Saturday, March 31, 2007
It evolved, as did many types of embroidery, as a means of making a bit of income in impoverished areas. Mountmelick is a small community once known for its woolen mills, for its ties to Quaker history and for its embroidery. Mountmelick has kindly provided a nice amount of space on its website to the history of Mountmellick embroidery, the revival of interest in this style of stitching, information on learning the technique and some nice photos of examples.
I also have lots of great information about Mountmellick on my website that you or your readers may be interested in.
Author of "Mountmellick Embroidery: Inspired by Nature"
Friday, March 30, 2007
I never pay attention to color names. When I choose DMC for a design I go to the floss box and color pick, then I stitch a bit and usually change my mind. When I'm finished, I put the color numbers into a chart, but I don't publish names of colors.
Now in the early days, DMC did name colors. The early Therese de Dillmont Encyclopedia offers numbers and names. And some of those names were rather romantic. One is not PC by our standards today.
In those days, they produced three versions of black which is an interesting thought. At that time DMC listed amongst its colors Black fastdye #310; Greenish black #473 and Jet black #681. Some of the moreromantic color names were Campanula blue, Tender blue, Brown of deadleaves, Havana brown, Beetle green, Green of duck's plumage, Hay grey,Mourning grey, Dawn red, Bishop's violet, Wine-lees violet, etc.
Today's DMC USA site offers all sorts of stuff. They include free charts if you sign up for their club. These are attractive designs that would fill the bill for gifts, household items, etc. They range from the complex to the simple. Worthwhile checking out.
They have instructions for all sorts of needlearts and an interesting Mentor Program. If you sign up for their Mentor Program, they will mail you four small kits and instructional materials to teach embroidery to a beginner. This would be a good incentive to bring a friend, a child, a co-worker into the wonderful world of needlecraft. I think we would do more of this sort of thing if we had everything prepared for us. DMC seems to have done this.
Thursday, March 29, 2007
MarthaJeanne and I have been e-mailing about an early monastic embroiderer and she sent me to Anna Wanner's site. I hadn't been there in a while and found some new bits and bobs. Especially handy for some of us is a page by Ruth Groenwoldt identifying some stitches and their names in multiple languages.
Then take a look at CIETA's site (English version available) if you are interested in early textiles and embroidery.
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
So, folks my plea to you is --- Go forth and clean out your attics. You never know what you may find.
Monday, March 26, 2007
So I've changed over to Blogger commenting after archiving the older comments.
Labels: Blog housekeeping
Sunday, March 25, 2007
John at Rainbow Gallery has accused me of using only black silks but when I break into colors they are often Jo's glorious threads. I particularly like them for their "handle". They feel more like vintage silks than any other thread on the market today, and of course the colors.
I don't solicit freebies from manufacturers as a rule because I only endorse or sell what I personally use, but a few folks give me samples to try. Jo has always been very generous in that department and I often use her silks.
Her new colors are stunning. They remind me of my favorite coral reef island off Australia, Heron Island. Hmmm, I may need to stitch up a Heron Island embroidery.
While in Nashville Jo and I also picked the Dinky Dyes for the limited edition reproduction sampler I'll be teaching at Rockome in June. More on how to try to reproduce a sampler another day.
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
A good bibliography and a nice little tutorial.
Labels: Color theory
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
I don't think I'll be trying it soon, but it looks pretty interesting.
Monday, March 19, 2007
Sometimes today we don't realize that we are stitching samplers as we try out this and that. We are just not so formal about it. I have bits of all sorts of fabric around with samples stitched on them. I'm comfortable with the notion that a sampler is a collection of varying motifs, fibers or techniques stitched on a ground.
As to the notion that samplers taught reading skills, hmmm I rather think back to my first sampler and draw on the psychology of mom and child. Many samplers were stitched pre-TV. I know mine was. Children had not only to be educated but entertained and kept out of mischief.
When stitching, an alphabet letter is such a nice "lesson". It can use bits of left over thread, it can be done quickly and there is a sense of accomplishment after completing just one letter. Perfect combination for a fidgetty child exercise. I can remember "just stitch one letter." After each letter or two a child could often pick a new color as well. What an incentive.
One of the main reasons I admire samplers is their individuality. Until this century when we began slavishly copying old samplers, they were usually different in some respect. Samplers are the one bit of embroidery that has never been shunted into professional workshops or sweatshops.
Saturday, March 17, 2007
A very happy St. Patrick's day to all who enter here.
And for the occasion, a little gift to you. This is a graph of the earliest shamrock design I've yet to find stitched on a sampler. It is on an early 17th century English sampler held by the V&A.
The shamrock often symbolized The Holy Trinity (Father, Son and Holy Ghost).
Labels: Needlework Chart
Friday, March 16, 2007
Labels: Tambour embroidery
Thursday, March 15, 2007
I use a pretty extensive and customizeable catalog program and have been happy with it, but I thought it would be nice to be able just to point to my catalog on LT when I get questions about books.
I was able to port a few things over from Book Organizer, but silly me, I typed all the ISBN's with spaces in them and LT didn't recognize those records when it searched my DB.
I can put them up side-by-side however and cut and paste the ISBN or all the info if necessary. I have heaps of books without ISBNs or they may have ISBNs but don't show up on the radar of any collection. So that means a lot of manual entries.
I've managed to get through the A's and with the few I imported from Book Organizer, I'm up to 82 entries. I'm just entering the needlework and the art books. Heaven help us if we ever decide to do the history and other non-fiction or the fiction.
My catalog is under skinnersisters if anyone wants to see my creeping progress.
Wednesday, March 14, 2007
For years, stitchers in the UK have been able to attend lectures and workshops given by Jane Lemon at branch, regional and national gatherings of the Embroiderers' Guild as well as local college settings such as Missenden. This extraordinary artist has now virtually retired and limits herself to a few lectures. She now seems to focus her lectures on her beloved Sarum Group, their history and their many accomplishments.
Although I was traveling to England regularly to do research, in the early 90's I made a special trip to Durham where the AGM (Annual General Meeting) of the Embroiderers' Guild was scheduled. Hands on workshops at the AGM are scheduled prior to the main meeting days and I was enticed by promise of a special visit to the Cathedral led by the Cathedral Embroidery Guild to see their needlework collection -- including the Cuthbert Embroideries. I registered for two classes. First was a goldwork class with Tracy Franklin. I had done some extended goldwork workshops at the RSN (Royal School of Needlework) when Tracy had been in her apprenticeship years there and enjoyed her as a teacher.
The main attraction of this trip was, however, the opportunity to attend a workshop with Jane Lemon. I was a beginning-intermediate goldworker who had poured over Jane’s book Metal Thread Embroidery and the chapter by her in the Search Press book Gold & Silver Embroidery. It took years for me to own a copy of her book Embroidered Boxes which has now been republished.
Jane had plotted out a lovely little project inspired by marbled paper patterns. The most important experience however was simply being in the presence of a great artist/teacher and walking away in sensory overload. She is, of course, brilliant in technical needlework skills and renowned for her design accomplishments, but she has the greater attributes of being approachable, sharing, keenly interested in others and rates my highest accolade "A Decent Human Being."
Do my students today get a strong dose of Fibonacci sequence, design notebook nudges and various other tips and tricks of working with metal threads? Then they have Jane Lemon to thank.
She demonstrated the importance of design notebooks by bringing to class two of her notebooks so we could see the design process from commission, to inspiration, to design, to execution and installation. Another notebook was simply crammed with decades of collecting peacock motifs. Everything from magazine images to sketches of examples seen on her travels.
All this nostalgia has led me to ponder on the points I think make a good teacher and especially a good teacher of needlework. First I think one needs a deep and thorough understanding of the needlework technique one is teaching as well as a passionate belief in its importance. Not just the mechanical rendition of the technique, but also its relationship to other textiles, other techniques and general placement in social, economic and political history. It is this confidence in one’s ability that allows for generosity of spirit in sharing knowledge with students and the ability to define and share with students those things one does not yet know. Through sharing meals and workshops and casual conversations with Ms. Lemon that weekend, I was inspired, enriched and taught technical skills.
She has in recent years received an well-deserved MBE but I’m sure it hasn’t made her any more (or less) just plain NICE. And if you ever get a chance to see her sitting at a worktable fondling, manipulating, taming and transforming an assortment of gilded kid, purls, and other assorted metal bits, I assure you it will exceed the fascination of watching a close-up magician at their art.
Monday, March 12, 2007
Got it back out yesterday and found I had really badly placed a buttonhole on this cardigan. Now the folks in Mongolia where it is going probably wouldn't notice or care that they got a bright red warm sweater with a messed up buttonhole -- but I would always know it was wrong.
Sometimes you can fudge on needlework, sometimes you can change a design or a pattern midstream and incorporate a mistake without a resultant mess but sometimes you just gotta rip it out and do it right. Because I'm knitting it for someone I don't know but who really needs it, it needs to be my best work, not my worst.
Sunday, March 11, 2007
It might be a good idea, but it might just be VERY depressing.
Abby has some gorgeous yarns on her blog that concentrates on knitting, spinning and other good stuff. I especially like her lace knitting (one of my favorites).
Friday, March 09, 2007
This is not Ren Faire folks - this is serious stuff and the citizens of the various SCA kingdoms work very hard to "get it right." One of the arts they "get right" is needlework and costuming. I've had the privilege of teaching, chatting with, corresponding with, knowing a good many SCA folk and my life has been richer for the experience.
At events, a member with skills teaches those with lesser skills. I'm not cut out to attend events although I've been a welcomed guest at one. I'm not really into throwing myself into the roleplaying part of the experience. As a non-member, non-person, I'm technically one of the great unwashed, the mundane.
However, I've been invited to teach SCA members at non-SCA events. And what a wonderful experience. These are students who are so intense, so knowledgeable, so determined to excell that I walk away humbled every time.
As a teacher, I've taught in the Kingdoms of An Tir. Caid, Calontir and The West. I know I now live in Tennessee, but I also live in the Kingdom of Meridies.
I've been privileged to know some SCA'ers who are no longer with us including Chottie Alderson and Gytha North. I'd long admired Chottie for her skills and publications on canvaswork and Gytha I met when she ordered some books from me. I remain awed that mine was one of the few blogs listed in her blogroll. These were beautiful, assertive women who were better for being a part of the SCA and certainly made their respective kingdoms a better place for their being there.
I read SCA needleworkers' blogs on a regular basis, including Racaire (who flatters me by including my blog amongst the SCA blogs - I have her fooled, don't I?); Robin/Sabrina (a dear friend); Kim Salazar/Ianthe d'Averoigne (the renowned author of The New Carolignian Modelbuch and a colleague in the fight against needlework design piracy); and Laren whom I've only met online.
I've also had the privilege of knowing many supportive spouses who make it possible for me to teach in far flung kingdoms. One of my personal favorites is Will Ringer, Robin's Gentle Giant who totes bundles and boxes, raises tables, fetches chairs, puts out food, cools drinks, feeds me dinners, explains fighting and fighting equipment. He was recently interviewed at an event. Wish they had included a photo of him - he's both handsome and formidable.
I have many other SCA friends/acquaintenances who don't have blogs or websites but send the e-mails flying my way. They KNOW who they are and how much I appreciate them.
If you have the slightest inclination to enter another world and have that feeling you were born in the wrong era - visit one of the kingdom sites, look for newcomer information and do take part in a local event. You will be welcomed. If someone wants to know how you found them - tell them Linn, The Merely Mundane sent you!!!
Thursday, March 08, 2007
Take a little look at how a poor old stick in the mud Medieval Monk copes with new technology and then read Jerry's blog for some comments on how we take to new knowledge.
What has this got to do with needlework you say? How many times have we just done things the safe way? Used the stitches we know? Decided there was a "right way" to do needlework and continued doing it forever and ever and ever and ever that way?
This is a good day to do something different! Give it a try, you might like it.
Labels: Pushing the envelope
Wednesday, March 07, 2007
Decent ability to zoom.