Also known as : Double running stitch, Line stitch, Two-sided Line stitch, Two-sided Stroke stitch, Square stitch, Chiara stitch

This stitch follows a pattern where a running stitch is done and the gaps between this running stitch is filled during a return journey of the needle and thread. This causes the stitch to bring out identical patterns on either sides of the cloth.

Looking at the history of it, holbein stitch derives its name from Hans Holbein the younger, who was a German artist. He was a portrait painter of the 16th century, who is more known to have painted Henry VIII and his children wearing clothing with ‘blackwork embroidery’.

Holbein stitch is widely used in Blackwork Embroidery and Assissi Embroidery as well. We can widely see it in cross stitch patterns too. This is because holbein stitch is a form of counted thread stitch.

Black work is again commonly known as spanish work. Catherine of Aragon was the wife of Henry VIII. She is believed to have brought garments in to England from Spain and they had black work on them. Black work is done using only black thread.

Assissi embroidery originated from Italy at around 13th and 14th century. It is a combination of black work, or holbein stitch and cross stitch. Traditionally Assissi embroidery employed only holbein stitch, but later, it incorporated varities of cross stitches as well. Assissi embroidery is not confined to a single thread color but uses different threads.
I have done two variations of the holbein stitch. This will help understand the technique.

Variation 1:
holbein stitch pattern 1_1
Fig 1: Lay a base of running stitch.
holbein stitch pattern 1_2       Fig 2: Now, start a return journey with the same working thread. As, shown in this illustration, the return journey of running stitch will fill the gaps made during the first onward journey.
You can use a different colored thread for creative effects.
holbein stitch pattern 1_3
Fig 3: A  finished line of holbein stitch would look like this.

Variation 2:

holbein_stitch_pattern2_1       holbein stitch pattern 2_2
Fig 1: Follow the alphabets to make a step of running stitches along the four stitch lines. Note that all the stitches would be horizontal.   Fig 2: Do a return journey by filling up the gaps left by teh first onward journey of the running stitch. This time all the stitches would be vertical.
You can use a different colored thread fro the return journey for a more creative holbein stitch.
holbein stitch pattern 2_3
Fig 3: A finished ‘temple’ design using holbein stitch would look like this.