It is the peculiarity of DARNING and RUNNING that you make several stitches at one passing of the needle.
Darning and running amount practically to the same thing. Darning might be described as consecutive lines of running. The difference is, in the main, a matter of multiplication; but the distinction is sometimes made that in running the stitches may be the same length on the face as on the reverse of the stuff, whereas in darning the thread is mainly on the surface, only dipping for the space of a single thread or so below it.
It results from the way of working that you get in darning an interrupted line which is characteristic of the stitch. What is called "double darning," by which the breaks in the single darning are made good, has in effect no character of darning whatever.
Darning has a homely sound, but it is useful for more than mending. In embroidery you use it no longer to replace threads worn away, but to build up upon the scaffolding of a merely serviceable material what may be a gorgeous design in silk.
Darning is worked, of course, in rows backwards and forwards; but if the stitches are long and in the direction of the weft, it is as well not to run the returning row next to the one just done, but to leave space for a second course of darning afterwards between the open rows.
The darning of the sampler, Illustration 43 (Darning Sampler), is very simple. The flower is darned in stitches of fairly equal length, taking up one thread of the material, and covering a space of almost a quarter of an inch before taking up the next thread. The outline of a petal is first worked, and successive rows of darning follow the lines of the flower, expressing to some extent its form. Much depends upon the direction of the stitch.
The texture of the work depends upon the length of the stitches, and on the amount of the stuff showing through.
Darning is usually supplemented by outlining. The sampler is designed to show how far one can dispense with it. The flower stalk is defined by darning the first row in a darker colour; for the rest, voiding is employed, but it is not easy to void in darning.
The background is darned diaper fashion. It gives, that is to say, deliberately diagonal lines. A background irregularly darned should be irregular enough never to run into lines the worker did not contemplate.
In the case of large leaves, veined, the veining
should be worked first, and the stitches between them should radiate outwards to the edge of the leaf.
More accomplished work in darning is shown in the border by William Morris in Illustration 44 (Darning Designed By William Morris), where, however, it appears much flatter than in the coloured silk. It is worked solid, the radiating stitches accommodating themselves to the forms of the leaves and petals, which, in fact, are designed with a view to their execution in this way. They are defined by outline-stitching - light or dark as occasion seemed to require.
Mention has already been made of darning a propos of canvas-stitch; and there is a sort of natural correspondence between the mechanism of darning in its simplest form and the network of open threads which gives to rectangular work like that opposite a character which more than compensates for its angularity in outline. The darning is there quite even in workmanship, but it is, as will be seen, of different degrees of strength - lighter for the surface of the pattern, heavier for the outline.
You may qualify the colour of a stuff by lightly darning it with silk of another shade; and very subtle tints may be got by thus, as it were, veiling a coloured ground with silks of various hues.