Monday, January 31, 2005

Embroidery is Dead 

It's official folks, embroidery is now gone, finished, kaput, dead. I was in a Borders yesterday and checked out the crafts department. I used to complain that they had far too few free embroidery books and too many cross stitch books and far too many quilting books. Now, not one embroidery or cross stitch book was to be found and fewer quilting books. A few weaving offerings and the rest is basically paper crafts.

Likewise in the magazine section. Not a single stitching magazine. Beads, Quilting, Paper!

If paper weren't so hard to thread in a needle, I guess I could change careers.

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Saturday, January 29, 2005

The Copyright Scold 

I try not to be a scold about intellectual property issues. If asked, I tell!! And we still have a growing problem in the needlework and crafting industries with folks infringing on our rights as a designer.

Thankfully (for me) some of the worst thieves steal plastic canvas designs by scanning them and handing out thousands (yes, thousands)of copies in internet groups. Next worst affected seem to be crochet designs and knitting designs. Folks who do classic embroidery seem to understand the issues of rights of designers better than some stitchers.

I was pleased to see Sharon B posting a couple of good links today. Included were a gateway page to Australian resources and an online article from Needlepoint Now (the US ANG publication)by Mary Ann Jones and Matt Booth .

Now sometimes people infringe because of ignorance, but I have found this is seldom the case. We usually infringe because we want to save a few dollars. Needlework designers are usually very small businesses. We are often women-owned businesses. We depend on income from our businesses to support single-parent families, to augment retirement income or to pay the electric bill, the rent, the mortgage, the medical bills. You get the picture. BUT, if buyers of our designs take it upon themselves to copy our charts or books and pass out the charts or instructions we are deprived of that income and it is hard or impossible for us to continue in business.

These days we spend a lot of time we would rather spend designing chasing down infringers. We are not so generous in handing out complimentary designs and seldom post downloadable designs online. Have you noticed this? Have you noticed designers taking up other work? Are there less new and interesting designs out there? Are needlework magazines going out of business?

I'm not blaming all the woes of the needlework industry on infringers, but they certainly are a substantial part of the mix.

What can just one individual stitcher do to reverse this trend? They can refrain from infringement themselves. They can discourage their friends from infringing (it is a dirty nasty habit). They can lobby their legislative representatives to implement legislation protecting designers and to enforce current laws and regulations concerning needlework copyright. They can educate members of their guilds and stitching groups.

A few years ago, a group of dedicated volunteers did a survey of just one online group and compiled statistics about their "pattern sharing" (infringement). It was only a few months' worth of theft and only one group out of hundreds that exist online. The problem has only grown since that time.

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Thursday, January 20, 2005

On The Road 

I will be on the road for a few days. I go to Robin's tomorrow for a weekend of stitching and fun. We're going to have a group of avid costumers around on Sunday to fiddle with some advanced goldwork stuff and then I will be teaching a pulled thread class at an ANG chapter on Monday. Then back through Las Vegas to visit friends overnight and get a dose of neon light.

I've had a request to comment further on the concept of Catherine of Aragon and her connection to blackwork and I'll blog about that when I return.

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Comments and other Stuff 

Comments seem to be acting up for some folks so here are Gytha's comments on yesterday's blog:

1. I avoid floss licking but I'm not compulsive about it - honest
2. I do use waste knots to start but otherwise never
3. I'm with you on this - if the back is not going to be seen then I'm not
putting in the extra work
4. No absolutely certain on this, have seen loads of blackwork that
obviously isn't counted but there is stuff that "could" be and I haven't had
the opportunity to get right up close and personal so until I do you are the
5. I don't use hoops so don't suffer with those potential problems.
6. With you
7. With you - my band sampler is the size it is because it was a strip of
fabric left over from making a chemise.
8. And they are STILL saying this in needlework books...
9. My sampler is rolled up in my work bag 'cos that's where it lives, it may
be rolled round a spool of silk that I'm using but that's it.

Must get back to working on the sampler, I spent most of November and
December working on new garb for Richard and myself and 12th night gifts so
I have rewarded myself with some easy mundane cross stitch and when that's
finished it must be back to the grindstone.


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Inquiring Minds Probably Don't Care 

There's been quite a discussion on a list to which I subscribe about knots and backsides of embroidery, etc. This is one of the age old questions that seems to surface cyclically on needlework lists and groups. Just in case anyone wants to know how I stand on these life-or-death issues that spawn small battles or global conflict from time to time, here are my opinions. Quit here if you don't give a Pringles potato chip.

1. Floss licking. I lick floss. That part gets cut off and my embroidery gets washed after stitching anyway.

2. Knots to start or finish a thread. I don't except with metal embroidery. I did when I was a child because that is how I was taught. I think my grandmother put knots in her embroidery because it got a heck of a washing in an old Maytag washer and then went through a wringer, then got dipped in boiling starch and ironed. Her stuff never came loose by golly.

3. Reversible blackwork. Not unless it is a design meant to be stitched reversibly and seen on both sides. Historically stuff isn't stitched reversibly unless it was used on collars, cuffs and the like. Some pieces obviously done in professional shops are a mad tangle on the back. Time was money to these folks and if you wanted to get from point A to point B you went, so long as you didn't trip on the long loop left on the back. When the designs moved to samplers and home stitchers they had enough time to fiddle with making stuff reversible and sometimes piled up several compensating stitches to torture a filling pattern into compliance.

4. Counted thread blackwork. I've not found an early blackwork piece that I can say was stitched using a counted thread technique. Carefully stitched but counted, no.

5. Leaving hoops on fabric. For reasonable times I leave hoops on fabric. I do quite often protect the fabric where I hold a hoop with a piece of muslin.

6. Thread has grain. Don't believe in that theory. Thread is twisted using a particular twist, but grain - not in my opinion.

7. Band samplers are long and narrow because there were only tiny little narrow looms in "those days". Rubbish. If you want to know the reason why, take one of my classes.

8. Catherine of Aragon introduced blackwork to England. Not hardly. Again, visit one of my history classes if you want to know why I don't buy that nice story.

9. Sampler stitchers rolled their samplers up on little rods and placed them in their workbaskets. Never seen one, don't think I ever will. They may have wrapped their work around a goldwork tool, a brooch - which is a little rod and that may have confused some writer.

Other than that, I have few decided opinions.

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Monday, January 17, 2005

Yes, There Is Embroidery Post-1800

I have to remind myself sometimes that modern textiles exist. I'm easily lost in the 16th, 17th, 18th or 19th century. To keep an eye on the latest trends I do subscribe to Fiberarts by Interweave Press.

The Jan-Feb 2005 issue has a little article by Heidy Van Beurden A Bag for Every Occasion. The article was a great gateway to the website for the Tassenmuseum Hendrikje.

With text available in English, French or German and exquisite photos from the collection's purses and bags (3,000+ on display if you visit in person), this is a don't miss site for the stitcher or costumer.

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Sunday, January 16, 2005

Got Kids? Refuse to Grow Up?

I keep finding great links for craft activities for the young at heart or young people. I post a list of them from time to time but now I've decided they need a home of their own. So toddle on over to Kid Crafts and bookmark it. I won't be posting there every day but as I find great links for activities, I will blog about them.

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Friday, January 14, 2005

A Passion for Fantasy

In all sorts of ways we long for fantasy. It certainly is true in the world of stitching and also in architecture. Los Angeles abounds with what are known as Storybook Houses and oddly enough it is a science fiction writer, John Robert Marlow, (another fantasy era altogether) who is besotted enough with them to maintain a website about them. Now which needlework designers can you imagine living in one of these homes?

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Saturday, January 08, 2005

Wearing of the Plaid
Are you hopelessly in love with tartans? Then this site is for you. Tartans of Scotland has bits of information on history and most importantly has the "complete Register of all Publicly Known Tartans online, which includes details and images of over 2800 tartans." It is a commercial site and they will sell you everything from a swatch to garments but it is not "in your face" obnoxious about merchandise. It is searchable by several criteria and the graphics are quite good.

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Thursday, January 06, 2005

Fibercrafts in Fiction

No, you have not wandered into a book review blog! I have always been fascinated with the way authors deal with fibercrafters in fiction. We have a spate of books now about quilt themes and Monica Ferris' books about stitchery/mystery. However, there seem to have always been books around dealing with crafters as characters.

I ran across one the other day. The Voice of the Corpse by Max Murray. An early Bantam paperback from 1947. How can you resist a book that begins:

"Even in death there was something arty and crafty about Angela. The grim reaper had caught her as she sat at her spinning wheel, at the moment when she was taking the first steps toward converting a heap of unsavory hair that she had plucked from her chow dog into a pull-over for Celia Sim."

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Wednesday, January 05, 2005

More Delights Available

While hunting a url of the British Library Turning the Pages for an online friend I found that they have now digitized another group of their treasures. These include an early anatomy text, an herbal and more.

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Tuesday, January 04, 2005

The Tour Season Begins

Well, we received the final calendars from other organizations and now have our 2005 Linn and Libby in London Tour dates sorted out. Every year we have to dodge ANG National, EGA National, CATS shows and Jewish holidays.

We'll be in London eight nights this year from October 15-22. Now to get all the activities sorted out and scheduled and to plan what may become an annual pre-tour additional adventure. We're thinking about a few days in the Lake District this year.

When our returning group members get their reservations made we'll open up the tour to new members for the remaining places available. We limit our group to 14 - tops.

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