Introduction: Viking Embroidery: Sleipnir
Hello fellow crafters! I’d like to share with you this project: A Viking inspired embroidery of Odin’s horse Sleipnir. The horse is known to be really tough, fast as the wind and able to run in the air as well as on the ground. He was born by Loke, but that is a different story. ;) The most important thing about Sleipnir is that he is a horse with eight legs, which makes him so strong and fast. Usually he is a dark or black horse, but I decided to portray him in the darker brown colours.
This is a project that takes some time, but the embroidery is made with just one stitch, so the technique is not very complicated, and it only requires very few materials. In the end I used the piece to make my sewing-purse look cooler.
- Fabric (I used a dark brown wool)
- Yarn, 2 – 3 colours (I used woolen yarn)
- Needle for embroidery
- A pen to trace the outline of your embroidery
Let’s get started!
Step 1: Outline and Chain-stitch
First I took my white pencil and drew an outline. I choose to free-hand it, but if you feel more like using a stencil or find inspiration in pictures, there’s a lot of google images of Sleipnir. My pencil wasn’t so great, because it was easily erased when the fabric was touched a couple of times, the same as chalk would be. I changed it a bit, mostly the tail of the horse, so the pencil gave me a bit of freedom. However I recommend you use special paper for embroidery; that will give a better result and fewer frustrations. I would have done it, just didn’t have any.
Making space for the 8 legs were quite difficult, but in the end it worked out. It can be a bit much to keep track of all of the legs and how to stitch them the best way, so don't rush this too much.
Now you’re set to start: I used a chain-stitch to outline the silhouette of the horse with white string.
A chain stitch is made like this:
1. Treat the needle and tie a knot on the end. Stick it though the fabric, so that the knot is on the back.
2. Stick the needle trough the fabric close to where it came up in the previous step. Now decide how long you want the stitch to be, and stick the needle up through the fabric again.
3. Before pulling it all the way through make sure that the thread is under the needle. The pull it, and the stitch is complete.
This is difficult for me to describe in English, but if it wasn't very clear. There are many other examples of this online and on Instructables. I included a picture from a website, that might help you.
Step 2: Colouring
After I was done making the outline of the figure I used a different colour of yarn to fill in the tail and mane of the horse, to give it more depth and detail. When filling in the areas stitch like always, and fill it up by making straight lines next to each other.
Filling in is one of the fun parts, and here it doesn’t matter if the pencil you used is no longer visible. I decided to change the tail throughout the process, in an attempt to make the horse a bit more masculine, and I was very happy with how it turned out.
Step 3: Detailing
I added a detail on the back of the horse: Just a wavy piece of brown to work as detailing on the amazing creature. There could have been so many details, but I felt like this was enough for this one.
I decided that my Sleipnir should be a simple horse, just like he is usually portrayed from the Viking age, and so I let his man define the place of the eye. I really like the contrast between the sharp-edged mane and tale and she rounded detailing on his back, but that can be customized.
I included a picture of the back of the fabric, that shows both what a mess it is, but also how I attempted to organize it.
Step 4: Done!
This project took some time, but it was really worth it to spice up my bag! It would have looked really cool on the back of a cloak or piece of fabric for reenactment, but it also works as decoration on modern things.
The basic chain-stitch works for a lot of things, and it doesn’t have to be more complicated than that. This shows how you can make really cool things with only a few materials and techniques.
Hopefully this gave you some inspiration,