Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Sampler finished and framed

I have been working on a sampler for a relative, and it is not only finished, but also framed.

Of course, in theory, I knew all about mounting needlework. In theory, however, the thread neither knots itself up, nor breaks, and the pin you are using to centre the piece stays in place. Certainly the back of the frame lets itself be locked into position. That last was, of course, my fault for using two layers of batting behind the sampler. But I think the final result looks really good. Luckily I had planned to leave the glass out anyway. It would never have fit!

To the sampler: This is a pattern I saved from a magazine some time ago. While I liked the basic concept, I did not want to stitch lots of hearts with partial stitches, so I substituted beads and buttons. I also thought the various stitches were too boring, so I chose my own. I more or less used the original colour scheme, but added in the multi-coloured thread, and sometimes changed the distribution of colours as I stitched.

As a final touch, I added in a tiny bit of the Klosterarbeit I have been doing, as I had a heart.

I hope the recipient enjoys it.

Monday, 14 September 2009

Tapestries on display in Vienna

Three late medieval tapestries arrived in Vienna from Bern for an exhibit opening tomorrow. Exhibit information is not yet available on the KHM site, but they looked lovely on TV last night. More when I've had a chance to see them.

Kunsthistorisches Museum
Karl der K├╝hne
Glanz und Untergang des letzten Herzogs von Burgund

15. September 2009 bis 10. Januar 2010

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Needlework Museum in |Salzkammergut

We've just been off in Salzkammergut (Bad Ishl, Hallstatt etc.) for a few days. I found out about a small handwork museum in Traunkirchen set up by the Goldhaubenverein. In parts of Austria there is a tradition of womens festival wearing golden bonnets. I've enjoyed seeing them from a distance, but had no idea how they were made. I have a much better idea now. The embroidery is done with tiny gold sequins and beads, and the shape is formed by gathering a long rectangle. (see http://www.e-punkt.net/html/badischl_goldhauben.htm ) The exhibits also included many other techniques. I was particularly intrigued by the Teneriffe lace. I want to do it!

Needlework in English Cathedrals

We were in England early this summer for a week on a canal boat. I didn't manage to hit a stitching store, but we had a lot of fun. We visited Worcester cathedral. I enjoyed examining the frontal that was on the altar there. From a distance you see abstract clocks of colour. Come closer and you see that the whole thing is three dimensional, with each block of colour set at a different ditance from the base, and done in different types of stiching, from the very easy to fairly complicated. The explanation said that the 'hanging' had been stitched by 'local artists'. It is supposed to represent the cathedral reflected in the waves of the Severn River. To be honest, I didn't see it,(even after reading that), but I quite admire the designer. It is lovely from a distance, and close up. It uses the various skills of the stitchers available (I assume that each was given the material, shape, and an idea of what the end product was supposed to look like, and let loose to work it her own way. The variety of stitches and interpretion add a richness to the final piece that is hard for a single designer to manage. But the whole thing works together.

In the morning I went for Morning Prayer and Communion in the crypt. I have to confess that I missed a lot of Morning Prayer: I was studying the altar. It was a nearly cubical block, with a swirling textured pattern. From my seat, I couldn't figure out whether I was looking at a block of wonderful stone with the colours and swirls carefully intensified by the skill of a stone mason, or whether the altar was covered by a quilted parament that covered at least three sides. I finally decided on cloth, and later examination proved me right. A wonderful subtlety that delighted me.

As a counterpoint to the modern pieces I enjoyed in Worcester, was the lovely exhibit at the Eastern end of Chester Cathedral. In two chapels presently unused for liturgical purposes were several pieces from the Cathedrals collection - late 19th and early 20th century vestments and paraments chosen to illustrate the influence of William Morris. Pure joy to look at! I own a small hanging of the Good Shepherd, and was intrigued to see that one of the pieces there had the top end of 'my' shepherd on it. (BTW My piece is not just away in a closet, as it was used as part
of the altar decoration for the Methodist church here at Easter.)

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Dressing up over a century ago

For general specifics of the new exhibit 'Grosser Auftritt' at the Wien Museum, see my Vienna blog. For the stitcher, there is lots to oooh and aaah over. How much of those bands on the underwear are hand stitched, and how much already machine work? How long did it take to iron some of the underwear? There is a ball gown with straw embroidery. I had seen this sort of work before, but it still boggles the mind that you would do such a thing. On the other hand it covers better than thread. Other gowns had sequin embroidery, and it occured to me that it also is faster than working in metallic threads. (That wouldn't have anything to do with replacing hearts with lots of quarter stitches with beads and buttons on a sampler I'm working on, now would it?)

My favourite dress is a mother of the bride dress in black with a wide ivory lace collar. Parts of the collar are needlelace. Severe squares with fancy fillings. But around it is other lace that is rounded and less open. A very different feel. The catalog speaks of 'breitem Ätzspitzenbesatz'. Apparently another word for that is Guipure. As always, that gown only has a small picture in the catalog.

If you are going to be in Vienna, and have even a small interest in the textiles of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, this is a must.

Friday, 3 April 2009

Enjoying Retirement

Another magazine project. This time I changed the wording - both signs said 'Do not disturb!' - and used a piece of plywood and chain insead of card as the mount. I stitched on much lower count cloth than they had to get bigger signs.
Actually, it's one sign with the two designs front and back. Jerry will offer it to the group he is part of. If the office is open the person there would be free to use either side.


Steven is off on a school trip on Sunday. The students will be housed by parents of the host school, and he needed a host(ess) present. Vienna at this time of year has lovely Easter markets. I particularly like the one on Freyung. Jerry and I went there this week, and I had a lovely time chosing 6 eggs.

But it seemed a shame to house such lovely eggs in a plain grey cardboard egg box, so I decorated the box. The picture in the center is one Jerry took of the stand where I bought the eggs.

Monday, 30 March 2009

Art Nouveau flower bell pull

I turned a set of card designs in Cross Stitch Collection (February 2009, I think) into a bell pull. I'm quite pleased with the result. I loved the flowers as soon as I saw them, and I'm still delighted with them after stitching away for weeks. The stitching probably took about a month. Then it has taken a few more weeks to get the hardware so I could finish the bell pull.

Sorry, the name of the designer isn't on the page I have. I tear out the magazine pages I want to keep and laminate the patterns, but I'm not very careful about keeping information that isn't needed to stitch the designs.

Monday, 23 February 2009

Working on the egg

The egg is taking shape. Here you see the goose egg with lines from Revelations 5:12-13 in Latin, English, Greek and German wallpapered onto it. The wax lamb has also been painted, and will fit nicely, I think.

Now for the bunch of grapes and sheaf of wheat that I want to work into the decorations. And perhaps I'll crochet some gold lace.

Saturday, 10 January 2009


Several years ago I was able to take part in a one day seminar on Goldwork with Linn Skinner. It was wonderful, it was fun, and it was also a lot of work. I don't remember clearly whether Linn called us back to order when we were tempted to just play with the purl, or whether the temptation and calling to order were all internal. But certainly that stuff is awfully fun to play with. If you've never used proper gold threads, they are couched down with regular thread, and most of them, purl, pearl purl, check ... are really springs.

Last night I had a chance to learn a craft that developed in the women's monastaries of the baroque era. Gold threads and precious stones were used to decorate various religious items. The club of creche makers has a monthly meeting for learning this. It turns out that what it is is playing with gold thread. I spent three hours learning some basic ways of playing. For example, you take a short length of a soft wide purl. You thread it on length of wire and twist the wire tight to form the purl into a ring. Then you squash it with flat pliers and make a simple flower shape. Or you take pearl purl, thread it, and then pull it apart a bit. Now do the twisty thing, and form that ring into a leaf or square or whatever. Then you take 'Wiener Gold' (which turns out to be very fine purl). You pull the end until you have a bit of kinky wire, and fasten the end to your working wire. Now wind the Wiener Gold around your shape either parallel or as a fan, or just wildly, pulling all the while to make a veil of thin kinky wire.

A few times my fibre reflexes got the better of me. We were using a check purl to make another layer around one of those wrapped leaves, and I wondered how we were going to get it to stay where we wanted it without spoiling the division between the veiled inner part and the free outer part. It wasn't until we were done that it dawned on me: this is wire, not thread. It just stays there all by itself!

The time just flew, and I found myself tired but happy, with a pile of finished units just begging to be made into something. I think I'll try to make an Easter egg with a triumphant lamb inside decorated with my little treasures. But I can't stop the little voice suggesting that this all started back in some monastary work room, with a bunch of novices who were supposed to be learning goldwork. The nun teaching them must have left the room, and they started playing instead of stitching. But they came up with something beautiful and convinced their superiors that they didn't really have what it took to become skilled embroiderers anyway. ...

Monday, 5 January 2009

Paraments on View at St. Stephan's

Until the end of the month there is a small exhibit at Stefansdom of paraments from 5 centuries. Actually, most of those on display are 18th century, but I'm never against seeing baroque goldwork. There is one that dates probably to the 15th century, and the most recent is still unfinished. My favorite was one from 1900. Goldwork again, but this time typical Jugendstil scrolls instead of the heavy overall work from the earlier examples.

It's a narrow winding staircase up (two way traffic!) but well worth it even just for the view of the church from the higher vantage point, and when you have this rich treasure of needlework to see as well it would be a shame to miss it.