After another 18 hours of stitching, the breast piece of the latest Bavarian braces has been finished. Personally, I love the lions flanking the coat of arms of Bad Bayersoien. It gives the whole rosy-flowery-thing a bit of a male bite :).
But it wasn't the only thing related to folk costume I stitched last week. I also finished the monograms on a traditional shirt. For ease of stitching, the monograms get traditionally stitched in simple cross stitch. When I was asked to stitch a shirt a few years ago, I didn't know this. So I developed a version with Hungarian braided chain stitch and stem stitch as well as a satin stitched flower. And it has proved to be very popular! If you would like to try your hand at stitching beautiful monograms or traditional Bavarian braces, why not sign up for one of my classes in 2016?
This week, I also met up with the refugee women again. Although we didn't stitch due to our commission to make origami paper stars for our annual Christmas market, there is something I'd like to share with you. As some of you might know, I have a bit of a track record in working with refugees. It all started back in the '90s with the Balkan refugees that came to the Netherlands due to the war. A few years ago, I was involved with a learning centre especially for migrant women in Rotterdam. The big difference between my past projects and this one: lack of education.
It is heart breaking to work with women who are illiterate or practically illiterate due to the lack of schooling as a result of the civil war in their homeland. They spent most of their lives fetching water and searching for food and fuel. Even basic sewing skills are lacking. And the hardest thing? These are bright young women who could bring positive change to their families and indeed their country.
Considering that I had 20+ years of formal education right up to being able to write a doctoral thesis, makes me humble and gratetful. Therefore, me and my husband started to support a small group of passionate young teachers in Ghana. They work hard to raise money to build a school. Quite a few of you have asked what they could do to help me with my group of refugee women. As so many of you reside outside the EU, lovingly sending me needlework supplies isn't a good idea due to tax regulations. However, please do consider making a donation, however small, to the heroes of the Prince and Princess Academy in Tamale, Ghana. You can find more about the project here and here.
And with this beautiful picture taken from my balcony this morning, I am ending this blog post. As I am taking a well-deserved short break, there won't be a blog post next week. See you all again in December!
My studio seems to be flooded with commissions at the moment. There might be a causation with the fact that Christmas is only 5.5 weeks away... A major milestone was reached today upon finishing the lengths of another pair of Bavarian braces I started quite a while ago.
Both lengths are 107 cm long and five centimetres wide. It took me 173 hours to stitch them. They were stitched using a full strand of DMC floss. I've used 22 colours on 18 TPI brown canvas. The pattern was adapted from an old Berlin Wool Work hand painted pattern. So, for the moment at least, there is no one with the same pair of braces in all of Bavaria :). I love to stitch unique patterns and I will not use this pattern again as long as it is still worn. The only option to obtain the pattern is to sit quietly behind the wearer in church with a piece of graph paper...
I've also spent some time today on designing the breast piece. It will feature the coats of arms of Bad Bayersoien flanked by two fearsome lions. Hope to finish that in the next couple of weeks too. Along with a couple of traditional shirts which need monogramming.
Regarding my refugee ladies crafting group; we laughed our socks off (a picture of my husband proofed to be very popular with the ladies!). In between the laughter, I even learned a new stitch from Ukraine. Never seen it before and I will make a tutorial once all the commissions have safely left the building. A huge thank you to all who left words of support and encouragement on my website or otherwise. The donations received will be used at a later date. The coming weeks, we will do some paper crafting to produce Christmas decorations to be sold at our local Christmas market. Every little helps.
As most of you are surely aware off, we have a rather large influx of refugees in this part of the world. My alpine idyll is no exception. Since spring, a slowly growing group from Syria, Pakistan, Burma, Somalia, Sierra Leone, Eritrea, Kosovo and Ukraine is making our village street life more colourful.
I have long hesitated about becoming involved with refugees again. On the one hand, my time is limited due to me running my own company. On the other hand, I know from past experiences how it emotionally affects me to hear all the different stories of hope and suffering. That said, being a descendant of an economic refugee from Germany who came to the Netherlands in 1924, I feel obliged to offer my help.
So, what could I do? How about stitching and hand-sewing once a week. I know how to do that and I am sure, many of the women do too. Besides, it is an excellent way of learning the very complicated German language. On Thursday, we'll start with making the simple name badge you see above. A scrap of pretty cotton fabric, a disc of template plastic covered on one side with wadding, felt, sewing thread, a safety pin, a trick marker of some kind, needles, beads, perle and embroidery floss is all you need.
To keep it nice and simple, I'll forget most of the Royal School of Needlework golden rules of embroidery. Yes, we will have knots at the back and yes, we will work it all in the hand. That explains the dodginess of my stem stitching... I'll report back next week about how we fared.
Then on a completely different matter: Verena Schiegg offers a series of opportunities to learn the beautiful Appenzell embroidery technique in early 2016. You have a choice of attending two Saturdays (23rd of January and 20th of February 2016) or an intensive course of four consecutive days in February (15th-18th) or March (7th-10th). Every course day starts at 9:00, lunch break from 11:30 till 13:30 and ends at 17:00. Course fees for the Saturday option is CHF 110 per day and for the four day intensive courses it is CHF 390 for all four days. Materials are not included, but can be bought from Verena directely. Courses take place when a minimum of four people sign up. Register before the 10th of January for the Saturday option, before the 6th of February for the February intensive and before the 26th of February for the March intensive. All courses take place at the Gesellenhaus in Appenzell, Switzerland.
Want to know more about Appenzell embroidery? Click on Appenzell in the categories list to the right of this blog entry. For more information or to sign up, please contact Verena directly. As I will be attending any course taking place, people whose knowledge of the German language is only limited or completely absent, but who can either speak English or Dutch, will still be able to understand what is going on.
To my humble opinion, Verena's courses are worth every Swiss Franc. She has such an in-depth knowledge of the subject and so freely shares her tips and tricks that come from years and years of practice. Both in the field of embroidery, as well as in the field of teaching. Hope to meet some of you in Appenzell!
Last week I finally finished my needle painted purplish violet from a picture I took on my balcony. Unfortunately, the piece saw a lot of stop and go due to all the other stuff related to running an embroidery business that gets in the way of the real stitching. It does affect the piece, but all in all, I am happy with the result. Nice thing I noticed: I am a much better stitcher than I was five years ago when I stitched my famous anemone. Thread condition is sooooooo much better. The piece shines like a polished chestnut. Want to try your hand at replicating the piece (or better still: do a better job :)!), why not join me on a five-day course in needle painting? You will work the same violet from the same picture with the same lovely palette of stranded cottons.
And remember my trip to customs last week? I had to go all the way to Weilheim and then wait, wait and wait some more. Biggest problem this time: what the #§$*! are SILK ribbons made of and what tax number do they have? And I thought I'd solved that problem last time I paid the customs guys a visit. Nope. Now I will have to have a sample tested (and pay for that, of course!), otherwise I can't import them anymore. How lovely.
Any ways. With the silk ribbons came a new old line of perle #8 from House of Embroidery. Instead of the 3x9 metres on the little cards, you can now buy single skeins of 27 metres. To celebrate this latest addition to my ever expanding enterprise, a skein is priced at just €1.80 (normal price €2.00). The 3x9 metres on the little cards are discontinued and are also on sale for €1.80 (was €2.00). And on top of that, the lovely people at House of Embroidery have come up with some lovely new colours. Let me introduce you to The Ocean:
None of the colours have been really replaced or discontinued. However, some colours have been tidied up. Meaning that they are merged with other, similar varieties. The Ocean is, however, a completely new addition and I think it is yummy! So why not pay a visit to my webshop and admire all the new colours available? Better still, get your Christmas shopping off to a good start! Sale price available till the end of November 2015.
And last but not least, thanks to all the lovely people who visited my stand at the Festival der Handarbeiten in Dachau on Saturday. It was a terrific way to meet new people and to promote my embroidery business. As I am planning to attend small textile or seasonal shows more often, we had to add a new 'family member'. More about that in a future post.
Jessica M. Grimm
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