To date, one of the most remarkable burial mounds was found in Mammen Parish near Vyborg and has been dated to the close of the 10l c. or Viking Period. The embroidered textiles from this find are exceptional examples of the earliest embroidery fragments found in Denmark. The designs include acanthus foliage, animals, birds and human masks (Hald, p.02-111). 
While none of the designs are completely intact, Hald suggests they are influenced by manuscripts of the period The stitches appear to be outline or stem and chain stitch. Some of the areas are filled in, other left void (p 104).

Detail of the quadraped Hald (p. 107). Left

A tailor, a weaver, an embroideress, a tablet weaver, a silk weaver, a shoemaker, a designer, a furrier, a dye analyst, a fiber specialist, two archaeologists and a textile conservator spent nearly two years recreating the Viking King Canute's costume which made its debut at the 4th NESAT Symposium in Copenhagen (Jorgensen, p 109-110).

Small fragments of embroidery were also in the Oseberg ship burial (see The Textiles in the Oseberg Ship by Anne Stine Ingstad at forest.gen.nz/Medieval/articles/Oseberg/textiles/TEXTILE.HTM

The Stitches and How To Do Them

Chain Stitch

Can be used for outlining as well as a fill in stitch.
Split stitch

Used for filling solid areas. Usually outlined with stem stitch
Stem stitch or Outline stitch

Used for outlining or filling in solid areas (early Viking style). I f thread is held on opposite side of needle this stitch is called "outline stitch".
Works cited:
Gervers,V. Studies in Textile History. 1977. The Alger Press. Canada

Hald Margrethe, Ancient Danish Textiles From Bogs and Burial:A Comparative Study of Costume and Iron Age Textiles. 1980.Fyens Stiftsbogtrykkeri. Denmark

Ingstad, Anne Stine. forest.gen.nz/Medieval/articles/Oseberg/textiles/TEXTILE.HTM

Jorgensen, Lise Bender. Ancient costumes reconstructed: a new field of research in Textilsymposium Neumunster. Archaologische Textilfunde-Archaeological Textiles. 1993 NESAT V

Staniland, Kay. Medieval Craftsmen Embroiderers. 1977. University of Toronto Press, Toronto,Biiffalo.