Judy Ross and the Chain Stitch

Judy Ross is an American artist and designer based in New York. A graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design, she was initially trained in painting before specializing in textile arts.
Following her first travels to India in the early 1990s, she discovered Indian textile expertise and became passionate about an ancestral hand-embroidery technique that she observed there: the “chain stitch,” which is used notably in the region of Kashmir to embellish shawls with floral and palmette motifs.
The chain stitch is a simple one-needle technique that forms a succession of loops on the fabric’s surface to give a chain-linked effect. In general, a fine hook called an “aari” or a needle is used to perform this stitch.
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In collaboration with Indian embroiderers, Judy Ross began to create her own line of wool scarves. The product line soon grew to include textiles and home accessories such as decorative cushions, rugs, bedspreads and wall hangings.
The designer is also now recognized for her cushions which, in a contemporary style characteristic of her work, have fronts entirely covered in chain stitch compositions of flat colors in relief, with linen backings.
Judy Ross has improved upon the traditional aspect of these embroideries by advising artisans to adopt a weaving from the bottom right towards the top, which creates dense areas of smooth and regular loops while nevertheless conserving an artisanal quality. The combination of bold stylized graphics often inspired by nature, skillful color harmonies and natural materials (linen, wool, cotton and silk) gives each product a unique character. These pieces are the culmination of a process that adeptly blends traditional craftsmanship and design.