Monday, December 31, 2007

Year End

My nose has been to the grind stone this past couple weeks. I have been trying to clear the desk and do all those last minute year end things. Included in the list was writing the annual holiday letter and getting it posted to our website. The other big thing was reworking my arts and sciences portion of our website. It has been 3 years since it had an overhaul. Since I've taught a lot in that intervening time, there was lots to post. There are some pieces still in pdfs and the pleating/smocking section still needs to be done. Have I mentioned that I really dislike working on web pages. It is very difficult for me to pay attention to the level of detail necessary to make all the pages have the same formatting, etc. Any way we can now count it DONE! -- well there is always more to do, but at least I don't feel the same level of burden.

The spouse worked ALL weekend. He has had 4 days off in the last 6 weeks. He is taking off 12th Night but he may have to work part of Friday and Sunday - we shall see. Poor guy! At least we are going out to celebrate tonight. Off to our local restaurant, Cafe Gibraltar. It is fabulous food and they do a special menu for New Year's Eve. We will drive even though it is about a mile from the house. Then home to cuddle up on the couch and watch all the NYE hoopla.

Need to buckle down this week and finish my outfit for 12th Night. Don't think I'll get the 2nd one done for Friday, but will bring garb for Friday night.

Hope 2008 is a wonderful year for each of you - filled with good health, happiness and personal fulfillment!

Friday, December 21, 2007


I've been wanting to try this format for awhile. Since it is traditional to thank the members of the Board (and a few other special people) at our Guild holiday meeting and officer change over, I decided to make bicornus as thank-yous for some of them. This is my first attempt. Figured I wanted to be comfortable with the sewing up process before embroidering something special.

FYI I had purchased a stack of 5x5" awhile ago. I had only wanted a small piece of one of them. This made the perfect way of using some of this type of stash. If you are looking for a tutorial - check out Rissa's. Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Creativity - High Note

I have been waiting to blog on this until the package arrived at Sharon B's door. While Linn was here we went to Kooza - the new show from Cirque du Soleil. Talk about Creativity!!! The link by the way is to their intro page about Kooza and talks about the creation of the show. There is also a mini movie on the show!

So after the goldwork class, we took ourselves off to Kooza. It was all the things a circus should be - fun, thrilling, amazing, and all without animals. They even have the requisite clowns between acts. At one point they point a big canon at the audience and shoot out streamers. One hit Will and I immediately claimed it. I reeled it in and rewound the part that had unwound, and wound, and wound, and wound. Linn and I also took one look at each other and thought ATC materials - so pounced on more stuff.

For those that don't follow Sharon's blog, her daughter, Eve, is with a circus. She does fire walking and the high stilts. She also just expressed and interest in quilting. Linn had planned on sending the program to them. But we couldn't just let the envelop go empty could we? We were high on the energy from Kooza for the next couple days. Linn created an ATC and I created a tri-fold piece. We also wrote on the streamers and pulled bits from our fabric stashes. What fun to create something and then share it! I really think that is the best part of doing any art form.

Here for your pleasure are pics of the trifold:

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Inspiring Creativity

Much of what I have been doing lately (crazy quilting and ATCs) requires the doer to be creative on demand and the teacher to enable this to happen. From my limited experience as a teacher my hat is off to Sharon Boggon and Linn Skinner. It is hard to create an atmosphere where others not only want to play, but can do more than just the mechanical.

For me to be "inspired" I tend to use the volume of stash method. I place in front of me the items from my stash that I think might be useful on this project (no matter the project). If I'm really stymied I may put the items out across the room and let my eyes play over them for a couple days. Usually by then something will jump out and say "try me" and other items will have retreated into the background.

My eye must also be attuned to the project. When I'm crazy quilting I look through websites like Sharon's and books like the ones by Judith Montano Baker. I don't want to copy what these creative ladies have done, but rather tune my eye to possibilities that lay before me. When I am preparing for class, I usually need to limit my work to a set of possibilities - like a set list of stitches. It does not mean that I need to limit what I do with the stitches.

Part of this is that I am a seat of the pants project person. By that I mean that I just do and let the project evolve. If I was teaching mediation, I would be saying "trust in the process". I do trust my process of evolving the project into something that eventually is more art than what Linn would call "a pig's breakfast".

Some might say that this is the lazy way out. I admire those that create visual journals and work from them. I admire those that design a project and then execute it. However, so far this has not been the right "method" for me.

When I design a project for a class, I start with a list of things that the project needs and goals to be accomplished - ie. blackwork, basic outline, basic filling stitches, pomegranate, max size 5" x 5, 28 count linen/14 count aida, etc. If it needs to be charted, sometimes I start at the computer, and sometimes I start with the fabric/tactile. It still is an evolution process, just more constrained. Sometimes what comes out is not appropriate for that class, but suitable for a different/later class. In that case, it is back to the drawing board, however, I usually put out some different items from my stash to make the "view" something new/fresh.

This year for my EGA chapter I have thrown them a challenge of sorts. Rather than have lots of different or small projects, I am encouraging them to create a sampler. Several of the classes we are doing are suitable or adaptable for doing on 28 count linen. Each of the teachers have been asked to provide fabric, but also a drawing which then can be traced onto the sampler fabric. I am currently opting not to put the sampler in a frame, but will use a series of hoops that are wrapped on the bottom to create a firm base. I also am encouraging them to do a basic plan -- my plan is to do a colored thread running stitch which will divide the sampler into 4 quarters (Left Top, Right Top, Left Bottom, and Right Bottom). My whitework will go into the Right Top section and my first 2 spot motifs into the Left Top section. Then I will move down the sampler as appropriate. The linen is 17 x 18, I think, and I will do some hem stitching around the edges. We shall see what transpires.

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Monday, November 19, 2007

ATC madness

Linn is here! Hurrah! She arrived on Thursday. Saturday was the Artist Trading Card (ATC) workshop. Although it only had 6 participants we had fun and were productive in the way that only small groups can be. We unlocked our creativity and our glue sticks/spray/etc. Linn had brought lots of stuff - fabrics including some wonderful sheers, threads - iron on and others, sequins - all types and some sequin waste, beads, paints, crayons, and and and.... It made the creativity easy.

We made individual cards rather than a whole sheet at a time. We had card blanks (watercolor paper) and separate labels to apply. We started with the crayons that are watercolors. It was a great way to jump in with both feet and create a background. The class was very diverse and our cards were very different - even if we used the same materials.

As time went on cards acquired names. I created and finished 4 and then began a series In the picture (which does not do justice to the texturedness of the cards) they are:
summer spring
autumn winter
Fire 1 Fire 2 - these are in process

Running around for turkey day and family gathering. Hope everyone's day is full of good food and good cheer!


First a bit of catching up. A few posts ago I mentioned creating ornaments for our fund raiser. Here is a pic of the ones I did. There were 2 of the "ornament" but one is on the opportunity drawing swag. The pattern is a free on from the Rainbow Gallery website. The button trees were not my idea, but they were quick and fun to make.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

CQ Weekend

Fun - Frustrating - definitely crazy!

It was a "retreat" 3 day weekend for quilters at the local quilt shop - Always Quilting. There were about 30 people. Each person had their own machine and stuff to work on. About 1/3 were there to do their own projects, just share the atmosphere. About 1/3 were there to do crazy patch projects - templated crazy patch without any embroidery. About 1/3 were there to do true crazy quilting or at least find out about it.

Several of the ladies had signed up for Sharon B's tour classes, but had yet to be informed that the tour was canceled. We did manage to meet the original goal for the class which was to ensure that they had 4-6 blocks built and a familiarity with some of the basic stitches. I'm not sure we managed to do more although I did talk lots about design and placement of stitches, motifs, bits and bobs, etc.

While the core of the 9 1/2 people in my "group" got "it" and even ran with it, 3 1/2 opted out after the first day to do their own thing, although they did attend the "talk" portions. Everyone in our group said they enjoyed it and learned lots, but I guess I am more used to more "heavy duty" workshops where you work hard and learn lots. This was a LOT more relaxed.

Things I would do differently:
•really work at building blocks with different methods - we talked different methods but did not push it.
•do most of the talking for the first hour in the am and then again after lunch - but once they settle down. We had alternated talking design and stitches - 6 talks on each through out the time - 30 min on average for each (the syllabus was 20 pages). However, the "audience" was not always attentive as they really wanted to get on with the sewing early on. In part this is the quilt background - give them a pattern and they do it. I'm not unhappy, just need to factor in the differences. Once they got their blocks built then they were happier about the talks - they realized their value.
•have a bigger white board for drawing - I only had a 2'x3'. They could see it but...

Things that worked really well:
•having a pile of fabrics and bits and bobs that they could buy in to for a set fee
•having preprinted templates - 3 for them to play with to start. After #3 they were ready to do one freehand.
•having the print picture on fabric bits for them - we did 4 pages with around 20 Victorian motifs/pictures.
•doing the stitch learning on aida cloth and having them each have a CQ Stitch Guide. I talked about the how of the stitch and made them use the guides. After all I won't be there with them when they are at home. There were a couple who wanted more hand holding, but this method worked mostly okay.

Food was good and there was plenty of lighter fare. Atmosphere was pretty fun, but there are things we could do to make it less "serious". I'm afraid some of my frustration was showing - trying to talk over the other 2 groups when they had not settled down yet (sigh!).

Next up, the shop wants to have a regular CQ meeting time/monthly. Perhaps with classes people can take quarterly. We shall see.

Need to take more SharonB classes to learn more!!! I was able to answer most of the questions and address the issues raised, but I am not fluent yet in CQ design.

Learned lots. Made a couple friends. People seemed to really appreciate the effort I made to convey information -- even a couple in the other groups.

Final score: 5 new cq people, 3 timidly trying, 1 1/2 will consider trying cq next year -- after the current rounds of projects is done. Plus a couple more who might be interested after listening in despite the chaos.

All in all a positive weekend.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Running Fast - So What's New?

I commented this weekend to friends that I was "running fast"/juggling and they replied "so what's new?". Guess a lot of my life is like that. Just so long as I remember what is important -- friends and family, I guess I'm doing okay.

Shortly after my last post, I received a call from my cousin that her husband had died and they were having a memorial. Would I come? So off to Beaverton for the weekend. It was way better than I expected as a visit. We will see if the seeds that were planted are fruitful.

Came back to do my EGA local chapter meeting. Fun needlepoint stuff with wierd threads. Sometimes you just need to do something different!

City wide garage sale on the 29th - whew! Put out lots of stuff and lots went away. We excavated in the storage lockers and brought home about 2 dozen boxes of stuff. Some of the china I knew I wanted or is slated to go to various people - it is all washed and cleaned now. The other stuff was washed and put out for sale. Enough stuff went away that we packed down with one less box. Still no nibbles on the furniture (sigh). Will try to do another garage sale in Oct to make more stuff go away.

Put together my computer "slide" show of "Thread of Time: A Look at Needlework Throughout History". Had to put a cap at 1650 forward in order to do justice to the prior time pieces. It ran about 1 hr 15 min and I did some shortening as we moved through the presentation. Learned enough about powerpoint to do the presentation and then purchased a projector to do the presentation. Figured since I hope to do the show several times in the next year or so that it would pay for itself.

Then off to my Regional EGA weekend set of meetings - finance, board, Presidents, and Regional. Did lots of info collection to prep for the training I'm doing at the February meeting.

Missed GWW as it was opposite the EGA weekend of meetings. Will miss October Crown next year as it is opposite the EGA weekend of meetings and it is the weekend that if all goes as planned I would become Regional Director - presuming they still want me after the Feb presentation. Might be able to do GWW next year. I enjoyed the classes the last time we went.

Spent this last week catching up and having a house guest. We played a bit and then cooked like crazy in prep for Oct Crown -- 18 lamb hand pies, 24 chicken and leek hand pies and 20 apple handpies. We bought foccacia at the farmers market and Anne bought some yummy bread. We had lots of food and unfortunately lots came home. We ate well.

It rained on Friday - not bad but enough that everything was damp/wet. It stopped early evening and Saturday and Sunday were dry.

Friday evening, Will squired to Brion of Bellatrix. It was awesome!

The fighting was great. There were around 80 fighters in the list and only one unbelted was asked to cross over to the belted ranks to even the fields. The one unbelted was a woman whose partner won fighting for her. Did the needleworkers meeting. Did the Arachne's Web meeting. Presented the Kneeling carpets -- lots of awed sounds. Now to do the history of them for the history website. Received a Grant of Arms for the project. It is very nice to have one's work appreciated.

Meanwhile -- painting on our house will begin this week. This weekend we are supposed to do a Garagae Sale. Next week is my EGA meeting and all my ornaments for the fundraiser need to be finished -- 5 button/bead felt tree ornaments are embellishd, 2 of 3 of the needlepoint ornaments are stitched. Need to finish prepping for the 3 day CQ weekend - need to get at least 4 squares stitched and embellished.

Plus goldwork -- while Linn is here she is teaching a goldwork class down in San Jose. There are still slots open for it -- November 24. A lady contacted me since she was interested in goldwork. I told her Linn might be able to do a class and it seems to be happening.

So yes I am running fast. I'll post photos of the ornaments and the blocks in the upcoming weeks.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Fun Upcoming Workshop

Actually for me it will be a fun 2 weeks. My mentor Linn Skinner will be coming to the San Francisco Bay Area. Since she is here we are a taking advantage of her presence and scheduling workshops and classes.

First up is a workshop on making Artists Trading Cards (ATCs). Full details of the workshop can be found here . It is play time!!!

Then we are off to a medieval feast and then a stitching afternoon. We get to relax for a couple days and then it is Thanksgiving. We are doing the full feast with all the trimmings.

Then Linn will be doing a class at Always Quilting on some lesser know Victorian Crazy Quilt Stitches - tentatively set for Nov 23 in the afternoon. Then on the following Tuesday, Linn is giving a lecture/slide show & look at examples on 19th C. School Room Samplers.

It will be full few days with lots of stitching and laughs.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Introspection - warning not my usual post

For those who are not aware, today is the eve of Rosh Hashonah - the Jewish New Year. It is said that between Rosh Hashonah and Yom Kippur, those who will live are written into the book of life. On Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, the book is sealed. For some this is a time for redressing old wrongs and for some this includes ensuring that all bills are paid, jobs are done or plans are set up, etc. Whatever this means it includes introspection at the very least.

For me this is a wierd time of year. On Sept 12, 1948 my parents were married. Both have now died. Sept 21st is my birthday and being in my 50's I can't help but wonder whether I've done well with my life -- spent my time here in ways that add value -- and of course what I should change in the coming year.

This year is a bit different as I am spending lots of time on family history (working with a biographer) and emptying the 2nd of 3 storage lockers. I keep getting swamped with memories. Usually this happens later in the year over the holidays.

The holiday season (November & December) is a very poignant time for me. I am an only child. My parents are gone, as are their parents and siblings. Nearly all of them either had birthdays or passed away during November/December.

In addition, most of the people who knew me and my family, have passed on as well. Over the past few years I have made some new and wonderful friends - but they don't know my past life. As time passes it matters less, but there are still moments.

The grief lessens, but does not pass completely. I grow stronger in lots of different ways, but I am very definitely NOT the same person I was 10 years ago. I am fortunate that my husband loves me and we have continued to grow together. My life is good. I am fortunate in my true friends.

I will continue to play/work in my various organizations, but not to the same level as before. I will not give my whole heart for it has been broken too many times. I will give my energies, but only when I know they will be appreciated. I will continue to value myself and perhaps even more than before.

Some have seen this as a lack of humility -- so be it! As a person I do not think I am better/more valuable, but in various aspects I am better qualified, or knowledgeable. I don't need others to validate my worth as an individual although I find I want their respect. If others can't see the distinction, then I can no longer waste time and energy on them. I am strong enough to walk my own path.

I truly believe in the golden rule - Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. I will try to set aside past negative experiences and move forward on my path. I can only change me. I want my life to be positive and will work it make it so.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Crazy Quilting and more

Some of you know that Sharon Boggins is coming to the US next year. HURRAH! Our SF Bay Area will be one of her stops. To ensure that anyone who wants to take her classes has the necessary prerequisites, the shop Always Quilting and I are putting on a CQ Retreat weekend. The shop wanted something to display so I worked madly and put together the front panel for a hussif (Victorian sewing roll). It still needs some more embellishment, but I didn't want the example to be tooooooo challenging to newbie CQ people. So consider these to be "in process" pics. The piece is set for a finished size of 25" long and 8" wide.

Next up, is to do 4 to 6 blocks - 8" blocks with the set of agreed upon stitches. I have 3 patterns the shop made in their EQ6 program from which I'll make card pattern pieces. Since we will give these to the students, I had better test them out first. Then I'll do a couple blocks freeform. The shop also gave me an advance pack of fat quarters for the new Kaufman fabrics designed by Judith Montano Baker. I also purchased some silks from the JMB collection from Treenway silks. I have some additional threads I'll probably add in, but at least the base will have a predetermined set of color matches.

In case anyone is wondering, I do my CQ embroidering using Qsnaps. I find that they work better on square/rectangular things. I like being able to see all/most of what I am working on to avoid working myself into a corner/block.

However, I can't get started on the blocks until next week. We are off this weekend to an invitational only tournament. It promises to be hot - 90-100 all weekend (nights in the mid-60's). Haven't figured what project I'll take with me. The site has a red clay dirt so I don't think I'll take the lace (LOL). I have some alpaca in a reddish color - the whole fleece, that needs spinning so maybe that will be an idea. For now, off to finish the 2nd chair cover and to unearth ALL the banners -- 2 for the pavilion, 2 for the field decoration poles, 2 for the feast hall. Wish we had a new gambeson and fighting over tunic for Will. Oh well, next time.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Pictures as Promised

Whew!!! Stopping for a quick break to fulfill the promise made a few posts ago.

For June Crown I made lanyards on some awls as thank-yous to the ladies who did the embroidery for the Kneeling Carpets. Each is done on the muradai rather than fingerloop braiding. I could get a more even tension and it gave me practice for kumihimo.

As a gift to our current Queen, Kaaren, some of us did bits of embroidery to go on her persian coat. I was assigned a rose. We were given the threads, fabric premarked, and complete discretion on stitches. I did the outlines in stem/outline stitch, filled with chain for the petals, a version of leaf for the leaves, outline for the accents, and beads for the center. I also whipped the outer petals with gold thread. It reads pretty well for a piece approximately 4" in diameter. It must have been okay since it was placed on the center front right panel top -- just under where a belt would be placed.

At A&S I turned into Her Majesty Kaaren the gift bag for Pennsic. Our giftee was Atenvelt. I was assured by Their Majesties that the bag would be a point of contention for the recipients (as in which Majesty would get to keep the bag). I can only hope so --- LOL! It is made of heavy blue wool with gold wool applique. It was large enough for a 4" binder. I did the applique accents in black silk. Other accents are in gold and blue wool threads.

More on my latest project anon.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007


Whew! Managed to pickup Jane at the airport even with her plane an hour late. I used the time to visit Michaels and pick up 2 of everything she listed for us to bring. Somethings were in the alternative, but I figured there is always someone who can not find the necessary items or who didn't get the supplies list. We ran by the store to get a look at the space and design our set up. Met up with the class organizer and made sure everything was a go. Since the pickup was on fighter practice night, I warned Jane that there would be a strange man arriving home late. In fact she might not even see him even in the am since he was taking the MDX in for servicing and would be leaving early.

Will left early and I had just finished dressing when I received a call "Honey you need to come get me. I'm okay, but I've been in an accident." The accident was about 1.5 miles south on Hwy 1. It took me forever to get there. I called the class organizer to come pick up Jane since I didn't know when I would get there.

Will was at a stop light. He was stopped. He was rear ended by a newish pickup truck. It spun him 180 degrees and into the left turn lane. Fortunately, there was no cross traffic. The pickup stopped about 100 yards - he never braked. BOTH drivers walked away. So.... the MDX is no more. If you want to see pictures of the demise of the MDX ... It did its job and Will is okay -- a bit bruised and shaken, but okay. Went to the doc and he didn't find anything broken fortunately. Have spent large portions of several days with insurance companies since and it is not over yet.

Spent large portions of the day being Will's driver to work, the doc, etc. Spent a bit of time in class and picked up Jane at the end with Will along. He was still a bit dazed over the event.

Thoroughly enjoyed my remaining 3 days of class with Jane. She is delightful as a person and extremely knowledgeable as a teacher. She claims she is a bit of a martinet, but I found her to be very kid glove in guiding the class and ensuring that everything is adequately covered. Learned lots - lots of little hints and tricks that make things easier. I had commented on her name tag and asked how she did the pomegranate. She had me turn to the page of her book and started to walk me through it. I promptly said - I understand it now!

No time to practice unfortunately. Spent Tuesday with my EGA meeting, planning the CQ weekend in November and teaching Tuesday evening. Then had to finish the handout for the filet lace class and the Pennsic presentation bag for Saturday. The class went well - 5 students! The bag was delivered with 2 lengths of inkle trim in blue and gold and 2 dozen lavendar wands. Yes I took pics. I'll post a series of pics soon - I promise.

This week is more family history stuff and doing a bit of CQ. Need to have an example or 2 for the shop's booth at the County Fair. We want lots of signups for the November weekend. They need about 20 to cover the basic costs plus the cost of having me. Seems a bit strange to be charging serious bucks for my teaching, but it is 3 full days. Should be lots of fun.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Eyes Crossing

Running fast the next few days. I have the pleasure of being Jane Nicholas's hostess while she is on this side of the bay. She is teaching a basic class and an intermediate class for us. 

I understand stumpwork in theory. I looked at lots of it during the UK trip. Now for some hands on at the feet of an expert. I am so looking forward to this.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Adventures in Fingerloop Braiding

Almost forgot to share.... I entered the narrow wares competition at June Crown and won (grin).

I had been doing some fingerloop braiding - nothing complicated before we went to England. Then part of the class was doing some fancier loop manipulation with Jacqui Carey who is one of THE experts. Lots of things went "ding" during that portion of the class. She also introduced us to a new, for me, source - Lady Bindloss's manuscript - 2nd qtr. 17th C.

Part of my problem with reading Spies or the CA#108 by Swales and Williams was, it didn't click for me. Their way of walking you through the moves didn't line up with the way my brain works. Tak Bowes I can use easily. Carey I understand easily. Once I saw through Bowes and then Carey "the how", I could return to Spies and the CA and understand most of what was being said. It no longer was a foreign language.

When I returned I wanted to do some more fingerloop braiding to cement the knowledge. Spent a couple weeks reviewing the materials - including scans of and redactions of period books. Some of the books have samples of the braids glued to the pages of the book.

For the entry I "created" a "book" of samples (bound the pages together with a braid). I started with reviewing the sources. Then showed half a dozen braids - the source, identified if there was a redaction from a printed source and if not gave my own, what the braid would have been used for, how the ends would have been finished, and then put the braid on the page (using a whole punch to make a place for the braid - versus glue). I did 5,7 and 8 loop braids including one with "split loops" (loops made from 2 colors). I also did "staff and crowns" on the marudai, and identified it as such; since it requires 2 braiders. Each example was done with a 2 ply silk which is about the right weight for the braids from the London finds; although it was probably a finer finished silk than I used for the examples.

It was fun to do. Met my need to "cement" the technique. The win was a great bonus.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Creativity - where is my muse

The trouble with having so many projects on my plate, is that even when I am procrastinating about one project, I'm still making headway on another.

I really need to do up a batch of artist trading cards. I know the base I'm going to use - the soy silk "paper" I made awhile ago. It is large enough to make a batch of 12. I even think I know what is going to go on the base. The design, however, escapes me (BIG SIGH). Rather than work through the block, I am procrastinating.

Nor am I working on the pieces that need to be done this month - the filet lace piece and class and the presentation bag for Atenvelt. Really need to do those next week or I'll be in deep....

While my creativity seems to be at a low point, I am working on low creativity required projects. Been working on a piece to go on a friends gown - a secret project. It is basic stitching on linen so it is almost meditative. To change off I work on some kumihimo, or knitting.

I also have a "challenge" from my EGA region workshop director - a canvaswork crazy quilt ornament. You do the base in 3 fibers with 4 patterns. The ornament is split into sections like fabric patches and you do the patterns in different directions. Then comes the creative part - doing surface embroidery over the "seams" and patches.

Jane Nicholas arrives in 2 weeks from Australia. We are the first stop on her N. America tour. She will be staying with me for a week (big grin). Guess I better see what the materials list for class has on it.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Necessity - a foundation for Creativity

When I was getting ready for the UK trip, I was given a list of items to bring for the class. In addition, as I did the homework, there were other items which made my stitching easier. Then came the issue - how best to carry them. Considering the weight limits, taking my usual stitching box was not an option.

I have a couple plastic "organizer" boxes from the office supply store - the 6" x 8" x 2" size. Since this would be good protection and light weight it made a good choice. Next to go in were the silks that we had been provided with for the stitching. What was left were necessary items - scissors (NOT my best but still quality): 2 pair - one for embroidery and one for cutting metal threads, needles: they sent a tapestry needle (24) and a gold embroidery needle, but when doing the embroidery I found that it was easier to have different needles going for different colors. I also found myself using a couple straight pins and a needle threader. So obviously I needed some sort of needlecase.

I've been eying some of the Hussifs and thinking about making one in the encrusted crazy quilting, but not something to be done on deadline. In looking at the site, there was a pattern for making a fan style crazy quilt patch. Hmmmm. I like fans. Hmmmmm.

In looking at the fan pattern, I saw a double scissor case with built in needlecase. So out came the nice wool felts, some cotton and wool threads and here is the result.

I started with a 1/4 circle that was 5 1/4" on the straight sides. It worked well even when stuffed full. I may add ribbons to tie it shut, but otherwise I am well pleased with the experiment.

A couple of the ladies in the class asked if they could "teach" my project at their shop. The answer is of course yes with proper attribution. Enjoy!

If you are interested, I also popped a thimble (their request), a pair of tweezers, bees wax rose, and ruler in my travel case for the class.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Catching Up - Maybe

Trying hard not to run in circles (scream and shout). On the life side, I am soooo not a techie but there are lots of techie items to handle. My blog has code issues to be dealt with and I am avoiding them. I need to redo my website - 3 years out of date. That would not be so bad, except we are on basic DSL and can't upgrade at present. When the spouse works from home, he has issues with the downloads taking away from his productivity. I love that people seem to be enjoying my website and using my materials, but I need to redo the site for ease of use (not to mention all the new materials waiting to be added). I need to build a webpage/s for our UK trip and finish linking the pages from our last 2 trips. I also need to move into ical and AddressBook. I'll need to upgrade my operating system soon, so need to move out of the old comfortable programs (sigh!).

On the house side, we are in the process of preparing to have the outside of the house painted. Have chosen the contractor. Now to choose the paint colors.

For the SCA - June Crown approaches. We are presenting the Kneeling Carpets. The ladies have done a fabulous job in needling them into shape. I need to finish the Queen's Carpet label and then block it and the Kings label. Then I'll do a piece on its making for the History website. Meanwhile I'm weaving lavender wands (the lavender tells you when it is ready to be worked) and making the thank-you gifts for the needleworkers (12 in all). Since I picked up a new addiction in the UK - Kumihimo, I'm trying out different patterns for the thank-yous. In addition a friend is having a momentous ceremony and some of us are doing decorations for her ceremony garment -- fortunately I only need to do a small bit. Then next month I need to make the presentation bag for the Pennsic gifts (viking style bag).

On the EGA side - I'm preparing for Jane Nicholas to come for a weeks visit/classes in July. Our chapter is doing a redwork style quilt and I am project manager for it. Linn Skinner is coming in November and will be doing a Wild and Wonderful workshop on Artist Trading Cards (more on that later) and I need to get the arrangements for it in place.

Need to empty the next storage locker by November so need to buckle down and do more on ebay, garage sales, etc. Sometimes the memories are a bit overwhelming, but it is time to take this step.

On the teaching side - June Crown is Reticella, A&S/July is Filet Lace - a new class for me, August is Finishing - in preparation for our ornament "donation thank-you" for EGA in November, September is the Blackwork Needlecase, October - lecture on History of Embroidery - another new class, November is a Crazy Quilt weekend - make 6 blocks and learn 6 stitches - also new. This class is in prep for next years tour for Sharon Boggins.

Now I remember why I don't do ToDo Lists. Today is pay bills, laundry, other mundane tasks, and find the desk top. Hope to reward myself with some Kumihimo tonight.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Home Sweet Home

Is it already Monday??? Saturday was training from Edinburgh to London. Very good thing that we had reserved seats on the train. The prior train was leaving after ours due to delays. Shared the car with a group of Scots off to see a soccer game outside of London. They partied hardy for the 5 hours of the trip. They were a bit loud, but quite friendly. Lovely countryside for most of the trip -- and we were on the ocean side of the train.

Easy night in London since it was sandwiched between long travel days. Up early on Sunday to get the private car to the airport -- something about 4 people and 7 bags. Ran the gauntlet of Heathrow to our plane. Thank heaven for flying business class - 70 pounds per bag permitted (versus 50) and expedited handling for us and our bags; well worth the miles to upgrade. Long uneventful flight home. As always the movies I'd have liked to see were playing for the reverse flights.

Home by 2 pm California time. The cats duly shed fur all over us. Picked up mail today and will do a quick sort for bills. My sampler arrived. Will unpack it tomorrow. Tomorrow is my local EGA meeting including Board meeting. Have to remember to switch my wallet back to US currency and remember how to drive in the am. Will try to stay up past 8 pm tonight to try to get back on schedule.

It is good to be home! The yard is in bloom -- the roses have burst with color and the bearded iris are a glow. We are beginning to get stocks with 4-5 blossoms so need to get them staked up. Home is quiet! Hadn't realized how quiet or rather how noisy city life and travel can be. It is good to be home.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Scotland in 4 days or less

The typical Scotish weather finally arrived so consider everything to be a bit damp. Drove up to Stirling and its castle. The castle itself is in disrepair but the outbuildings and walls are in good repair. Will had fun running around identifying what was built when and what was changed. It must have been a fabulous place when it was first occupied. The kitchens are very well done and show how they were used. They also have a house done up like a 17th wealthy merchant's. It is relatively well done as well.

Stopped by the Falkirk Wheel on the way back at the suggestion of one of our needlework classmates. It moves barges in lieu of a series of locks. Fascinating!!!!

Then off to Glasgow yesterday. A fast pass through the Burrell -- sooooooo much stuff and it is all so fabulous. Took pics but no flash. Fortunately if I really want a pic I can order them. Then off to the Kelvingrove which has just reopened. It is set up to attract children and inquisitive minds, not for the researcher. That said, what they had out was wonderful and the display was very innovative. Met up with a friend of a friend for a drink in a classic Glaswegian pub.

Today was off to Rosselyn Chapel. It truly is an awesome place. Too bad it is being overrun with tourists. The carving is quite incredible. It is small - 100 people would fill it easily. Yes we got pics, including some of the 100+ green men. Drove through town to drop off friends at the pier (Britannia) and then back to our local area to drop off the car. Will does quite well in traffic as well as the motor way -- even with 6 gears being shifted with his left hand.

Train tomorrow to London. It won't be feasible to stop in York so will have to have them ship the slate frames to me. Then back home on Sunday. It has all been wonderful, but I am ready to come home; after all I seem to be in need of a application of fur. Surely the cats will help when I am home.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

If It Is Tuesday It Must Be Scotland

So much has happened in the recent few days, but I will try and catch everyone up.

First what were "the guys" doing while we stitched -- one day they trained to Leeds to visit the Royal Armoury (no pictures permitted anymore), one day they drove to Carlisle and walked all over the Castle, the Roman Fort and a Hadrian's Wall Mile marker, one day they did laundry, one day they took a walk with our local tutor's SO along an abandoned railway trestle complete with bridge and followed with pub lunch -- as you see they were keeping busy.

For us last Thursday was using a braiding post - a post attached to a table and you use it to hold the loop ends while you weave between your hands (loop manipulation) with 5 loops. We then did a braid using a the kumihimo technique - far easier and more even tension. As our tutor says "a thread under tension is a thread under control" which is soooo true for braiding. In the afternoon we started with Jane Lemon working with purls and bullion.

Then came the marketplace -- very dangerous place with items from our tutors, Bill Barnes - Golden Threads, and much more. This was then followed by a lecture and slide show on the work of the Sarum Group. The altar frontals and accompanying bits are awe inspiring - truly! What was the most fascinating to me was the design - looks great at 100 yards, 30 - 10 - close. You see more and more detail.

Friday was our 2 sessions with Jane. In the am we did a braid stitch called a basket stitch. It is a variation on interlocking cross stitch. It was a bitch to do with #8 passing - looks great, but.... We did it with 2 threads lying under. This did help with width maintenance, but.... In the afternoon we did the background with Madeira "metal thread" in an encroaching Gobelin pattern. She had us doing a wierd variation to avoid splitting threads, but there are other ways of doing it which lay more evenly. Think I frustrated Jane a bit. Since I will change a couple of the motifs to bugs (from leaves), I'm not sure of my boundaries, so did not want to do a full run up and down the side of the bag. Jane did give us a wonderful talk on design - value, focal point, and fibinacci, while we worked.

Friday evening was our Elizabethan Dinner at Dalmain House. It was a lovely dinner and we sat at a 16th/17th C. trestle table (the other 2 were more modern) in the oldest part of the hall which dates back to the late 1500's. The room had mostly candlelight and fireplace light for the dinner.

Saturday we drove to the Bowes Museum. The medieval hall, the costume hall, and the textile hall were closed. What we did see was wonderful, including some lace. Yes I managed to get the book from their lace exhibit which closed in April. For dinner, it was arranged for us to go to a nearly pub for a fabulous dinner. The pub was under new management and the chef was a fine London chef. Very yummy!

Sunday we were up early to drive to Traquair House in Scotland - about 2 hours. We arrived before the coach with everyone else aboard. The day was dreary and misty. The house is late Elizabethan and very little has changed about it. Since it has been in the same family, and they were always Catholic, they paid large fines over the years and hadn't the money to "improve" the house. They have fabulous slips - 6 uncut hangings and a 6th which was obviously for edgings. The brew house was closed for brewing, but Will bought a couple pints for testing/tasting. No pictures permitted :(

Then onto the hotel - Dryburgh Abbey Hotel - a converted manor house next to the Abbey grounds. It was a nice hotel and we had a lovely dinner. Up the next am to walk through the Abbey grounds before we left. Very atmospheric!

On to Mellerstain House a few miles from Dryburgh. The house was closed so we had the whole place to ourselves. It dates back to late Elizabethan times, but was extensively remodeled by the architects Adams (father and son) during Georgian times. Quite lovely, but I resisted waltzing down the rows of museum cases in the ballroom. Then off to Edinburgh - about 35 miles away. Found our B&B Kew House easily. Good dinner at a small place recommended by our landlord.

Today was Edinburgh Castle and a tour bus around the city. Fascinating! The metal thread embroidery on the regimental dress is something to see even if you aren't interested in the castle portion. On the way out we went into a working tartan wool weaving mill and shop. The weaving hasn't changed much in the last 150 years except the pattern is done with metal cards, the width has doubled, and an engine was attached to the loom. Tired now. Edinburgh is a walking city and the feet hurt. Shall take a rest before dinner.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Too Much To Learn

Firstly, we are doing a modified swetebag -- which is twinging my historic side horribly. It is an amalgam of bags and the tutors styling. It targets a 1630's bag, but does have several accommodations - most notably size. It is larger. The items on the bag have been simplified in some ways and added to in other ways -- it is hard to describe. Suffice to say it is all good for learning, but I doubt it is a project I will finish; as I hoped.

That said, there is lots to learn and much applicable to doing a real historic swetebag. The first 3 sessions for my group (we were divided into 3 groups)focused on stitching. Some of the things we covered included -- (1)detached buttonhole with return (Brussels stitch) and we did it coming out from the center of the flower with each petal separately, with 3 layers of colors; (2)hollie point - 3 or 4 colors with each petal separately and then totally detached edge (we will wire the edge eventually); (3)trellis stitch strawberry which we will add gold chips later.

The first 2 session of braids (never enough time) were on plaited braids which were finger looped and stitched as they were done - 2, 4 and 6 loop braids. The light truly went on when I think about the edgings on the 14th C gowns in the MOL books. The afternoon was making cording gimps and tassels -- this is where having a slightly larger scale really helps. As it was the gimps were 3 cm and the tassel and over all less than 10 cm. REALLY COOL!!!!

We also have had lectures galore - Overview of Swetebags (I asked after the lecture to PLEASE give each item a time frame (ie early 17th C) so we can really place things on a time tree. 2 on history - one on who was Lady Anne Clifford (Pembroke) and the George Washington connection. Then yesterday we went on a tour of Levens Hall and had a lecture on samplers. Really it was on motifs and how you see them time an again. The pictures our tutors have is amazing. Sigh!!! If only I had the same access. Many of the pictures I am familiar with the source, but frequently the picture is better than I have ever seen -- better detail or of items from private collections. Of course, the more you learn the more you see.

So I'll sign off now (boy do I sound British :) and let the brain rest up tonight. Kumihimo tomorrow and then goldwork in the afternoon. Ta Ta!

Sunday, May 06, 2007

more adventures

when last we left our intrepid adventurer.... dinner at the most marvelous Indian place, Khan's. On the way we walked through a market with wonderful sweets - baklava and Turkish Delight leaped into a shopping bag on the way through.

Up early -- on Monday to train to Manchester. The B&B was called a conference center....NOT! The beds and baths were clean, but -- sigh they don't understand coffee or even decent food. The Indian food, since it was on the "curry mile", lacked after the prior evening. The Whitworth had some very special items. It is small and very little is on display. Definitely an "appointment needed" place. The Platt had some oh-my-g_d items - forhead cloth and matching coif - never used, a blackwork coif - never used and definite done by a pro, a boys jacket like the coif, then there were the gloves -- they had 4 sets out on display......

Met up with Su & Mike -- www.tillerman.beads for dinner at a favorite pub. Fun night. And THEN we got to play in the beads (big grin).

Up early to travel to Macclesfield Silk Museum and Mill. It was Wednesday so Malcolm was doing the tour. He was in the industry for 50 years and gave a FAB tour. He also could work ALL the equipment in the Mill. WAAAAAAY Cool! Quick lunch in the car and off to Haddon Hall -- neat to see a 12th C hall in somewhat pristine condition. Just missed the Tudor Food weekend. The ovens were still hot!

Off to the B&B in Bakewell. Wonderful bed and full breakfast -- with Derbyshire oatcakes (yummy). Still no decent coffee (sigh). Full day - first Chatsworth and then Hardwick Hall. Chatsworth was fab!!! and they are lovely people - the wardens. Hardwick -- no photos (big cry!). There are examples in the embroidery of items that others tell me aren't around for another 50-100 years. Long day - slept well. Up early on Friday to drive to Appleby.

But first a stop in Todmorden to see Mike in his studio and Su's barge - Cutwork. Wonderful visit! Managed to miss most of the Bank Holiday traffic (like Memorial Day for those of us in the US) on the way. Will did a great job of driving freeway to narrow roads and parking on the wrongside of the road.

In Appleby, we are staying with a friend of the tutors in an addition to a farmhouse about 3 miles out of town. Old farmhouse. Lovely people. Will has to duck in some areas of the house and doorways.

Saturday they took us on a drive through the Lake District. Lovely scenery! They took us to Wordsworth's house and the adjacent museum - Dove Cottage. First editions galore and a private talk and tour. Then they brought out some textiles - just for our viewing. In the evening there was reception for us with the Lord Mayor at Moot Hall.

Today was our first class day. We are divided into 3 groups. I started with the stitching and will progress to cords and then metal thread. Today's lecture was on Swetebags -- neat pics and lots of info. More coming. Todays stitches - detached buttonhole with return and hollie point.

Will sign off for now and hope to have more regular internet access as we go forward.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

ouch goes the pocket book

Portobello - met up with Erna on her last day in her shop. Bought a reticella sampler - probably a learning sampler - 16th C. Went to the Thimble Club shop - bought a mother of pearl lucet and a Ladys Companion for embroidery and tambour. They want a column or 3 from me for the English audience -- what do you do with these tools...

Went back to the V&A. British Galleries - pre 1760 are closed. Textile room closed but they produced a gnome with key and I had 2 hours -- sigh. Never enough time but so much learned in those 2 hours. Scale -- more on this later. Stitches never talked about in different contexts and soooooo much more.

Off to dinner now. Figure if you pay a $1 for something in the US, you pay £1 but the conversion rate is 2:1 -- ouch. Cottage cheese when I return home.

Friday, April 27, 2007


This will be a short post from your friendly neighborhood internet cafe. Linn you know the one - in the Psychic Mews. Finally getting over the jet lag. The flight was lovely - business class and all, but still long and the time change gets to you no matter what. We are in the basement room of a converted Victorian/hotel. Will bumps his head on the door coming our of the room periodically.

Day 1 was the Museum of London. Expensive taxi ride but we were tired having just arrived on the plane. Half the museum is closed for renovations. Few if any textile items and nothing post 1660. Good displays of what they did have. Wish I had been able to see the sleeve with buttons and buttonholes BEFORE I gave the class -- pics in books just are not the same. Back to the hotel - early dinner, explore Queensway shops and to bed.

Up this am and off to the V&A. Half of it is closed for renovations and several more rooms - like the textile room with the slipcase, were closed due to lack of staff (colds, flu, etc.). Walked up almost to Harrods. Found powdered Coffeemate - no liquid. Soy milk is around - but we don't have refridgeration.

Excellent dinner at Wodka. Went there 10 years ago on our honeymoon (say ahhhhh). Now I'm battling an unfamiliar keyboard. Tomorrow Portobello. Will call and see if the V&A has staffing to open THE ROOM!!!!!

All for now -- ta ta (I'm getting in practice)

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Life Takes Precedence Over Plans

It has been quite a week. Last Thursday, I wa already to go out when our youngest cat indicated to me that he was having breathin difficulty. We had thought that he was trying to have his first hairball, but it looked a bit different. Off to the vet! Diagnosis - Pickwick has asthma
He got a shot and inhalant. Relief was on the way. He stayed overnight and we picked him up on Friday. Meds - 1 pregnisone daily plus some antibiotics to ensure no lasting problems from the mucus. Saturday 6 am he had another attack. Gave him his pregnisone early and still no relief an our later. Off to the vet for another puff of inhalant! No Coronet for Husband or me.
Frantic house cleaning ensues to ensure all possible allergens that can be eliminated are gone. Since there have been winds and field clearing near us, that is the probable cause, but you never know.
Pickwick came home later in the day. Pregnisone 2x daily for 5 days then taper off to maintenance dosage. Inhalent pill version for emergencies. Husband stayed home and I went off to Aja's memorial celebration.
Indeed it was a celebration. Lots of old timers including some from Florida (Doug & Lorna) and Oregon (James). Lots of laughs and some tears. Yes I have pics of her work for the history site.
Pickwick is doing well on 2 pills. I've been staying home mostly to ensure all okay. Yesterday was the first day out -- had to do the the makeup and stocking thing for a professional meeting. I'm so out of practice (sigh). Now we begin the taper off. I'll be home mostly so I can be there for him. Hope all goes well. War looms in our future next weekend so will have to alert the pet sitter (she comes 2x day).
Now back to working on the plans for the UK trip. Getting excited! Need to do the homework for the sweetbag class - tent stitch in flat silk on linen canvas.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Being Domestic & Stitching

Between stitching engagements, I've been soooo domestic that I am beginning to feel like Martha Stewart - NOT! I have however, been doing lots of cooking and "cleaning up". Yesterday dinner was - cornish game hens with my own special sauce, roasted yukon gold potatoes and roasted asparagus. I also made 10 cups of rhubarb conserve. 10 years ago, on our honeymoon in England, I came across rhubarb conserve in a tea shop in York. I like rhubarb - that wonderful fresh taste. The conserve had bits of orange in it and sugar - nothing else. The orange tasted almost candied, but that is a process that happens during the cooking - not separately. Since the first time I made it I had some tangelos, it has come to be Rhubarb Tangelo Conserve in my house.

Some other dishes that have emerged have been pork loin with rosemary and garlic, roasted broccoli, boiled baby yukon gold potatoes to use the rosemary garlic pork juices, marinated tri tip, various forms of steak sandwich, party wings, eggplant caviar, eggs benedict, matzah brie, matzah ball soup, and matzah pancakes, and more. It is so hard to eat low fat and eat prepared meals. Low fat can be tasty!

Meanwhile on the stitching front, I did a couple examples of blackwork bookmarks for the Cable Car Cablers/Smocking. We did the Greek Key design in class; in both double running and back stitch. I blathered about blackwork and smocking historically - 16th C or so. They had lots of questions and I managed to have answers for most of them. I don't mind saying I don't know, but it is always amazing to me how much I do know/retain from reading/researching. And yet there is so much I don't know and want to explore!

Our Guild meeting was a basic hardanger design. I had forgotten how much I enjoy doing hardanger. It was on 18 ct canvas rather than 22 ct aida and done with Watercolors (pearl pima cotton). Yes I'll post pics. I've also been stitching a couple new name tags. Laura Perrin was at the Stitching Festival and I picked up a couple of her freebie designs and $1 chunks of canvas. Not that I ever really follow a design, but ... In addition, I am doing 2 of our upcoming summer evening classes. I'll do the Greek Key for one and I am doing a Petite Project by Mary Knapp "Purple Mountains Majesty, a bargello altoids tin cover. Need to sit down and stitch the model for it. Also will need to do the "homework" for the English class. The specially woven linen canvas and silk (flat silk) has arrived. I need to do most of the tent stitch before the class. Now you know what I'll be stitching on in April.

I also need to do the model for one of our guild's kits - a design courtesy of Laura Perrin. We send simple embroidery kits to the VA hospital in Texas which houses returning vets. The kits are for family members to help pass the time. Our Guild is doing 3 new patriotic kits - 2 designed by members and this new one "American Star" -- 2 XS and 1 canvaswork. We will kit them in June - I hope. I'm shepharding the 2 members through the process of charting and creating "professional" looking instruction sheets.

If anyone wants to donate supplies to use - we need, preferably by June 15th:
14 count aida - white
18 count canvas - white or eggshell
DMC Floss - white, black, red 666 & 498, blue 797, purple 791, gold 725, green 699
DMC #5 Pearl cotton - navy 823, red 815, ecru
Ribbon Floss 144-001 Gold OR Kreinik 1/16th Ribbon 002-gold
Watercolors 008 OR 154 (#5 pearl cotton equivalent) OR Dinky Dyes Pearl Cotton #86 - note that Jo Mason of Dinky Dyes is providing us with a large "lot" of this
#22 and #24 Tapestry Needles
1 quart ziplocks
Email me or comment and I'll provide an address.

When I'm not stitching or cooking, I'm cleaning stuff out. More to go up on ebay soon. Garage sale this weekend. Lots more to charities and into the garbage. At least I can recycle the papers. We won't mention that I need to prep for meeting up with the tax man next week. Papercuts and stitching do NOT go together.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Knitting is a whole new language

No I haven't turned to the darkside. I knitted as a kid and then revived it a bit when I dyed my own yarn. Of course that project is still staring at me to finish.

Went to Stitches West on Friday last. I had signed up for a class on how to do scarves as I figured that with my limited knowledge I might be able to follow along. I learned buckets about how to do some effects (making holes, angles, multicolors, etc.). I asked lots of questions. The teacher didn't seem to mind since the other 3 students only asked vey mundane questions and just took in the whole exerience. I also introduced the teacher to some design color concepts like "poison" color use to make other colors "pop".

Then armed with my new yarn and needles I walked part of the floor before heading off to the "learn to knit" class. There were all sorts of threads and beads. There was also a fair contingent of things for spinners/weavers. Bought some yarn which is called "pencil" roving. It is tighter than true roving, but it should felt up really nice when knitted. I also bought some lovely dyed roving which will spin and knit up into something. Then I treated myself to a drop spindle. I wanted a nice one so if/when I go to events and spin, I'm not using the clunky one from class.

The "learn to knit" class came with plastic needles (far nicer than the old plastic ones) and baby blanket type yellow yarn. The best part was the instruction booklet. I was having some problems with remembering the pattern for perl. It also had good instructions for the knit stitch cast on (I had always done the half hitch cast), and several different ways to add, substract, and end off. Wish I had such good instructions for embroidery stitches. I'll need to do some thinking on what makes the booklet different than all the embroidery books I have in my library. (Note that I "won" at the EGA meeting opportunity drawing the book A-Z of Embroidery this week.)

Walked around a bit more after class before making myself leave without more purchases. I did treat myself to some more of the muskox yarn. Well, it was a little less than I paid in Fairbanks and I'm finally getting to the point where I might actually be able to knit with it; so it was my reward and goal (or so I reasoned TIC).

Monday, February 26, 2007


Thought it was about time for a change of pace. In many ways I am looking at streamlining my life so the simpler format is quite appropriate. Still need to figure out the RSS feed in from my LJ account and vice versa. Will try to add labels as appropriate and have opted to try the comments form for blogger rather than reblogger.

More soon - but just a teaser -- went to Stitches West -- knitting show. LOVE those threads!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

A Different Type of Stitching

After all the historically focused stitching and deadline stitching of the last couple months, I am taking a short break. Yes I need to do my column which will be on Interlace, but I've got a couple weeks to get it done.

As you know I've been playing with quilting. Crazy quilting in particular. I am coordinating the visit of Sharon Boggins from In a Minute Ago when she comes to the San Francisco Bay Area in June 2008. As part of this I am working with a quilt shop - Always Quilting. Before Sharon's class we will need to have had a series of how to build a block classes, something the store does on a regular basis, and some basic embroidery classes. So some how I'm teaching basics for Redwork next week. To that end, I'm stitching a butterfly. I'm using some of the Dinky Dyes overdyed silk threads which are always a joy to use. I'm doing stem/outline stitch in single and double threads, satin stitch, and will do a bit of back stitch too. I'm thinking of doing a series of butterflys like a redwork quilt, but we will have to see if time permits.

I am also doing a teacher exchange with the smocking guild the following week. Need to redesign my basic blackwork handout and remind myself of its historical application to smocking (need that patter or is that blather).

Then as if I don't have enough on my plate, at the EGA region meeting our workshop coordinator handed out a "Petite Project" with a challenge to bring it back to the June meeting. It is pulled and drawnwork. The instructions are lousy, but I can figure out what they want done. She handed out Jobelin fabric and pearl cotton. I'm using the fabric (blech!), but since I had some of the Dinky Dyes cottons handy... I've had a series of nasty colds so stitching something brainless has been good therapy.

I am supposed to receive the pre-work for the England trip class in the next couple weeks as well. Then since my column deadline is while I'm away, I need to get that column done asap as well. Meanwhile back to writing up the instructions for joining the kneeling carpets. It should have been done last month, but it is hard to think with a head cold.

On a Valentine's note, my honey wants us to go to the Cyprian's Ball this weekend so he can "pick me up". Every one say "ahhhhhhh". Lots of waltzing, hope the head is clear by then.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Threaded Thoughts

A couple of people have commented on my comments about choosing a thread for the background of the Elizabethan pincushion - so here goes.

My research shows that it was a metal thread used for the background whether it was tent or straight gobelin or encrouching gobelin. The comments from people who have received training at the Royal School suggested 371 (gold) for doing plaited braid stitches and something finer for background stitches. 340 (gold) and 345 (silver) are finer and supposedly about the correct diameter for the stitching. 371 is too stiff for stitching, but that is what makes it good for doing the braided stitches. 340/345 would probably work for an encrouching gobelin stitch because of the layering of the thread would create sufficient coverage. It didn't work for straight gobelin on 36 count linen.

The swete bags historically were anywhere from 28 to 42 count; versus slips in wool around 25 count. I chose 36 count because single thread of silk in tent covers nicely.

So back to the search for the best metal thread. Passing was the right diameter but like the 371 it was too stiff. The Indian version of 345 was also too fine. I tried the silver DMC floss which provided better coverage, but still not sufficient. It probably would be useable if you used an additional thread - 4 instead of the normal 3 twist. The Kreinik very fine braid worked to cover adequately. It isn't real metal thread, but it got the job done and has the right look.

Friday, January 26, 2007

As promised - catching up and pics (long)

Life is finally calming down to the usual speed of fast (versus the recent marathon of autoban speedway) so I'm taking a quick break to catch up with my blogging.

12th Night was rushed but went very well. I was able to enjoy and participate in a friends laureling (more on that later), the Arachne's Web display went well thanks to Caiterina who sat table most of the day, the Guild Leader installation in court went smoothly, 5 pieces of kneeling carpet were turned in, and the Golden Poppy/Kingdom Artisan ceremony went smoothly (and my personal token is lovely). One unexpected nice thing happened, the husband was made a Man at Arms to the Knight who is currently Princess of the Mists. This is sort of a step toward squiring - a testing period for both. All in all it was a long day.

Sunday I was up early to go to Phillipa Turnbull's crewelwork class at Needle in a Haystack in Alameda. Phillipa is the one arranging the class in England in May with Jane Lemon and Jacqui Carey - Make an Elizabethan Swete Bag . Yes I'm going as are a couple friends.

Managed to make it through most of the Oerthan Trip before getting sick. Taught 2 classes on Sunday anyway. I've blogged over on LJ if you are interested on more of the details -- Stitching Along with Friends. In short it was a lovely trip.

Now for the backlog of pics and descriptions:

Bodice front for 12th Night - the gown is a cranach style gown in gold silk brocade trim on brick red velvet (a nice rich heavy cotton velvet). Since last year I did The Sleeve (see Archive for this blog - January 2006) to commemorate my stepping up into the Order of the Golden Poppy, I decided to do this bodice front to commemorate my completion of the year as Kingdom Artisan.

Next up was completing the leaf for Christian's Laureling cloak. Her laurel gathered some friends to make leaves for the laurel wreath on the back of her personal cloak. The ideas was to partially cover the silk (provided with shape delineated) in the technique of your choice. I opted for pearls and silver metal thread couched in a period pattern in the style of the work done on the Palermo robes.

Lastly I completed a project started several years ago. Linn Skinner charted for me a geometric pattern from Quentel's pattern book (1527) and a blackwork leaf pattern with verse space from Jobin's patten book (1596). The verse Vida Brevis Ars Longa (translates roughly to Life is Short, Art Lives/Survives) is how I signed my self for the 2 years I was Kingdom Arts Minister.

The plan was to do a bodice front similar to the gown in the Portrait of Barbara Schellenberger by Hans Bergkmair the Elder – 1501. While I wore the gown to step up, this inset piece was not finished and I was "trashed" by a negative laurel when I displayed it (2/3rds of the gold done) at an Artisan's display. Since then I've learned that I CAN document the technique for a cope - I've never said it would have been used on a dress. I have said that since the original was probably gilt brocade and I don't do such weaving, this is an instead. Having said that, I managed to face the piece and finish both parts in time to have it put together for display at this 12th Night. The gold is 10" wide on 40 count silk gauze - some rows are over 300 stitches. The blackwork is over 1 36 count done in Pearsall silk. The picture does not do it justice - it glows.

Lastly, I've been wanting to play with metal thread gobelin. My upcoming column is about the historical application of such. I had lots of problems finding a thread that would cover. Historically I was told that 371 or its gold equivalent was used. It doesn't cover. So many tried later I ended up using Kreinik very fine braid. Still don't like the thread, but it did work well. This is a pic of the flat. Now to make it up into the pincushion with mini tassels then photograph it for the column. This is 36 count - silk is tent over 1 and of course the gobelin is over 2.

Lots more in the works. I"ll update again soon.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Quick Update

German goldwork band - Done!
Blackwork band to be combined with German goldwork band - Done!

In process the gobelin pincushion - half done.

Pics next week
Now back to the needle

PS my new 12thNight Cranach is really hot hot hot!!!!!!!!!!!!