Sollerösöm by Christine P. Bishop
22nd February 2019
This week we’re taking a look at the project ‘Sollerösöm’ by Christine P. Bishop from Inspirations issue #101, which features a technique of the same name. Sollerösöm originated from an area in central Sweden near Lake Siljan and is a technique that’s easy to master, however it has been all but forgotten by many embroiderers today.
What Christine P. Bishop doesn’t know about counted embroidery is almost not worth knowing. Her vast skill and experience in many techniques from across the world beggar’s belief.
Knowing how much Christine has travelled in her quest to learn dying techniques from the original embroiderers, when we asked her where she first encountered Sollerösöm, we expected her to mention somewhere in Sweden, perhaps even the Solleron Island which gave the technique its name.
We were most surprised to discover she first spotted the technique in a book from the library at her local Embroiderer’s Guild of South Australia! The book was in Swedish, which Christine unfortunately did not speak. But the diagrams were excellent, and she soon got the instructions for the traditional edging translated into English.
Christine had seen an apron worked in Sollerösöm in a museum in Europe, so armed with that memory and the Swedish book, she sat down to work it out.
Her hard work has resulted in the project Sollerösöm, a tidy little pouch and biscornu, which is an entry level or beginner project to this technique, for everyone to attempt.
Sollerösöm was often worked in colour – red and blue predominantly, although it traditionally appeared as white on white. It was used for aprons, caps and linens and, although we’re able to perfect the technique today using a quality evenweave linen, when Sollerösöm was worked in the early 19th century, the women originally used close weave linen which did not allow for counting. Each stitch had to be assessed by eye to ensure it remained even and the pyramids all matched up.
Christine advised anyone wanting to work this project to count carefully and not to stop and start the rows. Work a complete pattern before you put your needle down as you might not always get the same tension. In particular, it is important not to stop halfway on the edge. She also suggests having a go at working a corner. Corners are essential if you ever want to tackle a larger project, so this was specifically why she designed and included the biscornu. But if you achieve both of these pieces, then you’ve got all the knowledge you need to tackle larger designs.
When we asked Christine why she takes such pleasure in discovering and teaching so many traditional techniques, she replied that her main goal is to make sure that these techniques, many of which date back several centuries, are not lost. With the changing world and globalisation, a lot of the traditional embroidery practices are dying out. Thanks to forces of nature like Christine P. Bishop, at least some of them will be rescued and practiced for many years to come. We are truly grateful.
Make Your Own Sollerösöm
Step 1 – Purchase Project Instructions
Sollerösöm by Christine P. Bishop is a pretty pincushion and pouch worked in a Swedish counted technique.
Step 2 – Purchase Ready-To-Stitch Kit
The Inspirations Ready-To-Stitch kit for Sollerösöm includes everything you need to re-create this pincushion and pouch: Fabrics (unprinted), buttons, embroidery threads and needles.