Monday, February 28, 2011
I'm going to Ally Pally with friends for a model train show (young boys are involved). (I feel so "with it" to finally know what Ally Pally is--Alexandra Palace, a conference venue. Each year loads of embroidery bloggers get all excited about going to Ally Pally and I never could figure out why the needlework show was called Ally Pally!)
Many of the other days in my two weeks are unscheduled right now, but I have loads to do... lovely list of fabric and trim shops, loads of places I'd like to visit (I've tried three times now to get into Westminster, maybe this trip...and I think the Museum of London is a must-see).
The V&A's textile wing is closed, bummer, but I've been there. I may go look around the rest of the museum this time! (I didn't get much beyond the textile wing before.)
I always like a "trip project"--something I know I can work on while at the airport, on the plane, in quiet evenings. I often also pick up something while on vacation--that reflects the trip. For some reason, once I settle on a project, the trip will snap into focus and I'm generally a lot calmer about it--I hate to fly.This time I decided on English Paper Piecing for a quilt-thing (don't know what yet) with hexagon pieces. I purchased papers and had a charm pack of William Morris print fabrics. It all seemed to resonate with things British.I've been working on it a bit already, in doctors' office waiting rooms. It's pretty addictive. I plan to head to the plane with a bunch of cut pieces and a few pins, a needle and basting thread to baste my way across the ocean. My plan is to start one corner with the Morris fabrics and then get fabrics on my trip to continue...I'm not sure if I want to look for used clothing at resale shops or new fabrics at Liberty's. Probably both.
Between now and the 14th, things will be a bit frantic here. I plan to keep up with work while gone but there's a lot to do now to get to the "keeping up" stage. My mind's bubbling!
Thursday, February 24, 2011
I've found there are two pretty separate types of books. Those that focus on history and design and those that focus on stitches. Most books have at least a bit of both, but I believe the best in each category focus on one or the other.
A few stand out. I'd most recommend Crewel Embroidery in England by Joan Edwards and The Art of Crewel Embroidery by Mildred Davis as the place to spend your money if you're buying to read up on traditional crewel embroidery.
I love stitch books, full of diagrams and potential (I always intend to go through each new book and try each new stitch--somehow it never happens)--some newer and some older are on my list. I like them all.I've found if I don't grasp a stitch from the instructions in one book, another book is likely to present it in a way that will click.
While I was at it I found a duplicate--so it's time for a giveaway!This is a 70s book that has great stitch diagrams. The designs are thoughtful though and rooted in history they look less dated than many from this era. No orange and olive and no mushrooms. Most of the models look to be stitched with floss and not wool, it's hard to tell from the photos. That would be easy to change. The back of the book has an envelope with full-size pattern sheets for all of the designs. It's hardback, not in pristine condition but pretty good.
Usual giveaway rules apply. Please leave a comment on this post and I'll use the random number generator to pick one on March 7. Not a long time, but I want to get it into the mail before vacation in March. Make sure your comment provides some way for me to get in touch with you. I'll mail anywhere. It'll probably go book rate so patience is advised. Good luck.
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
First off, we have only one accessible closet in our house--no coat closet, no linen closet, just one in the bedroom. In a house with two collectors of things. So things get piled pretty high, especially if we're working on a project (or two or three). I am not a housekeeper, to say the least.
I have this chair. It started out with some nice muslin zip bags with family quilts in them sitting in the seat. Then two chenille bedspreads were added on top. Then a bag with fabrics I'm using or scraps from projects. Stretcher bars went into a large vase next to the chair, then some framed embroideries and prints in paper next to that. Then a smallish bag with the small purses I use on occasional weekends. Then a bunch of nice zipped project bags from a sale at Jo-Ann's--with knitting, felting, crewel, ribbon projects/materials...etc.. you get the picture. Most of my supplies are in the basement, but some things I just don't want to store in that environment.
Then we discovered our one closet is has uninsulated outside walls and if you put too much in it--it has nice shelves at the top that can hold a lot--it mildews. So all of my antique textiles that were stored up there came out, were washed and placed on the chair. Last Friday we had an avalanche..it just all slid off and I realized that it was well past time to review the situation... (and,no, I do not have pictures, before or after.)
I tackled some of it Saturday with hubby's welcome help (he wielded the vacuum cleaner and tubs). I removed all the fabrics, bags and boxes. I left in place a basket with my childhood dolls. It's holding up a box with a doll in it, that's shoring up a stack of antique magazines that I decided not to disturb yet. There was enough in the pile of fabrics.
I found some things that went immediately out to go to our charity of choice (a resale shop supporting an animal shelter--they like craft supplies). Hubby's trunk is full. Tools were put away into the tool chest. A bunch of paper and cardboard went into recycling. Then I sorted the piles. We bought tubs. One tub now holds the antique fabrics, including a larger than I thought collection of handkerchiefs. I was planning to make a summer bed cover by stitching them to an old sheet, oh, about twenty years ago!
The second box has some other things--lap and table frame holders, projects in the works, projects I found in the pile to work on. The third box has some odds and ends that didn't fit into the others. The chenille blankets haven't yet made it out to the car to go to charity but will as soon as I get a chance. I'm not likely to make that chenille robe--and wouldn't wear it if I did!
Of course, the minute I got the boxes filled and stacked, I found things that needed to to into the bottom box. Thankfully, they're easily movable. And the plan is now that the disaster is contained, I want to go through things more carefully with a view toward what do I need to keep and what can I let go.
One project that I found was an angel begun by my mother. It was in a shoe box and I realized why it had been set aside--not all of the needed materials were in the box. Then I looked at it closely--the angel's bodice was done and most of the skirt. Two of the three motifs were completed and the third nearly done. And the fibers needed to finish it were not in the box.
But, then, I decided I shouldn't worry about that. It's nearly done and it's all mom's stitching--I'll just put it together. There were no finishing instructions, this was a workshop; I have sort of an idea but there's a dowel rod padded and inserted into the doll's head and I'm not sure where to go with that.
I seamed the skirt and stitched a gathering thread across the top. That seemed a sensible step one to me. I probably have some sheer ribbon for the wings (somewhere, hah!). The ribbons she's holding in the picture are in the box but the charm is missing.
The design and class were by Dorothy Mackowak. I may contact her about finishing instructions. She's still an Illinois Fox Valley EGA Chapter officer.
Hopefully next Christmas she'll be topping someone's tree! (I think we'll have to draw straws for this one!)
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
Right now it's rolled up back in it's tube, waiting for me to get out shopping for a frame.
Friday, February 18, 2011
The book below is one I've had saved on my computer for a while. It's available free several places on the Internet. If you search on Jacobean crewel embroidery pictures, pictures from this book will turn up. I printed it out and brought it home. But it looks so unprepossessing and, well, short, so I dismissed it and hadn't read it. Duh! Sew Now This has a nice post about the book.
Last night I picked it up and in three pages many of the questions I've been asking, about the timing of the embroidery style not fitting what I'd expected, about design sources, etc. all answered, right there. At my fingertips. sigh... Of course, this is now the book I'm reading. I finished the English Domestic Embroidery book. So, if you're at all interested in Jacobean Crewel embroidery this is the book! (read it first)I'm also reading Joan Edwards Crewel Embroidery in England. I read through it when I bought it used back in the 80s, but don't really remember it (Chicago used to have some great used bookstores and antique shops with book stalls--both are rare today. I'm very lucky to have been able to shop back then). I'm really enjoying it--it's a very warm and friendly book. The author puts the embroidery (and embroiderers) in the context of their times--how they lived in the 16th-18th Centuries.
I'd mentioned before that I was thinking of a form for my sampler stitches. I didn't want to do just a line-type sampler in a square of fabric, but something with a form. I've thought from the beginning of doing a pocket. I really like pockets. But I didn't want to get lost in designing...this is about the stitches not the design so much. So I came up with this rather abstracted design. It has a "floral" element and a "leaf" element I can use to show shading and filling stitches. It has mounds that would work for either line stitches or shading and filling stitches. And stems. I could add another central motif if needed. You can probably see all my erasures and redos in the "final." So this is where I am right now. What do you think about this design for a stitch sampler?
Thursday, February 17, 2011
Then we drove out to the Dunes to blow some fresh air into our lives. The snow was piled very high both on and off shore. I took this photo of pack ice at the water's edge from the road with a strolling couple in it for scale. I don't think I've ever seen the pack ice this high.This week has been a big melt off. We may hit record warm temperatures today (60F!). At first the temps hovered around freezing--snow would melt during the day and everything would be wet--and then freeze at night. Very slippery, especially when it all began to melt again. No morning walks. Now I'm dodging puddles on my walks, enjoying the "warm." This is kind of "Indian Spring" like we get "Indian Summer" here each year in the fall (Indian Summer is an unseasonably warm period of a few days that follows the first hard frost in the autumn). Winter will soon have us in it's grip again. But for now I'm enjoying no scarves, shawls, mufflers, mittens, hats and boots!
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
Then I made up this cute little felt pincushion from a kit my sister gave me for Christmas. I filled it with squares of wool quilt batting.
I love the footprints below. Most are mine from my morning walks. Not many others were out walking--a few junior high school kids, squirrels, a dog, but moslty me and the birds. Only after taking the photo did I notice how meandering the bird's steps are compared to my "follow the path. steps.
Last week was all about hugs. I spent a couple of nights crying with and hugging a friend who received a serious cancer diagnosis. These few weeks have been tests, fears and tears. And she has some tough choices to make.
I also spent an evening doing the "jump and hug" girlie thing with a friend who has been accepted into several major law schools for next year. Now she has some tough choices to make, too. Good but not easy.
I spent most of a day at an economic conference--I'm not an economist, but I know many and most of the people at this event I've known for 20+ years. I haven't seen some of them for ten years or so. It was interesting. (and it was more shaking hands than hugs.)
It all left me more contemplative than usual. I don't often think big thoughts.
Monday, February 14, 2011
It's a lunar calendar. I always keep track of the moon phases and over the years have had lunar calendars, but none were works of art! The year of the rabbit design is amazing. I am awed, grateful and, wow! Go and look, it is awesome.
I'll be sure to post pictures here once it arrives on my doorstep. I'm already thinking about how to frame? display? back? oh, my!
Thursday, February 10, 2011
And I'm coming up with more and more questions. Like why, after many years of exquisite fine silk embroidery, stumpwork and needlelace, would there be a fashion for crewel wools. It's beautiful, but seems huge and kind of clumsy next to work like the medieval Opus Anglicanum.
What caused wool embroidery to come into fashion? Why at this time? And who did the embroidery? Was it professionals or perhaps women at home? Middle or upper class?
The other thing I've discovered. I am very (very) literal. So. The Jacobean era is named after King James I, who ruled from 1603 to the 1620s. I assumed Jacobean Crewel embroidery would have it's roots during his reign. If it did, they're deep underground.
So far, I'm not finding examples that I can identify as this style until at least the mid-17th Century(which is why I'm paying so much attention to Therle Hughes's book). This timing makes sense if, as the crewel stitch books all seem to indicate, the designs are derived from imports from India and the Far East, primarily by the East India Company. The EIC wasn't chartered until 1600 and it took them a while to get up and running full steam. I'm adding to my book list.
Wednesday, February 9, 2011
I cut two pieces of tulle a bit bigger than each heart and tacked them, layered and a bit offset to better hold the lavender, to the back of each filigree heart. Don't stitch through the felt, just pick up a little on the back. Once it's tacked all the way around (I stitched about 1/4" from the edge), cut the tulle off around the outside of the heart shape.
Then I put the backed heart on top of a plain one and buttonhole stitched about 2/3 of the way around. I poked in some lavender (a gift from my sister) and finished stitching. I used a large needle and a bamboo skewer to poke the lavender into the heart and spread it more or less evenly.
Very quick and easy and, I think, kinda cute. I gave them to my sister and sister-in-law this weekend. I gave one to a friend last night. I think I'll save the rest to pass out on Monday!I also finished my sister-in-law's scarf. I didn't think I'd get it done but I ran out of yarn on Saturday so that means it's done. It needs blocking but she has the tools for that and I don't. It's very soft. The matching hat is here. It was her Christmas gift.
Tuesday, February 8, 2011
Saturday, February 5, 2011
2. inked bok choy. Take the stamp pad and tap it on the cut end of the bok choy. Since the vegetable as moisture, the stamping works really well. I find it much kinder to the vegetable to turn the ink pad upside down and stamp it onto the vegetable, rather than stamping the veggie onto the pad. Most modern ink pads are made to work that way (a surprise to me after years of using old-fashioned pads with date stamps).
3. first impression. Stamp on a firm ground. I'm using a very old flat cookie sheet. You're not going to get a perfect impression using vegetables, like you would with a rubber stamp.
4. Second impression. I think the second impression after inking is often the best.
5. different colors. The inked bok choy is in the middle, surrounded by impressions using various pinks and peaches. I did not rinse the veggie when changing colors--this wasn't that critical of a project. You could do so if you wish, and pat it dry before stamping a new color.
6. aging bok choy. You can see the color gravitating through the veggie as it gets a bit tired and overworked. I rarely use more than one head of bok choy for dinner so I generally stop when it gets to this point. The impressions begin to loose their clarity.
7. Adding green. To add some contrast to the pink and peach roses, I used a zucchini to stamp dots of various greens. I inked it the same way, tamping the ink pad onto the veggie. The zucchini's hard edge shows--more so as it begins to dry out. I like this effect.
8. More greens. On the left are my two zucchini stems, inked and ready to go. I generally made more than two impressions with each inking. Zucchini has a lot of moisture to it will print more and I like a lot of different values of green. As with the "roses," I stamped randomly across the fabric, I didn't do a lot of overlapping of shapes but that could produce some interesting patterns.
9. Here's the finished fabric.
10. Another view of the finished fabric. I did a yard in this printing.
11. More finished views.
12. When the fabric was dry, I ironed it on both sides with a hot iron. This is the back side of the fabric. Ironing helps set the fabric. I would hand wash it gently.
And here's the giveaway. A fat quarter of the finished fabric.
To enter to win the fabric, please comment on this post by midnight on February 13th, leaving your name and a way to get in contact with you (e-mail or blog). Anyone, anywhere may enter. I'll draw the winner on Valentine's Day, Feb. 14, 2011.