Sunday, May 16, 2021

Answering Challenges - Part 2

 Recently in the East Kingdome of the SCA a number of challenges were issued.  I decided to take up four of the challenges, with two projects.  This post discusses the second project [the first project is discussed in this blog post.

This second project was to answer Wool Applique Cushion by Sarah Davies and  "Ooo, Shiney!" - A Goldwork Embroidery Challenge by Amalie von Hohensee. The cushion challenge was for "a reading cushion, pin pillow, or similar project of appliqued wool, in the style of the 14th century Tristan hanging in London or the Jesse Wurzel in Branshweig." The referenced pieces are hangings, one of which I have had the opportunity to see at the V&A, though not too closely.  The Tristan hanging is a large wool applique hanging which has gilt leather couched at the edges of motifs. In addition to the many photos on the V&A website, I was fortunate enough to take some when I was in London, which can be seen here.  I mentioned to Mistress Sarah the similar, though somewhat different technique piece at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. In further discussion about the availability of the gilt leather, a group's efforts to recreate a similar piece in Sweden. Armed with all of that information. I started looking for what to use for the gilt leather -- a goldwork form I have not tried before - with good reason, it is hard to find something to use. A friend also working on this challenge had excellent results with some purchased and cut down leather which she then gilded herself.  Then mostly by chance, I came across this item on Amazon. 

Having taken much more time than I planned on the first piece, I had little time for this piece.  I focused on "pin pillow" and decided that I could do within the time available. I raided the wool scraps available in my studio and pulled several out, together with assorted threads. 

Since I am familiar with the basics of applique, I knew I could turn those materials into a pin pillow.  The reference pieces, in addition to the large figures, have assorted floral motifs, so I decided to use a floral motif for my pillow.  I added also a frame for the top, to have more applique and more chances to play with the leather. 

With those laid down and stitched in place with silk running stitches, it was time for the leather.  I cut individual fringes off the bunch and worked them in my hands a little bit to make them a bit more pliable. Then I carefully couched the leather down around the main flower and the edges and corners of the frame.  I was pleased with how well the leather worked around corners and bends.  The thread used to couch the leather down was a gold color silk.  The threads show, but I believe they do not detract from the piece. 

Finally, I selected a fabric for the back of the pillow and made up an applique of my badge, which I also use as a "maker's mark" using silk thread to decorate and afix it to the back.  

I have not yet assempled the pin pillow, but I plan to use crewel wool to blanket stitch the pieces together, stuffing as I go. 

Summary and what I learned

I look forward to working in this form for a larger piece.  Perhaps adding the intarsia technique used in the piece at the Met and others. I have some of the leather obtained by my friend and I intend to experiment with that and my own gilding, as I think they may be closer to accurate. Perhaps in the future this will lead to a piece for Period Competency with Athena's Thimble. 

Answering Challenges - part 1

 Clearly, this will be a sometimes blog.  When I have something to talk about, it will be here.

Recently in the East Kingdom of the SCA, a number of challenges were issued. I decided to take up four of them by making two projects. 

The first project covers two challenges: Lace Challenge by Barbeta Kyrkeland and Stretch that Comfort Zone! by Amy Webbe.  

The one category in Athena's Thimble I do not yet have Competency in is Needlelace. I may be that rare embroiderer who likes both counted and uncounted embroidery, but the lack of ground fabric is different to both of those.  Amy referred to "that 'thing' that intimidates" and Needlelace has been that thing for me for some time. I decided on Reticella lace.  There are numerous extant pieces including Reticella, both as insertion lace, and as edging  It is a late [SCA] period needlework form.

I started, as I start most things, doing some reasearch✤ (spoiler alert - not enough).  Ultimately, mostly worked from the ground preparation and stitch information in The Open Canvas, and Cut-Work Embroidery, mostly from The Open Canvas. Clearly, though I missed some important points (more on that below). 

I found a piece of a reasonably even-weave scrap linen in my scraps bin, and pulled some Bockens 35/2 linen thread from my stash.  Projects from stash are always satisfying - not just because they use up stash, but because there is neither going out nor waiting for orders. 

I started by hemming the fabric and marking the center lines. Three rounds of stitching (running stich, whip stitch, then buttonhole stitch shored up the edges so they would remain stable once the threads were removed.  I carefully clipped and removed threads, leaving 4 in the middle of each edge, and being very careful to make sure they were the same four on opposite sides. Those middle threads were then strengthened with needleweaving. The diagonal threads were added and wrapped. 
Main bars set up. Pinned to a pillow.
With the main bars woven and wrapped, I pinned the whole thing to a lace pillow over the pattern for general guidance. Spoiler alert: I should have done the tacking stitches. 

Following the stitch instructions in The Open Canvas, I did the corner arcs, the circle and the middle arcs. 
  • Just needs the ends woven in.
I removed the piece from the pillow, wove in and clipped the ends and it was done. 

Summary, and what I learned. 

Tension was a big problem.  Two sources described tacking or couching the work to the pattern, however, I was working mostly from The Open Canvas which does not include tacking the fabric down. However, that does expect the work to be done on a needlepoint style canvas, which is stiffer than the linen ground I used. Even pinning the work to the pillow, my fabric did not allow for adequate tension -- tacking would have helped that. The buttonhole stitched elements got loose and twisted. 

I also should have gone with my usual inclination of working as small as I can get away with. It was not until after finishing this piece that it occurred to me to add YouTube to my research.  I now have plans .... so many plans. 

This piece will be mounted to a backing fabric, padded, and mounted to a box for the storage of trinkets. 

✤ Books referenced:

Cave, Oenone, Cut-Work Embroidery and How to Do It

Schorn, Marie, Creating a Reticella Rosette, The Compleat Anachronist #130

Armbruter, Carol, The Open Canvas

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Why, hello Thursday

As I mentioned, for a little while anyway I'm dropping this blog to "when I have something to say" -- but I'm still going to bore you with my Thursday honesty:

I'm going to need more of these.... 
Current project list/status (SCA/Historic):
  • C&L expert panel piece; Couched cord. Um, DONE.  Blogged on Monday
  • C&L expert panel piece; Couching around applique.  Plan is in hand.  In fact, I expect to go to my studio this evening to gather the materials. 
  • C&L expert panel piece; Underside couching.  Another small piece is planned for this.  I can't say much, because it is going to be a gift.  I'll keep careful notes and do a nice long process blog when it's been given. 
  • C&L expert panel piece;  Marshall Hanging.  Going away this weekend and this is going with me.  Possibly there will be a "here's the status" post next week.... maybe.
  • C&L expert panel piece; Icelandic altar frontal based piece.  Well, it has a name :)
  • Class this is (mostly) done, for now. The embroidery of the sample is done just have to do the making up. 
Sleeping projects (SCA/Historic): Being honest, I don't expect much to be done with these until after September, though maybe the event cushions will get pushed out.
  • Hem stitched square -- This has kind of gone into hibernation in my event basket, to come out when I have just that couple of minutes to do something.
  • That silk tunic I did for my husband -- still need to pull that out and get the seam finishing done, and maybe plan some more embroidery for it. 
  • Other garb waiting in the wings... Also in planning are a couple more coifs -- and shifts and shirts.  
  • Research.  I've started trolling for inspirational ideas.  My Pinterest boards are overflowing with "oh, that looks cool...."
  • Event cushions.  Got that lovely red fabric, just need to make the cushions.  There's enough to make "quick" envelope style cushions AND have enough for better box cushions down  the road.... maybe. 

Current project list/status (Modern)
  • Bay of Fundy Scarf.  Done -- Just have to block it and then photos will be posted.  Why, yes, it still needs to be blocked.  
  • Northern Lights Cowl --  I've been enjoying this one, though in the interest of getting some embroidery done it may need to be relegated to "pick it up occasionally, but only as a reward for getting some other stuff done."  Also, waiting rooms and such. Closing in on the end.  
  • Clothing for work.  Can we just take it as read that I need to do this and don't know when it's going to happen?  On the other hand, I did manage to knock out three skirts -- two of which can also be sun dresses -- thanks to JoAnn's cool "Style in an Instant" fabric (on deep sale).  
  • Studio project. A number of things have migrated back to the studio (where, admittedly, they belong), and a few things in the studio need to come out.  I need to determine a day each month for specifically concentrating on getting everything back to where it belongs, which should help keep this room organized. This has not been happening and it really shows in many ways.I did pick up the parts to work on changing up the one closet.  
Future project plans: (look, a new section) AKA "In the queue"
  • Knitting plans include  fingerless gloves with more of the alpaca that I'm using on the Bay of Fundy scarf.  I also got some lovely blue silk/wool blend that I'll need to find "just the right pattern" for, not to mention a stash that does not fit in the cedar chest which is supposed to be the limiting factor on yarns... 
Blog notes:
  • There will be the Thursday status updates, and otherwise some occasional posts updating progress. 
  • I have started my resources page (so far it has ONE thing on it).  I do have plans to add to it  A Bibliography page will have to wait until after September I think, it will be a massive undertaking. 
So, that's it for my plans for the coming weeks.