Thursday, December 28, 2006

My Eyes are Crossing

Aside from the holidays and party preparation, I've been spending lots of time with needle in hand. First up was the plackett for the bodice front on my new German. Lots of pearls and coral on gold silk. I opted for slightly larger pearls and coral as the tiny seed size looked too small even at the 3' range. The large gives a better eye catch whether across the room or up close. The downside is the lack of detail, but... Yes I'll post pics, but right now the piece is at the dressmakers.

Next up was the surprise for my friend who is being laureled at 12th Night. Since she reads this blog, I'll talk more about it after 12th Night. Hope she likes it. It sure has bling!

Meanwhile car rides were dedicated to doing some filet lace. I have hemstitched the handkerchief. The lace is on 9 count net with #12 pearl cotton. I'm doing a pattern from the Vinciolo modelbuchen. At this point don't know how many pieces I'll get done before 12th Night. I do want to have at least 1 pattern done and inset to display. I'd really like to do it finer, but I can not find finer netting commercially. Did some looking at some period pieces. The number of thread passes is similar even if the count is larger (sigh).

Now I'm doing the blackwork band for my older german front piece. I also need to finish the goldwork band that goes above the blackwork band. The goldwork is on 40 count gauze and some rows are 300 stitches - a pattern from Quentel's modelbuchen. The blackwork band is on 36 count linen over 1. The blackwork pattern was adapted for me by Linn Skinner from another modelbuchen pattern.
I hope to finish them this weekend.

THEN I need to stitch the pincushion for my column - tent stitch in silk, 36 count, and silver metal thread gobelin for the background. I also want to do period style tassels with wooden cores and a fingerloop braided cord.

That said - back to stitching. Hope 2007 is a wonderful year for all of you and a peaceful one for the world.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Catching Up

I know that I've been bad and not blogging a lot lately. Most of my time has been spent juggling clearing out more the of the estate stuff on ebay, craigs list, etc, hearing a few cases, doing the EGA thing at the local and region level, and working on my column. As promised here is the goldwork piece which as been the focus of the last few columns.

The outline is jap which is brick stitched with an added couple lines of twist. The silver circle is jap - brick circular couched - outside to inside. The copper was supposed to have been undersided, but since I backed the 28ct linen... Upper left panel is the OrNue piece - Needlepoint Inc silks over gold passing. Upper right panel is also gold passing with au ver a soie 100/3 silk in a very renaissance pattern. Lower left is the same with a different pattern. Lower right is jap from a different manufacturer with gold 100/3 for the sides and purple regular au ver a soie for the pattern which is also renaissance in origin.

I learned a lot doing each of the areas. 2 major problems occurred. The first is turning 2 threads - with the 28 ct, even backed, doing the plunge the outside thread DID NOT work cleanly. The second problem is the packing of the threads, especially in the Or Nue section, but you can see my prior post on that issue. One unanticipated problem was that the silver section is too big to my eye now that it is in the box top. It looked fine when the piece was surrounded by white linen.

I am currently working on:
beading the front placket on my 12th Night dress
finishing the project for my next column on gobelin (16th C pincushion)
finishing the german brick stitch piece into a pouch (versus the needlecase in the column)
finishing the pattern darning piece into a box top
finishing a handkerchief with lace inserts - the hem stitching is done (handkerchief linen - about 50 count)
finishing a secret project for a friend
putting together a display on period lace for 12th Night

Plus working on arrangements to bring Jane Nicholas (Stumpwork) to the states in 2007 and Sharon Boggins (Encrusted Crazy Quilting) in 2008. Plus designing a needlework piece to be made into kits for people waiting in hospitals for our wounded servicemen. Plus designing a 1 day workshop or freebie for the 2008 Regional.

Off now to finish planning our holiday party, visit to the relatives, and getting ready for tomorrows SCA event.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Awesome textile vacation

Back from a wonderful vacation. It was good to get away and it really felt like I was away - far away. The cruise portion was quite standard. If you want more about the ports, etc. check out the personal portion of our webpage - Panama Canal. I had lots of fun seeing the different arts and crafts where ever we went.

Mexico - Cabo (plateware, silver), Alcapulco (a wasteland), Huatalco (embroidery, silver, clothing, wood carving)
Guatemala - the most incredible weaving and embroidery - ladies working on backstrap looms and doing the most incredible work - mostly brocaded weaving, but I did buy a pattern darned blouse. Cotton primarily with some silk. A little wool from the higher reaches.
Costa Rica - more leather and wood craft than textile
Panama - the molas are incredible - quilting and embroidery art
Aruba - (no crafts)
St. Kitts - batik
San Juan - a little bit of everything

Good food in the ports. Barely tolerable food on the cruise ship. Have decided I don't function without decent coffee - fortunately there was some great coffee in Guatemala and Costa Rica and San Juan had a Starbucks.

Off to go through the 2 buckets of mail from the post office....

Monday, October 09, 2006


You scored as The Vine. In Celtic astrology, you're a Vine (not everything on the zodiac is a tree). The animal symbol that accompanies this plant is the swan. The ancient Druids say Vine people are graceful, discriminating, perceptive, romantic and have good aesthetics. However, Vines may be prone to procrastination and anxiety. They may also appear emotionally detached or even stuck-up.

The Vine


The Holly


The Birch


The Willow


The Rowan


The Hawthorn


The Oak


The Alder


The Ash


The Reed


The Ivy


The Hazel


The Elder


What Tree Are You? (Celtic astrology)
created with

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Another New Hobby

I am bad...I am so bad. I really should have been concentrating on the sewing I need to do for my column, 12th Night, and promised projects, but I could not resist.

Awhile ago I had seen "silk paper" and thought it was way cool. Then recently I was browsing the Joggles newsletter which finds its way into my inbox on Sundays. They mentioned soy silk fusion materials and a tutorial on how to make soy silk paper. Bought the stuff - soy silk which is made from the fibers of processed soy products into a "roving". It is then dyed. Then you buy a fixative. You spread the roving horizonatally and vertically between netting. Wet the product with a detergent and water and then apply the fixative. The color runs but doesn't seem to affect the piece. You dry the netted piece. Remove the net and heat set the "paper". It was fun!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Better than finger paints because you can make stuff with the silk paper or even embroider on it. So here is my first attempt.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Things Learned in Stitching Or Nue

In looking at Sharon Boggins blog - In a Minute Ago, she talks about what the "stitching audience" is looking for when blog about our projects. In particular, the focus on the How or Steps in the process of creating the finished product is of interest. So taking that tack here are some of my thoughts on and things that I learned when stitching the Or Nue section of the piece for my column.

I developed a 3 leaf pattern to fill the 1.5" by 2" section of the project. Since my skills in developing such a piece are not advanced, I opted to do the piece as single line couching (versus double). Thus, each color square would be one stitch and only over one line of gold. Drafted a charted pattern using the historic concept of using a dark, medium, and light green and including a small section of uncovered. So far so good. Then came the stitching.

I used gold passing, as it is finer and will pass through the fabric easier. It doesn't have the same glow as jap, but it still presents a nice gold gleam. I plunged each end of the line as I came to them - continuing with one piece of the passing until I came to the end of it; and then starting another.

Each line of the pattern should be stitched as you come to it. This necessitates having 5 needles working at the same time for threads - 2 gold (one at each side to tack the gold in place and to couch down long floats), and then one for each color green. Yes it is a pain as they like to knot into one another (sigh).

The diameter of the silk being used will define the spacing between the lines of gold. As a result looking at the piece close up, I see way to much of the linen behind. Fortunately, if I look at the piece 3' away - the gold and the silk take over and you don't really see the linen behind.

The next "aha" was that since I have trouble following a chart (any chart), it was much easier to work a few lines with only the dark green and then go back and fill in with the other greens. Since there was space between the lines of gold, this was no problem. If I used a finer silk it might have been an issue.

The spacing of the gold also made making the turns tightly a non-issue. With plunging, I can make the turns in less than one thread of the 28 count linen. It was interesting to note that the placement of the gold was different than the placement of the silk - it was a hair higher. This was another "aha" and quite logical when you think that you need to provide a space for the silk. So with #6 gold passing and 1 thread of Needlepoint Inc thread on 28 count linen - it was 1 line of gold with pattern per thread.

As I look at the "finished" section of Or Nue, the neatness bug has me itching. The sides bother me. Even with the linen being lined with a tight muslin and sewing through both, some of the lines on the side pull in a bit. Also, in order to control straightness of the lines, there are stitches on the sides. Although the stitches are in gold silk, I still see them. Historically, the next section just abutted the area and you may see the turns. On some pieces the next section was appliqued on, and the slight overlap would cover the problem. On still some others, a line of gold would cover up the area - this is what I'll do.

Or Nue is lovely to look at (from a few feet away :), challenging to do, and something I will tackle again. Hope you enjoy the final piece which will be in the November/December issue of Needlepoint Now.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Deadlines and Last Minutes

My column deadline approaches -- not on little cats feet like the fog, but with steady tread. I've been steadily stitching on the goldwork piece. The Or Nue section looks pretty good. It was interesting discovering the need to really accomodate the thickness of the couching thread. It isn't so obvious when you do regular or pattern couching as you can do some compensation. With the Or Nue you have so many stitches in a line that you need to leave space. Of course it looks like a lot of space when you are doing the stitching -- all up close and personal like, but it fades to very little when you look at the piece overall at 2 or even 3 feet. It doesn't have the same density as the regular or pattern couching, but it is only noticeable if you know what you are looking for when you view the piece.

The 2 remaining areas will be a diaper pattern that reminds me of leopard spots and diamonds. It won't be done on time, but will be done within the next week or so.

I really dislike stitching to a deadline especially when something else comes along. The EGA meeting program was on things for Halloween. We did spiders, bats, brooms, witches hair, and talked about all the variety of thread that can be used in odd ways for various effects. FUN!!!! The teacher gave us a smattering of threads for pumpkin colors. Think I'll do a bargello pumpkin to try out the different bits.

Also wrote the article for the upcoming newsletter for the West Kingdom Needleworkers Guild. The column is on Pattern Darning. Took a different approach than the Needlepoint Now column so they are completely different pieces. Also charted another pattern from Ellis for the project. It is a neat band of "S" and "Z". When I redo my website I'll add the webbed version of the article.

Between running fast (or at least typing fast), we have had some wonderful weather here. It finally cooled back down. The high has been in the 60/70's and low in the 50's. We have had fog, but also some beautiful days. We have one major anomally in our garden. There is this one orchid that is definately blooming out of season. Normally we get orchids November to March (this year was May). We saw it coming, ever so slowly at the end of the regular season and then it kept on growing slowly. It really is a beautiful spray of 12 orchids. I'll leave you with this different type of eye candy for now. We are off this weekend to an invitational tournament in the Sierra Foothills. The people are interesting and it promises to have some very good medieval feasts for the dinners.

Monday, August 21, 2006

A Bit of This and a Byte of That

Goldwork - have finally dipped my needle into doing Or Nue. I designed a section of my column piece in Or Nue and now I'm stitching it. So much to learn about thread control. It makes a VERY big difference if you keep the lines of stitching straight. Stitching is very slow going and because of the scale (28 count - 1 row per thread with 1 stitch per thread). Of course doing anything from a chart/counted is hard for me. On the other hand it looks GREAT!!!! I am so pleased. Yes I will post pictures, but since this is for the column it will have to wait until the magazine comes out in November.

Sharon Boggins has been doing a 100 stitches for 100 days on her blog In a Minute Ago . It is amazing to see the level of detail that you can get with simple stitches. Change the thread, the length of stitch, vary the spacing -- so many variables. She is going to give a class online at if anyone is interested. I don't have the time to stitch along, but I love seeing the variations. Maybe next year I'll do a series on various threads. Apart from the time and discipline, I think I could easily do 100 threads for 100 days. Maybe it is just the teaching bug in me that wants out or maybe it is just the idea of playing with threads.

Getting frustrated with a lot of the drivel and misinformation that is on the web and on various lists. Part of me wants to step up and put up a website with better information. In time I might, but need to concentrate on my current projects and then finish reworking what I do have up on my website. I've been itching to put up the historic smocking and pleating information that I gathered a couple years ago. Several others have put up some information and their projects, but it really is the tip of the iceberg.

Been doing some fun stuff -- like I used to do before I was so immersed in the SCA offices. (tongue firmly planted in cheek)

Last weekend we went to the Napa Valley Wine Library Tasting. The event is held at the Silverado Country Club on one of the "green" areas. 30-50 wineries pour tastes of their current releases - this year was red varietals with no cabernet or cab blends. They also have wonderful cheese (hurrah they had 2 goat cheeses), breads, and water(s). Think Rubicon Estate's Edizione Pennino Zinfandel was the best overall with the Freemark Abbey 2002 Syrah a very close second.

This weekend - Saturday was varied. Started with the farmers market - need those fresh fruits and veggies. Then over the hill to "man" the booth for EGA at the County Fair. It was lots of fun. Haven't been in many years, but the smell hasn't changed. The husband came along to relieve me at the booth. Did a bit of shopping and visited the bunny rabbits on the way out. I love looking at them, but don't think I want one.

Then over to Berkeley to met up with friends for dinner and music. The friends were stuck in traffic so it was just the husband and I for dinner. It was a new place, but sister to one I've known for years. Sea Salt - focuses on sustainable seafood. The dishes were very good - not great, but I'd eat there again. Then off to the Freight and Salvage for an evening with Oak, Ash and Thorn . They are a capella music trio that sings traditional folks songs from any different venues - medieval, riverboat, modern, etc. so long as they are about drinking. I knew one of the current members and the other 2 original members before they became a group. An evening with them is always poinant - most of the time you laugh so hard you cry. Met up with friends we planned on meeting and some others as well. A good evening all round.

Had two realizations as regards music lately - first, husband and I waltz well together. We can't tango - 6'5" and 5'6" don't work together. We have been trying to do some swing. PBS was doing some pledge thing with some good dance music. Husband and I hear the music very differently - he hears it as a musician hears notes. I hear it for the dance beat - which may or may not be the same. With waltz, husband sometimes looses it when he can't hear the key 3 notes - as in when the musicians play a variation. It matters little to me as I can usually find the dance beat in anything.

The second musical realization is that I can't have music on with a strong verbal emphasis when I am doing work that involves words. Thus, I can't listen to Oak, Ash and Thorn, when I'm writing my blog. As the husband says "its just another quirk of The Robin".

Lastly before I forget, I've finally opened a Live Journal blog. This will be my main blog, but because of the way Live Journal does its community of friends and some of the people I like to keep in touch with, I needed to have an account. It is called Stitching Along with Friends.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Hot Teaching!!!

How hot was it - 107 when we left Napa at 7 pm!!! Managed to teach the 3 classes. Turnout for the event was low (sigh!). 

I had told the schedule people to start me with 2nd period since I couldn't guarantee 1st period with daytripping. The husband decided to take, and sent in an advance registration, for a 1st period class. Left the house at 6:30 am! I am sooooo not a morning person. Grabbed coffee on the way out of town and off to the event. I wore an Indian tunic and pants outfit  - rich dark blue with variation on gold embroidery. Very pretty and thin cotton. Even so I kept wetting my napkin in the ice water and placing it around my neck. Someone had thoughtfully put iced water coolers around the site. It was a life saver - literally.

Otherwise - had fun. I spent some time with a couple ladies and learned the basics of spinning with a drop spindle. It was a gap in my knowledge base that needed to be filled. Spent class breaks and lunch judging some of the competitions. Got some good feedback on my goldwork piece for my column including a fix for one problem that was really bugging me. It was a relatively laid back good day.

Spent the week recovering and doing EGA stuff. Now to finish some more goldwork and prep for the weekend. Saturday, Will's sister and nephew are going to met us at an event. His brother and wife may also come along. 

Sunday his war unit has practice at our house - field across the street. Expect we will freak the neighbors a bit. It will be followed by a big barbeque & party. The weather is expected to be 68 here (100 inland) on Sunday. Think we will have a full crew. Need to finish shopping for the party tomorrow. Will prep the food Saturday after the day's event. Nothing like cooking for 20 (hot dogs and other sausages, teriyakied chicken drumettes, broccoli salad, potato salad, deviled eggs, veggie dip tray, and fresh fruit - pineapple, catalope, berries, and watermelon for dessert).

Friday, July 21, 2006

No I am Not Subtle, but I am true

You scored as IV - The Emperor. The Emperor represents power. There is nothing subtle about this Tarot card. The Empress has power through love.The Emperor has power through power. He is in control, he is forceful and ambitious. Nothing will stop him. He is a natural leader, having either been born to the role or having disposed of all those who stood in his way. If well aspected in a Tarot spread this card can indicate success. It represents obstacles overcome, goals reached and ambition fulfilled. If badly aspected it can indicate either weakness or an abuse of power.

IV - The Emperor


XIII: Death


X - Wheel of Fortune


VIII - Strength


II - The High Priestess


XIX: The Sun


XI: Justice


XVI: The Tower


III - The Empress


VI: The Lovers


I - Magician


0 - The Fool


XV: The Devil


Which Major Arcana Tarot Card Are You?
created with

Thursday, July 20, 2006

We're Having a Heat Wave

Seems that we are not the only area with a heat wave. Talked with friends in England yesterday and they are melting from the heat.

I don't do heat so the heat is a bit debilitating. I do my morning stuff in the office until the office gets too hot. Then I move to the kitchen/garden room for a late breakfast and lavendar wand making session. Then back upstairs to the office for a bit. Then to the den for some needlework. 

Yesterday was doing the model for the reticella class -- very basic bit with a frame, fill of buttonhole stitch and brides. It is a 2"x2" square and I am working with #5 pearl cotton. The pattern would do better with a bit smaller square and finer cotton, but this is for beginners to get a taste. It is hard to design something that works for a 1.5 hour class. This class is on loan from a lovely lady in Arizona who did an article for TI and then put it on the web. I met her at the Estrella War last year where she taught the class. This class is a recent addition to the other 2 planned classes and so rather than start from scratch - I asked permission.

Today I'm back to working on the project for my column. Had a problem with the patterned portion of the goldwork. I HATE counted work. It always gives me fits. Pulled out a few rows and hope that that will fix the problem. If not..... I'd like to take the piece as an example for the metal thread couching class. It isn't the best work I've done - something about deadlines, but it is okay. I want more done on it before I show it in class, so will focus on it today and tomorrow.

The class handouts are done. Will put the kits together tonight for a stitching break. Not looking forward to the 95 degree heat expected for A&S. The site is a nice park in Napa, but the heat......

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Needlepoint Now Column

After receiving some questions and google queries, wanted to update the listing for my column topics in Needlepoint Now.

• Sept/Oct 2004 - Voided Work/Not Just Assisi
Project - bookmark with pattern from 1546 - long arm cross stitch - pomegranates
• Nov/Dec 2004 - Needlepoint Furnishings/Canvaswork
Project - Elizabethan Oak Life Scissor Fob - tent stitch - pattern from a Hardwick Hall cushion
• Jan/Feb 2005 - Bargello
Project - Scissor Case with 2 sides - Flame Stitch and Hungarian Stitch - modified renaissance patterns
• March/April 2005 - Elizabethan Slips
Project - silk gauze briar rose slip - pattern from existing slip - tent stitch
• May/June 2005 - Blackwork Bands
Project - bookmark in double running from Quentel - courtesy of Linn Skinner
• July/ Aug 2005 - Blackwork Filling Patterns
Project - Dragonfly Needlecase - double running stitch - patterns courtesy of Linn Skinner from historic textiles
• Sept/Oct 2005 - Cross Stitch
Project - courtesy of Chris Laning - pincushion - patterns from Sens Pouch
• Nov/Dec 2005 - Pattern Darning
Project - altoids tin cover of Egyptian Pattern Darning - pattern from a 14th C. collar
• Jan/Feb 2006 - Opus Teutonicum and other counted thread German stitching
Project - small box/ornament of Congress Cloth - 6 patterns including pattern darning and satin stitching
• March/April 2006 - German Brick Stitch
Project - needlecase with 2 historic patterns joined to make "bands"
• May/June 2006 - Goldwork:Underside Couching
no project
• July/August 2006 - Goldwork -- a bit about the RSN classes in Perry
no project
• Sept/Oct 2006 - Goldwork:Surface and Pattern Couching
Project - 5"x5" square - part 1 with lines, couching instructions and 1st pattern
• Nov/Dec 2006 - Goldwork:Or Nue (tentatively)
Project continuation - 3 more patterns
• Jan/Feb 2007 - Goldwork:Metal Thread Gobelin (tentatively)
Project - TBD

Hope this answers some of the questions. If you would like to see a topic discussed, email me with the suggestion or leave it in the comment box for this blog.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

This is the year of catch up

Think this will be the year where all I'm trying to do is catch up. Managed with the help of Anne and Iulitta to finish the "kits" for the Kingdom Kneeling Carpets for June Crown. Managed to get all the yarn divided, the instructions done, individual charts printed, needles set out and did I say the yarn divided up (all 20 pounds of it) before Crown. The canvas was cut and taped onsite. With the help of the Darkwood Tapestry project panels being finished up, there were enough stretcher bars with the ones I had bought. Whew! Managed to hand out all the kits but one which was mailed off a few days later. Big check mark!

Spent the next week recovering, doing my EGA meeting thing, having guests, and cooking frantically for West An Tir War. Wish I had a little more time, as I really enjoy cooking, but not with a heavy time crunch. Anne and the husband helped make the first batch of Steak Soup which we froze. It makes 1.5 gallons of heavy ground meat stew with lots of veggies. Soup and bread make a good filling hot meal. Made another half batch since I was told I was feeding 12.

Also made oatmeal chocolate chip cookies for the dessert - yes a double batch - about 5 -6 dozen cookies. Then made the ground lamb handpies - love having the real batch of Moroccan spices. Added some fresh mint from my herb garden (yes new garden bit) and think it really brightened the flavors. Also make a batch of the chicken and herb handpies. Used a bunch of fresh herbs being a little heavy on the sage for the chicken pies. Cut up a cantalope and a jicama since we were expecting HOT!!!! weather. We got hot - 95 degrees. It made for a long weekend, even with the short war. Too hot to fight for longer than 4 hours.

Managed to get the Hawaiian Viking apron dress done. We all went to the King's dinner (payment for fighting for him - the Gryphons are mercenaries) dressed in Hawaiian garb and/or accoutraments. He had a very pained expression on his face when I was called into court before dinner and he saw my garb. He seemed to relent some when he realized that we only planned to do the garb and not anything to really embarrass him. Must say the dress looked really good on me. The dress has blue flowers so I pulled an old blue shell necklace out, along with a puka shell and coral necklace, and I had on parrot earrings. Fun! Hope someone got pictures.

Finalized and sent in my column (Surface Couching and Pattern Couching) on my return. Spent the 4th finalizing the project instructions and one of the patterns. Now I'm frantically stitching. I've promised the next 3 patterns with the next column - Or Nue. Love doing Goldwork. Maybe I'm just into bling!

Went to see the Royal Lippizaner Stallion show yesterday. I've been wanting to see them for years. Unfortunately this show is a US version and not affiliated with the Spanish School in Vienna. They had at least 8 Lippizaners and they did some wonderful manuvers and 2 of the Airs Above the Ground - mounted and unmounted. A good show - even if they didn't do everything I wanted to see.

Also stopped and bought the husband his birthday present - a titanium watch, on the way down. Hadn't wanted to get it without his trying it on first. It is his 45th birthday on the 16th. On the 20th we will have been together 10 years -- it seems like yesterday and it seems like it has always been this way. It is rare to have what we have -- love that is so deep as to go to the core of our beings. I treasure it and count myself lucky every day.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Whew! What a month - catching up again

I really don't plan on not blogging, but life has been so full lately. Working on my next column and the project - goldwork is slow, but very rewarding.

Finally got all the bits I need to put the kits together for the kneeling carpets. Now to finalize the instructions. Unfortunately to save money I had to order the yarn in 1 pound cones so will need to create skeins - sigh.

Doing the prep for the 3 classes I'll be teaching at A&S in July - competitions, metal thread embroidery, and reticella. Prep for June Crown followed immediately by the West An Tir War -- I am doing the cooking for Friday night for the camp - yes I volunteered.

Working on clearing out more stuff - I'm over burdened with stuff so am back to the clearing process. Stuff on ebay. Stuff to the homeless shelter and other charities. Stuff to garage sales. Stuff to Craigs List (damn 7 day listings). Slow work and of course everything is loaded with memories. I'm into my aunt's jewelry from the '60-'70's now. Clearing out loads of paper too.

Little time to stitch - which makes me testy. Hope to remedy that soon.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Need to develop the instant transport

Just when I thought life was under control.... Friday night Peninsula Symphony with family friend. It may be all volunteer, but the group is really pretty good. While the pianist was no Oscar Levant, they did a good rendition of Rhapsody in Blue and Copeland's Fanfare for the Common Man.

Saturday up and out at 6:30 am -- yes we seem to be continuing the trend here - off to Paso Robles (3.5 hours) to Eagle Castle Winery to assist the local group with a demo (demonstration). I put together 2 display boxes of stuff - 1 of textiles and other projects and 1 of needlework. Took along the fancy German chairs and wore good cotehardie garb. Will did garb and heavy fighting. They had 6 fighters, 4 fencers, and half dozen of us "manning" the display. It was lovely to have a castle as a backdrop for the demo. Plus they make a good port as we found out.

The local group has a number of neat people and it was fun to "play" at the local level again. Reminds you of what this hobby is really all about - fun and learning while doing.

The added bonus was that it was Paso Robles wine tasting weekend and near to Will's Mom's place. She came out to see what her son has been up to for xx years. Went over after and out to nice dinner. 

Up early the next morning - we slept in - left at around 7 am - drove the 3.5 hours to Concord for Gryphon fighter practice, meeting, and barbeque birthday party. Then home to recover.

Tuesday was EGA day - program with Dianne Clements on Shadow Work - plus meeting, plus....

I never said I was a girlie girl

This may explain some things LOL

You scored as Neither. You think neither like a man or a woman. What you are you may decide for yourself. Most people will consider you strange, Alien, weird or funny. You are probably quite interesting.









Should you be MALE or FEMALE?*
created with

Monday, May 15, 2006

Whew! What a month - catching up

When last we left our intrepid adventurer... Isn't that the way installments of adventures are supposed to begin? Or am I dating myself?

Immediately after the class with Joyce, the husband came down with the dreaded stomach flu. Fortunately for him it was a light case. Mine, subsequently was not. So April 23rd, o'dark - 30 found me boarding a plan for Denver and then Des Moines - barely recovered from the worst of it. Of course, the Des Moines plane was a mile away from where the prior flight came in, but fortunately on the same concourse. The flights were fortunately very uneventful and my baggage followed me.

The hotel (Hotel Pattee) had someone out to meet me and we drove to the hotel - some 50 minutes away. The landscape is very flat with mountains in the distance. Lots of lush old trees covered with blooms on the way. The hotel definately goes out of its way to make sure your experience is favorable. There is nothing the staff won't do to make it a wonderful visit.

The reason I was more than glad that the baggage made it through is that I had to pack my needlework supplies kit, my smaller slate frame (which is the one I choose to use), my frame holder (a failure with the slate frame - note to self to use the Elan for needlepoint/canvaswork only), in addition to my clothes. Sunday night we sat around framing up our slate frames for the subsequent 5 day goldwork class. While I bought one of the 18" slate frames from the RSN (Royal School of Needlwork), it is large (31" sides) and needs either a trestle or other major holder.

The next 5 days were wonderful, even if long, days of stitching, learning, and making new friends. We stitched in class from 8:30 - 12ish and 1-4. Then some of us stitched for a couple more hours before going to dinner and 2-4 hours after dinner. Breakfast was included with the hotel. Lunch, elevenzes, and tea (complete with wonderful dessert) were included with the class. Dinner was on your own, if you were hungry. Only 2 of us had not been to the program before. We were fortunate in our teacher - Amanda (Mandy) Berry from the RSN. She had designed the piece - a very sculpted butterfly, and after her 4 year apprenticeship with the RSN has been a tutor and embroiderer there for 10 years. Learned lots - challenged my abilities - grew as a stitcher. I had planned to do the project for my column in the evenings, but little had I planned on the amount of stitching necessary on the class project to get the most from the teacher.

Flew back on April 29th early - left the hotel at 4:30 am. Worked the early part of the week, wrote my column, and then prepared for Beltane. Work in San Francisco is much more difficult and time consuming a commute with Devils Slide out (and no anticipated date for reopening). Opted to write an optional column on the RSN in Perry experience - with pics. The column on couched gold with the project will come next.

Since the weather had been nice, we opted to camp for Beltane. Cancelled the hotel on Wednesday and the flurry of preparation began for our 6:30 am leave on Friday. Made lamb handpies, chicken handpies, a lamb tagine for dinners, eggplant "caviar", an apple pie, and banana bread. Yes we eat well. It was just as well that I over cooked, since we ended up having friends in for dinner, breakfast and lunch (Their Highnesses of Oertha). I tend to cook fairly low fat and tasty so...

Arrived Friday am and camped 2 rows behind The Gypsy Wagon of Duchess Siobhan of Cloverdale. As it turned out the people who were supposed to camp just behind never showed. Thus we had a wonderful view of and access to the Eric, yet were back out of the way. The site is a sheep ranch outside of Cloverdale (yes it is the area where Siobhan grew up), with green hills, a few big trees with moss and mistletoe, and of course sheep. The emu were a bit of surprise. It is close to the coast, so we had fog drifting through the trees. Quite lovely!

On Friday afternoon was the Rubber Duckie races. It was a fund raiser for Toys for Tots. I donated my Queen Elizabeth I rubber duckie for auction to raise funds. It went for $50! Saturday was last court and coronation. Between the knighting of Duchess Bryne and the coronation of Duke Radnor and Duchess Isabeau (17 years since their last reign), there was not a dry eye in the place. Don't know what the final head count for the event was - probably around 1000. Sunday was relaxed and of course the Maypole. Since I'm now quite attached, I just watched.

It was our organization's 40th anniversary. To celebrate, Duke Henrik showed home films - 16mm (formerly 8 mm) of the first tournament (May 1966), the wedding of Duke Ziegfried, and a couple of the subsequent tournaments including where Henrik first won (March 1967). It was wonderful. I hadn't seen the films in many many years. While I'm not amoung the first in this organization, my first event was 1970 and in 1972-73, Henrik and I were an item. Lots has happened since! Needless to say, the SCA is not the same.

Came back to more work work. Tuesday was my day to stitch on the EGA National Tapestry project. Our region currently has the western panel (1 of 5). It was nice to get to know our hostess and Jeanette who will be our incoming Regional Director.

The rest of the week was catch up and prep for Collegium. Saturday was up and out at 6:30 am (I'm detecting a trend here) to go to Sacramento for the day. The site was lovely. A smallish school with lots of atmosphere. I coordinated the A&S display, taught the What to Bring to a Potluck class, and generally relaxed and chatted with people. Lunch, with period foods (yummy bratwurst with honey, lentil salad, egg) had been arranged. We had a "library" where some of us had "loaned" books for the day. Of course, for me it merely created a shopping list.

Back to a more normal pace now for a couple weeks.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Just Could Not Resist!

You Should Be A Virgo

What's good about you: you have a quiet determination and aren't swayed by emotions

What's bad about you: you are an insane perfectionist and easily find faults in others

In love: you are obsessed with making your partner happy

In friendship, you're: helpful and giving - eager to be a true friend

Your ideal job: poet, flight attendant, or natural healer

Your sense of fashion: casual, upscale, revealing, conservative - you look good in all of it

You like to pig out on: a well prepared five course meal

of course the real kicker is that I AM a Virgo -- guess I'm running true to type these days

Now for a Moment Crowing

As you can see from the prior post, I spent the better part of 3 days with Joyce Lukomski. She is my editor for Needlepoint Now and the reason I am writing a column for her magazine on historic needlework.

She gave me glowing praise in front of everyone but 2 things she said really resonated with me. The first was that some of her subscribers were very annoyed when she omitted one of my bibliographies -- in fact these primarily were very experienced stitchers who loved my column and were hungry for more information. My reaction was -- hurrah! I really hate all the misinformation on historic needlework that is out there and cringe when I see information misstated. I am glad that people want to look at my sources and  hope that they will take a critical look at the information that is served up by "knowledgable sources".

The second thing she said, which also made me wince was that I am now being quoted - in the teaching materials being put out by national needlework guilds. "According to Robin Berry, in issue xx of Needlepoint Now...". So I wince and hope what I am saying is accurate (I really try for it to be) and feel proud that, maybe, I am making a difference.

Reliving the Fun of Bargello

The 12th, 13th and 14th were needlework filled days. Sometimes I wish I could just spend time with needlework (sigh). 

The 12th was a fundraising luncheon for the EGA chapter to our south. 75 needleworkers in one place! The speaker was Joyce Lukomski and her topic ostensibly was Historic Needlework. In reality it was about the growth of needlework and the sisterhood it creates. So true. It was great to be included in this sisterhood.

The 13th and 14th was a workshop with Joyce. The project a small bargello based piece with beaded accents (handle, closure, etc.). I always learn so much in Joyce's workhsops. So for 2 days I drove over an hour each way to just stitch and chat with about 25 other stitchers. It was a wonderful break in routine.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

I'm growing webbed feet!

It rained 25 days in March. It has rained everyday in April so far. It is wet outside. Fortunately it is only outside. The yard is saturated but we are not on a hill and far enough from one to be safe (fingers crossed). I am really glad that we managed to get our street paved a couple years ago or it would be awful. As it is, only the streets that intersect badly are like driving across streams and I have a low car (sigh). 

The worst part is that Devil's Slide/Hwy 1 is closed. Article. For those who are not familiar with this lovely part of the California coastside, it is just south of Pacifica (just south of San Francisco). It is 4 miles of coastside exposed road that likes to have boulders fall down on it, wash away, have nasty potholes, or be covered in mud. The rest of the time, it is an exquisite drive. It is our main artery to San Francisco. The last time it was closed for 115 days and the time before for over 6 months. They have broken ground to build a tunnel through Montara Mountain to bypass the slide, but it won't be completed until 2011. Our other artery off the coastside is Hwy 92, but with all the traffic on it....No eta for opening Devils Slide what with the growing sink hole and the road cracks (4") continuing to worsten. It will be interesting.

Been spending some time revamping my website (I really hate doing website stuff) and finishing off my quilt square. Have a bit more to do and then I'll unveil the finished piece.

Need to get back to the piece for the column and write the next column early. I'm off to a Royal School of Needlework class - 5 days of Goldwork, in Perry Iowa at the end of the month.

Okay back to the html grind.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

More Crazy Quilt Block

For those who are following my exploits, I have uploaded page 4 of my blocks odessey to our website - Still more to do on the block and other deadlines loom. But first need to finish the taxes and March Crown.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

More on Women's Work

In the New York Times Style Magazine for Spring 2006 there were 3 things which caught my eye. The first is a full page Lace script "T" in white and ecru. It is labeled "Lace Me Up, Lace Me Down: a Woman's Handiwork is Never Done". It was designed by Oscar de la Renta.

Also in the same magazine was a full page ad with a purple (excuse me there is no more purple - blue violet) crochet oval purse. There is a wicker and brass closure and brass chain handle. 9 crocheted tassel bits are across the bottom of the bag. It was labeled "Pretty Crafty" and was by Salvatore Ferragamo. The price tage was $990. 

So let me see -- women and their crafts being designed by men and so are fashionable?? Are we back in the middle ages, where men embroiderers were permitted in the Guilds, but women were considered needleworkers and thus not allowed in the Embroidery Guilds? Some things never change.

The last item that caught my eye was an article about typeface becoming "fashionable". It seems that typography is a world unto itself - with uncrowned designer kings and queens. While I knew that Helvetica and Verdana were good screen typefaces, Arial is just toooo declasse for words. [full article on page 176 by Alice Rawsthorn "About Typeface: Why Guardian Egyptian is the Lanvin fo the Print World."]

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

finally getting the hang of it

Been playing more with the quilt block. Spent the morning doing a couple more web pages with commentary on the creative process. If you have a interest please visit. I don't have a way to do comments on the page, but you can leave them here or on the forum (week 3 - post with same name) if you are part of the class.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Coping with the Modern World

Coping Coping Coping -- I am so not a techie. Spent large parts of the weekend doing the install software, recabling the office for new/different hardware, etc. Thank heaven for the husband who can debug just about anything.  Grump - I'd rather be stitching. 

Speaking of which, I am enjoying the crazy quilting a lot. A line or 2 of stitching a night really helps relaxation and is a lot of fun. I've decided to just let the stitching flow. So I am trying new stitches and new threads. I'll put up the next page/installment shortly. Suffice to say serendipity happened when I dropped by JoAnns yesterday -- I found THE bit that makes the block come together (happy dance).

PS I'm posting this and testing a new fangeled program called a widget. I don't have to do the formal log in or anything. It takes care of all of it for me.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Crazy Quilting Takes Over

Running fast to get everything done before I jump into a 3 week long case (uggg!) I know I will be tired with the commute and all and will look to do a bit of catchup sewing to relax in the evenings. I still have a bit more to do on the German Brick piece and the Icelandic pattern darning. I'll post pics when they are done. I'll also have my Crazy Quilting project (s). Decided to put my thought process into words and pictures to clear it out of my brain so I can get onto my column and other things. So here is the first page of my Crazy Quilt log.

Think I'll put on some Kodo while I clean up my desk and office before I get inundated again.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Estrella and Next Projects

Whew! Estrella was dusty. How dusty was it? No rain in over 130+ days. The water pipe to the area of the park was broken for months prior. We had dust storms. We had minor wind the whole time and a little major wind (30 mph) one day. EVERYTHING was dusty. The fighters had it the worst - they have to lie down when they are "killed".

That said, Estrella was what a good vacation should be -- a mind altering experience. The run up to the event was hard with the husband having to work - Friday evening, all day Saturday, all day Sunday and part of the day on Monday to get a project finished. We went to the Cyprians ball and out to dinner first, but we were both so tired from the prior week, we left at 10:30 pm to go home and crash.

Opted to do the drive in one fell swoop - 12 hours on Tuesday. Celebrated Valentines Day at midnight Monday night since we were both up packing. Long drive, but it allowed us to dawdle on Wednesday - lazy morning. Breakfast at TJ's. Arrive on site after the land rush and with Starbucks Cinnamon Dolce Latte in hand. Pre-reg meant that we were done with registration in less than 5 minutes. I bunked my stuff and hung out through the event with the Hooded Hare in merchants row since it was near to A&S. Husband was able to stow his fighting gear with the Oerthans (thank-you!). The Oerthans had a great presence - over 20 and the rapier group looked fabulous. The also made arm bands for all the fighters and anyone who supported the West on the field. Pout - since I didn't fight I didn't get one.

Taught Goldwork on Thursday, More Metal Thread on Friday, and Blackwork Filling Patterns on Saturday. 7 hours in all. Had 11-12 students in each and a couple opted to take all 3 classes. Think I infected a number of them with the goldwork and blackwork bugs. It really felt good to have so many really take to the techniques. A couple of the students already understood the technique, but I was able to give them some help on technique nits and challenge them with a couple more advanced bits. Teaching in the wind and heat is tiring and unfortunately I didn't have enough energy to take classes. Did get to schmooze with some of the other teachers and attend the Goldworkers Tea.

The downside of hoteling is the lack of socializing in the evening. We left site usually around 8ish. The real parties and bardics happen later in the evening so, missed out a bit.

Sunday was the Artisans Display. I put out The Project (dress with beaded collar and sleeve), the couched gold piece (front piece for my German), the dyeing - bonework - broaches - linenhose from the Poppy Run, the pearled hat, and several of the embroidery teaching pieces (voided work, Egyptian pattern darning, Icelandic Pattern Darning, German brick stitch, blackwork filling patterns). It made for a very full half table. The display went for about 2 1/2 hours and it was non-stop people. I received lots of compliments and a few little tokens. People seemed to like, in order, the linen hose, the sleeve, and the couched goldwork the best.

Monday was the 12 hour drive back. Long but it was better than trying to drive back even part way on Sunday. All in all Estrella was a vacation. We felt like we had really been away. I feel renewed in my teaching and gratified that people really like my work - my art. It is really hard for me to see myself as an artist, but sometimes I'm beginning to feel that I get there.

Now off to do my next column and 3 new bits - the online Crazy Quilting course (I could easily loose myself in this with all the wonderful ideas and eye candy from Sharon Boggins - In a Minute Ago), the Crazy for Color workshop on Saturday for my EGA group which is also Crazy Quilting - still need to pick my threads and extra fabrics to take, and Tuesday's EGA program on decorating clothing - remember the jeans of the 70's - its back - Dolce and Gabbana $3000 - class free!

Saturday, February 11, 2006


This week has been a heavy work week. I had forgotten how uninspired I get when I'm spending 12+ hours a day on work. It is really hard to fire up the brain cells to be creative or to get the fingers back to stitching. Part of the finger thing is taking so many notes during the hearing. My hand is tired from writing all day. So enough whining.

This is preparation weekend. Next week is Estrella. Need to prepare the materials for the 3 classes. Will take extra since I said I would repeat a class if there is a waiting list. Last year Anne and I took to making special arrangements to be the first (or at least one of the first 10 in line) to get the classes we wanted. There were lots of disappointed people. Don't know how well received the Goldwork classes will be, but I don't want to have people disappointed that they missed out on a learning experience.

In planning for Estrella, I was pondering -- Is it a really a vacation if I'm working/teaching part of the time? At least I want it to feel like a vacation. To that end I'm going to try to do something fun every day starting today. Today is the Cyprian's Ball -- English Regency Dancing event with lots of waltzing and flirtation. Tomorrow - who knows.

Also this week is the start of In a Minute Ago's class on Crazy Quilting. I'll follow the class, even if I can't start with them. I'm taking my laptop. There are 4 Starbucks in Goodyear Arizona. 2 are in Safeways (that seems to be the new trend) and 2 are full service with WiFi. A real convienence when traveling; not to mention that it guarantees (or at least almost) that I can find a soy latte. Many places I need to go to a grocery store and carry my own non-dairy creamer if I want it in liquid form; which works and tastes better.

Now where did I put the 28 count linen? Maybe I'll take some of the play threads and bits as well. Hmmmmm

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Stitching and Catching Up

So far for 2006, everything seems to be on delay. The column which normally is due on th 1st of the month (odd months) was delayed for The Project. When I did the column all was quickly done, but the stitching on the project for the column. I had forgotten how dense the stitching is on the German Brick Stitch pieces. Finally got the piece to the point where it could be photographed - 100 hours and it is really only half done (for a 3.5" x 7" piece on 28 ct.).

Jan 14th I had the opportunity to attend a class with Phillipa Turnbull. She is one of the "royal embroiderers". One of her recent commissions was the Queen Mother's bedspread. Her forte is crewelwork and her work is fairly true to the original jacobean style. Her kits are on a linen twill which she has especially woven for her. The wool was lovely Appelton yarn. The shop had "sit on" frames for us to use. Of course I bought one even though I had bought a prior one from Grip It -- this was better ergonomically.

Phillipa is a lovely person and a very patient and good teacher. We did stem stitch, long and short shading, and some laidwork. While the stitches are familiar to me, working with wool is always a different experience. For one thing the scale is different from working with silk. She also had us trying to do the one hand over, one under form of UK stitching. Considering that I've been stitching 4-8 hours a day for 3 weeks (1 week at that point), my hands were not happy with trying the new accomodation. I will try again, but after I give my hands a rest. Phillipa also had lots of good hints for starting and stopping the thread. Some work with silk, but the loft of the wool hides the surface starts and stops better. I think the area that made the most difference to my stitching is the use of the long and short stitch. She had lots of tips on direction and correcting problems. Now to remember them all.

Paper- Paper - Paper
Beginning to settle in as President of my EGA chapter. I really don't have time for all the nits so am very fortunate to have a partner for this year who will help with it all.

Feeling buried with paper - trying to find the top of my desk again. Managed to get the apartment rented - one tenant moved out the first week in January. So more paperwork. Having a home business, rentals, teaching and working part time generates lots of paperwork. We easily fill our paper recycling bin (2'x3'x2.5') each week -- and then I have to do filing... and....(blech) - I'd rather be stitching.

Had a night out with my honey/husband - a real date! We went to dinner at a new turkish restraurant then down the block to hear the Chieftains at the refurbished Fox Theater. Met up with friends for dinner. Good conversation, good food, good music! Need to do that more often.

Next -- off to Estrella war (Goodyear Arizona). I'm teaching 2 goldwork classes and blackwork filling stitches. Hope to take some good classes too. We leave on Valentines Day so need to be creative about my gift to the husband... hummmmmm. Come back to finishing the next column so need to finalize the plans for it. Meanwhile I have a couple arbitration cases to hear in Feb and 2 big ones taking all/most of March.

Am treating myself to 2 Crazy Quilt workshops in February. One is through our EGA chapter at a local quilt shop. The focus is on color and crazy quilting the medium. Then starting on Feb 16, is the online class with Sharon Boggins - In a Minute Ago blog. It will run for 6 weeks. Her work is so over the top, but not fussy. A hard balance to meet. I love her new fabric "postcards".

Now back to the paper side of life...

Sunday, January 15, 2006

12th Night and The Project Recap

Whew! Took a week to recover from all the doings before and then 12th Night. 12th Night was as good as I hoped it would be. People were well floored with The Project - it shimmered in the light as I moved and yet was really quite subtle. The best compliment I had was that I looked like I had stepped out of a portrait. YES!

This is me, eyes closed as usual, wearing The Project. The Swabian dresses from the 1490's - mid 1500's were known for their beaded sleeve - yes single sleeve. The collar is on the underdress and is also beaded. I'm wearing the Poppy pendant and the cloak over the right shoulder (see more about the Poppy below). This particular dress is modeled after one commonly known as Lady and the Order of the Swan.

The sleeve and collar are beaded in pearls, various coral beads, and spangles (gold colored ones for the vines and real gold for the splattered ones). For those wondering, some areas are done on felt either in single or mutiple layers to give raised effects. The lower portion of the sleeve shows poppies, and then the main rose is my device (a portion of my "coat of arms") within our organization. I had wanted to do more spangled tendrils, but lack of time and energy.... Historically they used pearls, spangles, and coral. The multiple colors of coral may be an aberration, but I was picking up an arts/sciences award after all (grin).

For my thoughts on the design and stitching of The Project - you can see the prior entries on Thread Control and Design (12/05) I hope to do a web page showing the stages of the project, but that will be a few weeks off.

Earlier in the day, they had an Artisan's Display. As incoming Kingdom Artisan, the title you get for the year following your admittance to the Order of the Golden Poppy, I was expected to display all the items I had entered in competitions and then anything else I wanted. So from left to right - Pearl Sticken hat (approx. 1520 - for the upcoming outfit) and documentation binder for hat and my dress, 2 of my teaching pieces (voided work band bookmark and Egyptian Pattern Darning Altoids tin topper - you have to have small fun things to encourage people to play with new techniques) and binder with my class handouts for the 17 classes I taught in 2005, broaches, bonework, and tokens of the 6 "wins", binder of Poppy entry documentation, dyed wool and silk, embroidered linen hose, banner, and horse barding entries. For those in other Kingdoms it is similar to your Pentathalons, but it is 8 competitions over the course of a year in 4 different subject categories.

Recap (and yes I will be putting all the entries and their documentation up on a web page eventually -- mostly because of all the hassle of finding information on these subjects):
March Crown - Tinctures - Walnut Dye, Berry Vine Dye, and Walnut Ink
June Crown - Underpinnings - Embroidered Linen Hose
A&S - Poem on Beauty (performance) - Sestina
- Heraldic Banners - Tournament Banner (my husband's device)
- Horse Barding - Rocking Horse with barding (my husband's bear) -- (grin) my husband is 6'5"
- Preserved Foods - Elizabethan Brined Artichokes, Roman Vinegared Cheese
Purgatorio - Broaches - 4 wire broaches
October Crown - Bone - bone tools (sewing needle, naalbinding needle, seam smoother, 2 styles of needlecases)

So now on to the next project. I have several medium size projects in the works so will try to finish them. Meanwhile, need to finish the next column off.