Yeah, I have re-surfaced after a nice long break over the holidays. And I have big plans for 2018. Actually, some were not only conceived during my lovely break, but put into action as well. So what have me and my husband been up to? For starters, we re-decorated my studio and changed its lay-out. We repainted the walls and ceiling in a pretty blue colour; like the egg of a blackbird. Then I put in a large set of map drawers. Perfect for thread storage, if you have the space for such a monster. This will save me so much time searching for the right threads. And it will hopefully prevent me from buying the same supplies twice... My clever husband installed a professional art gallery hanging and lighting system to display my framed embroideries beautifully. Of course not as easy to install as the instructions claimed, but a bit of swearing sometimes helps :). I am pleased as pie with the results:
Next up: the checkout of my webshop. As not all people seem to like PayPal, I installed a few more payment options. You can now also use your credit card, Apple Pay and Android Pay through a Stripe interface. Unfortunately, my website host Weebly has not enabled SEPA or Ideal in its Stripe interface yet. I keep nagging them about it, so hopefully they will expand the interface in the future.
I've also amended my opening hours. Since my doctor has strongly recommended that I take up swimming to prevent my shoulders and hips from becoming too painful to embroider, I duly dip in the pool three times a week. As the pool is not exactly next doors (and the lake in front of the house frozen over), it takes a few hours out of my working week. Luckily they have great water slides! My new opening hours are: Monday & Friday 13-17h and Tuesday & Saturday 9-17h.
And what's in store for next year? I am planning to keep traveling to see more historic embroideries. There is so much out there! But unfortunately, little is known about it in the wider embroidery community. Not in the least due to language barriers and a false sense of national/regional pride and protectiveness. That's a real shame. My idea is to publish a few ebooks on specific historical embroidery techniques with references to places where you can study the originals. The ebooks will contain pattern drawings and step-by-step explanations so you can try your hand at it too. First up is Italian couching from the 17th century. In essence it is Bayeux stitch using silk instead of wool. After all, the Italians are not known for huge flocks of beautiful sheep :). But they were the first to produce silk in Europe.
That's all for now. Time for a cup of coffee, before digitising some more embroidery patterns. Have a nice week!
Last week saw the launch of my first five-day embroidery courses new-style. Students can either bring their own design, make one up using my extensive library of embroidery books or simply pick a ready-made design from one of those books. Equally, they can choose to work a small design in an embroidery hoop or opt for a more professional approach and use a slate frame. I've also moved away from the very formal approach of my training at the Royal School of Needlework. Good as it was, it has proven not to be suitable for copying one to one for mainland Europe. So, what did we do?
Ellen from the Netherlands decided to create a design out of pictures she had found on the internet. It works really well to copy bits of designs you like, re-group them and amalgamate them into a new design. And then the fun part comes: choosing colours. Although traditional crewel embroidery involves a woollen thread on linen, you can equally use embroidery floss, perle and the like.
Elizabeth from Augsburg had brought with her a magnificent wall paper she wanted to recreate in stitch. An exotic jungle view with nice vivid colours. As both projects were quite big, and will last them well beyond the five days we had, they both opted to work on a slate frame. For larger projects that are not table cloths or the like, this will always be my preferred option to work with. OK, it takes some time to set up, but it will keep your fabric drum tight for a long time and give you a lovely overall stitching experience. Soon you will find a new breed of slate frames in my webshop. I'll keep you posted on that.
The ladies had so much fun experimenting with different stitches and colour combinations. Pomegranates with silver plated spangles and deep red beads added extra interest. As did a magnificently colourful bird with its many feathers.
And these were the results after five days of hard work, yet relaxed stitching. I think they did marvellously, don't you think? We all agreed that we could have added another week. If you would like to join me for a week of stitching, you will find all the details here. The next course is a goldwork course and runs from the 28st of March until the 1st of April. Hurry as there are only two spaces left!
First, let me welcome the many new readers who signed up for this blog thanks to a mention on Mary Corbet's Needle 'n Thread website last week. It is humbling to know that my embroidery ramblings land in peoples' feedly feeds and mail boxes all over the world. Thank you!
It is a little over a year now since I opened my embroidery studio in Bavaria. Although I had a few years of experience with running an embroidery business in the Netherlands and teaching in England and America, Germany is a whole different kettle of fish. Better tasting, I must say.
Some tried and tested concepts did not work here at all. Other concepts I burned my fingers on elsewhere, are coming quickly to fruition under the famous Bavarian white and blue sky. And in the past few weeks, exciting new projects have found their way into my mail box all by their own. I have to admit, some freak me out a bit as they are so far out of my comfort zone. However, with the support of my dear husband and some lovely friends, I will bravely tackle the challenges. Isn't life exciting?
The first major change is that I now offer five-day embroidery courses during the holidays. This has been a specific request from my students so that they can completely focus on a technique and don't come off course when 'reality' kicks in between monthly lessons. During each course, I'll teach one embroidery technique. Choices for 2016: crewel, stumpwork, canvas, goldwork, blackwork and needle painting. Do have a look at the course section on my website for more information and signing up.
For those of you who don't have the luxury of spending a whole working week with needle and thread, I'll still offer plenty of one-day workshops throughout the year on Saturdays. Enjoy and pamper yourself by attending a tried and tested workshop formula in a friendly atmosphere with like-minded people. Have a look at the workshop section of my website for more details and signing up.
No matter if you attend a course or a workshop, you will benefit from my ongoing professional development as a curious stitcher trying out many different embroidery techniques. Both courses and workshops are taught in my beautiful studio with large windows overlooking our lovely lake. Our rural village is the perfect place for a short break. Accompanying husbands can be safely left at the lake side joining their mates with the fishing rods :). Hope to see you soon at one of my embroidery learning experiences!
P.S. Next week, I'll show you a new and colourful addition to my webshop that I picked up from customs today. Stay tuned!
I know, I am a day too early. However, the Dutch government thinks it a lovely idea when its expats travel all the way to Berlin (675 km) to apply for a new passport. So please think of me sitting in a cross country train tonight and have my photograph taken at 8:00h (I'll leave it up to your imagination what I look like after a night with very little sleep...). I will be a very happy bunny again when I'll return at Saulgrub station late on Monday night!
You might mistake the above pictures for a page from an IKEA catalogue. In fact it is my embroidery studio. When we moved here 16 months ago, I set up shop in the original living room of the apartment. The boxes store all my threads: large pink for floss, small pink for perle and the small black and white ones for speciality threads. As my studio is part shop as well, threads for sale are kept in a different place: Langley Threads crewel wool have their own wooden hanging boards made by my lovely husband, House of Embroidery silk ribbons and perle are stored in the blue drawer cabinets, Chinese silks in boxes intended for small screws and what not, whereas all the goldwork threads and spangles are kept in really useful boxes cabinets (a UK brand, do check them out as they have some very clever storage solutions).
As you can see, part of the shelving is still incomplete. I don't know about your part of the world, but here in the South of Germany, it has been really hot in the past few days. So what does one do when it is really hot, yeah you start dismantling shelves... Since the rest of my home looks like more pages from an IKEA catalogue (we have moved so often, it is the only stuff that is easily packed up), I was able to raid them for more shelving :). Alas, as you can see, I need even more. Luckily, IKEA is quite prepared to bring the missing parts to my doorstep in about two weeks' time. Yippee!
As you might have noticed in the pictures above, my studio has two sets of double doors opening onto the balcony. And this is the view from my main balcony: Lake Soier. Now that's a pretty good reason to come to my studio and attend a workshop or course, don't you think? And if you happen to bring your dear husband with you, no worries. Other women seem to park them on the lake side with a fishing rod.
Oh, and this is me in front of 'you-know-what'. We have three of King Ludwig's castles in our back garden. Another fine reason to come to this part of the world. Especially as the castles house a wealth of embroidered soft furnishings. And the interior design of the castles is sure to spark new embroidery ideas.
And this is Timmie the cat. He so much wanted to be in this blog post. Well here you go cyber cat!
So what does your stitching place look like? Where you successful in evicting your partner and/or children from part of the house? Or are you confined to a favourite chair and stitching stand? Do share your stories below!
Jessica M. Grimm
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