Marbo embroidery falls into the category of regional embroidery, or district embroidery, which are often sewn with free styles of stitching and are named after the area they come from. The hallmark of Marbo embroidery is deep blue, pink and red linen and cotton yarn on woven linen or cotton in plain weave. Karin Holmberg, embroiderer, says it is similar to the Halland style, but "more flipped out..."
An exciting combination
Marbo embroidery was originally called Västgöta embroidery, but research has fixed its origins more precisely as Mark district. That is why this technique is now called Marbo embroidery. It is a combination of many different embroidery styles such as stem stitch, catch stitch, cross stitch, blanket stitch and one-sided flat stitch.
Circles, squares, hearts and loops
The pattern usually consists of circles, squares, heart-shaped figures and stem stitch loops. The patterns were drawn directly on the material and shapes were made with whatever means came to hand, such as plates, cups or coins.
One-sided flat-stitch was preferred for reasons of economy, since the yarn was then almost entirely on the face. The yarn was often very fine and was stitched with several threads in the needle at the same time. The palette of colours used for Marbo embroidery originated from those that were marketed by the travelling salesmen in the county. The yarn came from Lewanten's dye works in Gothenburg and were very popular when it became fashionable during the nineteenth century to embroider with dyed cotton yarn.
Marbo embroidery on 18th century hats
Tied hats preserved from the 18th century have Marbo embroidery, and museum archives also have the style on mittens and wall decorations, as well as tablecloths and table mats. Embroidered cushion cases often have a frame in catch stitch.
The hallmark of the technique is the very tight placing of the patterns on the old embroidery. Every small gap was filled with different small figures representing hearts, circles, birds, twigs, flowers and imaginatively designed trees. These days Karin Holmberg develops the Marbo style even further in her individual and beautifully embroidered interpretations.