Sunday, June 24, 2007

Best Intentions 

Well, I'm pretty well packed and ready to leave town tomorrow. I'll probably not be blogging for a week, so I'll be back online around the 4th.

I didn't however finish up the little gift I'm working on. It's coming along well and looks like I had hoped but rather than finish it hastily and do a bad job, Catherine will get it delivered by the postal person in the future, not me.


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Friday, June 22, 2007

Seriously Outdated 

I know I don't keep up with all the latest fiber news, but I did think I had a firm handle on what linen is. Plant growing with nice long stalks, fibers released by soaking in water and beating forcefully, spinning, weaving (maybe dyeing). Nope folks, I learned today that linen is 65% polyester and 35%cotton. I walked into Hancock Fabrics and asked for dress weight linen. I was sent to several bolts labeled "Linen" and under truth in something or other rules, sub-labeled with the cotton and polyester information.

Excuse me, I don't think so. I feel a hissie fit coming on. One of the few things I miss in TN is the LA Garment District. Oh Levine's or F&S, couldn't you please open a TN branch?


At least they didn't show you to the 100% polyester linen.


And if you complain, they'll smile nicely and explain to you that linen is a WEAVE


Well, google's gotten messed up. *sigh*

It's me, Susan.
Wow, the mind reels. I never imagined linen with no linen content at all.
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Thursday, June 21, 2007

Little Things 

There are always little last minute things to do before leaving town. I'm off to Murphreesboro tomorrow to hunt fabric for a garment my friend Catherine K. is going to help with in KC. And I need a can of black spraypaint - well maybe gold.

No, I'm not taking up Grafitti. Got an idea for a little pressie to make for my friend Catherine before I leave. Can't share details just now, but if it is successful, I'll let you in on it when I return. She is always making things for me and I'd like to return the favor.

I'm always humbled when someone gives me a gift of the work of their hands and heart. Anyone can buy something off the shelf. I've received some very thoughtful gifts that were purchased through the years, but a hand crafted gift is special. It involves spending time and time is one of the most precious gifts we can offer anyone. Also, many people have found that whilst crafting a gift for a friend you seem to think of them during the process and weave that friendship magic into your art. I treasure gifts made for me. They stay about me and I see them every day and think of the special people who made them.

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Summer Madness 

On the first days of summer(or the eve thereof) a few mad, mad events take place in England. Rituals include such famous sites as Stonehenge and Ascot Racecourse.

Now you can vote on some of the hats ritually worn at the Ascot meet. Warning, you may have to click through to the slideshow if you have popups blocked. Personally, my fave is the butterflies, but you may go for the horses. Ivana Trump's choice looks like a pig's breakfast to me.

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Monday, June 18, 2007

In My Dreams 

I WANT one of these pavillions. I want to sit in it on a silken cushion stitching and eating sherbet.

Hey, fantasy is good for everyone.


I soooo want the blue Ottman with interior lighting and bug screens. Don't forget the necessary wait crew that will bring you any little thing your heart desires
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Tapestry Travels Home 

Or, never trust an expert. A tapestry mis-identified in the early 1900's and purchased by the Crocker family has returned for sale in England having been identified as produced by the Sheldon workshop.

You never know when a Tudor masterpiece may turn up.

Thanks to SCAtoday.net for the link

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Getting Ready 

In a week I'm off to Chicago to meet up with friends and have a museum day and some plain old sightseeing. I've been through and around Chicago many times, but never settled down and had a few days to experience the city. I'm sure I'll have adventures to relate.

Then it's on to Kansas City to meet with a group of stitchers who have kindly booked me as a tutor for the last few years. This year we are working with silk shading. Using soft, lustrous silks like a painter is an experience to tempt the senses. The silks arrived from the distributor today and I sat about this evening getting them all sorted and into kits. Silk ground fabric is ready to cut as well as muslin backing, needles here ready to get into kits, artists' transfer paper arrived.

All ready to finish kitting up and sending off to Catherine K. who is organizing the event.


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Saturday, June 16, 2007

A Rich Depository 

AHDS Visual Arts site gathers and hosts a wide range of digital resources. You can explore and build your own personal lightbox of images.

One of my favorites remains the Women's Library collection of images of and concerning suffrage marching banners.

Waiver of responsibility - you may get lost poking about here and I won't be responsible!

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Friday, June 15, 2007

I Wish I'd Said That 

"...the hand connects design to the making process. Making becomes the extension of design and forms the essence of craft." G. Riedelbauch

Virtual Territory

Thanks to Sharon B. for pointing out this new blog.


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Tuesday, June 12, 2007

And We All Came 

We all came to America. Some came earlier some more recently. Along with us we brought cultural baggage including foods, crafts, dress, language, superstitions and all sorts of other bits and pieces.

Many groups have, over the years, founded cultural museums, libraries, fraternal groups, etc. And now, increasingly, these groups are establishing an online presence. sometimes very sophisticated, sometimes more humble, but almost always interesting.

For a look at Croatian heritage visit the Croatian Heritage Museum and Library pages. The museum located in Eastlake, Ohio mounts exhibits from time to time. One of their past exhibits was textile themed. It centered around the linens a bride might take as a dowry to a new home. A Dowry of Linens and Lace gives us a glimpse of what a traditional bride might have in her wedding chest.

The site has an extensive links page. If you are researching your Croatian heritage there are links to every sort of resource. Also there is a link to regional Croatian costume.

The entry page to the costume links (just click on any region for a look) has a band of folk embroidery that might have come directly from early modelbuchen.

The Bizovac region photograph boasts beautiful black on white embroidery and the headresses of Pag are reminiscent of mediaval headwear.

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Sunday, June 10, 2007

Wild and Wonderful 

I manage once in awhile to convince a group of folks to gather together and play with paper and fibers and colors and all sorts of bits and bobs. We call it a Wild and Wonderful workshop.

This year my friend Robin Berry is suffering my presence over Thanksgiving and is gathering a group to be Wild and Wonderful during my visit. I'll also be lecturing at a Robin's local EGA group while on the West Coast. I'll be glad to put anyone interested in touch with Robin.

This year the Wild and Wonderful experience will focus on creating Artist's Trading Cards for exchanging with the group attending or other fiber friends.

For a look at ATCs check out Art In Your Pocket

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Bayeux Revisited 

Every once in a while someone comes out with a book about that monumental embroidery, the Bayeux Tapestry.

The battles go on concerning who stitched it, who commissioned it, how it ended, and all the other questions that plague us when we simply have no good answers about the history of a textile.

R. Howard Bloch has written a general overview of the history of the embroidery, the technique of the embroidery, the social and military history of the events depicted and adds a sprinkling of trivia. A Needle In The Right Hand of God (ISBN 1-4000-6549-6) Check around, there are discounted copies available.

For instance, do you know why the official keepers of the embroidery insist on continuing to use the term tapestry when we all know it is a work of embroidery?

Read the book and find out, but I do suggest you have at your elbow one of the other publications about the embroidery which has larger illustrations.

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Done, Finished 

It's been four years since I've published a new book/booklet. Nothing since the Knotwork Alphabet. It seems as if I had a great many starts that had approached finish when I hit the disabled list over two years ago. Then the world seemed to stop.

I've had in mind for some years a series of books dedicated to the various early printers of modelbuchen. A look at the patterns in their books that are readily stitched as counted thread designs.

The first one is finished. Twenty-one bands from Hans Hofer of Augsberg's New Formbuch’len of 1545. I've used software not previously available to me when preparing diagrams of double-running stitches. It is cumbersome but does the job. So each band has a black and white chart, a color coded chart, black and white stitch diagrams and colored stitch diagrams for any side journeys a few tips and tricks and a bit of text around the edges. 30+ pages of hard work my friends.

I sent the first 6 beta copies off to Catherine Kinsey for sale in her merchant stall at Lilies. Anyone who gets them will have unique copies because I've found a few page numbering wonkynesses which have not been corrected. Anyone owning one of those six copies who wants to trade it in for a tweaked copy in the future is welcome to do so. Linn's rule - you always find the little mistakes after the first batch has been printed and after you've proofed the master at least a dozen times. At least as a self-publisher, I can sit right down and fix them myself.

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Hurrah!!! thank-you!!!!
Ohh I knew the one I got at Lilies was a new book, but I didn't realize it was that new.

I've not noticed the wonkyness yet. But if it is just page numbering I think I can deal with it.

I've only paged through it quickly once so far, but it looks to be a lovely book and I am very excited to try the patterns out.
The charts are all okay. Just a case of repaginating a few pages and moving things a bit right or left here and there.

Let me know if you want to swap out that early copy - postage paid by me.
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Friday, June 08, 2007

Shopping Opportunity 

US distributors seldom carry a wide range of special purpose needles. When teaching silk shading or goldwork I often have turned to Colonial Needle for entire packets of #10 crewels or #12 sharps, or upholstry needles for framing up embroidery.

Colonial Needle imports a wide range of needles and craft tools from English manufacturers including John James, etc. Believe me if it has a point on it, they carry it. From the smallest in betweens to marlin spikes and sailmakers needles.

They've now gone retail online and you can find all these specialty needles on their site.

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Thursday, June 07, 2007

Visit Often 

Museum sites with extensive textile collections merit return visits from time to time. Many of them are working very hard to offer information and images for the online visitor.

The Cleveland Museum of Art is a great example. They have expanded their online offerings greatly since my last visit. Their Textile Department offers 4385 works for your delight. Be sure to click on the More Information tab for full curatorial notes. Some objects have reverse images available and detail photographs. You can Zoomify some textiles and except for one exception I found the zoomed details extremely clear and sharp. Another interesting feature offers you the ability to interact with the department by suggesting labels/tags to help others find items more easily.

I managed to skim the thumbnails and listings for 500 items and to delve into far more than I should have - given my current time constraints. Some of my picks so far:

Embroidery from an altar frontal: Coronation of the Virgin. Exquisite Or Nue Italian, 15th Century. Zoomify and detail views available.

Altar Frontal: Scenes from the Childhood of Christ. Zoomify and detail views of front and reverse available. 16th century c.1500. France/South Netherlands - woven tapestry

Embroidered Panel, Italy, 16th 17th century

As usual, I waive all responsibility for your getting lost at this site.

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Wednesday, June 06, 2007

In the Spirit of the Past 

As Americans, a country of immigrants (if recent research is correct even our "native" Americans are immigrants), we often yearn for connection with our mother country or mother culture.

I've long been interested in seeing how embroidery styles, techniques and aesthetics adapt to a colonial life. America, India, various Central and South American countries, South Africa and other African continent countries, Australia, New Zealand and many other countries have been swept up in expansionist periods of world history. Religion, mercantile ambition and political agenda have often played a role in colonization.

At this time a project is being pursued at the Plimoth Colony site in America. Embroiderers are gathering in workshop setting to stitch a ladies jacket very reminiscent of English costume examples still available for examination.

The site, The Embroiderers' Story is worth a visit. If nothing else take a look at the excellent articles and stitch diagrams by Tricia Wilson Nguyen.

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Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Medieval Glory 

For some absolutely stunning 360 views of Danish Medieval church frescos, visit Hans Nyberg's site.

While you are there click back to the Virtual Panoramas site for all sort of 360 degree photography. Everything from classic architecture, historic sites and Carnival in Rio to Christmas in Prague and G8 demonstrations at Rostock.

Thanks to SCAtoday.net


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Sunday, June 03, 2007

The Needlework Teacher's World 

Enthusiastic needleworkers, many of whom have taught at informal groups or at SCA or guild events without compensation, often ask about the "real world" of teaching needlework and being paid for your services.

It's a tough world out there cookie! Here's a breakdown of what happens.

Consumer Shows
Teachers submit proposals to teach and a cost per student to the event organizer. This cost per student includes kit cost and teaching fees. If accepted, the teacher is paid after the event and must bear the costs of kitting and shipping any kits up front.

The teacher is responsible for his/her transportation to the event and all costs of lodging and meals as well as kit costs and any shipping involved.

The proposals need not usually be exclusive to the event although some organizers specify exclusivity. The rights to the design remain the teacher's.

Trade Shows
Teachers submit proposals to teach and if the project is accepted receive a small fee per registered student. $5-15 no matter the cost of the kit or the teaching time involved.

The project need not be exclusive but normally organizers require the teacher to grant permission for the attendees to freely copy class materials/designs and distribute them without compensating the teacher.

The theory is that teaching at trade shows is a marketing tool in which you invest money. Its purpose is not to make a profit.

Teachers must bear the cost of travel, lodging and meals.

Guild Teaching (ANG/EGA)
National guild organizations provide standard contracts for local branches to use. Teacher's compensation is limited to certain dollar amounts per program or workshop day or half-day. ANG/EGA chapters, regions and national organization normally pay the teacher's travel, lodging and meal expenses.

Chapters are not usually concerned with exclusivity of designs but for Regional and National events, designs must be proposed early on (usually 2 years in advance of the event) and must remain off the market (for either teaching or commercial sale) for a stated time after the event. This means a designs is for all practical purposes removed from the commercial market for three years.

Compensation includes kit costs (and guilds are often required to demand that each item in a kit be costed out and that the instructor meet the guild's understanding of the wholesale price for each needle, inch of linen or skein of thread).

Sampler Guilds
Are independent groups of like-minded stitchers. They contract with individual teachers for teaching fees and kit costs and seldom require exclusivity of design. They typically pay travel, lodging and meal expenses.

Private Tutoring
I teach groups and make individual arrangements with the organizer of such a group. We agree on the minimum number of paid participants, the cost of kit and fees per participant and the exclusivity of any design.

I normally pay my own travel expenses to the host city and am offered lodging and meals by group members in a home.

The group organizer arranges the teaching space (at no cost to me), solicits participants and collects kit costs and fees. For this service, I offer the organizer a space in the class at no cost to them.


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Don't You Hate It? 

Don't you hate it when you are at or near the end of a big project and it all goes wrong? Or nearly all.

Working like mad on the new book and using new graphics. I thought I had them nailed, but they look like rubbish when printed in their final size. Gosh the screen lies to you. Okay, sorting them out slowly and re-coloring all of them.

Then I found that I missed even creating a couple of detail charts....BIG OOPS.

Off to bed. Back to work in the morning.

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Yesterday was bad printer day. Not only did mine look like garbage dumb printer ran out of ink just as finished. Printer trojans were at work around country.
Sorry for you cause I know yours was important.
OUCH!! OUCH!! OUCH!! Hope it is merely a colour profile problem and not that the photgraphs have to be taken again
Worse than photos. StitchWiz diagrams which had to have new custom colors developed in Paint and then had to be recolored. And one was wonky and one was entirely missing. That's why I always recommend walking away from any project and coming back for a final look weeks later. Your mind has been cleansed and you don't glide over mistakes as easily.
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Friday, June 01, 2007

Lost in PreHistory 

You might ask, dear readers -- what has this woman been doing instead of blogging?

Hmmm. I've been lost in a book Women's Work, The First 20,000 Years -- Women, Cloth, and Society in Early Times by Elizabeth Wayland Barber. ISBN0 393 31348 4

A fascinating look at Neolithic, Palaeolithic, etc. textile history. Makes the archaelogical finds come to life. No, not some fictionalized fantasyland, but pretty solid gathering of available sources and making them available for understanding by the average reader.

I had bits of this history under my belt from other sources, but this is a great overview. Highly recommended.


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