Regular followers will be aware that for over 3 years now I have run a themed SAL on the first Saturday of each month. First we spent 26 months doing The Alphabet Club and then 12 months of the Zodiac. Now I have decided to listen to the People and post about your choice of theme. Each month I ask for suggestions on the blog and then make a poll in the IHSW Facebook Group from those suggestions.
Here's a fun fact - in England we call them Speciality Stitches pronounced speci-ality but in America I have noticed your penchant for missing out letters and you call them Specialty Stitches and pronounce it special-tee. So now my European friends know if they speak English or American!
But what are they? Basically anything which isn't a cross stitch. From a simple Symrna Stitch (an X with a vertical cross on top) to the Queen's Stitch and Jessica Stitches encompassing the dreaded French Knot!
A lot of these stitches are commonly found in embroidery and have crossed over into counted cross stitch to add interest and texture to a piece.
Most charts which use them will have a diagram showing how to stitch the speciality stitches but if you want to learn more then this is a great website with some nice clear diagrams - Nordic Needle - Stitch Dictionary
According to my Happy Dance Blog the first designs I tried with speciality stitches were a series of four from Shepherd's Bush in 1998. This one is Mistletoe:
You can see the others on the Happy Dance blog here - Come Happy Dance With Me - Shepherd's Bush.
Around about the same time I went on a stitching retreat where the class project was this Autumn Sampler. We stayed in a lovely converted barn rented by two sisters. One was a former owner of a needlework shop and the other was a chef. So the food was delicious. During the day we stitched this Jane Greenoff design called Woodland Walk (No 234C). This is described as a piece for "the accomplished stitcher" as it involves a lot of speciality stitches as well as hardanger.
If you want to have a go at speciality stitches and feel a little daunted by them, why not try a small? This Drawn Thread freebie is only 3 x 2 inches but has 14 different stitches within it!