Saturday, March 27, 2004


Cathy (Maeve to SCA folk) has given in and put a tentative toe in the water by starting a blog. She is not a needleworker but rather a costume construction person and a cook of all things historic and modern.

We are nice and friendly (when we are not grumpy about models and such) so we're glad to have you with us.

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When I teach a beginning goldwork class students don't finish a hard day's work with yards and yards of embroidery!! Instead they have a triangle of couched work in passing (hopefully with beautifully turned corners), a pile of chips (cut from bright check), and a fuzzy worm striped with perfectly cut and layed smooth and checked purls. While in Geneva a few years ago MarthaJeanne Barton suggested all the students gather their triangles (in hoop) together for a photo session. We've continued the tradition in goldwork classes thereafter in Olympia and Chicago.

. Click for a larger version of the Lake Michigan Sampler Guild efforts. Thanks to Carol S. for the photo.

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Thursday, March 25, 2004


Blogshares is now running quickly again. I had about given up on it. So I've been playing from time to time. It is a good chance to dip into blogs having nothing to do with needlework and sometimes I find a gem. Try this one. I like her thoughts about libraries.

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It is always hard to come back to reality after being away on an adventure. The rubbish needs taken out, the laundry needs done, the webpage has to be updated, correspondence needs answered, paperwork has to be pushed about.

Why isn't there a Needlework Emerald City where things just sort of happen and appear and are taken care of. I'd even settle for a Needlework Fantasyland.

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Tuesday, March 23, 2004


What a great weekend. Robin and Cathy fetched me from the airport in SF and it was whoosh right off to Needle In A Haystack where we waited a few minutes until they opened the doors at 10:30 a.m. Then over an hour of admiring their new space. They are still moving in but what a great shop it is for them. Lots of space to show off their fibers (one of their real strengths) and a classroom beyond belief. When they get models up it will be even better as they now have wall space for a real gallery of needlework. We talked about a history lecture at the shop in May now that she has a huge classroom.

A yummy lunch at the Indian restaurant conveniently nextdoor to the shop. Cathe took a bit of time out of her busy schedule and went to lunch with us. It is always great to get insight from shop owners as they have a perspective of the needlework biz that is uniquely theirs.

Then off to a few gourmet shopping experiences and home for a beautifully cooked meal and a look at Robin's latest projects. Her Bargello is absolutely stunning. What a lot of work but it will be beautiful when finished.

Saturday was a visit to a local garden center where we helped Robin and Will fill a huge cart with plants and supplies. Home again to put the plants in the ground and set up everything for class on Sunday. Great food and a little costume movie watching.

Sunday was the first time I had taught Or Nue and the first time is always a beta test. How long do you linger on this point? What is really of interest? What other charts, graphs, illustrations were needed to really present the concept? It was fun and everyone was patient with me. They really appreciated my teaching photos (thanks to Libby) and I hope have a more firm handle on the technique. We did stitch for a few hours using some of the gold and gauze with all sorts of silk fibers.

Another great meal on Sunday night and lots of stitchy and history talk then back home on Monday. Today it's back to the Day Job..... I am stocked up on silver bodkins thanks to Cathy hand carrying them to me and Bill's new tiny tiny silver threadcutter rose is to die for. I graciously let Cathe Ray have the supply she brought for the shop but another one is coming my way so I will be able to take special orders for this special bit of jewelry.

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Thursday, March 18, 2004


I adore teaching SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism) stitchers because they are SOOOOOOOOOOOOO dedicated. The thread police could take some training from them. I think we get along fairly well because if I don't know if something is "period" (pre-1600) I say so.

On the other hand most SCA stitchers also indulge in "fun" stitching just to improve skills and many of them are interested in other historic needlework (e.g. Regency, Islamic, Byzantine, Victorian, etc.) so they are fascinating folk, all.

They also subscribe to the theory that to be a scholar one need not be an academic. True some of us who putter along our own paths can get confused and miss out on well known scholarship in a field of interest, but we do at times bring a fresh outlook to the subject at hand.

As to confusion, one of the charms of teaching SCA members is that they all have at least two names - their SCA name and their mundane name. I often give up and say "you". Not the most polite form of address but I do remember faces and often one name - but not two. Everyone seems to understand. I certainly remember their stitching!!!

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I get in the rut of looking at symbolic meanings of color from a western European sort of eye. I enjoyed reading an article today that made me look in a bit of a different direction.

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Sunday, March 14, 2004


I was so excited about my new pen and pencil (to which Su confessed sending) that I almost forgot about the box from Benton & Johnson that was in the mailbox as well.

The gold passing thread for our Or Nue class arrived. There is something special about holding 250gm of gold thread in one's hands at once. It gives me the Midas itch. When I first started ordering from B&J they didn't even have a fax machine. Now they have a shopping cart online!!! However, in "the old days" the manufacturing was accomplished above the showroom on the Southbank. If something was needed urgently Kath or Kathy would run up and tell "the guys" to move on it and your order went to the top of the list. As with many small enterprises, B&J is now owned by an enterprise group, manufacturing has gone to the midlands and speed is not their strong suit. However Kath & Kathy are still in the London showroom and they are not diminished in any way. They know their product and its uses and are ever helpful and friendly.

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Saturday, March 13, 2004


Now I've admitted I love presents (who doesn't) and I love surprises but I've had the surprise of many a year today. In my mailbox arrived a box with a pair of the most beautiful writing instruments from A Twist On Wood home of an artist Caroline Morse whose work I have admired from afar.

These are a magnificently crafted pen and pencil of tulipwood. The mechanical fittings are exquisite and the wood can only be compared to the finest silk satin.

The surprise is I HAVE NO IDEA WHO SENT THESE TO ME!!! What a thoughtful benefactor. It is someone who knows I hang out in libraries and that the libraries I frequent only allow the use of pencils to protect their rare book collections --because in the pencil box is a cryptic note on a tiny slip of paper that says "Use it with care in The Library". I have my suspicions whether the culprit confesses or not, but in any case a bemused, and grateful thank you.

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Friday, March 12, 2004


By this time next week I will be at Robin/Sabrina's and Cathy from "Up North" will be there and we will be immersed in history and needlework and cookery and costumes and all sorts of stuff. I'll also get a chance to visit one of my favorite shops, Needle in a Haystack and maybe another favorite as well - Status Thimble.

We'll be exploring Or Nue on Sunday with a fantastic group of stitchers - these folks are power hand embroiderers. I have to scramble to stay ahead of them by a whisker.

Sooo this weekend I finish matting up all the silk gauze, sorting out the silks, sorting out the graphics for projection and generally turning medieval. What an embroidery high.

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Wednesday, March 10, 2004


Just when I thought I was going to have no good times today (miserable cold and still printing, printing, printing) this link about a despicable floss napper came floating in from an SCA group. Be sure to read the entire "thread".

Thanks you folks on 123 Stitch board. You made my day.

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Sunday, March 07, 2004


Seems as if I'm stuck in a rut here. Getting orders out (a good thing), getting ready for upcoming classes (a good thing); updating the website (a tedious thing) and getting over a cold/bronchitis (a lousy thing).

Nordic Needle did like the new Knotwork Alphabet book, they placed their usual initial order before Nashville and I sent them most of my stock destined for Nashville. I returned from England to find another order from them - they had sold out. I presume all of their initial order went to shops as they hadn't even put it on their website yet. As of yesterday, they had it in their web catalog BUT with a photo of hardanger banners. Don't think they will sell many at that rate. Meanwhile we are printing, printing, printing. It is nice to have a publication that may stay on the active sales list for a long time. My second published book is still a strong seller (100 Blackwork Charts) but the very first (Alphabets from Antique Samplers) is one of the worst sellers in our catalog.

I'm itching to get back to the thistle sampler as I think I figured out a solution while at the V&A last month.

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Wednesday, March 03, 2004


Pussycat, pussycat, where have you been?
I've been to London with Libby & Linn!
Pussycat, pussycat, what did you there?
I saw the samplers by climbing the stair!

Nancy Sue Havener memorializing her annual trip to London with us and the staircase to the textile gallery.

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Tuesday, March 02, 2004


Dress a Freida Kahlo paper doll and learn about Mexican costume and textiles. Mexican embroidery is fascinating because it often incorporates several design influences: indigenous, colonial (Spanish; French), and Chinese.

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Monday, March 01, 2004


I have a miserable cold. Imported from England!!! It is raining like mad here. BUT in the mail today was my permanent (well 5 year) Reader's Ticket for the V&A National Art Library. No more need to apply for special collection privileges each visit.

Also there was a very kind busdriver tonight. I take a couple of routes to and from the dayjob that carry a lot of tourists between Hollywood-Beverly Hills-Santa Monica (the beach). Two ladies with a British accent approached me at the Century City bus stop and asked if they could get a bus to Rodeo Drive. They may or may not have been planning to shop at Tiffany's or Escada but I think not. I think they just wanted a little flutter of the shopper's heart. I explained that they could reach Rodeo Drive but there was no stop at that street, they would have to walk about a block from the nearest stop. When I entered the bus I told the driver the ladies would like to disembark as close to Rodeo as possible. The dear man made an unscheduled stop and set them down spot on Rodeo. Not an un-noticed act of kindness in today's rain.

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Goodness knows I try hard at organization but life often steps in. I'm down to getting up and saying "what one or two things absolutely must get done today?" I deal with those and then get on with the rest.

Goals - absolutely not. I can't stand failure. I operate more on the idea of focused activity. I focus my available psychic and physical energy on one project until it's finished. This keeps me more or less on a path but doesn't set me up for failure if I don't accomplish something within a specific timeframe.

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