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.