Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Embroidered banners

I had to drop in today at the building of the Wiener Wirtschaftskammer - the Vienna Chamber of Commerce. To my great delight, the building has several cases holding embroidered banners. I would guess that the ones I saw were 19th century. They were done in silk shading and goldwork, in a style that I associate with church embroidery. (These, of course, are secular pieces.) Jerry was in a semi-legal parking space waiting for me, and only one of the three I looked at was well lit, so I can't say much more about them, except that I shall have to make an opportunity to go back with more time, and perhaps a light. Then I will go through the building and check out each floor. (I saw two on the 4th floor, so I hope there are more on the floors in between.

Friday, 5 December 2008

Knitting Sampler

Yes, you read that right. It all started when we went to Iceland in June. I really ought to write about everything needle-related that I saw in Iceland...

But of course one of the things you can get in Iceland is really great wool. I bought wool. I bought the thick wool everyone associates with Iceland, and the same thing that runs twice that far for the weight, and the same thing that runs twice as far as that one. And some yarn that isn't really yarn because it isn't spun. Of course the woman at the yarn store said she had experimented with crocheting it, and found it not suitable at all. (She aslo said her colleagues require her to bring in a finished item before they let her buy more yarn now, because her stash is so big, but that is another story.)

That was at the Hand knitters' Association shop. There was also a great needlework shop with embroidery things. I bought woollen embroidery thread (not Icelandic) and black woolen evenweave to use the Icelandic cross stitch patterns I also bought with. That store also had the most beautiful knitting needles I have ever seen. The combination of lovely tools and lovely materials was too much. It didn't hurt either that the book stores in Rekjavik carry many books in English, and I was able to get a good book on knitting.

This is not the first time that I have tried to learn how to knit, but so far the most successful. I have more of the needles on order, and have bought more books of knitting stitches. I am trying to work my way through the books one or two patterns a day. 2 X 250 means that this should take me some time, although I don't promise to do all of them. I am working in a strip of 30 stitches, with garter stitch separating the different stitch samples. I figure that once it gets longer than 1.5 meters, I'll take another wool and start a new strip. Eventually if I really get several strips I can sew them together to make an afghan.

So far I've learned that some of these stitches are really slow going. One I have tried slips every other stich in one row, and the others in the next row. Since you are constantly moving the yarn from front to back to front, and only really knitting each stich every other row, it grows very slowly. Looks lovely though, if you have the patience for it!

Thursday, 9 October 2008


Like everyone else, I have been stitching biscornus. I started with whitework ones. The smaller one is the third one from that pattern. (I gave the first one away, but liked it so well, I had to make another one for me.) The third time I varied it by using purple pearl cotton instead of white.

The larger one is wool. I bought the black wool evenweave and wool threads in Iceland in June. I'm enjoying working with them; it's a different feel. I also love the Icelandic patterns I bought.

Just so you have some idea - the larger one is about 12 cm (5 in) across, the smaller one 5 cm (2 in). I have an even smaller one started.

Saturday, 2 August 2008


We spent a week in Venice recently. Mom was able to join us and we had a really great time. I've started putting a few pictures up at if you want to see what we were up to.

One thing you won't find there is pictures of the Museum for the History of textiles and fashion in Palazzo Mocenigo. I found it fascinating. There weren't a lot of displays, but the ones there were very interesting, and having them in situ in the Piano nobile of a Venetian Palazzo was wonderful. At the end there was a display of lace. Not only were there several examples of old Venetian lace, but also partially done pieces, and a Doge's hat made in 1999. After seeing a dummy dressed as a man of fashion, I was dying to peek under his jacket and see how far the fancy embroidery of his vest went. A few rooms further (the Bedroom, I believe) a few vests were laid out, and my question was nicely answered. The really fancy stuff was right where it would be visible under the jacket, but it tapered off in such a way as to make the garment attractive even without the coat.

I bought the catalogue, but it is only available in Italian, which makes it somewhat less useful. For those who do textile research, I should add that the Palazzo also houses a study centre, and without actually penetrating into the library proper, I did get a look at some of the shelves. The books I saw were mostly fairly old- Not old, old, but certainly several decades old, and were in a wild mixture of languages. Italian, of course, but also French, English, German, Russian... and besides books of local interest, also were on topics ranging from Mexican Indian clothing, to textiles from India.

Another museum with interesting textiles was the Hebrew museum in the Ghetto. There were several items of interest, and apparently there will be more to see there next year. The top of my list will probably stay the 18th century lace circumcision outfit.

Monday, 28 January 2008

Vienna blog started

So far I have included posts about Vienna and outings nearby in my needlework blog,, but it seems to me that it might be easier to keep them separate. So I have started for those posts.

Project 2: Hedgehog square

This is another square for the curtain. It is based on a cross stitched hedgehog I made several years ago. I still understand why I HAD to stitch him. I'm crazy about hedgehogs anyway, and this was a particularly nice pattern.

Speaking of hedgehogs: Living near the Lobau, we do see a certain amount of wildlife. last summer I was driving home from the local supermarket when I had to stop and wait for traffic - a hedgehog was crossing the street, and as the roads in this part of town aren't really wide enough for two cars, I thought I'd better just let him cross. A woman coming the other way with a baby carriage probably could have gotten past. Instead she also stopped and we had a lovely conversation. Eventually the hedgehog finished crossing and another car was coming up behind me, so we said 'Auf Wiedersehen!' and went our separate ways.

Working this square was not quite that simple. The cloth the hedgehog is stitched on has a very loose weave. Just stitching around the outside was not going to be enough to keep it from sagging. I decided to use two layers of batting behind just the hedgehog to make it soemwhat 3-D. I cut the batting into two shapes, stitched the smaller onto the background material, then the larger one over it, and fastened the hedgehog down invisibly around it. That really worked well! Unfortunately it still wasn't enough to keept the unstitched parts of the cloth from sagging. In the end I had to quilt the whole area down, using white thread,a nd being careful not to let the thread show on the right side. What a bore! But the result is quite acceptable.

Around the hedgehog I used Autumn prints. I also ran into a group of very small patterns that included a hedgehog. I stitched him onto band, and also the matching acorns, which also seemed Autumny. I used them and a few large leaf shaped sequins to further decorate the square.

Monday, 14 January 2008

Hohe Wand

We thought we saw some sun yesterday, and the new car hadn't taken us out of Vienna yet, so we headed down to Hohe Wand. There is a Nature park there on top of a small plateau. Not as high as Schneeberg, it is one of the hills leading up to it. It takes about an hour to get there by way of the Suedautobahn. Once you leave the Autobahn at Wiener Neustadt West the fun begins, as several ruined castles are visible from the road. Eventually you reach the road up the mountain. Here you are stopped to pay road toll and entry fee to the Nature park. It is 1.50 each for the car and adults, (over 15) . That is on weekends. During the week you are expected to pay voluntarily at the park shop. The ticket also allows you to enter the museum. Along with your tickets, you will also receive a small brochure with a map. It's not a great map, but does help.

As we headed up the hill it was raining, and we weren't sure the whole thing had been a good idea, but we went up anyway, and (taking the left turn at the T crossing) drove to the large parking lot. At this point the rain stopped, and if not sunny, it at least got a lot brighter, so we set out into the woods. There was a thin covering of snow on the path - just enough to give a nice mood, without being at all difficult to walk on. Ideal! We headed for the 'Tiergehegen' and were rewarded by seeing many of the resident animals. My favorites are the 'Hirsche' - the large deer. At first we had trouble finding them, but then we realized that some of the stumps in the snow weren't. First we saw two young males. But then the capital male with his 7 females became visible. He is really very impressive!

The next fenced off area has Steinboecke' - mountain goats. In the summer we have seen the young males run at each other and smash heads together. This time they were all lying down either near a stump or in the shelter where hay is put out for them. Cutest was a baby with pencil thin horns - he was trying to pose impressively. Very funny. Next door was one 'Reh' - these are the smaller, much more common deer. This one was all alone and obviously lonely. She came up to the fence to be patted, both by us, and then by the children in the next family.

A bit further on, we heard a horrible racket. We went off the trail to a poultry house. It held a pair of beautiful white pheasants (the sign said gold, but he was white. She, of course was plain brown.) There were two fairly normal looking roosters, and about half a dozen 'Perlhuehner'. One of them was squawking. One. The others were all very quiet, but this one kept up his noise almost nonstop. We left to get out of ear range.

Then Steven discovered that he is getting too big for a lot of the climbing equipment. The trail has several nice playgrounds, but now that he is bigger than his parents, he doesn't fit through some of the openings. Also the slides were all wet. The round trail we take takes up about an hour to walk.

After that we were ready for some food. Several of the Gasthaeuser were closed. Our favorite up to now will be open again next weekend after remodeling. That is Kohlrosenhaus, where you can also admire a lot of minerals. We were wondering if we were going to have to go down to the valley to find food, but then we noticed a board at an intersection saying that another one was open, so we headed into new territory. The food was excellent, and we haven't been walking in that area, so next time ...

Depending on the season there are lots of different activities possible from Cross country skiing to rock climbing and paragliding. There is also a cave to visit, and a petting zoo. I guess we're boring. We usually just take the one walk and get some food. The museum is worth seeing once. For us it has the advantage that the trails are wide and fairly level - There is some up and down, but not more than I can handle. At this season you have at least a good chance of getting above the fog.

Project 1: Agape card holder

I have set myself a new goal for 2008. I will be doing a Greek course in the summer to brush up the Greek I learned several years ago, and finally figure out the Greek verbs which defeated me back then. This will also be a nice break from the Hebrew. When ordering the textbook I also ordered vocabulary cards, as I have found the ones I have for Hebrew to be a great help.

Obviously, a card holder saying 'shalom' is not suitable for Greek cards, so I chose love and faith and made a new card holder. I suppose I ought to have ironed it before scanning, but in use it will get a lot more wrinkled, so I didn't bother.

Tuesday, 8 January 2008


So what am I working on now?

I started making cafe curtains for the kitchen. These are crocheted in 12 weight cotton, and have an undersea theme. The first one is done, and I haven't started the second one yet, but should start that again soon.

The stairwell needs a nice curtain to keep the hot air downstairs. At present there is just a provisional curtain there. UGLY! but it's material I had on hand. My plan is to use 45cm diamonds in a lattice. So far I have two done. One is the practice piece from a hand quilting class. The other is crazy quilting with a vegetable theme. One thing about moving - I found a LOT more stash than I knew I had. I figure that these diamonds give me a chance to use up a lot of it, and get it down to a level that the new workroom can hold. (Yeah, right! We all know that one. But hope springs eternal.) Some of the diamonds will be single pieces of work. Others will be crazy, built around odd bits of stitching that I found.

The current block I'm working on has a Fall theme, built around a lovely hedgehog. Problem. The material the hedgehog was stitched on is very loose, and it sags. I have padded out the hedgehog - goldwork techniques, but using batting instead of felt. And now I am invisibly quilting the background to the base material. Boring, but it does work. Except that I ran into some lovely small motifs and decided that I needed the hedgehog and the acorns for this square, so I interrupted that to make those.

The other thing I'm working on right now is sewing backing onto the bath mats. The rubber had all come off, and they were not very safe. One is done, and works very well, so no excuses on getting the other one done, too. I also need to replace the belt on Steven's black shorts. PE class is hard on clothing. We were in Salzkammergut in November, and I bought some lovely material for a blouse. But not enough, so I need to get something else for the sleeves, and sew that.

Yesterday I took Christmas down. The wall where the Advent calendar was looks really empty, so I ought to finish the sunflower sampler I started for the same problem in the old apartment. BTW, I knew that I hadn't known what I was doing when I made that calendar. It was the piece that got me started on needlework again. I had done a fair amount of cross stitch in India, but hadn't done any since until I saw this project in a shop window when the boys were tiny. Apparently I also didn't wash the material before starting. It's dark green. It was so dirty when I took it down that I didn't want to store it without cleaning it. It ran and ran and ran and ran. But I remembered not to panic, but to keep rinsing, and finally the water got down to just a touch of green, and I finished (with distilled water). Now it's laid out on a towel in Steven's room.

I guess I'd better get either hard at work finishing the hedgehog diamond or else come up with a quick project that counts, or I'll be behind before the year has even gotten going.

Of course, if the snow gets away from the roses (which it should do today or tomorrow) I also need to get the pruning started...