I have just used this technique to decorate the cover of a Moleskine cahier notebook, as a participant in The Sketchbook Project 2011. My theme is "nightmare", and I wanted the cover of the sketchbook to have an understated yet heavy, oppressed feel to it.
I have received so many compliments on pictures of the finished back cover that I thought I'd share the technique with everyone. It's not rocket science, and I'm sure embroidery on paper or card has been done before, but maybe not using a grid for black work? Hope you find it useful!
It took just 30 minutes to punch the holes, but then it took a few hours to stitch my design...time will vary, depending on the design and size you are working on.
Take a sheet of grid paper that is the same size or bigger than the card paper you would like to embroider on.
Paste the grid paper to the back of the card. If I could find it, I would have use a removable/repositionable adhesive, so that the grid paper could be peeled away after punching, but I didn't find my glue stick, so I used paste, which sort of came off but left bits behind.
On a folded-up place mat or dishtowel, take your awl or sharp needle and punch holes using the lines of the grid as a guide.
In this picture the grid square are 7 mm. but on the finished Moleskine picture I used a 4mm square grid paper, for finer effect.
Peel away the grid paper when you're done punching everything.
Pick a blackwork design. I took my allover pattern from a book, but there are so many online pattern libraries you can use, as well. The pattern at left is just an example, from http://www.blackworkarchives.com
Remember to take the number of holes on your paper into account when looking for patterns...if you used a large grid, you might not have enough squares to complete a design. Count! That's why it's called counted thread embroidery!
Stitch the black work pattern on this card as though it were a piece of Aida evenweave fabric. Use the blunt tapestry needle for this. You can tie knots in the thread or use tiny dot of glue to hold your thread tails down.