Sunday, May 16, 2021

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

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