Wednesday, December 31, 2003

Running Fast but a long way to go

All the 12th Night prep is done. Husband is sewing his shirt - all by hand. The collar and cuffs look great if I do say so myself (yes I'll post pics - after 12th Night). I'm half way through the gold. Plan on sewing this afternoon and evening and all day tomorrow. We are going out this evening for an early dinner which will make a good break. We shall see how much gets done. I'm really pleased with how the gold is coming, even with a few mistakes. Fortunately at 40ct it is hard to see them.

Been sewing to Lord of the Rings extended edition of 2 Towers and now back to view Fellowship. Plan on seeing the Return of the King next week or so.

Happy New Year.

Monday, December 29, 2003

The Final Push

Whew!! The whirlwind of the Chanukah/Christmas holiday is past and I can go back to concentrating on the push for 12th Night. Managed to get some stitching in this past few days even with various visits.

Scraped the gold on gauze with silk and started again. Finally think I've managed to tame the piece. I still can't count, but it is going better. It takes forever!! 10" wide - on 40 count gauze. Some lines have around 300 stitches and some only 100. The final should be about 1.5" high and I'm about 1/4 done. Will it be done for 12th Night? At this point it is a big unqualified - maybe.

Linn ( finished the pattern for the 2nd half of the front piece of the German gown - a band of blackwork. I have a strip from the collar/cuffs still on the mini-frame which is long enough (10") and wide enough (3") to do the bit. I'll use it to rest between doing the bits of gold. Will it be done for 12th Night - maybe? Of course then I need to stitch the 2 pieces together, line and back them, add the 4"h x 10"w piece of tightly gathered muslin below and sew them together. Will it be done in time to wear? Maybe.

I hate being realistic, but something had to give and it was the Reticella piece. Don't think it will be done or that I'll even push to get it done (sigh). I'm teaching a class on it in April so will want it done before then.

The holidays were good to me and mine. Hope they were for you as well. Now back to stitching and prepping for 12th Night.

Wednesday, December 24, 2003

Side Tracked

The last cuff is finished and the husband can make his shirt. The holiday presents are wrapped and under the tree. The tree and holiday decorations are up and the boxes put away. The house is picked up and the holiday cooking begun.

Then I saw some fabric.... I had seen tablecloths out of this fabric and liked it. Almost bought them and then decided I had enough. Since we are just staying home and not entertaining this holiday, no need to indulge. Then things changed. Sent the wonderful, patient husband to the fabric store to pick up the fabric (after he went to the gourmet grocery store for more items since we now are 4 for x-mas dinner) . Made the table cloth and napkins (6) last night. Now to plan for the table settings. Need to have the yule log candle holder AND the menorah. Need to decide whether to get out the really good china and silverware or just due with the everyday china (which is Spode - what is the use of having the good stuff if you don't use it) and stainless flatware.

Dinner will be eggplant caviar on toasts for an appetizer, duck breasts in pomogranate and walnut sauce, blue lake green beans, baby yukon gold potatoes blanched and then sauted, dinner rolls (bought), and of course the requisite Plum Pudding with Hard Sauce (bought). We will serve a lovely dry full blush wine courtesy of the husband's mother's gentleman friend's vineyard.

Good friends, good food, nice atmosphere - it will be a nice holiday. Hope yours is as well.

Friday, December 19, 2003

Time is Running Fast

The last month of the year is really hard. Hard because all my deceased family members (includes whole immediate family) had birthdays or date of death from Nov 22nd to Dec 29th. Hard because, in the SCA, 12th Night is such a big event. Hard because, in addition, I'm running events at 12th Night and need to do all the prep. Hard because all the changes to the website need to be done for changing 2003 into 2004. Hard because everyone else has last minute things and you are expected to make way/make time for them and their business. Hard because I set goals I want to make and never leave enough time to met them.

Yesterday was a case in point. Car trouble (2003 - had trouble with 2 of our 3 cars). Took the car in for servicing. "We should get it all done today". So they gave me a loaner and I rescheduled all my errands for over the hill (it may only be less than 15 miles - but it is 30 minutes with no traffic and up to 1 hr. 15 with traffic). I checked back at 12 pm - no messages. Then again at 4 pm wondering whether to go home or pick up my car. Not ready - in the morning. Check back today - "sorry madam, we are just getting to it now". Then they implied that if they can't replicate the problem, and I will get the car back "unfixed". What they don't know is that I teach California Car Warrantly Program Arbitration Panelists. They have another thing coming if they think they can push me around :) I hate the time and energy sink.

Took a step away from stitching and webbed some of my medieval cooking recipes. They are now on bayrose website. Also uploaded the class handouts from several of my classes this year. More, including pics of my recent stitching, in January.

Have been working on my bits - the gold, the reticella and the last cuff. 2 steps forward and one back (rippppppp). Not my week. It is mystery night tonight on PBS - Miss Marple, Maigret and Rumpole. Good stitching time and forward progress I hope.

Happy Chanukah -- and may the joy and peace of the season visit us all.

Friday, December 12, 2003

Grrrrrrrr....I hate Frogggggggiiiiiiiiiinnnnnngggggggg

The husband's collar and cuffs are almost done. A couple more inches to go. He has promised to start the shirt as soon as finals are over (next week).

Started the lace part of the reticella. The set up took forever. Of course I'm using tatting thread so a yard at a time (I hate to stop and start) goes forever, but it also takes soooooooooooooo long to cover anything. It is beginning to look like lace (finally). The original pattern has lots of picots, but I decided that I don't like that many and will only do some where they will make a difference and not look fussy.

Started the gold with silk on silk gauze. Put the first line of gold in. Apparently about half way through I moved down a line. Since I've already ripped it out once - my count was off and in repeats.... So it will be ripppppppppppp again. I know once I have the first line in the rest will move faster, but until then..... yes I know patience is a virtue.

I'll post pics on my website and do the tech changes to this one after 12th Night. Until then stitch, stitch, stitch, do the html for the A&S website and support pages and then cook for 12th Night. It is a very big event here in the Kingdom of the West and with an estimated 1200 people. I am the Kingdom Minister of Arts so I run lots of things to support and promote the Arts. I'll be running all day - 2 displays, 2 contests, court presentations, needlework guild information table and display, and then the big display event where people view your work - ask questions - leave comments - and perhaps tokens of appreciation. Of course I'm running it as well as putting stuff out for presentation.

At least the 12th Night "gifts" are done - 20 Lavendar Bath Salts, 20 Fighter Soak (eucalyptus bath salts), 12 votives candles and 28 pairs of candles decorated with dried flowers. Did those earlier this week with a friend. It helps to have friends to like to do creative stuff (grin).

Don't know if I want them to create a transporter first or perfect cloning.

Okay, the bitching is out of my system - back to the A&S webpages and stitching to the 2 episodes of Miss Marple and then Rumpole tonight.

Sunday, November 30, 2003

Now for Something New...

Well, got tired of doing the blackwork bands and since the husband won't start on his shirt for a couple weeks, I have a bit of time ((not)). The sweet man went to Aaron's to get me a matte board for my next project - goldwork on silk gauze. They don't carry a variety anymore and don't do framing in shop. You place your order and wait a week ((sigh)). Don't think I like the idea of not being able to talk to the framer myself. Too many intermediaries and it won't be done right and then... So I'm waiting on my matte board - which will be cut to order.

Decided to try something I've been itching to start, but been a bit afraid to - a real Reticella piece. I've done the linen 32 count square bit, but not a real piece of linen from scratch. I have a lovely piece of 22" by 2 yards that I got in a remnant bin for $1 as it had a stain. A little Zout and stain gone after washing. So took it down from the stash and went in 3" from one corner. Marked with a purple erase marker (couldn't find the blue ones - the "borrowers" must have them) a 2"x2" square. Then back stitched all around - doing 2 threads per stitch. Well, at a guess the linen is around 50 ct and not even, but it won't matter once the square is secure. I am using 80 DMC which is also sold as tatting thread -- strong, fine, and twisted tight. Today is satin stitch the border over the back stitch. Then we cut out the center linen. Finally broke out the Dazor - I really need it for this part. If all goes well, tomorrow is doing the pattern of 4 squares to make a "flower" within the space. Then I need to decide whether to hemstitch, fray, or just roll the hem on my new napkin :). Of course, I may get crazy and do one or 2 additional squares to make it a set flowers in the corner or do a "finished edge" reticella design on one corner.

Good day to stay inside and stitch. It is gray and raining outside and there is ice skating on the TV.

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

Lucet -- Done

Taught 2 classes - 4 1/2 hours on Sunday on the Lucet. The basic class had 4 students and the intermediate had 3 -- 5 students total for the day. Lots to do and say. With the lucet, a tool for making cording or trim braid, the mechanics are the key. Good mechanics make for good cord.

I surprised myself and got the handouts done a couple days in advance. Actually had time to think about the how of teaching for a couple days :) The husband made me lucets to teach with which made the classes work well.

Spent most of yesterday and part of today working on an article on my historic smocking findings. Will post it all on the web eventually. Of course, I disagree with many people and don't find smocking in the places they do. It will make for lively debate and we will agree to disagree I hope. I truly believe that educated minds can differ which is a novel thought for some people.

Now back to the blackwork. Almost halfway through the first cuff. Preparing a new thread for stitching just before I put the work down, really helps me pick it up again the next time, I am finding. Focus Focus Focus....

Sunday, November 16, 2003

So Many Ideas, So Little Time

Sometimes it is really hard to focus on the projects at hand. I want to try it all. Yes, like most people I have a lot of UFO's (for the non-embroidery people - Unfinished Objects/projects). Some I may eventually finish, others were just a "let's try this". There is so much out there to learn about and try.

Am almost done with the husband's collar. He has promised that as soon as I finish the collar he will begin making the shirt. Yes he makes his own shirts and most of it is done by hand. His handwork is better than mine for regular sewing. Guess I'll have to finish the cuffs then or else he won't finish the shirt for 12th Night.

I'm looking forward to 12th Night. Lots of happenings and some of which I am running. I have tons of gifts to make since a lot of people have helped in lots of small ways this past year. I'm getting creative though and will make batches of stuff: bath salts - 2 types - lavendar and fighter soak. And then some decorated candles. I've been pressing and drying pansies from the yard. I may make up a quick batch of beeswax cakes in the form of rose buds, just in case I need more gift things. Lots to do.

Then there is a large display and I want to "show" some of my work. Guess I'd better get some projects finished to show a "body" of work. Yes I'll post pics - but probably to my website (see links) since I can't post here.

Time to focus again. But after I do the handout for my 2 lucet classes next weekend. That will make 9 SCA teaching engagements this year and 4 EGA -- with half of the classes being new. Surprised me when I did the math.

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

A Good Mentor is Worth a Million

What a weekend!! I had the pleasure of having Linn Skinner at my house for the weekend. I learn so much from just talking with her, not to mention having her give me hints on my stitching. She has the magic touch as an embroiderer - taking the mundane into the realm of artistry. She has the magic touch as a mentor - giving support and ideas that help me grow. She has the magic touch as a person - I am a better person for knowing her.

Now I'll rework the Elizabethan design cover, get started on embroidering the German Renaissance dress front piece, and work up my notes from the Smocking class into an article. Not to mention finishing the husband's blackwork collar.

The class went REALLY well. I accomplished what I set out to do -- make people think about what they are seeing in portraits and woodcuts. Does smocking exist pre-1600? Maybe depending on your definition of smocking. The technique part of the class went okay too - but then I had a wonderful class assistant .

Monday, November 03, 2003


Husband did it!!!! Now I can add links not just refer to them in the text. Pics will have to wait for a bit.

Have been prepping to teach a class on Historic Smocking this weekend. We will look at all the pictures, paintings, etchings.... I can find dating before 1600 and determine if there is really smocking. My feeling at this point is that there is embroidery on top of gathers, some back smocking - more by accident than design, and the beginnings of Italian Shirring. The handout is over 100 pages - whew!! Then the class will learn some basic smocking stitches. Looks to be fun, but full 6 hours, and I have 20 registered for the class. If I have any energy left I will probably do a version for my website eventually.

Now to relax with more on the husband's blackwork collar.


I'm a non- tech person trying to do a techie job. Grumble - I want to do things with this site, but...........grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr. Guess I'll have to ask the husband. He can spin the code, so check back for more neat stuff when I can get him to tackle the dirty job.

Now back to stitching -- a much more calming activity

Saturday, November 01, 2003

Blackwork Again

I've torn myself away from the beading - which is VERY addictive. For several years I've promised my husband blackwork collar and cuffs and now I've finally gotten a real start. I'm doing a german pattern and my husband will, hopefully, make the shirt up for 12th Night to go with his waffenrock. It is an easy pattern, but takes several passes as it is made up of 3 lines of stitching. Fortunately it is geometric and so I can look at what I previously stitched and don't have to keep looking back at the diagram. Also, it is a true reversible design, which many are not. Although the back won't show it is nice to know it could.

The pattern is from Bronwen's Blackword Library which is a wonderful resource. Boy, do I hate charting stuff from old pattern books.

It feels good to finally be doing this project as it is truly a labor of love for a wonderful man who will appreciate it. I told him it wouldn't be perfect, but it would get done. His response was "I'll wear it out with pleasure anyway".

Have included the URL for my needlework site if anyone is interested. Like all sites it is a work in progress.

Thursday, October 30, 2003

Today I begin this new adventure called blogging. I was enticed by several other bloggers who found it a useful way to corral stray thoughts and promote creativity.

This last week I went off my diet of historical embroidery into the world of beading. Peyote stitch to be exact. I took 2 wonderful classes from Joyce Lukomski - a beaded bead and a beaded amulet bag. It was wonderful brain candy.

While neither project is finished, I started on beading a wooden needlecase which I've been iching to do for a couple years. I finally gave myself permission to do it. It was frustrating at first as the flat bottom didn't work as the pattern showed and the pattern doesn't work left to right only right to left . So I set aside the instructions and did it the way my brain said it should work -- it works!!!!!!! I post pics soon.