I am getting really excited as the vernissage of my first-ever solo-exhibition (click and scroll to the bottom of the page) draws nearer! As this is my first time organising and promoting such an event myself, I really do hope I have managed to think of everything :). Apart from sending invitations to important people, gallery owners and friends; I and my husband also spent two days dropping them in every mailbox in our village. The only things left: hanging the exhibition posters around the village for the tourists to see, signing the insurance papers, preparing my speech and hanging the exhibition. So cool!
But that's not all that has been happening in my embroidery life! Last week, I taught crewel embroidery to Kristin from Berlin and Elena from Switzerland. As the three of us were born in the 70s, love to travel, have no kids, love our men (but think they are a rather peculiar species), we had a lot of fun! And cake, of course. Oh, and we stitched too :).
Kristin chose an image from one of these generic pattern books you can find in most bookshops. You can use these patterns for a variety of crafts and they are an especially good starting point for embroidery. Picking colours from the full range of Heathway Milano super-quality crewel wool was a true Qual der Wahl (the agony of choice). But she chose well in combining Pomegranate with Laurel and a dash of Daffodil! Kristin really wanted to incorporate lots of colours and even some pearls. Way out of her comfort zone, but working so well! I can't wait to see this piece getting finished.
Elena has been working the same image for years. Don't get me wrong, she isn't slow or anything, but she works the same image in different techniques :). As a base, she uses a Russian translation of this RSN-embroidery book. So far she has worked two beautiful irises: one in goldwork and one in blackwork. It was now time to tackle the crewelwork one! Beautiful Heathway Milano Violet and Gobelin Green were the perfect colours for the job. As the original piece in the book is made with variegated threads, we also added some hand-dyed raw silk by House of Embroidery. The fluffy nature of the wool combines very well with the spun silk. And of course, we added some sparkly pearls as well. As Elena really liked working with the wool and filling areas with trellis stitch, I am hoping for a speedy finish :).
That's all for now! I hope to see at least some of you during the vernissage or the opening hours of the exhibition. All my work will be on display and I will be present during the opening hours. As almost all of you live too far away for a visit, I will do lots of posts on my Instagram account @jessicagrimmartembroidery. And next week's blog post will be dedicated to the exhibition and vernissage as well!
P.S. Want to come and stitch with me? The next embroidery course takes place from 2-6 September and the topic is goldwork. Limited spaces are still available! More details and booking here.
Yup, it is true: I have arrived in the modern area too. It took me years. But when I heard that Fairphone makes smart phones that last, are repairable and don't use blood minerals; I ordered one. So far, I have used it to download (and use!) a 5K running app, Instagram, WhatsApp with my family, use Google for directions and information AND made the very occasional phone call :). Still much prefer my Ipad and Laptop... Maybe I should seek professional help? Pondering this option, I did make my Fairphone a cozy home to live in.
On Zweigart Newcastle natural coloured 40ct linen, I outlined the bird with chainstitch using a #12 variegated House of Embroidery perle colour Grapes C. Then I stitched partial buttonhole wheels for the feathers on the tail and the wing. I added straight stitches for the feet and the beak and attached some blue beads along the upper-edge of the wing. From the back, I withdrew every fourth thread in both directions and then added a Schwalm filling stitch called 'Gefieder'. The lettering was stitched using stem stitch. To make my 'phone home' a bit sturdier, I added wadding and a sheet of template plastic. The seams were then pimped with knotted pearl stitch. So far, my phone seems to be pretty comfy in her new home!
I've asked my very talented husband to make a nice clean digital drawing of my scribbled birdy pattern. You can download it at the end of this article. Apart from using it as I did in a Schwalm embroidery way (finished design including lettering H 55mm), there is tons of other possibilities. How about stitching it monochrome on a piece of felt? Or applique with a few simple stitches for embellishment? Surprise me!
Next up is another #broderibox project using a design of a Chlamydosaurus by Millie Marotta. This amazing creature can impress by unfolding his neck frill. However, it can only do so in opening its mouth widely. The bones in the frill are extensions of the hyoid or tongue bone. Isn't nature amazing?! The lovely people of Nordic Needle had put in a glow-in-the-dark thread made by Rainbow Gallery. I made sure to add it to every canvas stitch I used on the chlamydosaurus (it is the white thread you see). And it glows beautifully at night! Unfortunately, it doesn't translate well in a picture. You have to take my word for it.
Last finish for today: the Floral Pomander by Hazel Blomkamp. I really enjoyed this project with all the little flowery scenes using simple embroidery stitches and tiny beads. However, the instructions were a bit messy with tiny pictures of the finished panels. And piecing the pomander together was a little fiddley. That said, it makes a great project if you like miniature embroidery, beads and a different way of finishing your embroidery. Oh, and thanks to the dried lavender mixed in with the toy stuffing, it is my best smelling project ever :)!
Today I am going to share some lovely embroidery pieces with you. We'll start off with the work of one of my students, then we'll have a look at some new pieces I made and we'll finish with a new initiative to bring Mastercrafts People together. Let's start with a stunning blackwork piece:
This piece has been embroidered by Anja from the Netherlands. She started it last year during one of my week-long embroidery retreats. Anja worked from a picture and translated the different textures and shades beautifully into blackwork's geometric patterns. Anja will add some white highlights to the eyes to make the birds even more life-like. I so enjoy seeing a finished piece which started under my tuition!
Next up is another piece by Anja. She started it last week during another one of my embroidery retreats. We had great fun designing this piece by using a piece by Hazel Blomkamp as the base. Then we added two flowers from a colouring book by Millie Marotta and a pomegranate from an older embroidery book. Just to illustrate that you don't need to be able to draw your own design from scratch. Mix and match often produces a stunning new design. I have a feeling this piece will turn out great as well!
As most of you know by now, I have a subscription to the Broderibox by Nordic Needle. Although I used all threads present in the May box, I wasn't sure what to do with the purse clasp. I am an embroideress and I can mount a finished piece satisfactorily. However, I am not good at finishing. Mainly because I do it so rarely. Time to change that! There are so many lovely products out there to turn your embroidery into something other than a framed picture. Time to become acquainted with the clasp.
Luckily for me, there was a website listed on the back of the clasp's packaging: Zakka Workshop. Do visit their website as they have some adorable stuff on there. And best of all, they have a really good Youtube video on how to install the clasp. As I wasn't confident that I could come up with the right size embroidered purse, I ordered their instructions for the simple patchwork pouch. It provided me with a template for the purse and then it was just a matter of adding a cute bird, do some Schwalm embroidery, add some beads and best of all: use a House of Embroidery hand-dyed perle #12 in a colour combination that's totally out of your comfort zone :).
Worked a treat so far. Installing the clasp wasn't as easy as the video makes you believe. Especially not as I've probably used the wrong interfacing between the embroidery and the lining of the purse. Mine is probably too thick/stiff. That's the challenge when using instructions from another country. However, I am quite pleased with the result! I will tinker with the purse design and write up instructions at a later date. Just keep an eye out for them on this blog :)!
Another great way to finish your embroidery (and really hot on Instagram!) is to use a tiny wooden hoop by Dandelyne. Since I really like my Schwalm butterfly, I wondered if I could shrink the piece enough to go into a 4cm hoop. Guess what? I could! I used a combination of House of Embroidery hand-dyed fine silk and raw silk as well as paper covered wire to stiffen the upper-wings. I've now worn the piece around my neck for two days straight (I did put it down for sleeping...) and it holds up beautifully. As I had some trouble adding my finished embroidery to the hoop using the instructions provided, I will write a blog on this alternative method soon. It will help others mount embroidery on thin fabrics into a Dandelyne hoop. By the way, you can get your Dandelyne hoops here in Germany from the lovely Nadine from Zur lila Pampelmuse. That's where I got mine :).
Still reading? Good reader! There is one last thing I want you to go and check out: the Mad' in Europe initiative. It is a website where you can find European Mastercrafts People. Please do visit my page and leave a review! It will not only earn you my eternal gratitude, but it will also help to make my work more visible. And don't forget to check this initiative for local crafts people near you or your next holiday destination! (and do apply for membership if you are a fellow European artisan; it's free!).
THE END :)
Happy start of the week dear reader! I am back from a week full of wonderful sight-seeing with my family. And one of the sites we visited was the Bauernhofmuseum in Illerbeuren. A pretty open air museum showcasing farm life from the Swabia area of Germany. And of course, there was some lovely embroidery on display as well. Mostly on household linens and mainly involving monogramming and whitework embroidery. How about these gorgeous Richelieu embroidered curtains featured in an inn?
If you would like to explore more of the 19th and 20th century embroidery on display at the museum in Illerbeuren, do have a look at my Flickr account: fairytale771978. I have also bought a brilliant book on buttons and will review that in an upcoming blogpost. Keep your eyes peeled!
In between family commitments, I sneaked in enough embroidery moments to complete my next #broderibox project. The broderibox is a monthly embroidery threads subscription put together by the lovely people of Nordic Needle. This month's box contained: five embroidery threads, beads and a purse clasp. Since the threads had a lot of browns in them; an ant sprang to my mind. Lucky for me, the amazing Millie Marotta has drawings of ants included in her colouring-in book 'Wild Savannah'.
As many of you probably know, canvaswork or needlepoint embroidery is stitched front to back. Or: object first, background later. Now be good and do not ever do that with your silk shading ;)! So, in this case, I started with my ant. She is called Truus de Mier, by the way. A favourite ant from a children's tv-show in the Netherlands. For Truus' body, I used a variegated perle #8 by Valdani. I really wanted to try this brand of embroidery threads. It worked a treat! No 'typical-low-grade-Eastern-European-Quality' here. As I wanted Truus to have a little 'body' to her body, I used the raised spot to fill it. As this stitch required me to pass 8-times through the same hole, I expected the thread to wear beyond pretty. But it didn't. They surely do know how to produce a fine perle in Romania!
Next up were Truus' legs. I stitched them in tent stitch and used both directions for different legs. This made the whole thing a little less tangled-up when legs crossed. The legs were stitched using Vineyard Silk shimmer. It is a silk thread with a shimmering filament added. It does not have a nice feel and it unfortunately stitched accordingly. A bit disappointing as I really liked the previous 100% silk threads by Vineyard Silk!
Apparently, ants have segmented legs that start with a bit of a bulky part. And ants have a mouth piece with which they cut leaves in handy transportable portions. Since this month's #broderibox had a violet Londonderry linen thread in it, I decided to use it to stitch these parts in cross-stitch. Lovely thread! I do stitch some whitework embroidery with linen threads and really love it.
That's Ms Truus de Mier sorted. On to the background. I decided to stitch the earth on witch Truus walks with Silk Lame Braid by Rainbow Gallery. Despite it being a silk thread mixed with metalized polyester and some rayon, it felt and stitched fantastically. Very well suited for the vertical Parisian stitch.
As the variegated cotton thread Watercolours by Caron had some blue in it, that was going to be turned into the sky. I separated the three plies and stitched the diagonal Cashmere stitch with one ply. I really love these cotton threads by Caron! They are so soft and hold up so well whilst stitching on canvas.
To finish my Truus de Mier, I decided that she needed a bright green stumpwork leaf. I wired a piece of dupion silk backed with calico. The buttonhole edging was stitched using a #12 House of Embroidery perle from my stash. I added the Mill Hill magnifica beads provided in the #broderibox to my leaf. Subsequently, I stitched a few beads onto Truus for an eye. And that's another #broderibox project finished satisfactorily!
P.S.: us dummies did take the camera with us to the Bunter Markt craft fair in Wessobrunn on Sunday, however, we forgot to take a picture of our stand... On the up-side, we did manage to sell two pendants and shed a few flyers and business cards!
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?
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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By change I stumbled upon an exhibition in a former convent of the order of the Visitation of Holy Mary: Kloster Beuerberg. As this particular order lives in strict enclosure, it is rare that you can visit one of their houses. Since the last sisters left a couple of years ago, not much has changed. The house now belongs to the diocese and they decided to, for the time being, turn it into a museum. Throughout the exhibition, you will find lovely examples of all sorts of needlework executed by the sisters. Culminating in the display of the 'Angels Ornate'.
Definitely the best part of the whole exhibition were the cope, chasuble and dalmatic of the 'Angels Ornate'. Beautifully executed vestments with silk and goldwork embroidery in the most vivid colours. Although made around 1880, they still look fresh with none of the usual wear and tear. Eye candy in its purest form.
I will probably visit the exhibition again as there was so much to see. They also sell fabric, used linens (monogrammed), yarn, threads, buttons etc. from the former vestment workshop. You can find more about this exhibition on the website of the diocese.
New in my webshop: filament silk and spun silk from House of Embroidery. These lovely threads come in the same colours as the silk ribbons and perle threads from House of Embroidery. You have 115 gorgeous colour combinations to choose from. Go feed your thread addiction now!
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.
Wow, what a week it has been! The fox has attracted quite a bit of attention around the globe thanks to Mary Corbet mentioning the project on her website. So here is a very warm welcome to all my new readers. Millie Marotta was also very impressed with the stitched version of her fox. Has anyone else stitched something inspired by Millie's wonderful drawings? If so, do share your story below.
This is the latest kit available from my webshop: Bird Song an introduction to Elizabethan embroidery for the intermediate stitcher. The design uses several different surface stitches and two forms of needle lace along with a little added bling. The piece is almost entirely stitched using the gorgeous hand-dyed perle #8 from House of Embroidery. The background fabric is a pale minty green high quality dupion silk. The kit comes with instructions in either German or English and features over 30 pictures and illustrations.
Also new is this silk ribbon (and stumpwork) beginner's kit: Autumn Bounty. This kit features the equally gorgeous hand-dyed House of Embroidery silk ribbons.
And this is the beginner's surface embroidery kit 'Erica' mentioned in last week's newsletter. A simple, yet stunning design stitched with House of Embroidery perle #12. Both kits feature instructions in German and English. So you are not only learning a new stitching skill, you can also brush up on your languages :).
Please do let me know what you think of these new kits! It is sometimes hard to guess what you, the stitcher client, want. So here is your chance to put me to work. Don't miss it!
I finished stitching Millie Marotta's fox yesterday evening late (quite late, that is...). A few months ago this whole project started when Mary Corbet mentioned Millie Marotta's new colouring book 'Animal Kingdom' on Needle 'n Thread. Me and the fox had an instant connection. Waiting for the book to arrive at the bookstore was a tantalluskwelling. Patience is not one of my virtues. Of course, no one buys this as I am an embroideress and embroiderers are patient. Yeah right.
Here you'll see the fox finished bar the stumpwork elements. I've used House of Embroidery perle #12 (which you can find in my webshop together with perle #8 and gorgeous silk ribbons) in shades: Wildlife A, Marigold C, Maple A & C, Strelitza A, Harvest C, Sri Lanka C, Berries B and Brass A & B. Sparkly highlights were stitched using Madeira Metallic embroidery thread #40 Colour 28 and DMC Diamant #301. I love DMC Diamant. It is not your average badly behaving metallic embroidery thread. It is much nicer.
And here are some of the wired stumpwork elements. I used the same threads with a red linen background. Why red? Well after cutting them out, you do tend to see a wee bit of the background fabric. Using a background fabric corresponding with your stitching thread makes thus a lot of sense.
And here is the finished piece! Needless to say: I love it to bits. Can't wait to mount the piece (oh gosh, did I really write that? Wow, I've come a long way since my first mounting instructions at Hampton Court Palace...). It will then be framed in a white IKEA frame until I can scratch together enough money to have it properly framed.
Here's an angled picture so one can appreciate the 'stumpiness' of the stumpwork elements better. For those of you planning to visit Nadel & Faden in Osnabrück in September, the fox will be on display!
So what's next? A wee bit of homework. And then I am going to play with my Elizabeth Ward tiny container bead storage solution tray. You can read all about this genius system on Mary Corbet's Needle 'n Thread. See you next week!
Jessica M. Grimm
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