Just a quick post today shortly before I go to bed :). This week I am joined by five incredible women doing a whole week of goldwork embroidery at my studio in Bad Bayersoien. We have so much fun! And lots of delicious cakes and desserts too. Oh, it is soooo hard to be an embroidery tutor... Have a look at some of the eye-candy in the making. Next week's post will feature a more in-depth review of students' work!
Here are Mari-jan from the Netherlands and Kristin from Berlin discussing buttonhole thread whilst framing up their slate frames. Mari-jan works on a beautiful Art-Deco iris and Kristin has fun with the Christmas-decorations from Hazel Evrett's goldwork book. In the other picture you'll see Monika and Sabine, both fairly local ladies. Monika works a flower design from Inspirations, but in a whole new spectacular colour-way! And the Sabine has fallen in love with a peacock. Yup, strange things happen when you embroider!
And this is the culprit: a small clutch-bag (the handle is a later addition). It was brought in by one of my Sticktreff regulars: Claudia. It belonged to her grand-mother.
The fifth lady in our party, is Erika from the next village. She will stitch up a Madonna much in the way of my St. Laurence. Extra special, it will be a copy of the Madonna her late husband once bought. Do look out for next week's post with all the details and a lot of eye-candy!
My head spins with creative ideas for yet more embroidery projects. I wish my hands were faster... So, let's check in with progress on my Bavarian Hösenträger (suspenders)!
Here they are, just before I rolled my slate frame. This is about a quarter of the total length of 112 cm. Right now, I've progressed to one third of the total length and that has taken me 51.5 hours. Apart from these two 'lengths', I also need to stitch a breast piece, or the Steg as it is called.
This year, I am also attending a course on wild herbs. I love to know what is edible and/or has medicinal uses. And I've discovered that some of our local wild herbs can even be used for dying. However, since Bad Bayersoien lies at 850 m above sea level, I need to be patient for spring to really kick in. But then I will be out and about collecting wild herbs!
And as part of my course portfolio, I need to make a 15 plant herbarium. Now that got my creative juices flowing big time! How about a stitched version? I am thinking silk shading the plants, mounting them, adding a pocket on the back for the pressed herb and a sheet with botanical information, and then turning the whole thing into a leporello. That would be fun, wouldn't it? Can't wait to start :).
On a personal level, my husband finally comes to live with me. Ten more days and he will be here! So far, we haven't been able to find him a new job. However, he has secured many short-term free-lance projects. Not the security one wants, but it is a start! As we will have to move his stuff from his accommodation in the Netherlands to here, we will be on the road in a couple of weeks' time. I will try to keep my blogging going, but life might take me out...
In this part of the world, spring has finally arrived! Time to done my walking boots and stride out. I love to go for long walks in the countryside and I really miss it in winter when there is just too much snow to go for a good walk. So yesterday, I downloaded a circular walk near Murnau and off I went. Mainly along fields, through hamlets, crossing the bog and along the river Loisach. Heaven!
Didn't I do any embroidery this week? Of course I did! I just did not take it with me on my beautiful walk :).
Last week, another parcel from Nordic Needle arrived: the Broderibox for March inspired by the astrological sign pisces. Fish to you and me. The contents were a bit of a shock to me. I really did not like the colour combination of light pink, purple, cream and minty green. Bummer. However, an embroideress needs to do whatever embroideresses do. Grab those threads by the horns. And grabbing them turned out to be a good thing.
It is not at all bad to be pushed out of your colour comfort zone every now and then. I did notice that these month's threads were a little different from the two previous months. They were thinner. In the online information bulletin, it did state that some of them were especially suited to pulled and drawn threadwork. Excellent! I can do that.
Above are the contents of my Broderibox. I really liked the purple Gloriana silk and the minty green soie de alger at the top. The sparkly purple metallic thread on the left is also well within my likes. The creamy silk perle on the right is the type of thread I am suspicious of. I really can't handle silk perle. No matter how hard I try. Don't get me wrong; I love perle and I love shiny silk. Just not combined, please. I really hate the fact that silk perle is so slippery that it gets untwined faster than I can stitch. This elegance stuff was no exception :).
The other two threads at the bottom of the picture are a cotton perle #8 and a stranded cotton by Threadworx. Not my colour combinations. Might have mentioned that before :). And then there was this super-handy pair of tiny precision tweezers. As I already have a pair, I decided to run a giveaway on Instagram. The tweezers are making their way to lucky winner Heather in Novia Scotia. Do follow me on Instagram under @maerchenhaftesstickengrimm. After all, you never know if Nordic Needle comes up with another 'duplicate' :)!
And this is what I stitched: two fish found in a colouring book by Millie Marotta. I used Zweigart 40ct Newcastle natural linen, a combination of surface stitches and drawn threadwork. In this case: Schwalm whitework embroidery. My aim with these pieces is not to stitch them to perfection. I do not make much of a plan before I thread my needle. Doodles, that's what I call them. Pleasant doodle embroidery. Do you do any doodling with needle and thread?
A couple of months ago, I wrote about antique monogram stencils produced by Johann Merkenthaler. In the meantime, I started experimenting with using these stencils. First, I wanted to use some sort of water-based paint as was used originally. Although, you should be able to wash-out watercolours by Caran d'Ache, my experiments weren't satisfactory. When fresh, the marks do wash-out, but not after they have completely dried and are a few weeks old. Now, I am a fast stitcher, but you can't always predict how soon you will be able to finish a project! By the way, you can find my original blog about the stencils here; it includes a free download of an old Merkenthaler catalogue.
So, what to use? In comes the best invention since sliced bread: the aqua trick marker! I had thought of using a marker before, but dismissed it in my head as some of the lines in the stencils are soooooo tiny. However, I was getting desperate. Out came the marker, fine white linen, the stencil and some masking tape. But first things first, iron your linen flat until it resembles a sheet. Tape it onto a surface using masking tape. Position your stencil sheet and tape that too. Now you are all set to go! The stencil sheets are so waver-thin that you CAN easily trace those tiny lines with your marker. Remove the masking tape and the stencil.
One of the things you need to remember, is that these stencils mostly don't produce continuous lines. For reasons of stability, most elements produce an interrupted design line. I've marked some of the interruptions with red arrows in the left picture above. In comes your handy marker again! Look carefully at the original stencil and complete any breaks in the lines. It can take some getting used to in order to be able to read the design correctly. Especially with very elaborate and floral script. You can see the enhanced design in the right picture above.
And this is the embroidered design after rinsing. I used one strand of stranded cotton throughout. The initials are stitched using rows of stem stitch. The flower heads are made up of a central larger lazy daisy flanked by two smaller lazy daisies. The stem is also stitched in stem stitch and the leaves are satin stitch over a split stitch border. A pretty design just right for spring!
Want to stitch your own monogram using these antique stencils? Check out my webshop to see if I stock your monogram. Don't forget to not only check, say JG, but also GJ as that can often be used too. I also stock single letters. Fine linen, aquatrick markers and needles can also be found in my webshop. Looking forward to your order!
P.S. I've made some new beaded pendants. They are now available through my webshop! My flirt with Etsy wasn't a lasting one as it is really hard work to stand out from the crowd. I love my craft too much to spend most of my time behind a computer screen thinking up another flashy marketing strategy ;).
As a teenager, I loved Bob Ross' television painting classes. Not only do I really like his painting style, but I also like his way of performing on screen. Especially those episodes in which he brought an animal, are my favourites! And all things he painted were always 'happy' by his own words. So today, I am introducing to you: a happy blue snail, a happy honey bee and a happy pink flower :). Feel the happy vibes dear reader (epecially the newly-signed-up readers from Belgium!).
Let's start with the bee and the flower. As most of you know, I have a rather large commission on my hands with another pair of traditional Bavarian suspenders. Canvaswork is tough on your hands, so a little gently stitching in between sessions is a good thing. When I saw a picture of the Floral Pomander by Hazel Blomkamp on Pinterest, I so wanted to stitch this project. Not only is the stitching and beading adorable, but I really like this finishing technique. I've never used it before, but I can see great potential for it with a different design and embroidery style...
It is a rather 'old' kit by Hazel Blomkamp and the instructions are not as perfect as I know they are today. Personally, I can live with the fact that she calls the same colour thread by more than one name. And, since I can stitch, I do not need a step by step instruction on how to embroider the little scenes. However, if you are a newbie, maybe not the best kit to start with.
When my kit arrived, I was positively surprised by the fact that German customs had missed it :). Vielen, vielen dank ! Hazel has not only packaged the kit supplies beautifully; there seems to be plenty of them. Especially of the beads. As you might remember, I'd run out of threads when stitching a kit by Pascal Jaouen. Although I contacted him in several ways, I haven't heard back from him ever since. Interestingly, Mary Corbet is addressing the issue on her blog today.
On to the happy blue snail. Every now and then, I just need to play. That's why I like Nordic Needle's broderibox subscription plan so much! My February box was released by customs on Saturday, so I had some quality playtime over the weekend. I decided to stitch up a happy blue snail on 18 TPI antique canvas. I found this particularly adorable snail in one of Millie Marotta's colouring-in books. Great resources for instant embroidery designs.
Again, this month's broderibox contained a few threads I had never encountered before. Yummy! New to me was the trebizond silk (the blue spool in the picture above). I had come across it on Mary Corbet's blog, but I had never seen it in person, let alone stitched with it. It is a really nice twisted silk thread similar to a #8 perle. It does not cover a 18 TPI canvas completely, however. Using two threads wasn't an option as that was too bulky and thread fatigue was horrendous after only a few stitches. So I decided to use it only for relatively small diagonal stitches and live with the fact that the canvas shimmers through. The thread reminds me a lot of a silk perle and it indeed comes with the same disadvantage: the plies untwist faster than you and I can stitch :)!
Also new to me was the Water 'n Ice yarn. It is a flat translucent braid said perfect for long stitches. I decided to weave it through pre-stitched trebizond tent stitches on the body of the snail. It gives a really lovely, yet subtle 'wet' impression. I can see this work well for watery scenes in canvaswork. Or maybe even couched down in regular surface stitching.
Other nice goodies in February's broderibox were a skein of DMC metallics, a spool of Kreinik blending filament and a gorgeous skein of Watercolours by Caron. The lovely people at Nordic Needle also included some petite Mill Hill beads and a really handy pincushion with a magnet on the bottom. To finish the background on my happy blue snail, I used a dark green Vineyard silk from January's broderibox. I have really fallen in love with this lovely silk thread. It is so soft and hardly wears when stitching on canvas. Can't wait for my next broderibox to arrive! Until then, it is back to my beautiful Bavarian suspenders.
A couple of weeks ago, I was approached by one of my blog readers to promote an embroidery exhibition in Belgium. As I knew nothing about this particular embroidery group, I asked for some more information. My questions were kindly answered by Marie-Louise Draelants, chair of 't Vingershoedskruid. This embroidery group from Belgium was established more than 20 years ago and specialises in high-quality hand-embroidery.
This particular exhibition is their 13th! They'll display embroidery pieces in a wide-range of techniques like: Schwalm, pulled thread, silk shading, cross-stitch, stitchery, temari and needle lace. The embroideries are either framed or turned into cushions, boxes, table cloths, clutch bags, pin cushions and the like. There will be more than 100 pieces on display attracting visitors from all parts of Belgium, the Netherlands, France, Great-Britain and Germany.
The above works were stitched by Marie-Louise herself. The first piece is a creative take on the popular Sudoku. The second piece was inspired by a poster featuring a quilt by Calico House in Antwerp. Marie-Louise used DMC stranded cotton, stranded cotton by Threadworx, Weeks Dye Works and art silks. The third picture shows work in progress on a design by Anne Pearson.
Besides being able to admire the many embroidered pieces on display, the members of 't Vingerhoedskruid give embroidery demonstrations during the day. Due to my workload, I won't be able to visit this exhibition myself. However, I do think it is an excellent opportunity to see high-quality contemporary embroidery and to meet up with like-minded people.
P.S.: for those of you based nearer to me, my Celtic knot goldwork piece is on display in Oberammergau, Dorfstraße 20!
Yes, I know, 2017 should have been the year of my casket. Things never go to plan, do they? Luckily, I have a very pleasant interruption: a commission of another pair of traditional Bavarian braces. Today, I'll share with you how I go about such a commission.
Since I have stitched several of these braces to date, I now know that it will take me 150-200 hours to complete one. When you work on larger projects, it is always a good idea to keep track of your stitching hours and the materials used. After all, it is nice to be able to tell people who ask, how long it took you to create the masterpiece. Especially if they want one too and would like to commission you.
Next up: what does my client want? I have several books on Berlin woolwork. For instance, books by Raffaella Serena feature beautifully detailed antique patterns. The Antique Pattern Library has some of these hand-painted patterns too and there seem to be new ones added all the time. Browsing the books, my client can then pinpoint what he or she wants. When I have my client appointment, my table is also laid out with all the DMC skeins in order. This enables us to match colours and patterns. And they love the visual feast!
Then it is time to cut and paste a new pattern from the old ones the client wants me to use. This makes it a new and unique pattern. I only use this new pattern for this specific client. There are far too many exactly the same Hosenträger in Bavaria already. I use computer software to draw the new pattern: Cross Stitch Professional platinum. Not cheap, but very good and unmissable if you do this job regularly.
As subsequent turning my embroidery into a Hosenträger with a leather back, corded edges and buckles is a rather harsh process, I use sturdy embroidery materials: 18 TPI Antique Canvas and DMC/Anchor stranded cotton. The stranded cotton is used as is; no stripping of threads. Maybe not the prettiest thread to use, I would love to use a perle, but it is tradition :).
Then I send a computerised picture of the pattern to the client for approval. Once approved, I set up my frame and stitch one repeat pattern. I photograph that again and send it once more for approval. In this case, the guy commented 'unbelievably horny'! Yup, that's what he said :). Isn't German a fantastic language? So now I am all set to stitch the other 15 repeats :)!
Like most of my dear readers, I love thread! The ordinary everyday threads and the speciality threads, monocolour, over-dyed, variegated. You name it; I'll drool. So, when Mary Corbet talked about the BroderiBox 2017 by Nordic Needle, I signed up. Full well knowing that this would mean a monthly trip to the customs office in Weilheim. Ah, what one does for a good thread!
So when, early February, I was finally 'invited' to pick up (and pay for!) my January box, I was ecstatic. Quite to the bemusement of the customs officer... Back home, I gleefully inspected my threads and was delighted to find a few I had never encountered before. Since they were all green, I decided to stitch a quick turtle on canvas. I think canvas (also known as needlepoint) is a great embroidery technique to experiment with speciality threads. Anything goes!
Just the green turtle on bare canvas was a bit..., well, bare! So I decided to give turtle swimming lessons. The background was stitched using a House of Embroidery perle #5. A single thread has exactly the right thickness to cover 18 TPI canvas. How clever is that?!
Speaking of House of Embroidery. I have decided to now also stock their stranded cotton and the above mentioned perle #5. This means that my webshop is now your one-stop-fix-all place to shop for these wonderfully hand-dyed variegated threads and ribbons. The only House of Embroidery product I don't stock is their rayon thread. The January BroderiBox included a rayon thread. While stitching with it, it happily reminded me why I don't stock rayon. What a #*$§*#@ material!
As you might know, House of Embroidery products come in a wide range of different colours. You either get two related 'versions' of a (variegated) colour or even three. And these are then available in ribbon sizes 2mm, 4mm & 7mm, perle #5, #8 & #12 and two silk versions: raw (mat finish) and fine (shiny). Think of all the possible combinations you can make, both in colour and texture! So, get your canvas out, browse the internet for ideas and stock up in my webshop :). Since threads and ribbons are rather light and small, I can fit a whole lot of them into a padded envelope and send them around the globe for just €3,70 postage. Yup, you've read that correctly.
What else do you need for your stitching comfort? Right! Good, fine-tipped scissors. I had been looking into stocking scissors, when Mary Corbet (I can spot a pattern here :)) mentioned German made DOVO scissors on her blog. They are the gold standard when it comes to scissors. Yes, there are other equally good brands, but I love the fact that these are made in a smallish traditional family business in the East of Germany. They have invited me to visit their premises to see how they make their products. Can't wait for the snow to completely disappear so that I can make this wonderful trip!
Don't like canvas embroidery? No problem; I have a fix for that too! Now available from my webshop are the Summer Sampler stumpwork kit and the Indian Peacock goldwork kit. They are either available as pattern downloads or as full kits. As usual, my instructions are available in English or German and contain many detailed photographs and diagrams.
So what will you be stitching this week?
My first encounter with Silesian whitework embroidery was when I attended a short course with Elisabeth Bräuer at ArtTextil. When you have been following my blog for some time, you might remember the small sampler with surface embroidery and needlelace I made then. During this course we used materials that are readily available, but not necessarily historically correct nor good options when working this type of embroidery. So, when Michael (a former RSN-student of mine) enquired if I would join him for a private course with Elisabeth Bräuer, I said yes. An excellent opportunity to work a bigger piece with linen thread on linen fabric. A first for me!
The historical pieces in the pictures above (left an apron and on the right a scarf) were stitched on very, very fine 'Schleier-Leinen' or veil linen. As far as I know, this type of linen is now completely unavailable (it is NOT batiste!). But please, do put me right AND out of my misery when you know of a source!
To stitch, the young women and soon brides-to-be, used linen thread of various thicknesses. Now if all linen threads you ever encountered where these horrible threads produced by DMC, then you probably don't like the prospect of stitching with linen thread! Neither did I. However, since Yvette Stanton has done such incredible research on Early Style Hardanger and has tested various brands of linen threads, I took the plunge and ordered a selection of Bockens Knippelgarn and Goldschild thread. And I LOVE them! Yes, they are a little stiff and require more 'work' when pulled through your fabric. However, their texture and slight sheen combined with your pristine linen fabric is to die for.
So, what will I stitch? Well, not a table cloth as suggested by my dear teacher. You can really scare the pyjamas out of me by proposing table cloths. I am not old enough for that kind of embroidery yet. Table runners ok, table cloths taboo.
As one of my other passions is folk costume, I really wanted to stitch an apron. Slight problem: my ancestors came from Thuringia and not from Silesia. This means I will hunt the shops for a very plain, probably blue, linen (yes, as you might have guessed, I am a sucker for linen!) Dirndl. My crisp white embroidered apron will look fab on it! Traditionalists are probably not going to be very happy with the prospect of me doing a bit of 'cultural-folk-costume-crossing'. Me not bothered a bit. Because, I have come to the understanding that the 'frozen-in-time' folk costumes we see today are just that: frozen in time. Whereas, when they were still 'alive', they used to evolve. Through migration in all its forms, new ideas were embraced and adapted. Historical events would have had their influences too.
How did I tackle my apron design? I knew I wanted tulips. They are both a well-known aspect of folk art and happen to be quite abundant in my native Netherlands. Firstly, I started out with a historical Silesian apron design which featured a tulip border. I did however swap one of the needle lace bands for a different one. Then I did a search on the internet for 17th century Dutch polychrome tiles featuring tulips. Mixing and matching them into my corner design of a vase with tulips. I also used two tile designs as my 'Streublümchen' or scattered flowers. Yep, they are scattered over the rest of my apron. When I was finally happy with my design, I taped it onto my working table. Taped the linen fabric (Weddingen Kettgarnleinen) on top and started tracing with an aquatrick marker. A lot of tracing; the design measures 140 x 87 cm! But, I cheated a bit and did only one half. Just in case the ink starts disappearing as it takes me too long to stitch.
As all the surface embroidery is stitched in the hand, it is going to be the perfect project to unwind with at the end of the day! I can almost see me in my new attire! Can you too? Follow me on Instagram #maerchenhaftesstickengrimm for regular updates on another mammoth project :).
As promised last week, this week we check in with my goldwork project St. Laurence. If you are relatively new to this blog, do check out earlier posts on the project.
I've done a bit more work on the background, as you can see in the picture above. More or nue and a bit of basket weave at the top. I am still using Japanese Thread #8 and Chinese flat silk for the coloured couching and Pearsalls filoselle silk for the 'gold-coloured' couching. Once all the or nue is finished, I will apply more and different goldwork threads on top to create the details in the canopy screen (sorry, can't find a better description for it). I hope to be able to show you that in my next progress report in about a month's time.
If you can't bear to wait that long, why not join me on Instagram? Yes, I've opened an Instagram account! Not that easy when you don't have a smartphone :). However, thanks to a bunch of creative software people at BlueStacks, I can make my laptop think she's a phone. Now that's clever, don't you think? I am hoping to post at least once at the end of my working day. See the embroidery after it has just happened, so to speak.
Jessica M. Grimm
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