Before I tell you all about how I fared with the Glazig embroidery and the Boutis embroidery, just a quick note on my red stumpwork beetle. Due to a late cancellation by one of the participants of yesterday's class, I have one spare kit. Since this kit has officially sold out, this is your LAST chance to be able to purchase it. Grab it! As I am working hard packing up new kits at the moment, all other kits (except for the goldwork pomegranate) will be shelved once sold out. However, you will still be able to download the patterns.
As life tends to come between me and my threaded needle, I've roped you all in to keep me on track of this year's resolution to embroider more. How? you might ask. Simply by blogging about project progress each month. The thought of letting you, my dear reader, down, spurs me on immensely!
First up, are my French embroidery projects: the colourful Glazig embroidery kit by Pascal Jaouen and the Boutis white work kit by AveryClaire. My goal was to finish them both before today. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to accomplish them both. To no fault of my own.
Not only where the instructions of the Glazig kit very meagre, so was the amount of thread accompanying the kit. I have nearly finished, but not quite. I still need to do the last of the weaving in the red 'fire' bit. This is the first time ever I have run out of thread in an embroidery kit. As this kit is stitched using Au ver a soie silk perle, you really want to be able to use many short lengths as the thread is so prone to wear. This is actually what the instructions tell you to do. Even so, I would have preferred to re-stitch some parts as the thread has really suffered. However, I could see half-way through the project, that the threads were probably not going to be enough, so I didn't. On another note, silk perle is an ultra-slippery thread and some stitch combinations really require practice. Again, not possible with the amount of thread provided for in the kit. One way around this would be to substitute the silk perle with cotton perle.
Overall, this expensive kit just doesn't deliver. Apart from the meagre instructions and the lack of materials, the work drawing and the picture of the finished embroidery do not quite meet up. Furthermore, the way certain single-stitch areas are pre-printed onto the fabric means that you can't completely cover the ink with your stitching. Needless to say, I have emailed Pascal Jaouen two weeks ago to ask him to send me some more thread so that I can finish my project. So far, I haven't heard back...
What I was able to finish, were these stylish Boutis ornaments by AveryClaire. I enjoyed my foray into this elegant white work technique immensely. And I have so much spare thread left, that I could stitch up some more :). I might just do that before next Christmas. In the meantime, I'll keep an eye out for further kits by the very talented Karen of AveryClaire!
Next week, we'll check in with St. Laurence to see how he is doing. Hope to see you then!
As many of you may remember, I started Tricia Nguyen's 18 month online class last year: Cabinet of Curiosities. The aim of this course is to learn almost all there is to know about 17th century embroidered caskets and then to design and stitch your own. Last year, I completed lesson one and two and then LIFE interrupted and I had to put the project on hold. Since the village shop is now up and running and I've taken the decision to quit volunteering 'here-there-and-everywhere', 2017 will be the Year of the Casket.
A short recap of what I had done so far in 2016. I picked a theme for my casket. Ever since I was given the historical novel De Leeuw van Vlaanderen of de Slag der Gulden Sporen by my parents, I've read it and re-read it many times. It is highly romantic and not too historically correct. Think Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott. I had also picked the casket shape I wanted to embroider. As I am not in a hurry and want to live to at least a 120, I picked the largest one on offer: the double casket. I also made this nice chap: a bullion snake. They were common 'toys' found in the caskets.
Then late in 2016, Tricia published a series of articles on her blog about 'casket-decision-making'. Apparently, caskets can be used as URNS. Now that's an interesting idea. As most of you probably know, I am a trained archaeozoologist and love to play with bones! A common misunderstanding is that, when you are cremated you end up all ashes as by magic. Oh no. They'll put your burnt remains through a grinder to create these perfect uniform ashes. Not so in ancient times. Our ancestors respected our individuality and had a heart for future archaeologists. Burnt bone remains are a treasure trove of information. With a bit of luck, your burnt remains can still tell if you are a boy or a girl, your ethnicity, how tall or small you were and if you had any bone-related pains and aches. Fascinating stuff, don't you think?
As you might have guessed by now, my casket is going to be my urn. No worries, I am in no hurry to try it out anytime soon. But I must admit, I start to chuckle any time I start thinking about my memorial service in 2098 :).
So how do I proceed now? It is time to start designing my casket. There are many panels which I can fill with scenes out of the novel. So far I am thinking: hunting scene, maid Mechteld & knight Adolf van Nieuwland, mortally wounded Adolf van Nieuwland, Count Gwydde and his knights in front of Queen Joan I of Navarre and the battle scene. In order to do that, I started listening to the audiobook version as found on Librivox. This is a great source of free audiobooks in over 30 languages. Perfect to listen to when you are stitching. When I listen to each chapter, I have a notepad to hand to jot down any major characters, the place of action and other tiny things like the flora and fauna the author mentions. I can then easily compose a panel design with the historical motifs Tricia has provided. I will also ask my husband to tweak them a little here and there to make them unique. As I might have inspired some of you with my casket-turns-urn idea, I do want to make sure my urn turns out truly unique!
In between, I have also uploaded 150+ pictures of my visit to the Bavarian National Museum onto my Flickr account. I've made an album on fashion and one with vestments. Enjoy!
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I am wishing you all, wherever you are, a very happy new year. With above all, good health and a fearless spirit. Me for my part, I've made a few changes to the overall look of my website and newsletter (you can sign-up on the right-hand side). I do hope it makes it easier to navigate around and to find the information you're after. Do let me know what you think!
My dear husband has been a busy bee too! The poor man needed to screw 480 tiny hooks into four wooden plates to make me a new yarn display. Being married to an embroideress does have its downsides... However, I now proudly carry all three cotton perle sizes of House of Embroidery in my webshop. Number 5 is the thickest, #8 is a medium weight and #12 is gorgeously fine. These hand-dyed threads are perfect for canvas work or surface embroidery. Some have rather subtle colour changes, while others are bolder. They are a very inspirational lot! Do check them out in my webshop.
I've also completed this year's teaching schedule with five new workshops to be taught here at my studio in Bad Bayersoien. Since we have our village shop back and affordable self-catering holiday apartments are abundant here, these workshops can easily be turned into a 'me-time-experience'. More information on each workshop can be found here.
Me for my part, I am going to embrace this new year to grow my Embroidery Empire. In order to achieve World Domination AND keep sane, I am planning on upping my business skills and take time to embroider more. After all, business skills weren't part of University archaeology training... So, you can look forward to a more structured me (next up: making a blog publishing schedule, yeah!), lots of new products in my webshop (I am checking out sound German-made products from small suppliers) and a few new fun (and plain CRAZY) embroidery projects. How does that sound?
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Tadadada! here is my finished advent window. We celebrated its opening on the 16th with mulled wine and minced pies (self-bought in Salisbury :)). In the end, I managed to stitch up twelve Santas. Until Christmas Eve, each day another window will open. And all windows stay open until the 8th of January. Perfect for a winter walk. And, just a thought, wouldn't this be a perfect way to showcase embroidery projects from your embroidery or crafts group? The get together each evening is so much fun!
I am leaving you to your Christmas preparations with this wonderful view from my balcony this morning:
First of all, thanks to you all for the many supportive comments regarding my husband's job hunt! So very kind of you. We'll keep working on it and I am sure somewhere a door will open again.
And secondly: I received my prize today from the Stitch your heart out competition of Inspirations Magazine. The lovingly wrapped parcel contained a copy of the book 'The redwork circus' by Jenny McWhinney, one of my favourite embroidery designers and the ONLY book I didn't already have by her on my shelves :). Furthermore, the parcel contained the 'Robin' embroidery kit by the very talented Nicola Jarvis. And to top it off, I also received a packet of postcards and a tea towel with the 'Frosty Garden' design by Nicola Jarvis. It really felt like Christmas. The fox itself is still down-under enjoying the warm sunshine. Inspirations is planning a really wonderful thing for you all; fingers crossed it will come to fruition!
Thirdly (this is the last point, I promise): I've opened my own Etsy-Shop to sell my hand-stitched pendants. Normally, I sell these when I demonstrate embroidery at the museum in Oberammergau. However, as the museum is closed during the winter months, I figured I might as well try to sell them online. A permanent link to my Etsy-Shop can be found on my shop page.
So, let's now explore the main objective of this blog post, shall we?
As many of you know, I love exploring different embroidery techniques. A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about French boutis embroidery and my good friend and fellow embroidery tutor Marina Berts from Switzerland suggested that I'll give Glazig embroidery a go. When you say Glazig you say Pascal Jaouen. He is a designer and embroiderer from France who developed historical Glazig surface embroidery from Brittany into a vibrant modern art form. Do explore his website as the beautiful pictures of his haute-couture creations are stunning!
So, as I really liked his designs and was up for a new challenge, I ordered one of his kits. Thanks to Google translate and my very rusty school French, I managed the ordering process just fine. A couple of days later, my shiny kit arrived. Now I had to tackle even more French :).
The kit contains a piece of linen with the design screen-printed on. I am not a huge fan of this as it means that I'll need to cover all the lines and can't adapt the design much (in fact, when I started stitching I soon noticed that there are design lines on my fabric, that are not to be found on the photograph of the design...). It further contained a piece of thick woollen cloth, a needle, a crystal cabochon, pre-cut silk #12 perle threads and instructions. All prettily packed in a super handy tin.
I started by translating the instructions. There isn't much there. Apart from a short note on Pascal and Glazig embroidery, it only tells you that you shouldn't use a hoop, you should baste the two layers of fabric together, keep your threads short, start with the chain stitches and don't wash afterwards as the wool will shrink. And that's it. On the back of the instructions is a clear picture of the finished design (the one that doesn't exactly exactly match the lines on my pre-printed fabric) and a working sketch detailing which stitches go where. The instructions to the 10 different stitches used in the design can be found on separate cards also packed into the kit. This is of course a clever solution to keep your kits, and especially your instructions, economical.
And this is how far I've come after I sorted the threads and cut them to the recommended length. And yes, I do use a hoop :). The fact that I can't wash the piece after I've embroidered it, made me decide to use a hoop. This will mean that I am not exactly following Pascal's instructions as apparently you stitch the chain stitches only through the linen and not through the wool. I can't quite envisage this, not even when I would hold the piece in my hands. I suspect that you do scoop up some wool every now and then.
The wool is a mystery to me, to be honest. In the instructions it says that the wool prevents puckering and gives a dimensional effect to the embroidery. Hmmm, actually, the non-puckering and the dimensional effect exclude each other, in my opinion. And looking at the picture of the finished design, it doesn't quite work. What I suspect is that using the linen onto the wool recreates the original feeling of stitching on traditional clothing. Glazig embroidery was used to adorn the men's clothes of the Quimper region in Brittany.
And see all the thread tails hanging on my piece? Although the instructions say that you should start with the chain stitches and then commence into the more complicated stitches, I could tell from the picture that one and the same thread was used in going from one type of stitch to the next. So, I will finish all my chain stitches first, but will still be able to continue into the next type of stitch with the same thread. And I do like the stitching! The colours are so vibrant and the design is so much fun. I can't wait to start some of the stitches specific to this type of embroidery! I'll keep you posted on my progress in a further post.
Meanwhile, would this kit be for you? Not being fluent in French isn't a problem as Google translate provides you with a decent enough translation. However, if you are used to step-by-step instructions, this kit doesn't provide that. You have to figure out a lot for yourself and fix a few flaws here and there. So, if you like Pascal's vibrant designs as much as I do, you love an interpretational challenge and you are prepared to fork out between €35 and €75 plus pricey shipping, then go for it! In the meantime, I would love to hear if you know of other embroidery designers offering kits in a special 'old' embroidery technique. Please do leave a comment below!
Me and my husband had a wonderful time visiting London and Salisbury. I bought some lovely silks at the Silk Society and browsed the speciality threads and beads at the London Bead Company. However, we both enjoyed our trip to the Victoria & Albert Museum with the Opus Anglicanum exhibition the most. As not all my readers are in the luxury position to hop over to England to visit this outstanding medieval embroidery exhibition, let's review the excellent exhibition catalogue!
The exhibition catalogue 'English Medieval Embroidery Opus Anglicanum' weighs in at a staggering four pounds, has 310 pages with many (and I really mean MANY) high quality pictures. In my opinion, the pictures are the real gem of this catalogue. Not only are they so detailed that you can see the individual stitches, they are also much better in conveying the detail and the vividness of the embroideries than the originals in the exhibition. Because, as always, ancient textiles need protection form light and thus the levels of lighting in the exhibition are nowhere near to those used when they photographed these objects. In addition, many more objects are illustrated in the 7 chapter's texts than were present in the exhibition! Especially those residing in other parts of the world. So who knows, maybe you are living near to one of these gems and you could easily go for a visit!
The first chapter details the technical part of the Opus Anglicanum embroidery and when it was in use. It describes the silk split stitching of the figures and the underside couching of the gold threads for the background. I was most surprised to read that medieval gold thread makers were able to make a kind of gilt Japanese Thread only 0.25-0.30 mm thick!
The second chapter describes the use of the different embroidered vestments in the Roman Catholic church. It pinpoints Opus Anglicanum embroideries held in museums and churches ranging from Hildesheim in Germany, Vienna in Austria to Chicago in the US. This diaspora has helped the survival of these medieval embroideries after the Reformation.
The lives of London embroiderers and the details of their trade are described in the third chapter. Interestingly, in the older records from the 13th and 14th century, women make up the majority of the work force. Then men start to push them from the documentary record. Maybe this had something to do with the craft becoming better organised and the establishment of a guild? A surviving bill shows that women embroiderers were paid far less than men...
Chapter four shows that English embroideries were very popular with the papal curia in continental Europe. Examples can be found in the Cathedral treasuries and museums of Italy and Spain. However, by the 14th century, Opus Anglicanum starts to become less fashionable and embroideries from Italy take over.
The fifth chapter places the art form of embroidery in a wider artistic context. Many parallels between paintings and embroideries are illuminated. Whereas chapter six looks at the changing embroideries on vestments dating from the second half of the 14th century up to the Reformation. The trade becomes more fragmented with prospective buyers assembling the parts of vestments from different sources. Embroidery is increasingly appliqued onto a background.
I best enjoyed the seventh chapter which placed the English embroideries into a wider mainland European context. This greatly enhances my knowledge of embroidery on medieval vestments; particularly from more central European countries like the Czech Republic. The remaining part of the book is devoted to a thorough catalogue of all the pieces in the exhibition. Beautiful detailed pictures provide a rich banquet of eye candy! The best of the best? The Toledo cope from AD 1320-30 covered all over with saints, scenes of the life of the Virgin and wonderfully detailed birds. This is my absolute favourite; don't you agree?
The catalogue is widely available through online sources like the V&A shop and Amazon and comes at a price of 35 GBP or about $ 75. And then there is another brand new book on the topic, also available from the V&A: The age of Opus Anglicanum. It contains nine scientific papers on the subject, mainly written by the people who also contributed essays aimed at the general public to the exhibition catalogue. I haven't read it yet, but if you are also, like me, interested in a more thorough covering of the subject, this might be worth its 89 GBP or $ 143. However, the quality of the pictures is much better in the catalogue. More interesting however, is its promise written on the inside sleeve: 'This volume, the first to appear in a series on English Medieval Embroidery...'. Yeah, bring them on good people of the V&A!
So, for a number of you, my dear readers, it is now time to prompt Santa to make sure you find a copy of the exhibition catalogue under your Christmas tree :).
On a more personal note: sadly, upon our return from England, my husband was told that the company he works for closes its archaeological department. Not the sort of Christmas' present we wished for, I can assure you. As I now help him in finding a new job, it will undoubtedly impair on the time I can spend on my own embroidery endeavours, but I will try to keep my weekly blog posts upright!
Being the grand-daughter of a German economic refugee comes with an innate suspicion of the French and anything French. So when each summer all our fellow Dutch countrymen clogged up the Route Soleil to holiday in France, the Grimms went East. However, since a few weeks, I've come to like something typically French... Oh, dear!
It all started quite innocent with me coming across an embroidery blog. I added it to my Feedly reading list and was treated to lovely Boutis embroidery. Of course I knew that Boutis embroidery originated in France. But what harm can it do to read a blog about it? Well, as things go, after a while reading about it wasn't enough. I started to wonder if I should try my hand at this particular elegant form of white-work. The hack with the Grimm's family values! And so I ordered my Boutis Christmas Ornaments kit from Averyclaire NeedleArts.
The kit soon arrived and it contains everything in abundance to make the three ornaments. And since Karen, the woman behind Averyclaire, added a cute lavender sachet, everything smells so nicely. For those of you new to Boutis, it is a padded embroidery technique using two layers of very fine cotton batiste. This creates a lovely contrast between the 'see through' areas and the padded elements. Added bonus: although the cording (padding) needs to get used to, the whole stitching doesn't involve complicated stitching. When you can do running stitch, you can do Boutis.
I started with the Noel and Holly ornament. Doing all the running stitches didn't take long and it was fun to do too. Once I figured out that the cord only fills the channels between the running stitches when you double your thread, they were no problem at all. The berries were no problem either. But how do you cord such a 'weird' shape as the holly leaf. Never daunted by anything embroidery, I decided to stuff them as much as I liked. Since I wasn't a 100% sure that's the way it's done, I contacted Karen via email to check. She was super-fast in answering my question and yes stuffing them to your hearts content is indeed what you do.
We also chatted a bit about the right approach to filling the snowflake. It's the design I like the most. Here you see a picture of all the cording done. You can see the large holes in the fabric at the back through which you pull the cording. They do vanish quite well after soaking in water.
All in all it is an elegant new white-work technique that I would like to pursuit more. And since Karen mentioned that she will bring out more kits and instructions in the future, I will get ample opportunity to do so! Just one thing remains: How do I tell my family?
P.S. Dear French readers if you feel that I should try other typical French things in order to start to like you even more, then please leave your suggestions below! It is also okay to poke fun of either the Dutch or the Germans or both in your comments below :).
As promised in last week's post, this week we'll explore some of my students' embroidery projects. First up is Elizabeth's stumpwork piece she started last week. She brought along with her a beautifully illustrated children's book. The colourful and witty illustrations are by Lilo Fromm. Do check out her website (and scroll down a bit as it starts rather 'grey'!) as there is inspiration to be had. Her illustrations would be wonderful as canvas embroideries too!
Elizabeth choose this lovely illustration of the witch's house. It is a nicely layered picture, ideal for stumpwork embroidery. It does however mean, that you'll need to do a lot of stitching before you can start the nice lady and the gorgeous chap in the foreground. That said, stitching a witch's house is never dull!
This is progress after five days of stitching. We had particular fun with the broken glass windows. We opted for black silk with white sheer fabric 'glass sherds' fused with bondaweb. Cleverly stitching the partitions and the frame over the fused fabrics should ensure that they'll stay put even when the bondaweb disintegrates with time.
And what do you think of our cat with the three eyes? He, or are three-eyed cats female?, has been created by covering a black felt base with black silk chenille. He then got a felt head adorned with three silver plated spangles and tiny black beads for his eyes. I think he is an adorable witch's cat.
Although we only barely touched upon stitching the witch, we did manage to stitch her face. You can tell she is the cats mother, as she has three eyes too!
Elizabeth now has lots of fun homework to do. And once she gets stuck for inspiration, I'll get to help her on her way again. I am very much looking forward to see this lovely piece grow.
And then there is this fantastic crewel piece by Ellen. She started it in February and finished it a couple of weeks ago. It is always so nice to see how a piece eventually turns out. Five days of stitching is rarely enough to finish projects of this scale, so I am always very pleased when I find pictures in my inbox!
In a couple of weeks, a major event is going to happen. Christmas? Yes, that too. But before that, we will finally open our cooperative village store. Hallelujah! It has taken up far too much of my time and most of my stitching projects were orphaned for too long. I so hope this improves in the new year. In the meantime, meet my Holiday Stitching project:
These are the Santa's of prevention. They are keeping me sane whilst I don't have the calm and quiet to work on any 'big girl' embroidery projects. And they PREVENT me from killing any villagers who are foolish enough to position themselves between me and our village store...
But what will I do with all these charming Santa's? In comes our village Advent Windows Calendar. Our decorated window will open on the 16th of December. Want to stitch some of these charming Mill Hill Santa kits too? They are distributed by Wichelt in the US. You can order them in Europe from Casa Cenina and in Germany from CreativHorst and Stickteufelchen.
Apart from frantically stitching Santa's, I've also purchased my tickets for the Opus Anglicanum exhibition in London! And I am having fun this week with Elizabeth stitching an illustration from a fairytale book. I'll show you the pretty results next week.
Thank you all for your kind and congratulations after last week's blog post! I am still chuffed that my fox won first prize at Beating around the Bush.
And a very warm welcome to all the new readers joining after Mary Corbet mentioned my goldwork project 'St. Laurence' on her excellent blog! I hope you won't be too disappointed that today's blog is on white work :).
This past Saturday, I was fortunate enough to attend another of Verena Schiegg's enjoyable classes on Appenzeller white work (for those of you new to this technique, please click 'Appenzell' in the categories list on your right for more information). So far I've learned to make padded satin stitches in the Appenzell fashion and drawn thread filling patterns. This particular class was going to be devoted to Lääteli (=Ladder). Verena had several old prickings for me to choose from and I set my eyes on the one above. It is one quarter of a very fine handkerchief.
Lääteli are a combination of ajour stitches (pulled thread) and couching. You work with two different threads. A thicker one to be couched and a finer one to do the couching and ajour stitches with. In the above original, I work with a #65 for the ticker thread and a #80 for the couching stitches. Currently, I am not aware of any other white work technique using this particular stitch combination. Please do let me know if it rings a bell with you! To be clearer, I've made a tutorial for Graadi Lääteli (= straight ladder).
To be able to make good pictures, I've upped the scale a little. The fabric used is a 36 ct linen. My thicker thread is a #25 DMC cotton a broder. The finer thread is one strand of DMC embroidery twist. Start by drawing two parallel lines, five threads apart, onto the linen. Take your thicker thread and cover the bottom line with a single straight stitch. Keep the stitch taut while working, but don't end it yet.
Anchor your couching thread on the upper line. Come up with your needle three threads from the start and in the middle between the two lines. Wiggle your needle a bit to widen the hole (this isn't essential when working on such coarse linen, but it is when you work on very fine linen).
Go down at the start in the middle between the two lines. Pull a little so that the fabric threads are pulled together.
Come up in the hole you made wiggling your needle. Now place a couching stitch over the ticker thread by going down over it, parallel to the hole.
Move down the middle between the lines, skip three threads and wiggle your needle to make the second hole. Come up with your thread.
Go down in the first hole and gently pull the threads together. Come up in the second hole and make the parallel couching stitch over the ticker thread.
Continue in this manner until you reach the end of your drawn line. Finished is the first half of your Lääteli. Turn your work upside down and start by laying your thicker thread over the other line.
Thread your needle with the thinner thread and come up in the first hole. Go down at the start and repeat all the previous steps. The second half of the Lääteli works up much quicker as you don't have to count threads: the holes are already there! The 'open ends' of the Lääteli are closed with a padded button hole bar. This is a great place to start and stop your threads.
As you've probably guessed, Graadi Lääteli are a counted thread technique. The Lääteli I've stitched on the handkerchief is a Chrommi Lääteli (=crooked ladder), you can't count threads here. And then there's a third form where the Lääteli gets combined with buttonhole stitching so that a sculpted edge is formed.
Lääteli would be perfect to stitch as a simple edge decoration. It works up quicker than a traditional drawn thread border as you don't have to withdraw threads first. And sometimes, your linen is not very well behaved and you can't easily withdraw threads; in comes the Lääteli!
Did the Lääteli whet your appetite and would you like to learn Appenzeller whitework? Then why not join Verena's courses? She's an excellent teacher with many years of experience and one of the very few people who is proficient in this form of very fine whitework. Contact Verena for more details. If you would like to stitch Lääteli with the original materials, then send Verena an email with your requirements. As far as I know, she is the only person selling these very fine, traditionally blue, whitework threads.
Jessica M. Grimm
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