Wednesday, January 31, 2007

What To Do With a Curling Iron 

Melanie Schuessler comes to the world of costume from an academic background and her theater and period costuming are pretty impressive.

I don't construct garments. However I am one for practical considerations and I am fascinated by her tutorial on "How To Starch a Ruff" I know about goffering irons but never thought about teasing those convoluted shapes into submission using a hair dryer and a curling iron.

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Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Caught Up In The Task 

Some folks are so disciplined about blogging but not me. I pop in and out depending on circumstances.

Right now I'm caught up in the task(s) of getting ready for the Nashville trade show in just about a week.

Let me see - bin loaded with power strips and cords (X); Laptop ready to print invoices (X); Printing and punching and binding (x) only partial check.

Last year I barely made it to the show and was rather demented the entire time I was there. That was before I had my back fixed and I sort of slithered under the portico. I tipped the bell captain outrageously and gave him the car keys. He unloaded the car, brought everything to my room and parked the car.

Then I was a prisoner for the remainder of the show. Room service at that hotel leaves a lot to be desired (and at a very high price).

My customers were lovely and understanding but I had limited stock and nothing new.

This year will be better as Libby will be there to help, I can walk around and eat breakfast and there will be sufficient books to send home with any shop owner I can haul into my sales room. And we will have a few new offerings as well.

And I can shop a bit myself for inventory to take to my booth at Rockome in June.

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Saturday, January 20, 2007

Vintage Fashion 

What is now "vintage fashion" is nothing more than the clothes lovingly preserved in archival boxes by yours truly. My grandmother was born in 1895 so we have some bits and pieces.

But what if you feel you were born in the wrong decade/century and want to wear vintage fashions on an everyday basis? More and more people are doing just that. You can see 30's, 40's, 50's designs on the street, at clubs, at the racetrack, at the supermarket (you get the idea).

There is hope for you.

The Vintage Fashion Guild A group promoting study and wearing of vintage fashions. Some nice graphics and short essays on history of fashion at their site.

And if you want spiffy new shoes in authentic vintage style, check out Remix Vintage Shoes. Everything from the homely saddle oxford to the Hollywood stilletto wedgie.

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Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Temptations, Temptations 

The Future Museum site "provides free access to the museum collections of Ayrshire and Dumfries & Galloway and creates a valuable resource for people of all ages."

It is a modest site a present and some of its categories are yet unpopulated but under their arts and crafts designation is a page of handy information about Ayrshire Embroidery and photos of some nice examples of the work and tools. It seems the items are from Dean Castle

Now the Dean Castle site doesn't mention these rather humble embroideries on their site but they do offer up two of my other favorites -- Medieval Tapestries and A Keep!!!

Keeps call to me. I am enchanted at Dover and Rochester. A keep is the real guts of a castle. The last refuge, the armory, the great hall, the hub of the castle universe. When I step into an ancient keep I can smell the smells, hear the clangs and the curses, feel the drafts and the dogs rubbing up on my calves. Keeps have an aura in my book.

Tapestries are fairy tales come to earth for me. They are rich with symbolism and people and scenery. The are photographs of "The People of the Keep".

Now I am mighty tempted to put Dean Castle very far up on my must visit list.

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Monday, January 15, 2007

Plain Jane 

This is the time of year I usually sit and feel sorry for myself. I, and lots of other designers, are getting ready for trade shows. Folks often give a preview of their new designs on their websites and I sit in awe of how clever, how pretty, how desireable they all are. The new needlework catalogs hit the mailbox about this time as well. What a lot of talent there is out there!!!

This year the doom and gloom has been worse than ever because I'm just beginning to pick myself up after nearly two unproductive years of illness. Not a new design out in that time my dears.

And, when I do come out with something new -- it's usually not very "bling bling". More in the "plain Jane" department. Partly because my stuff doesn't go to a commercial printer. If you have something I've designed, it's passed through my hands. Self-publishing is handy, cost-effective and all sorts of other things, but it has its limits. So my aim is towards the booklet that will last. That's why I put heavy plastic covers on the booklets so they don't get dirty and stand up on a shelf.

But, as someone recently pointed out to me, my first publication is still in catalogs, still sells and is still being used. That's a 10 year lifespan. Pretty good in the needlework world where designs and designers often come and go far too rapidly. A designer needs a lot of sturdy staying power to keep going in this tough biz.

Oh well, enough complaints and back to work. I'll have a couple of new Plain Jane books ready for the Nashville trade show next month. Let's just hope they keep on ticking until 2017.


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Friday, January 12, 2007

Keep It Simple 

I just wasted a day yesterday struggling with charting the double-running journeys on the last chart for the new blackwork book!!! I was trying to combine what should have been two primary runs into one. When I went back to the beginning this morning and kept it straightforward and simple, it worked. Now if some clever needleworker/programmer would just develop a program to figure out double-running when given a design it would be mind-boggling. No, actually it would do me out of one of my jobs.

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Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Macedonian Embroidery 

Although I know little about Eastern European embroidery I was asked recently to help someone learn about it and the stitches used to execute it.

I found very fleeting bits of reference by Pesel, Gostelow and Paine.

Turning to the Web, I found more useful information.

Macedonian Folk Embroidery
George Mitrevski at Auburn University

Photos of folk costume embroidery linked to stitch diagrams.

Macedonian National Dresses
Dusko Koncaliev

Illustrations of a Valley Bridal Dress from the village of Krivogashtani, Prilep region and
Mariovo Mens's Dress from the village of Stravina, Bitola region are augmented with descriptions of the materials and techniques used and the purpose of the individual garments.

The Folk Costumes and Embroideries in Macedonia

This is a rich site with many illustrations organized by regions and with some links to techniques/stitches.

Macedonia Direct

Provides a map of the country's regions and illustrations of the costumes with descriptions of the garments and ornaments that make up the traditional costumes but does not name or illustrate the techniques used to embroider them.

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Monday, January 08, 2007

British Booksellers' Site 

UKBookWorld seems to list catalogs of some UK booksellers who don't find their way onto the usual booksearch sites.

A little search using the subject "embroidery" turned up some 2425 listings and even after several pages of browsing, there weren't the usual quilting or machine embroidery books.

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Sunday, January 07, 2007

How Does She Do That? 

I'm working on charts for a new blackwork book of reversible bands. It can be a dreary task. Very fiddley!

First I chart the design in Pattern Maker Professional by HobbyWare.

At this time, I only use black lines to chart the design.

If the design is simple with only an outward journey and a return journey, I need only to change the appropriate stitches by overlaying red and blue lines.

BUT if side journeys are required it means first laying in stitches in other colors on the HobbyWare Chart and often preparing a StitchWiz stitch diagram with matching colors, and numbering of the stitch sequence.

We won't even discuss proofreading.

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Saturday, January 06, 2007

Indian Embroidery - Tutorials 

India is one of the most diverse nations in the world. They accommodate a myriad of cultures, languages and embroidery techniques.

Bhavani, an Indian needlework instructor from Trichy, Tamil Nadu at his/her blog Needlecraft
has prepared tutorials for two Indian embroidery techniques: Kutchwork and Kasuti.

These stitches require rather intricate sequencing, but you will be able to execute them if you just have a bit of patience.

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Thursday, January 04, 2007

Just in case you have a little holiday gift money burning a hole in your pocket, why not buy a book. Here are a few London bookstores.

Blackwell (University Press and unequalled for history.http://bookshop.blackwell.co.uk/jsp/welcome.jsp

Foyles (Miles of books on every subject) http://www.foyles.co.uk/foyles/index.asp

Henry Pordes Books Ltd. (heavy on art books and usually a nice textile selection)http://home.clara.net/henrypordes/

SPCK's London Bookshop (a Christian bookstore where I have found lovely art books)http://www.spck.org.uk/london/

Lists of shops:

Secondhand and Antiquarian Bookshops in London http://www.inprint.co.uk/thebookguide/shops/london/index.shtml

King's College London Bookshop List

Some shops currently are running post-holiday sales in case you can't resist.


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Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Useful Bits of Info 

Shipwreck Beads has a page with all sorts of useful info. Everything from birthstones and flowers; metric conversions; a table to determine the number of beads you'll need to string for a project (i.e. 3mm beads -- 8.25 beads = 1").

I demand immunity if you surf around Shipwreck and spend a lot of money. Their shop in WA is astounding and their web catalog a terrible temptation.


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Monday, January 01, 2007

Surfing for Embroidery 

Every now and then I go "surfing for embroidery". I toddle over to Google and enter any sort of word AND embroidery or needlework and see what comes floating by as I surf the internet waves. Today I was thinking of snow/snowflakes as we keep thinking we may have a little snowshower around here (but have seen nary a flake as of yet).

One of the sites I turned up is a nice little snowflake pattern by Connie G. Thomas who hosts the cross-stitch section of About.com. I can see her Free Cross Stitch Pattern - Mini Snowflake as a border, a small ornament, a little touch on clothing using waste canvas. It's one of those handy small motifs to have in your stitching library.


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