Catherine of Aragon, Henry VIII’s first wife, is said to have introduced blackwork from Spain in 1509. Black counted thread embroidery on a white ground was practiced in England before that date. Originally it was used as decoration on clothing, and later on bed hangings, curtains and cushions.  Black work is basically repeated patterns of straight stitches worked over an even-weave (and aida) fabric by counting each thread or hole. Black work can be shaded by using different thicknesses of thread or by breaking the repeat pattern. Blackwork was largely a monochrome technique, usually in black on white, but sometimes red thread was used and gold and silver thread added for richness.

Blackwork Options