Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Peek-A-Boo, I See You 

One of the interesting things about the stats program I use to track a few things about my blog is the ability to see what site prompted a visitor to read my blog. It is always interesting to see who has linked to the blog and quite often I find pleasant surprises.

Who could resist a follow up when I saw a visitor had come from a site named Stitching With A Shimmy

It was not until I clicked through to the blog that I realized it was my old friend Romilly who had entered the blogging world. Romilly and I first met in Southern California many a moon ago and I was privileged to sell some of her designs for awhile. Then she moved East and now I've moved East and now we're both blogging and I don't want to lose track of her again.

Romilly can stitch the most exquisite modern Dresden Work I have seen. I hope her recent mishap to an arm doesn't slow her stitching down (or her belly dancing).

She says she hasn't a sense of humor. I never noticed any lack in that department but read her blog and you be the judge.

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Monday, February 26, 2007

Garden Poems and Verses 

Garden Poems and Verses offers garden themed verse and if you scroll down a bit, you'll find a little verse entitled "Winter Embroidery".

AND if Susan Farmer is tuned in - there is an ode to a trillium!


WooHoo! How cool is that!
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Saturday, February 24, 2007

Stitching With My Mom 

February 24 was my mom's birthday and some of my fondest memories of her have to do with stitching and other crafts.

Mom would try any craft and was always willing to spend her hard-come-by household money for craft classes for her children. Over the years I went to shellcraft, leather carving and basket weaving classes. We had a small letter press at home and I learned how to set type, ink it up and print projects. Mom knit and was an exquisite seamstress. She made extra money when she and dad were both in college after WWII by doing mending, alterations and dressmaking for others.

Not that she didn't have a few disasters. I well remember the time she was using etching acid to make monogrammed sets of glasses for Christmas gifts and got a nasty burn for her trouble. And there was the time she managed to run the needle of her old treadle sewing maching completely through a fingernail, barely missing the bone and continuing out the other side.

She was always the one for saying "that's pretty good for a beginning, now let's work to perfect it."

Mom worked on teaching me to construct garments (it didn't take) but did succeed when it came to knitting and embroidery.

The photo is of a handkerchief she coached me to embroider when I was 7 or so and then she used it throughout the years. Until very late in her life, she always carried linen hankies in her purse and the first thing she taught me to iron was the family's handkerchiefs.


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Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Ulrika's Gallery of Public Embroidery 

More of Ulrika's Public Embroidery in her Gallery.


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Very Public Embroidery 

The Wooster Collective, a site dedicated to Street Art offers up an example of very public embroidery. I don't think I'm quite up to taking up this form of textile art. Hmm, on second thought, if taken prisoner on a Jet Blue flight it might be a way of registering my feelings.


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Tuesday, February 20, 2007

A Museum for the Must See List 

Macclesfield Silk Museums certainly look to deserve a serious visit and are going on my must visit list. The website for the museum has some interesting pages on the history of silk production and weaving, a glimpse at their collections and an enticing description of their huge collection of pattern books.

One of the museums has a huge collection of Jacquard looms all in one spot. I've not seen this many looms together except during a visit to China. We were being herded towards a building and the air vibrated and the rhythmic click/clank/click/clank of the wooden loom cards came wafting through the door. A group of fellow tourists thought I was truly mad as I skipped and ran for the door shouting - they have Jacquard looms. And indeed they did over 50 of them in one work loft - all weaving brocades.

These mighty looms are like elephants - best seen and understood in herds, not as a single stingy example. And they need to be heard and the vibration of the floor felt to truly experience them.

Also in the shop, you can find modern reproductions of silk cigarette prints. What a find for crazy quilters!!!!.

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Saturday, February 17, 2007

Crafting for Challenged Artists 

A new design by Olive Hope where she adds the phrase "creation - bright and beautiful." in Braille using attached beads makes me wonder about innovative ways to make textile arts available to challenged artists. Are we doing enough? How can we make it possible for visually impaired, hearing impaired, orthopedically impaired, neurologically impaired, intellectually impaired artists to enjoy textile arts as appreciators as well as artisans?

I usually have something in my show and tell box when I speak so folks can fondle and feel textures and form and designs. Metal threads, silk threads, wool fibers and fabrics of different sorts are great for tactile exploration.

I try to identify those with hearing difficulties and color discrimination problems when I teach. Many hearing impaired recognize lower pitched speech better than the higher ranges and just shouting quite often does little good. An ASL interpreter can be found for students who depend on signing and one should remember not to turn one's back to students who lip read.

I use color coding in many of my stitching charts and went blissfully along not thinking of the problems that could cause someone who has trouble with color discrimination (color blindness) until I noticed a student sitting and not stitching in a class. She explained her inability to discriminate red/blue and said that her husband would rechart the design for her at home. I now make sure I take a chart with other colors, or carry the graphs on my laptop so I can use my charting program to make some quick color substitutions of colors that are appropriate and let the student use the laptop during class if I don't have a baby printer with me.

Although not an impairment in my book, I occasionally run across left handed students and have most of the basic stitches diagrammed for lefties and can knit left handed (albeit slowly).

Speaking of knitting, it is a wonderful craft for visually impaired or blind artists. All the stitches stay on the needles and can be felt and controlled. They just need some hands on beginning instruction and patterns in Braille or on tape.

I'm sure I'm missing many other opportunities to bring others into the world of creating and/or appreciating textile art but I'm going to try to make it a higher priority.


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Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Home Again, Home Again 

Back from the one annual tradeshow I attend. Conveniently for me in Nashville. Last year profits were down, this year even further down. The needlework industry is still struggling. To my disadvantage is the fact that I just am not talented in producing designs that sell to the mass market. No shop carries more than a few blackwork or classic embroidery books. I can't expect them to buy stuff they won't sell.

I did get to see several of my favorite shop owners though, and heaps of designer friends. What a lot of clever designs there are out there.

One of my difficulties at the tradeshow was that I didn't finish up on the two new books I hoped to introduce at the show. So it's back to work to get the last touches on them and put them on the website.


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Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Surfing For Embroidery - Eastern Europe 

An excerpt of the book The History of Serbian Culture gives a little look at traditional costume of the region. Of course, as always, I yearn for larger images, more detail, more more more.

The site of the Ethnographic Museum in Belgrade is available in English. They have textiles and costumes of several Eastern European cultures including Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia and Macedonia.

Danica Anderson's e-zine "Awakened Woman" offers an article on The Witches of Bosnia where she references the use of the symbolic spiral in Bosnian embroidery.

For an account of the development of a needlework cooperative during time of conflict read Deb Carpenter-Beck's "Building A New Life Stitch by Stitch"

The Eliznik site is dedicated to Romanian culture, politics and history. For the stitch collector there is a small but very handy table of stitch diagrams, English and Romanian stitch names and a description of each stitch and its customary usages.

As usual, I disclaim all responsibility for your loss of time when you click into these sites and become enchanted and click and click and click.

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Monday, February 05, 2007

A Dive Into The Past 

Murray McGillivray of the University of Calgary has an interactive site that lets you learn a bit of Old English.

Text is displayed on a split screen with the ability to bring up the glossary for any term by clicking. What a super way to get some help. Remember when you had to struggle with a language text under one elbow and a dictionary under the other. Well maybe everyone here is too young to remember those days.

Listen to the audio files for a feel of Old English in action. They are music to the ears.

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Friday, February 02, 2007

Doing It Right 

I seldom fall into the "right way" "wrong way" trap when it comes to embroidery. Your way may not be my way but that doesn't make it the "wrong way."

When it comes to putting designs into the marketplace, I probably did it the wrong way. I started in 1996 at an EGA Regional Seminar. I plunked down hard-earned money for a sales table and then needed something to sell. I looked at all my design research notebooks and found that I had a lot of designs suitable for blackwork. So I started out with 100 Blackwork Charts (which is still selling, thank you very much stitchers of the world). If anyone out there has a copy with a funky colored cover and photocopied pages, you have a very early incarnation of the book.

If I'd had a little more commonsense or a little more time, I might have developed a true design notebook by that time. Mine was just page after page of charts from textiles in museums. I'm doing a bit better at that job now thanks to the inspiration of Jane Lemon who brought a few of her notebooks along to a class and let us students leaf through them.

Nowadays designers are starting out "right" and building design journals/notebooks/scrapbooks very early in their careers. I have enjoyed Elizabeth Marshall 's posts about this process in her blog Quieter Moments

Notebooks full of ideas are your treasure so start saving those observations, graphics, colors, bits of fiber and other inspirations. You'll never lack for a design idea.


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