April, 2008

Thank you

April 30th, 2008 by Jill Hall

to the Loudoun Sampler Guild! They sent a $250 donation to the Textile Conservation Fund!

This is even more wonderful when you know this story – the original estimate to conserve “EC” was about $3800. The Mayflower Sampler Guild donated $1000 specifically to conserve “EC” which kicked off the Textiles Conservation Fund shortly after the new year. Then, not too long after, the Swan Sampler Guild made their largest single donation yet – $2500 to conserve “EC”.

Karin was thinking that, even though the initial estimate was a little higher than we had in hand, we should just go ahead and “scrape up the leftover somewhere.” I seconded her thought and she made an appointment with a conservator.

And then this showed up, completely and totally out of the blue! And such a fortuitous amount, too. Thank you, thank you, Loudoun Sampler Guild!

Today we had our first UK stitcher on the jacket, and our second, and our third! Sarah, Susan and Anne are all here for Celebrations of Needlework in Nashua, NH this weekend. They came by, with stalwart stitcher and lacer Robbin for the day to stitch on the jacket and visit the shop. It was a pleasure to meet them all. I hope they have an excellent time this weekend and enjoy the stitching.

Tricia was here, too, and she brought new sets of directions for the instruction manuals – we now have directions for the strawberry flower and the rose, to go with the ones for the pansy we got last time. She’s working on the prototype for the columbine, which I’ve been fascinated with from the beginning – it may finally force me to try working with the GST just so I can work one!

Lace work

April 29th, 2008 by Jill Hall

Carolyn and Margaret make some calculations.Yesterday, Carolyn and her friend Margaret came to Plymouth to work on winding bobbins. I have lots of pictures.

Quite a lot of time was spent calculating how much thread should go onMore conferring and confirming before cutting. each pair of bobbins. I think lacers come from the same school as carpenters, the “measure twice cut once” school, or in this case, figure twice and double-check the calculations. So this part took a long time and was crucially important though maybe it didn’t make the most exciting photos.

Finding the middle and the end, and winding on.Then the interesting stuff started. Carolyn and Margaret measured quite long lengths of thread, found the center, and then wound each end onto a separate bobbin. This process involved long pieces of nearly invisible thread stretched across the room.

At one point I totally did not see the silver thread and nearly created aMargaret holds a bobbin. disaster by walking “through” it. No harm done, fortunately. Here are pictures of winding, and one of Margaret holding a wound bobbin with the tiny hair clip holding the metal thread securely.

Stringing the spangles.For one set of bobbins they had to string spangles on the thread. Mark left us a tin of about 160 spangles and they used them all, plus 40 of the 50 we had left over from last time.200 spangles.

Here is a picture of Carolyn stringing the spangles, shaking them down the thread to where they need to be (she very patiently did this three times till I could get a decent picture) and one of the loaded bobbins. That’s 100 spangles per bobbin.

Thanks to Carolyn and Margaret for their hard work. They’ll be back to set up the second lace pillow later this week.

Last week we received a beautiful pair of yellow knitted gloves from Megan D and an equally lovely pair of brown ones from Jessica S. Thank you both.

Linda’s needlework

April 28th, 2008 by Jill Hall

Last session Linda joined us for Saturday. She lives locally, but not too local, so it was a bit of a drive each way. Linda used to work at Plimoth, about 35 years ago, before the program was consistently first person (which is when the interpreters pretend to be people from the past).

Linda’s counted thread huswife.Linda took a walk through the Village in the afternoon and was a little dismayed to see how very different everything is now. We’ve learned so much about the past, the architecture, the material culture, the clothing, the world view, the foodways, in those years, that of course the exhibit would change, but it was a little disappointing nonetheless, not to find anything familiar.

Linda’s stitched accessories.I was very glad Linda had come, and she brought some great show & tell embroideries. Here are just a couple of photos, of a counted thread huswife and the stitched accessories that go with. I think it was the “L” pincushion (or maybe something else?) that started a discussion about whether each of us could find our names on those displays of personalized key chains and pencils and bicycle name plates that were so popular in the 70s. I could occasionally find “Jill” but so often not that those few times were a real treat. I remember Abigail said she never could find her name, which is funny given how common that name is now. I think Bryce said she never even expected to find hers. All sorts of interesting topics come up while your hands are busy with the embroidery and lace.


April 25th, 2008 by Tricia

A few weeks ago Carolyn left a note in the forum about her silver lace thread tarnishing. I sent Tricia a note about it, and then Carolyn and Tricia corresponded. Tricia sent me a copy, thinking the subject and her answer would be of interest. Has anyone else had such a serious tarnishing problem with this thread or another?

I believe that the wooden box Carolyn mentions storing her lace threads in is a divided carrier from Orleans Carpenters. If you have one or are getting one of the Embroiderers’ Story ones, think about not storing silver threads in it.

Dear Tricia,

The silver thread for the lace sample is what tarnished. When I finished the sample piece I left the thread on the bobbins, with the clips on and the loose ends hanging off. The bobbins were left in an open wooden box, so they were exposed to room light, etc. Last week I got them out to set up a new piece with the leftover thread and saw that all the thread that was exposed, loose or on the top layer of the wound area not under the clip, had tarnished to a dark gray with rainbow accents – looks somewhat like those iridescent
metallics. Because the core is white it really showed up like candy stripe – my thread has many sections that does not have very tight coverage by the silver so lots of white shows through. Those sections were also much more stiff/brittle than the untarnished

I was inquiring on the forum because I wasn’t sure if the tarnish was part of the design plan, to be more authentic looking. I’ve held off on starting my new piece because it was going to be edging for a sachet, and would be exposed, so I am debating if I want the
tarnished look or not. I may modify plans to make something that would go under glass for better protection – but then I lose the glittery effect of the gold thread and moving parts with the oes.

Do you have advice on the best way to prevent the oxidation? Is it mostly light, moisture, or oxygen that causes it?

Carolyn W
Carolyn -

Sulfur is the main agent that tarnishes silver and the concentration of sulfur accelerates the tarnishing. There are different % of sulfur in different media – from the air (light) to skin and skin oils (higher) to certain woods and wood by-products (paper) which can be
pretty high. Some plastics will have sulfur concentrations depending on the plastic. The goals is to reduce the exposure to high sulfur contact to prolong the tarnish process, which will happen.

We choose the highest silver content (90%) thread as it will last the longest under good conditions. I will say that I have a spool of this thread that I bought in 2002 and it is still bright except for a light, light tarnish on the little bit peeking out from under the acid-free tissue it is wrapped with. I have other silver threads under glass that are now tarnished but took about 10-15 years to get that way. They are now 25 yrs old but not fully black – more brown.

My first guess is that the wooden box is the culprit here. When you got the kit, we had it wrapped on acid-free board with acid-free tissue around it to put it in the best conditions possible for storage. I am sorry that I hadn’t written a blog or something in the directions about storage of the silver. We debated about silver or false silver for the project. The GST is done in gold wire and not silver strip like the original jacket partly for that reason.

Mark, as a metals person, pointed out to us that the culture at the time would have understood that the silver would go black over time and would have accepted it as part of the process because they didn’t have any other option. Their value system relating to the materials would have accepted that. The big question comes, how fast did it happen on those beautiful pieces! Therefore we decided to work with original materials. We have options today and so fret about it.

I have been trying to track down a certain journal article written about a simple set of lab tests that can be done on paper products to ascertain the relative sulfur content. It was written to give museum curators a scale of test results to use to test display and storage
materials for silver and silver plate pots, etc. Everytime they are polished, a layer of silver is removed. So some materials are ok for short term display but not for long term storage. I need to try a few more libraries to get it – maybe the MFA library next. I am not sure how difficult the tests are for the home embroiderer to test her storage, pricking paper, etc.

I hope this explains things. I am so sorry that a layer of the silver has tarnished. I would suggest that you take a tarnish felt and wipe the surface and see if that removes it. I was able to remove a layer easily off my jewelry the other day with one.


Spangles on the Bobbins

April 24th, 2008 by Tricia

Tricia sent me this post for tonight:

Spangles on lace bobbins with hair clips.I know many of those lacers reading the blog would like to see how we are keeping the spangles on the bobbins. Here you see the spangles on one with Carolyn’s small hair clips to hold the thread in place.

Bryce makes lace.We are also adding pictures of Bryce, our speedy lace maker from the April session and her early progress.

Everyone enjoyed watching her fast hands clicking the bobbins and having the airy lace start to float off of the pillow.

The first piece of real lace takes shape.I started thinking that I would have to get out my own bobbins and learn myself!


An Assortment of Susan’s Needlework

April 23rd, 2008 by Jill Hall

I hope you’re having as excellent a time this week as I am. It’s school vacation week and I’m officially Not In The Office, although I am checking emails every morning which is hardly a burden. We’re having absolutely golden weather here in southeastern MA, sunny and warm with a light breeze. Fantastic.

An assortment of Susan’s needlework.Today I have eye candy for you, the fruits of Susan’s needlework skills, or some of them anyway, that she brought for show & tell at the April session. That first picture is a lovely assortment of different techniques.

The second is really amazing. It looked vaguely familiar to me, andTeeny tiny huck embroidery. when I turned it over and saw she’d only picked up threads on the surface of the fabric it looked even more familiar. She said it was Swedish darning (ooh, I hope I remembered that name right!) but was also called huck embroidery. Huck was the name I was thinking of when I saw it, but it was finer than I’d seen. Susan said she’d never seen any in person when she made that, and only later realized that sort of embroidery was usually done on a much larger scale. It looks great, though, doesn’t it?

Have another great day tomorrow.

We have a BLOG ROLL

April 22nd, 2008 by Jill Hall

And I even know what that is! And I can add links, which I’ve been doing, a little at a time as I remember where your blog is. I know lots more of you have blogs, would you send me a note or a link and I’ll add them?

Thanks for the dental floss needle threader idea, Norma; I’ll get us some of those and see if they work.

Abigail’s ribbon corset.Here’s a picture for tonight, from last session’s show & tell. Abigail made this, it’s a ribbon corset. She told me a little about ribbon corsets, if I’m remembering rightly it was a fashion in the 19th century. It’s just gorgeous, and not just because I’m a sucker for Red. I’m constantly amazed and delighted by the variety of skills and talents all you dedicated needleworkers bring to show & tell and put up on your blogs. Thank you for sharing.

The Gilded Lily

April 21st, 2008 by Jill Hall

Here is a photo of the back of the jacket, taken last Friday, April 18.

The back of the jacket as of April 18.This is the piece Tricia took home with her before our inaugural embroidery session last June. She had to work one of each motif, taking detailed photos of the steps in order to produce that fantastic instruction manual. That’s why she chose this piece, it has the biggest unbroken section of the master pattern. So for a while this piece had the most done on it, but since then the other parts have more or less caught up.

Before that first session she did instructions for several motifs, plenty to get us started, but only the plain silk ones; at the time we didn’t have any GST, it was still only a good idea, remember? CAN you remember before GST? She’s been adding motifs since then, first the ones that used only bisse, redde and carnation as those were the first three colors we got. Since then she’s been keeping ahead of what the embroiderers are doing, adding a new motif pretty much for every new session. Want to join us in May and see what new flower we’ll have?

At some point pretty early on Tricia started to work the bird in the middle of the back and then stopped because she thought there was a lot going on there and wanted some detailed pictures. I just got an email from her the other day, saying she’d been examining some of those detailed pictures and it seems there’s gold AND silver threads in the bird, and did we want to do that? It would mean tarnish eventually, not to mention sourcing the silver and the expense. Of course I said no. Why go to the trouble? The gold will be plenty.

I’M JUST KIDDING. Absolutely we’ll have silver too. We don’t know what “over the top” means.

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