Blackwork Thread Sampler Continues

I have stitched my first stitches on my Blackwork Thread Sampler!  Feels good!  Of course, I’ve already had my first snag.

I was going to use the Trebizond for the cover because it’s so shiny and pretty.  But I didn’t like working with the silk.  Let me be more specific.  I did not like working with stranded Trebizond.  I will do some more research to find out if there is a way to handle stranding the twisted silk so it will handle more neatly in the stitching.

Instead I decided to use an old faithful—Mori stranded silk from Kreinik.  I have used this before and enjoyed it.  It is soft, but strong.  It does not fuzz up while you’re stitching, nor does it break as some threads do.  It is a matte finish, but I can live with that.

So, what exactly am I stitching?  Let me back up a step or two.

I mentioned before there are some factors to consider before laying thread to fabric.  And these are the factors:

  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.

I also said that I wanted this work to be like the Encyclopedia Britannica of blackwork thread usage.  For those who don’t know what the Britannica was, it was a reference book, the oldest English language encyclopedia in fact.

So, I’m making a book!  A fabric book!

It took me a while to find information about how to construct a fabric book.  I had a basic Idea, but I really am not interested in trial and error when it comes to finishing.  I want a fail-safe method that will make me proud to show my work to others.  I found a very nice answer at Shade Tree Art.  My model will be my take on Shade Tree’s model.

  1. My cover will be the title stitched in black silk on linen.  This piece will be bordered with the “cover fabric.”
  2. Each page of the book will be devoted to one thread.
  3. There will be a Table of Contents identifying the order of the threads sampled.
  4. I will leave several end pages to accommodate threads that will come to market in the future.
  5. I’m not sure if I want each page to be the linen with the thread sample or a muslin page that I appliqué the stitch sample onto.
  6. If I do attach the sample to a foundation page, I will embroider the page number and identifier info onto the foundation fabric to show how the thread handles on a different ground.

Boy, this is a lot of work to do just to stitch a sampler!  But I’m loving every minute of it, truly a labor of love energized by passion!

What do you think about item 5?  Should the stitched sample be applied to a foundation page or be the actual page itself?  Tomorrow I’ll show you where things are at with the cover.  And for now I’m going to go stitch on it some more.  Feedback, people, feedback!

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.

Architectural Blackwork

Quick post today given my dominant thumb was injected with steroid today due to “trigger thumb.”  If you don’t normally look at Mary Hickmott’s New Stitches, you should look at issue No. 211.  Part 3 of a 3 part series of patterns of architectural blackwork is on page 50.  The title is Romanesque Blackwork and it is gorgeous!  To see all three sections of this piece visit the StitchDirect.com catalogue.  You may have to hit the control button as you click on this link.

When you get to that page, click on the Blackwork tab on the directory.  Click on the Button for Buildings on that page.  Then look for Romanesque, all three parts!  Then debate with yourself about ordering the patterns or finding the Mary Hickmott mags instead.  You can find her mags at the same site under the magazines tab on the left.  I’m a fan of her magazines for the diversity and the fact that she often has blackwork patterns.

Enjoy!

Works in Progess: Chessboard

Blackwork Chessboard Emergency!

I only have seven more squares to go!  Then the pieces must be stitched around the border.  I had  an emergency this weekend when I was showing off my progress to Jeff.  I didn’t realize he was bleeding.  When he handed it back I found three spots of blood on the piece.  Here’s what I did to get it out immediately:

1.  HAD JEFF SPIT ON THE SPOTS:  Did you know that there is an enzyme in your saliva that when mixed with your own blood stops the blood from setting?  It’s true!  But the saliva and blood need to belong to the same person.

2.  RUBBED THE SPOTS WITH AN ICE CUBE:   Cold will help remove protein and keep it from settingeals the protein. Try running hot water on one plate with egg on it and cold on another plate with egg.  The heat congeals the protein.

3.  RUBBED TIDE TO GO STAIN STICK ON THE SPOTS:  While the first two steps made a big difference and I had only a bit of pink on the fabric, I was not ready to submit the whole piece to a handwash.  This stain remover took everything out!  Maybe I didn’t even need to do the first two steps.

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….)

Welcome to the Introduction of the Lessons

Why Word Press made me say “Hello, World” when all I want to do is speak to the Stitching World, I’ll figure out later when I start my pages for “The Shop Sampler,” a project you’ll love to follow and emulate yourself  I’ll bet!

A bit about me.  Like many I started stitching when I was a preteen.  Don’t remember the exact age, but I do remember my first finished piece.  It was a stamped sampler in autumn colors that my mother framed and hung in her walk in pantry.  I’m not sure where it is now as Mom doesn’t have that walk in pantry or even that house any longer.

Again like many, I took a break from stitching during my teens and early 20s.  Then I focused on oil painting and other forms of self-expression, flannel shirts, jeans, shaggy hair, devotee of Leonard Cohen music, and POW bracelet on the wrist.  ( I was finally able to retire the bracelet when Lt.Col Bernard Conklin’s remains were returned to the U.S. in the late ’80s.  I was living in the DC suburbs then and went to the Wall to make sure there was a cross put next to his name.  It was there.  I thought of his daughter and my friend, Jan.)

My interests in stitching cover the gamut, but always comes back to embroidery stitches. Did you know you can put them anywhere?!   I especially love the connection to history I feel when stitching.  I think that is why I am so passionate about blackwork these days.  It is a history that noone seems to have a lot to say about.  The names Catherine of Aragon and Chaucer come up and, of course, Hans Holbein who not only painted Henry the 8th revealing the blackwork on Henry’s clothing, but Holbein also did some decorating and clothing design for Henry.  Maybe that’s why he painted the embroidery so clearly?  Maybe those were articles he created for Henry?

That’s what this blog is about.  Blackwork.  Where did it come from?.  How do you do it?  How is it changing with modern fibers and fabrics?  If you express an interest we could even gather via Yahoo Groups to have a meeting and share thoughts, patterns, and our passion for this lovely form of embroidery.  I’ve already got the room ready.  Come visit for a spell.

Now, I’m off to photograph my current project to use as a header for The Lessons.  Later…