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May Kit - Mountmellick Shamrocks

The next Needle Nerd kit is going to be this stunning Mountmellick Shamrock design.

Mountmellick embroidery is named after the town it originated from in Co. Laois. It was developed by Johanna Carter around 1825, who was inspired by the flora of the area. Traditional Mountmellick work depicts dog roses, oak, fern, blackberries and shamrocks.

In the 1880s, Mrs. Millner started an industrial association to emply women in the town to stitch Mountmellick pieces which would be sold and exported around the world. Unfortunately the craft began to fade, but in the 1970s it was saved by Sister Teresa Margaret McCarthy. She studied surviving examples of Mountmellick work in order to work out the stitches, then began teaching those stitches to others.

There's an excellent museum in Mountmellick town where you can learn about the history of this technique and how it affected the town itself. I highly recommend paying a visit whenever you get the chance!

Mountmellick is a whitework technique that uses predominantly knotted and padded stitches to create beautifully textured embroidery. In this kit, we'll be covering padded satin stitch, stem stitch, french knots, coral knot stitch, knotted stem stitch and mountmellick stitch.

Traditionally Mountmellick work is done with matte cotton threads on a satine fabric. However as these materials become less popular, the opposite is done in many modern versions of the technique. For this design I have used a cotton fabric and perlé cotton threads.

The design is a slightly more modern take on traditional Mountmellick Shamrocks. I was largely inspired by 1920s art nouveau shapes for this piece.

I think we all know of the shamrock as a symbol of Ireland and it's link to St. Patrick. But shamrocks were significant in Ireland for other reasons too.⁠ Shamrocks are a symbol of prosperity in early Irish myths, with fertile lands being covered in them.⁠

They were also said to keep away evil. It was believed that a mixture of shamrocks and whiskey rubbed on the eyes would cure 'fairy blindness'. And it was sometimes used as a cure for coughs or liver problems in certain parts of the country.⁠

As always, the kit provides you with all the materials and instructions you need to complete the design. You'll get the fabric with the design already printed on, 3 different needles, plenty of thread (to allow for a couple of mistakes), an instruction booklet, and links to video tutorials for each step.

You can get your Mountmellick Shamrocks kit early by signing up to a Needle Nerd subscription here.

But you can also pre-order the kit in the shop.


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