Méri kindly posted a very informative comment on my post about colcha embroidery. It turns out that “colcha” means bedspread in both Spanish and Portuguese. Furthermore, there is a traditional Portuguese style of embroidery which uses a similar stitch to embroider bedspreads (although in linen and silk instead of wool from New Mexican sheep). This style is called Castelo Branco (White Castle) embroidery/stitch, named after a region in Portugal, or sometimes frouxo (loose) embroidery/stitch.
Like the colcha stitch, the frouxo stitch only covers the front of the fabric and barely shows on the back. I am still working on finding a stitch diagram, though Méri tells me it is not identical to colcha stitch. But below is a video of three ladies stitching while being interviewed by a TV show (all in Portuguese. I can’t follow what they’re saying, but the embroidery is beautiful). I think the strange “old lady” towards the end is for comic relief? It’s hard to tell when you don’t understand the language!
This closeup is from Luísa Silva’s Portuguese/English blog, where she posted twice on Castelo Branco: a post with some lovely old black and white photos of her mother-in-law working Castelo Branco embroidery as a child and another with color photos of the work.
- two-headed bird – two souls in one body, married couple
- carnation – man, rose – woman
- lilies – virtue, virginity
- ivy – strong affection
- rooster – virility
- pomegranates and pinecones – the unity of the family
- jasmine – chastity,
- linked chain – indestructible marriage
- tendrils – friendship.
I found a few other sources of information and photos of Castelo Branco embroidery, which you can take a look at if you are still curious:
- Needle ‘n Thread has a post about it, also inspired by Méri.
- Trajes de Portugal (english translation)
- DMC Portugal blog(english translation) This blog has some beautiful embroidery, so I recommend taking a look at the whole blog and not just the post.
- Two school reports from 9th grade students living in Castelo Branco: Francisco Tavares Proença Júnior Museum – Embroidery Shop of Castelo Branco (english translation) and Embroidery of Castelo Branco (english translation).
- Youtube video of a lady stitching very slowly.