It has become a bit of a tradition that my kitchen window participates in our village Adventkalendar. This year we opened on the 5th; that's when the Dutch celebrate St. Nicholas. So apart from my decorated window and large amounts of Glühwein, we also had pepernoten, speculaas and taai-taai.
This year, I decorated my window with the Schwalm embroidery nativity. Having a partitioned window, we ended up with four scenes.
If you would like to know how the figures were made, check out these older blog posts. In time for Christmas 2018, I'll run a nativity workshop on the 8th of December 2018. More information on Schwalm embroidery can be found on Luzine Happel's website (available in German and English).
And since it has been quite the year for us, I am going to take a short break from blogging. In fact, this is my last post for this year. Thank you for your support and have a marvellous Christmas and a happy new year! See you on the 8th of January with a brand new blog post.
Before I open the candy tin, I would like to voice a big thank you to all who left comments of encouragement on last week's blogpost. I also received many personal emails and further comments on my instagram account. Thank you very much! What will happen next? The farm building is beyond help and will be demolished. The cattle will be sold over the next weeks. The Lötschmüllerhof will no longer be a farm. That's a strange idea. As reference to 'the farm' in my family was always to this particular place. However, we are all settling in to our new lives and the help from others is balsam to our souls.
On to the eye candy! Remember this piece by Anja from the Netherlands? She started it earlier this year during one of my stitching retreats. I think she did a terrific job! The piece is balanced and the purple flower is such a beautiful centre piece. So proud of her :). By the way, I am running the next crewelwork stitching retreat from 23-10-17 until 27-10-17. You can sign up here.
Next up is a stumpwork piece by Annelot from the Netherlands. She started it last week during my stumpwork stitching retreat. Annelot is creating a stitched version of Treebeard, the oldest Ent from the tales of J.R.R. Tolkien. For his mossy beard we tried the overtwisting method as described by Alison Cole in her great book on stumpwork (you can read my review here). This is a fun method with great texture. Can't wait for the piece to be finished. Would you like to try your hand at stumpwork embroidery? Why not sign up for my two-day workshop 'Summer Sampler'?
Over the years, I have learned that embroidery calms and sooths my soul. So I was particularly happy to find the September #broderibox by Nordic Needle in my mail last week. With this month's threads I worked a moth from one of Millie Marotta's books. I used Snow by Caron, Watercolours by Caron, Kreinik Silk, Colour variations by DMC, Londonderry linen thread and silver plated spangles. The moth is stitched using a combination of Schwalm drawn-thread work, surface embroidery and stumpwork.
And last but not least, this altar frontal or antependium was saved from the fire. It used to adorn the Corpus Christi altar put up in front of the farm every other year. It is a little dirty, so I will try to gently clean it. Since the altar did burn, we need to construct a new one. But the antependium will still adorn it!
And that's it. All candy distributed :). See you next week!
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 write a bit about my love affair with Schwalm embroidery. You see, I can pinpoint exactly where I encountered this pretty whitework embroidery technique for the first time. Not in its native Hessia, one of the federal states of Germany. Nope. It was Inspirations issue 69 in the spring of 2011. The beautiful 'Sense of Place' by Luzine Happel featured hearts, sunflowers and tulips filled with pretty patterns. I so wanted to learn this embroidery technique! But, I had never done any whitework embroidery other than a huge Richelieu window pane featured in an embroidery special of the Dutch Libelle. Luckily, I had just started my Royal School of Needlework Diploma course. And it happened to include a whitework module. Little did I know that they had never heard of this type of embroidery. And my tutors weren't thrilled at the prospect of teaching me something they were not familiar with. So I ended up with a whitework sampler featuring only a little bit of true Schwalm embroidery. And yes, I didn't like the prospect of an all-white piece either :).
Now most of you will by now know that I don't like table cloths. Although, to be honest, there is nothing wrong with these pieces of textile. It is just that when I tell people that I embroider for a living, THEY picture me amidst heaps of neatly stacked embroidered table cloths. Now that gives me goose bumps. But for the wrong reasons. It truly freaks me out. Embroidery is so much more than just a means to adore a table cloth! Instead, one of the Schwalm-things I made was a nativity scene to be hung in front of my kitchen window. It is an ongoing process and I hope to add camels, a donkey and an ox this year.
And although I like white, I like colour better. White reminds me of those pretty shoes I once had as a girl. They were lovely, but not so white for long. The same with those pretty lacily white stockings me and my younger sister wore under our Sunday dresses as girls. They attracted dirt like nobody's business. So in came the use of colour in my Schwalm embroidery projects.
Now, traditional Schwalm embroidery is done with cotton a broder. A not so shiny non-strandable cotton thread. It is nice, but cotton perle and silk threads are nicer. Or at least in my opinion they are. I especially like to use variegated threads as they form pretty colour patterns when used with the many different Schwalm filling stitches.
So, by now, I had changed the colour of things, the materials and the stitching topic. What's next? How about adding a stumpwork technique to the mix? Using wired elements with Schwalm embroidery really tickled my fancy! It looks so elegant and yet isn't too hard to create at all. If you would like to have a go, why not try my 'Elegant Schwalm Butterfly' pattern or full kit? A great way to learn the basics of Schwalm embroidery without ending up with a (partly-stitched UFO) table cloth :).
But I wasn't quite finished yet! How about one shrinks the butterfly? For instance, until it fits a tiny 4cm Dandelyne wooden hoop. Thanks to my training in Appenzeller whitework embroidery, I knew that you can add tiny filling stitches (some the same as in Schwalm embroidery; after all there is only so much you can do with a blank grid) into a tiny grid of withdrawn threads. Born where the elegant butterfly pendants! Still using original heritage skills, but sans the table cloth. After weeks of stitching (one butterfly takes about six hours to create), I now have a colourful bunch of lovely butterfly pendants for sale in my webshop.
If you would like to know more about the traditional form of Schwalm embroidery (including its use on folk costumes), check out Luzine Happel's website and blog. Also available in English. Luzine self-published a whole library on Schwalm embroidery. These are very good books if you want to learn this pretty whitework technique. I highly recommend them! The books are available in German, English and even French. Happy stitching!
As promised in an earlier post, here's how I load-up my tiny masterpieces into those clever Dandelyne mini-hoops. Although your mini-hoop comes with mounting instructions, I did not find them very useful for heavily embroidered pieces. You see, Dandelyne advises you to just push your masterpiece in from the back using the wooden centre piece. Then you glue your excess fabric onto the back of this wooden centre piece. I am sure this works just fine when you use a printed fabric or something quite sturdy like an aida with some cross-stitch embroidery. However, it does not work so brilliantly with heavily embroidered slippery fabric. Fear not! Here's the solution. And it is pretty simple too!
Once you've cut out your mini-masterpiece (including the seam allowance!), stitch a running stitch along the edge using sewing thread. Use a knot to anchor your thread and don't place your stitches too close to the fabric edge (fraying!). Place the wooden centre piece on the back of your embroidery.
Pull your thread taut so the fabric folds around the wooden centre piece. Check the front, adjust if necessary, then start lacing. I am sure there is a pretty looking orderly way to do this, but that's just not me I am afraid. When sufficiently laced, secure your thread well.
Now you can carefully push your mounted embroidery into the Dandelyne hoop from the front. This gives you maximum control over where it is going. And the whole lacing prevents it puckering, especially near the screw at the top. Once your embroidery is in, follow the Dandelyne instructions for adding the screw. Masterpiece finished!
Where to find the original Dandelyne mini-hoops? There is a special section on the Dandelyne website stating stockists in your country. Accidentally, my first three miniature Elegant Schwalm Butterfly necklaces are up for sale in my webshop!
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 :)
My love for embroidery stems from the fact that I like to work creatively with my hands. But equally important, I love the fact that I am part of a very old tradition. And last but not least, I have a love for beautiful and elegant things. When I teach embroidery, I foremost want to transmit a technique. It is important to me that my students learn to execute the technical part of an embroidery technique well. That's the way I was trained at the Royal School of Needlework and it suits my personality.
With my embroidery kits I try to think of an innovative way to use an ancient embroidery technique. I want you to be able to create a stunning piece of embroidery to go up on your wall. My beetle wing goldwork and stumpwork beetles are a good example of this concept (although shelved as a kit, you can still purchase the instructions). The latest addition to my series of embroidery kits is the 'Elegant Butterfly'. This kit has a modern take on Schwalm embroidery. Originally, Schwalm embroidery is a form of whitework from the Hessian region of Germany. You can read all about it on Luzine Happel's blog. She is a master craftswoman regarding this lovely technique.
Don't be put off by the term whitework. It is nothing like the very fine embroidery seen on handkerchiefs or the like. Think more Hardanger embroidery. But then less geometrical in its shapes. Schwalm is usually floral, uses chain stitch, buttonhole stitch and coral stitch extensively. And, best off all in my opinion, comes with hundreds of different geometrical filling stitches! You won't be easily bored and it is relatively easy on your eyes.
My elegant butterfly uses the traditional cotton a broder #25 used in Schwalm embroidery. You'll stitch on beautiful 40ct Zweigart Newcastle linen. That's the traditional part of my design. I've also added in DMC Diamant metallic thread and hand-dyed silken chenille by the Thread Gatherer. A perfect opportunity for you to play a little with these speciality threads. Furthermore, I've discovered that traditional Schwalm embroidery and the wired-shapes technique used in stumpwork embroidery are a match made in heaven. Pair your finished and mounted elegant butterfly embroidery with a Ribba frame from IKEA and you have stunning unique and hand-made home-decoration!
You can stitch your own elegant butterfly purchasing either a full kit or, if you want to start immediately and you have a rather large stash, the instructions for direct download. Both are available in either German or English. Not ready to start stitching on your own? I am offering the elegant butterfly as a workshop on 18th of November 2017. Happy Stitching!
P.S.: I love to receive pictures of your finished pieces made with my kits or instructions!
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?
Many people visited the opening, with mulled wine and mince pies, of our Advent window yesterday. During the four weeks of Advent, each evening a decorated window is opened somewhere in Bad Bayersoien. Although refreshments are only served at openings, you can visit the windows until the 10th of January.
This year, my window also contains a star, two new sheep and an angel. I hope to add a few new figures each year. Ox, donkey and at least one camel for the Magi are next on my list. It was lovely to hear all the praise for my husband's designing skills and my stitching.
I apologise for the poor photo quality; the window is extremely difficult to capture. Above you can see the Holy Family stitched in a combination of traditional Schwalm white work techniques and goldwork embroidery. If you click 'Nativity' in the categories list on the right, you'll see past blog entries on the making of these figures. They are easy to stitch and the technique can be used to stitch a whole variety of figures. Easter Bunny window anyone?
This will be my last blog entry for 2015. Don't worry, I'll be back in 2016!
It has been a good year for me, my husband and our two dear cats. The later wracked a few things in the house and killed off a large proportion of the local fauna. Their raffinesse at combining mischief with looking adorable is unsurpassed. Me and my husband very much enjoy thinking up new embroidery designs. You will have the pleasure of seeing two new ones in the first blog post for 2016!
This year I made new friends, both personal and through stitching. I very much enjoy the interaction with you, dear reader, through my blog, via email and when I teach. I treasure these pleasurable encounters. After all, blessed memories are the greatest treasure of all, don't you think?
Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!
Last week, we examined the basis of Appenzell embroidery: padded satin stitch. This week, we'll have a closer look at other major components: Höhlen or drawn thread work, Lääteli or pulled thread work and Spetzlistiche or needle lace.
This sampler, made by Martha Ackermann and part of Verena Schiegg's collection, mainly shows pulled thread work. First, the outer line of the design area (in this case squares) is worked in padded satin stitch. Next, threads are taken out from the back to open up the fabric. For instance, every fourth vertical and horizontal thread is cut and taken out. This 'canvas' is now filled with stitches with a thread as fine as the fabric threads.
Here is a close up of some of the filling stitches. Today, only about twenty stitch patterns are still in use. However, the Appenzell Museum (well worth a visit!) has a sampler with 124 different patterns. Unfortunately, without taking it apart, it is impossible to tell how these were made. Some patterns are similar or equal to those used in Schwalm embroidery. You can find more on this whitework technique very suitable for beginners on Luzine Happel's blog.
Do you see the ladder-like structures in the above monograms? These are called Lääteli and are a form of pulled thread work made with hem stitch.
Finally, the creme de la creme of Appenzell embroidery is formed by the Spetzlistiche: very fine needle lace. See the filled roundels on the above cuff? That's the stuff. The outer line of the design element is worked in padded satin stitch. Then the fabric is cut away carefully. Buttonhole stitches are worked over the padded satin stitch to clean up the border. Now a piece of lace is formed by anchoring threads into the buttonhole stitches.
Nowadays, Appenzell embroidery can still be seen on the festive folk costumes of the region. Collar or Schlottechrage and cuffs are elaborately embroidered.
That's all for now folks. Back to packing the last bits needed for the show in Osnabrück at the end of the week. Hope to meet many of you there!
Jessica M. Grimm
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