Thread Sampler Cover

I have been working diligently on my Thread Sampler.  It’s unfortunate that life keeps getting in the way or I’d be onto the first page of threads!

I finally came up with a title for my fabric book.  I wanted something that sounded kind of Medieval and definitely wanted to use an old English script for the lettering.

The title:

Specimens
of
Threads
Sampled
by
Julie Castle

The lettering:

Thread Sampler Cover Graph

I like the letters, but not the spacing

Thread Sampler Cover Graphed

The little numbers represent the width and height of each word.

I like the lettering which I found on the (free!) alphabets pattern page at Embroidery and Embroider.  But I decided I want only one space between letters, two between words on the same line, and three between lines.

I don’t like the program I used to graph this.  It’s really hard to move things around and copy and paste repeats.  So where I would expect to graph in an ‘e’ once and copy and paste where needed repeatedly I ended up graphing it over and over.  Very tedious. Graphing colors could be easier, too.  In November I’ll be taking Sharon Boggin’s course on using GIMP which I’m hoping will be the answer to my design software needs and wants.

I am loving the Kreinik silk Mori thread.  It is so soft it makes me think of one of my favorite scarves/shawls.  A very warm and comforting feeling.  But I ran out.  Actually I should have had enough to do the full cover, but I think the last length of six strands walked away with a dog (most likely my black and silver mini schnauzer, Taz) and is probably hanging in a bush outside somewhere.  Ah well, a bird or chipmunk will have access to some real luxury nest material!  Next week I’ll go to my favorite local shop and pick up a couple more skeins.

Thread Sampler Fabric Book Cover

Title of the thread sampler fabric book stitched thus far in cross stitch with Kreinik Silk Mori, two plies of black

And here is the back of this piece:

Thread Sampler Fabric Book Cover

This is the backside of the stitching thus far. It is not supposed to be reversible, just very neat.

Part of the reason I wanted the space between the letters to be one stitch width is so I don’t have to worry too much about being able to see lines of black thread being carried from letter to letter from the front.  I use a loop method or away knot to start my threads and bury them as soon as I finish a length of thread.  In this way I can assess my neatness as I go and there will be no disappointments when the piece is completed.

Now, on to the actual thread samples and the pages of this fabric book!

When we get to Alabama for the winter I will order some fabric for the book cover that will frame the title stitching.  I’m thinking a brocade, something sturdy and heavy.  I like this and this, too.  I’ve done some research on what might have been used in early book binding and really don’t want to use leather as my sewing machine probably wouldn’t be able to handle it.

Which of the cover fabrics do you like best?  You might want to seriously consider this question because if I order too much I may just have to give the extra away to some lucky reader!  I’ll keep you posted!

Blackwork Experimental Sampler In Progress

This Coptic  motif is 34 stitches by 34 stitches

Please ignore the arrows. This motif is 34 stitches by 34 stitches. It would make a charming border

This little project is a marriage of my love of blackwork and my love of samplers.  Anyone who has been following The Shop Sampler blog will know that I have been playing with samplers and stitch practice for this year through the Take a Stitch Tuesday challenge at PIn Tangle and with the support of the Stitchin’ Fingers community.  I have also joined the Yahoo group The Sampler Life.  (As if I didn’t already have enough internet reading to do!)  It is also a good group that is supportive and very creative as well as opening up even more of the international stitching world.

I mentioned in my last post that I am an avid fan of the Antique Pattern Library and have joined that Yahoo group, too.  It’s the best way to keep up with what’s new at the Library.  Also an international community of stitchers, I’m expecting that anyone needing help with translations can find someone there.

So, here’s the deal.

  1. I have struggled with what thread I want to use for my Mystery Sampler project.  I’ve looked at and bought a sample of every black thread out there.  I have read about different people’s preferences.
  2. I have been playing with different (colored) threads in my TAST projects and it is very clear how certain threads work for one desired effect and some threads will not work in the same situation.  Like twisted thread works well for Double Twisted Chain, but stranded thread just looks messy in that stitch.
  3. It is clear—Thread matters!
  4. Samplers are the tried and true method of testing patterns!  Hence birth of a new sampler!

Oh boy!  You would think you could just pick up your fabric and start stitching.   WRONG!

Well, maybe a little right.  But I want this sampler to be useful, to be a really good reference, like the Encyclopedia Britannica of blackwork thread usage.  Or Wikipedia entry of blackwork thread usage for those of you who are younger than Baby Boomers!

So what features should be incorporated into this sampler for it to be eternally useful?

  1. The threads should be identified clearly in the sample or there should be a legend that will never be separated from the sampler.
  2. The threads should be used as fully as they would in any worked piece.  In other words, if the thread is a stranded one, then strand usage should be incorporated to the piece.
  3. The sampler should answer any question a person might have about the thread as used in any type of work.
  4. The threads sampler should show very clearly the differences between the various thread samples.

And another thing—

  1. How does ground affect the thread usage?  How can I work this into the sampler?  Certain fabrics tend to “eat up” the pattern.  Like Aida 14 or Fiddlers Cloth just don’t show silks off at all, in my opinion the fabric is too heavy and overpowers the delicate strength of the silk.  [Are there fabric/thread combinations that you simply would never use?]
  2. How does the thread work with colored threads in the case I want to get into the latest thing in blackwork—Colored Monochrome?  I don’t know about you, but I have experienced how different colored threads behave differently than the exact same thread in another color.  Because the dye has an effect on the fiber.  I have found reds can sometimes be rather knotty to work with.  [How about you?  What thread colors have you had weird experiences with?]
  3. [Can you think of other questions that should be considered in planning this sampler?]

I have answered some of these questions, in fact many of them at thigs point.  But before I tell you what I have figured out, I want to hear from you.  How would you answer these questions?  What other questions do you think would be important? You tell me then I’ll tell you.  Deal?!

I’ll give y’all a couple days to mull this over before I post again!

Blackwork in the Back seat

Yup.  That’s where blackwork has been for me for a while.  Kind of like it’s in the incubator of my creative brain, waiting to hatch.  Soaking up all kinds of warmth and light, sounds and sensations.

And guess what?!  There’s activity in the “egg.”  It’s about to hatch!  And you get to watch. This is what candling has revealed.

I  transcribed this pattern from a DMC publication written by Thérèse de Dillmont.  I believe it was published in 1908 as it is the Second Book.   There was another published in 1890, the year of Thérèse de Dillmont’s death.  Her niece, also named Thérèse de Dillmont, continue writing for DMC after 1890.

The title of the publication is L’ Art Chrétien en Égypte:  Motifs de Broderie Copte, Deuxième Partie.  Translated:  Christian Art in Egypt:  Coptic Embroidery Motifs, Part Two.   This pattern is on page 9, Panel (Planche) 4 , Design (Dessin) 18.

I found my copy of this pattern book at the Antique Pattern Library.  If you have not checked this resource out yet, you are missing out on an incredible treasure, just like Project Gutenberg.  On the home page of the Pattern Library, click on the catalog tab.  Then click on the technique tab and choose the type of pattern you are looking for.  DO NOT let the fact that many of the pattern books are in non-English languages.  Find yourself a translation tool at Google and you are home—Free!

Yes these patterns are free for you to use as there are no longer copyright holders to the text.  However, you Do Not own the pattern.  The person who approved the scan owns the pattern, thus is technically the copyright holder according to the Creative Common Licensing regulations.  In this case that would be: s cans donated by Sytske Wijnsma, edited Judith Adele 2006.

Bottom line, if you decide to use this pattern, you MUST give the total reference including title of the work, original author, and the owner of the hard copy.  But is that really such a big deal?  I think not!  (Oh, yeah, ignore the arrows before you use this pattern, my software wouldn’t let me remove them.)

Since I had a Major allergic reaction today, I’m going to end this lesson for today. Tomorrow you’ll get to see what is going to happen to this little Coptic motif.

LESSON ONE (continued)

For those who have recognized that Catherine was merely a vehicle for getting “Spanishe Work” to Great Britain, it is widely believed that the style was actually born in Morroco.  This, I believe, is true to an extent.  One must look at the history of that part of the world to have a better understanding of this embroidery.  Do not forget the importantance of the Byzantine Empire and all that was “borrowed” from that powerful and large influence–the beauty of the churches, mosaic works, the opulence of gold work and use of other gems in art.  And the weight of one’s faith or connection to religion.  One must also remember the importance of trade routes to the Far East, i.e., The Silk Road.  Textiles and fibers for making and enhancing textitles were valuable trade resources at both ends of “the Road.”  All of these influences informed the ultimate creation of Catherine’s world and her stitching.

When the Islamic world began to stretch out and occupy more lands, one faction gained power on the Iberian Peninsula.  This group is said to have come from Morroco and the term associated with that time in Spain was “Moorish.”  It has also been suggested that these “Moors” were tolerant of other cultures in the land they occupied.  This might be because they did not raze the old churches and community places, but instead embellished them and augmented them to meet the needs of their Islamic faith.   In fact, they were as ruthless as any other colonizer in history.   (To be continued….)