Saturday 30 November 2013

Saltaire Village Living Adent Calendar

I am just home from sunny Seville. The twelve degree temperature drop and early darkness back home reminds me that Christmas is just around the corner and December will be here tomorrow! Every year the community in one of my favourite Yorkshire villages, Saltaire, home to the renowned model village and weaving mill founded by Sir Titus Salt, put together a living advent calendar. Houses and shop windows each day reveal a new delight. It is a wonderful thing to do. Co-ordinator David Starley says: I love this event as it brings the community together and provides a refreshing antidote to the commercial hype at Christmas time. Even as co-ordinator I have no idea what the participants are planning. Whether, beautiful or topical to humorous we always get some great contributions. Maybe this is something your neighbourhood might like to organize next year - think of all the delighted and excited children wondering where the next window will be! Click here for more details.

Friday 29 November 2013

Meetings With Remarkable Men - Christopher Leung & The Art of Silk * Suzhou Embroidery

Born and raised in Northern California, Christopher Leung holds two degrees in Computer Science from UCLA and USC. He has worked to develop software for robotic space exploration missions at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory and founded Project:Possibility, a non-profit organization that innovates free technology for persons with disabilities. Christopher moved to Shanghai, China in 2008 and established the University of Southern California's satellite office for managing the operations for its College of Engineering. In 2011, Christopher formally founded Art of Silk, the first company to offer the world's largest selection of affordable silk embroidery art.

It goes without saying that embroidery is one of the most skilful and labour intensive art there is. To see fine Chinese Suzhou needlework being practised is absolutely breath-taking. While the needleworker may resemble you and me, she belongs to a different world, where it is almost impossible to arrest for a single moment the speed and accuracy of her fingers - do watch the video clip below.
These pieces of hand-stitched art sell for thousands of dollars, way beyond the reach of many. But now some technological wizardry has been put together to translate gems of hand-crafted embroidery into a machine stitched version that can be enjoyed by a greater many. The technology can sketch each individual stitch and replicate it by machine. While one might shake one's head and sigh at machines taking over hand work, the original skills are not being lost and now there is more incentive to commission hand-made pieces when the burden of the sheer cost of the undertaking can be shared amongst a larger number of purchasers - in the same way we may own numbered prints of artistic drawings and other works. To see more of Christopher's work and The Art of Silk Website - click here.

Thursday 28 November 2013

Giving Thanks For Special Friends * Free Thistle Threads Mini-Casket Download

I started my journey with Needleprint just about 10 years ago today - I had no idea then where that particular path would take me. It is probably just as well I couldn't see too clearly down the road, otherwise I might just not have been brave enough to set out! When I look back, I am met instantly by a great multitude of warm embraces - all those wonderful, kind people who supported me every step along the way as I was almost blinded by the blizzard of work. You are too many to put in a book, let alone a blog, but there is not a night goes by when I do not call you each to mind and give thanks for the privilege of knowing you and for your friendship. Thank you. And today a special thank you to Tricia from Thistle Threads who has sent me a download of her Mini-Casket to offer you as a free download. Click here for your download. And you might just like to send your special thanks to Tricia - click here. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your loved ones, wherever you are.

Wednesday 27 November 2013

Free Entry To The Quaker Tapestry 2 - 14 December 2013 & Quaker Tapestry Workshops & Gifts

I think many of you are already familiar with the Quaker Tapestry. It is one of the most significant, imaginative and collaborative community tapestry projects of the past three decades made by 4,000 men, women and children from around the world. It tells stories of railways, revolutions and remarkable people, over 250 years of social history through the eyes of Quakers. This is a close-up of the famous Quaker Stitch specially constructed for use on the Quaker Tapestry which you can see on display at the gallery on Stramongate, in Kendal, Cumbria for two weeks in December, completely free of charge! (Which means you will have money left over to buy some very special gifts in the Quaker Tapestry Giftstore.... :)
Even if you can't visit - do look in the on-line gift store as there are some really bonnie embroidery kits for you or your friends. Click here to see more.
Bridget Guest, the embroiderer/designer associated with the Quaker Tapestry gives bespoke workshops for groups at Sidcot Quaker School. If you are travelling to Bath for the Textile Summer School - or to see the Feller Collection at the Ashmolean Museum in 2014, you might like to arrange a special session for your group in this wonderful setting and with a very special broderer. Click here for more details.

Tuesday 26 November 2013

Sarah Storrs' Ackworth School Sampler & The Remarkable Jacob de Graaf

I get lovely emails all the time - thank you so much! On Saturday I had a very special email from a young man in York - Jacob de Graaf who sent me a picture of a sampler he had just bought because it reminded him of the Sarah Moon Ackworth Sampler, he thought Sarah might have picked up some of the patterns from a friend who was a Quaker. It was only when he got the sampler home that he noticed there was much faded medallion which had a date in it - the date was 1795. I was delighted to tell Jacob that Sarah Storrs was scholar 1244 at Ackworth School and that she and her sister Mary, who also attended Ackworth, came from Wigley - about 5 miles east of Chesterfield. Sarah was at Ackworth for one year only - which is possibly why her sampler remained unfinished until she worked on it and dated it a few years later. I am always interested to see unfinished Ackworth samplers as they give some insight into the order of working. In this case the medallions around 3 edges have been composed first.

Jacob told me he had charted the sampler and completed it with his own additions. I realized then that I was talking to a new designer! How wonderful to discover a young man creating sampler designs based on old patterns.

I quickly investigated his etsy store which has patterns for instant download - you may want to look there right away - just click here. Jacob says: In 2001 I graduated from the School of Fine Arts in Kampen, The Netherlands. Since 2005 I've been living in the beautiful city of York with my partner and two cats. A few years ago I wanted to make a little embroidery piece, but quickly found that none of the patterns out there reflected what I was looking for. As I didn't want to simply copy an old design, I decided that I'd have to take the jump and try my hand at designing my own patterns. I created a few pieces, and people liked them. I set up an Etsy shop as it seemed the perfect place for my work. I decided on the name "Modern Folk" as it's made for modern people, but it is also my personal take on folkloristic patterns. Well done Jacob - I wish you lots of success!

Monday 25 November 2013

Free Giveaway * Needlework In The Cohasset Historical Society

An interesting little giveaway this week is a booklet produced by the Cohasset Historical Society which documents 17 samplers and panels in their collection dating from the 1780s. The example above was stitched with darning patterns by Maria Meyn in Enkhuysen (a seaport on the former Zuyder Zee in the Netherlands) in August 1787.

If you would like to enter the draw, then simply click on the flying angel below to enter and I'll announce a winner next week, 2 December 2013. Good Luck!

Saturday 23 November 2013

A Sister Sampler to the Feller Collection F450 Sampler @ Auction

It is always so very exciting to see sisters of samplers I know. This sampler certainly had my heart racing when I saw how closely related it was to the lovely sampler in the Micheál and Elizabeth Feller Collection (F450). The sampler above is Lot 314 for sale on 30 November 2013 at Great Western Auctions. Although the sampler is not signed, the reverse is inscribed with family history: The sampler was sewn by Elizabeth Haddon began by her in the year 1770 being then aged 8 years. Its estimate is £350 - £450. Click here for more details of the auction. Below you can see F450 from the Micheál and Elizabeth Feller Collection.

What is even more wonderful, is that you can stitch a copy of this sampler as it is one of two samplers charted in the book of the Micheál and Elizabeth Feller Collection Volume II. Click here to browse the book or buy. Purchases made before the end of the year will be couriered to you for safe and prompt deliver by UPS.

Friday 22 November 2013

Saying Goodbye To Loved Friends * Diary & Memory Book Closing Offers

It's inventory time again - where does all that time go? I was really quite sad to see that we are down to our last 2 dozen copies of the much loved Perpetually Diary and just 14 copies of the Ackworth School Memory Book, so if you are planning Christmas gifts for friends or for yourself this month is probably the last month before they go out of print.

The Perpetual Diary

Limited edition diary for any year. Contains 25 images from the Micheal and Elizabeth Feller Collection plus 12 charted projects with frames for each month of the year. Create a lovely sampler album! Price  £18.50 € 34 $38 ¥3800  includes postage.

Special Diary & Memory Book Set

A special offer when you purchase a copy of the Perpetually Engaging Diary and the Ackworth School Memory Book together. Price  £27.50 € 34 $55 ¥5500 includes postage.

Ackworth School Memory Book

For all your memories. Contains handy pockets for special items, thread winders to cut out, postcards to send, pages to record your favourite friends, stitching events and patterns. Price $35 includes postage.

2 Memory Book Set
A special present for you and a friend. Make savings by buying 2 copies of the Ackworth School Memory Book. Price  £27 € 34 $55 ¥5500 includes postage.

Special 2 Diary Set

The ideal gift for you and a friend, save on buying 2 copies of the Perpetually Engaging Diary. Price  £34 € 45 $70 ¥7000  includes postage.

Thursday 21 November 2013

2 Norfolk School Samplers For Auction & More

It is very interesting to see not one but two Norfolk School samplers for auction in the neighbouring county of Suffolk. At Clarke & Simpson's 27 November 2013 auction, is Lot 311 - a typical stepped lozenge sampler, having a characteristic band of lions and stepping deer in octagonal cartouches, worked by Lydia Banham at age 10 in 1821. This work has an estimate of £350 - £450. Please be aware though that Clarke and Simpson's seem to have mixed up the description of this lot with their Lot 310 which is described below. If you are planning to bid, take time to clarify with the auctioneers which sampler you are bidding for.

Lot 310 is not quite so typical of the Norfolk school, but it does present characteristic alphabet types and the band of octagonal cartouches arranged differently to Lydia's. This sampler was worked by Martha Gaze and is dated 1829. The estimate for this sampler is £500 - £600. Again take care because the catalogue confuses these two samplers. For more details of the auction, click here. And for lovers of Norfolk School samplers you can be treated to many more beautiful examples in Joanne Lukacher's splendid book Imitation and Improvement, published by In The Company of Friends. Click on the image for details of how to purchase.

Rogers Jones & Co, Cardiff are holding their auction on 26 November 2013. Here is Lot 423 - an early 19th Century child`s sampler featuring birds, animals, buildings and trees, signed Mary Ann Cooper, aged 14, August 7th 1840. It measures 19.5 x 12.5 ins (50 x 32 cms) and has an estimate of £150 - £200.

At the same Rogers Jones & Co auction is Lot 69 - another early 19th century child’s needlework sampler in the traditional pictorial and poetic style, this sampler is signed, Jane Martins work done at M Whites aged 9, 1823. It measure 17 x 13ins and has an estimate of £100 - £150. For more details of the above samplers, click here.
I find this sampler, which is for auction at Chorleys of Cheltenham on 28 November 2013 rather interesting for the simple fact that it depicts a cluster of buildings more usually seen on Stuart embroidered panels and here has them labelled as King Pharoah's Palace. I would dearly love to know by what sequence of visual and verbal Mondegreens that came about! It is Lot 436 and was worked by Mary Ann Chandler. It has an estimate of £200 - £300. For more details of this auction, click here.And for those unfamiliar with the word Mondegreen - it is a mishearing and comes from one of my favourite Scottish folk songs about the Bonnie Earl of Moray, which includes the words: Ye Highlands and ye Lowlands, Oh, where hae ye been? They hae slain the Earl O' Moray, And LAID HIM ON THE GREEN (misheard as LADY MONDEGREEN). You can listen to the clip below - and admire those knitted jumpers!

Wednesday 20 November 2013

Explore 1068 Quilts On-Line @ Quilt Study Centre, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

With 1068 quilts from 16 countries for you to explore on-line, I suggest you get the urn fired up for some serious tea-drinking!

It obviously makes sense to have collections on-line - how on earth can you keep getting quilts in and out of storage for all the many people who would like to see them? While there are still going to scholars who need to research up close, there are hundreds more who are delighted by being able to see good quality images.

It is only by seeing that we can be inspired, by emulating that we can develop our skills, and by recognising the makers of these wonderful items were people just like us that we can pluck courage in both hands to launch out into our own projects. Now, is that tea made? Then simply click here to visit this superb collection.

Tuesday 19 November 2013

A Stitch in Time Saves Lines

Many thanks to Joke in the Netherlands for telling me about this incredibly interesting conservation project dealing with a previously conserved precious manuscript involving that old demon - black dyed silk! Augusta Strand of Uppsala University Library describes the project: The book presented here was one such project just because of the special way it had been mended with silk thread and which was in great need of conservation. The manuscript dates from the 14th century and it belonged to the monastic library at Vadstena Convent after its purchase in Konstanz in 1417. The pages of the book are made of parchment and they show typical damage in the form of holes and tears that happened while the parchment was being made. Some time after the book was copied, the holes and tears have been mended artistically with silk of various colours, mainly in blanket stitch as used in embroidery. The old mending is in good shape except for those parts which were sewn with black silk. The thread is so fragile that it disintegrates on touch. During the project the black thread was subjected to colour analysis to find out which colouring agents had been used. The results showed that the black dye had been made with iron sulphate and tannin, which implies that the thread was dyed with iron filings and various plants that contain the tanning agent tannin e.g. oak apple and sumac leaves. The whole dyeing process is very acidic and if the wrong proportions of tannin and iron salt are used, sulphuric acid forms considerably accelerating the natural decomposition of the thread or material. In order to prevent the black parts disappearing completely they were treated with a glue that was applied as a spray mist. Some parts were stabilised with a thin silk gauze. Since the conservation process the book can be handled without the breaking the black thread but it still has to be treated very gently with the respect due to a book of its age. For more details and images, click here.

Monday 18 November 2013

Winner of the Permin Mini Kits is

Congratulations Jutta from Berlin - you are the winner of the Permin Mini Kits draw this week.

Sunday 17 November 2013

Pat Poppy - The Costume Historian, Her Blog and Muckinders (or Muckenders)

I am thrilled to have discovered this wonderful blog and thought you would love it too. I was particularly enchanted to find out all about muckinders through the blog - a muckinder is a wonderful word for what was basically a cloth to clean children’s faces and hands.
In the  triptych worked by Hans Holbein the Elder for St Paul's in Augsburg can be seen what are thought to be his two sons, one apparently having a white muckinder hanging from his belt. Below is a 17th century handkerchief from Glasgow Museums. To read more about muckinders just visit the Costume Historian's fascinating blog. 

Saturday 16 November 2013

Orpheus Embroideries and 17th Century House Panels

The Micheál and Elizabeth Needlework Collection is home to two early needlework panels with Orpheus as their subject. The stunning example above appears to have Orpheus running towards us with his lyre. In fact, Orpheus is seated on a bank in a singular position which can be observed in a reversed position on the painted panel below.

The panel is in the V&A Museum (W.156;:1-192) and was given by Lady Sackville. It dates from 1630-1640 which is contemporaneous with its needleworked cousin. Much research has been done and the print sources of many Stuart panels have been identified. While many prints survive and are still with us, the many 17th century interior paintings drawn and executed by itinerant artists have long been destroyed, painted over, panelled-in, or simply demolished. Rarely do they survive, but the few that do appear to have links to needlework subjects. It is possible that the artists that drew the designs on walls might have been available for drawing out designs on silk for the ladies of the house too. Such an incidence is told about Raphael's father, Giovanni Santi, who worked for the Duke of Urbino and made drawings for embroidery for the ladies of the court.  In case you are wondering, the text on the Orpheus panel reads:
Such Heavenly power in musick rests
It calmes and tames the savage beasts
Whilst Orpheus playes
Each beast obeyes.
To read more about the early panels in the The Micheál and Elizabeth Needlework Collection, click here.

Friday 15 November 2013

The St Martin Embroideries - Free Download Courtesy Metropolitan Museum of Art

Now out of print, the Metropolitan Museum of Art has generously made this book written by Margaret B Freeman, Curator Emeritus of the Cloisters, available for free download. The Cloisters owns 2 of the 11 US St Martin embroideries. These Franco-Flemish and Flemish pictorial embroideries of the first half of the fifteenth century are rare today. St. Martin, bishop of Tours, is remembered also for his power over nature and his restoration of the dead to life. In this most readable treatise each subject is integrated in the storytelling scheme, the styles of the several artists who made the designs are differentiated, the particular embroidery techniques are discussed, the name of the Burgundian nobleman who may have commissioned the set is sifted out of the historical and artistic evidence, and what is known of the embroideries' recent history is reported. The discussion is such that it greatly enlarges one's own knowledge not only of Medieval French, Franco-Flemish, and Flemish embroidery but of painting and manuscript illumination in these regions. To download this book, click here. (It is about 4.4MB)