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Smocking the Cretan Stitch

The Cretan Stitch

Time for another installment of the Smocking Stitches Guide. So far we have covered the cable, wave, trellis and flowerette stitches. We are now moving into some of the more advanced, or lesser known stitches. Don't let that intimidate you - little known doesn't mean harder! To prove that, today's tutorial is on the Cretan Stitch - one of my favorite stitches and one of the easiest! The Cretan Stitch is an embroidery stitch originally from the island of Crete where it is used to decorate women’s skirts. It was adapted for smocking and gives lovely results.

I have a row of cable stitches already smocked on this piece., and I am designating that as row 1. To begin, come up in the valley between the first and second pleats just beneath the cable stitch on row 1.

Insert your needle from the right to the left through the first pleat to get into starting position.

Getting into position

Move down to row 2 and over 1 pleat. Take a stitch on row 2, pleat 2, keeping your needle horizontal to the pleating thread.

Moving down to row 2

Move back up to row 1 and take a stitch in the next pleat.

Move back up to row 1

Continue across the row. That’s it – it is that simple!

Finished Cretan Stitch

There are a few things to notice:

  1. There are no level stitches (such as a cable) in the Cretan Stitch.

  2. Each stitch goes through a new pleat and each stitch only goes through one pleat.

  3. On each stitch you alternate between rows.

  4. You can make sure you are doing it correctly by using the cable row to guide you. On row 1, the Cretan stitch lines up with the down cable of the cable stitch. On row 2, it lines up with the up cable of the cable stitch. You can see that better on picture 4 above.

Finished Cretan Stitch

I hope you give the Cretan stitch a try in your next smocking project. I especially think it looks lovely between two rows of cable stitch. Happy Smocking!

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