Huck embroidery, sometimes called huck weaving or Swedish weaving, is a form of embroidery that blends a bit of surface embroidery with weaving. Its name comes from huck cloth, which is the most common material used for this style, and as its alternate name suggests, huck embroidery originated in Sweden. It is most often seen on table linens and towels.
Patterns for huck embroidery vary extensively, ranging from simple bands to words or motifs to complex all-over designs. But like with counted cross-stitch, blackwork or other counted thread types of embroidery, once you learn to follow a pattern or chart, the process is quite easy.
You'll also find that it's fairly fast to work this type of embroidery, which makes it a good choice for making small gifts for friends and family.
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Huck Embroidery Supplies
Because of the way huck embroidery weaves the thread through the fabric, you will need special fabric designed for this. Fabrics that are suitable for huck weaving often have a layer of warp or weft threads that "float", allowing you to stitch under only these threads. The result is that the embroidery is entirely on the surface of the fabric and never passes through to the back.
Several types of fabric work for huck embroidery, but each will work a little differently and the results may vary. If you're working from a pattern, pay attention to the suggested or required fabric. Most of these fabrics can also be finished with a self-fringing edge.
Huck Fabric - This fabric is the most common for huck embroidery and it's very easy to use. Huck fabric has only vertical floats for sliding your needle through. This material also commonly comes as toweling, with two sides finished at a width that is perfect for making tea towels, or you may want to look for finished huck towels.
Monk's Cloth - For a heavier fabric, choose monk's cloth. This material has both horizontal and vertical floats, and should always be pre-washed. Monk's cloth is frequently used for creating huck embroidery afghans and other large pieces.
Aida Cloth - Typically used for counted cross-stitch and blackwork, Aida fabric also works for huck embroidery. As you work, stitch through the front floats only.
Other fabrics, such as waffle or popcorn fabrics also work but may be harder to find.
Always use a blunt needle for huck embroidery. This ensures that you are only passing the thread through the weaving of the fabric and not piercing the fabric. A counted cross-stitch needle will work for this, but a huck embroidery needle makes the job easier.
Huck embroidery needles have a blunt and angled end, which makes it simple to scoop the needle under the floating threads. These needles are also longer, so you can work a long area with a single pass.
Stranded embroidery floss and Perle cotton are both excellent choices for huck embroidery. The examples shown in this tutorial all use size 5 Perle cotton, but different sizes and types are just fine. In fact, as long as a thread is colorfast and will pull smoothly through the floats, it will work.
To order all of your supplies at once, Nordic Needle is an excellent source for supplies and kits.Continue to 2 of 5 below.
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Starting and Stitching Huck Embroidery
With standard embroidery, it's best to use thread lengths that are no more than 18 inches long. With huck embroidery, you'll often use much longer pieces of thread. Patterns will tell you how long to cut each piece, depending on the type of stitches worked in a row.
If, for example, a pattern says that the thread is 2T, you should cut a piece that is two times the width of the fabric you are stitching.
For long pieces, you may want to use thread conditioner to help prevent tangles.
Where to Start
It is unnecessary to work in a hoop when doing huck embroidery. In fact, being able to move the fabric more as you pass the needle under the floats is much easier without a hoop.
Many huck patterns have a design that should be horizontally centered on whatever you are stitching. For this reason, it's best to start at the center and work to the left and the right.
Find the center of the fabric and mark it with a crease or a safety pin. Thread your needle and bring it under the first set of floats you are stitching. Pull the thread through so the middle of the thread is at the center of the fabric.
Stitch the design going one direction, then remove the needle, thread the other side of the thread and work going the other direction. It's easier to do this if you flip your work around so you are looking at one side upside down.
For designs that don't need to be centered, you can work from one side to the other.Continue to 3 of 5 below.
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Finishing Huck Embroidery Thread Ends
Huck embroidery never uses knots of any kind. When you reach the end of the area you are stitching, bring the needle back through the same floats, skipping the last set just passed through. Go through at least five stitches or more, depending on if the item you're making will be laundered.
If you are starting at one side and working across the entire design, use this same method to start. Just take at least five stitches going in the opposite direction you will be working, then double back as you work the designs.Continue to 4 of 5 below.
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Following Huck Embroidery Patterns
Huck embroidery patterns are usually shown in one of two ways. Some are shown as gridded charts, while others are simply a photo with some text notation and instructions. With either type of pattern, all you need to do is count the number of floats to stitch through or skip over, both horizontally or vertically.
Work row by row, loading as many stitches as will fit comfortably on the needle or as the pattern will allow. Just be sure to only load needles from one row of floats at a time.
Some rows will share some floats with stitches from other rows. In this case, pass the needle through just as you do for other rows, but take care so that you don't pull at the stitches or floats too much.
With every row of stitching, pull the threads so they are slightly taut, but never so tight that the fabric begins to pucker.Continue to 5 of 5 below.
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Creating Your Own Huck Designs
The ease and simplicity of huck embroidery mean that you can create improvised designs, even as a beginner. Stitch some straight lines (that look like running stitch!), add some zig zags and then try a few more lines. Look for images of huck embroidery as inspiration.
To work the design above or in the first image of this tutorial, use lengths of thread that are 1-1/2 times the width of your fabric for the straight rows and 2 times the width for the rows that curve or zig-zag.
These patterns are a good place to start, then look for more patterns and books to continue your huck embroidery work.