November, 2008


November 29th, 2008 by Jill Hall

Colleen asked how we like the daylight lamps with the attached magnifying arms; her mother-in-law is interested in getting one. I’d like to hear from the embroiderers – I can’t remember where we got the lamps, but I can look. I’m pretty sure we bought what Tricia recommended. Personally, I like the daylight part, but can’t get used to the magnifying lenses. They’re on a separate arm from the light and I haven’t been able to coordinate working with it. What does everyone else think? Any recommendations? I’ve seen a whole variety of lamps and magnifiers brought to the sessions. Some clip to the frame, some are travel daylight lamps (I think I’d like one of those, so it could move from one chair to the other in the living room plus easily go to classes.) one sat right on the taught linen and was a light in a 3-sided box so the light shone very directly where needed.

Thanks to Debbie for this picture. I’m asking Wendy if my first plaited braid is up to snuff – fortunately the answer was yes. Working that stitch is actually fun – you do get a rhythm after a while, the needle finds the path, and you come to the end of the length of thread much too quickly. From how reluctantly the goldworkers put their needles down in the evening, it seems you come to the end of the day too quickly too. Which is probably why the gold is getting accomplished so speedily.

Thanksgiving 2008

November 27th, 2008 by Jill Hall

You may remember from last year that part of my Thanksgiving tradition is helping Die get into her Victorian dress for Plimoth’s 1863 dinners.

This year Die has a new outfit. Doesn’t she look great? There was less for me to do – no lacing the  black cord through the button shanks – but more time to admire. There’s one more Victorian dinner tomorrow afternoon so she’ll get to wear it again.

I don’t know why the thumbnail photo is not centered, but if you click on it you’ll get the whole image.

The next picture is the dessert table in the interpreters’ lounge. It’s a potluck meal with the main parts supplied by the foodways department and the sides and desserts by everybody. I especially love Marcia’s apples and cheddar side dish (of course it’d be a Marcia dish) and look forward to it every year.

If you closed your eyes in the lounge, you’d never know you weren’t home; people are sipping coffee, sampling dessert and discussing whether the Pats can get to the Super Bowl without Brady (even odds, which is better than you’d have gotten in the lounge a few weeks ago).

After a week of colder-than-normal temperatures, the Thanksgiving weather gods were kind and we had a mild day for our visitors to enjoy the outdoor sites. There was so much activity in the 1627 Village this year that I didn’t get to the Wampanoag Homesite. There were two 1627-style church services, Native men visiting Edward Winslow, and a staged fight between two colonists over a girl. They were fighting over Lydia Hickes (Whitney) who is getting married to one of the pugilists on Saturday (pretend wedding). This is the event for which I promised the pink waistcoat. Whitney checked on it this lunchtime. It’ll be done. I finished the stab-stitching today and I only have a couple of hours worth of buttonholes and buttons left to do. Apparently the other colonist (also a single man) made a comment about Lydia, which led to the wrestling match. I especially enjoyed the scolding they got from Captain Standish, who marched down the hill to break up the fight. (“Pick up your hats, Pick up your teeth, Stand up like men and don’t let me catch you at this again.” They were suitably cowed.

All in all, a good day. I hope yours was as well.

I’ll be posting new blogs as usual for the next couple of weeks, then every other day starting December 10th through the New Year, but will be taking some vacation from the office around the holidays. If you need to get in touch please leave a message in the comments or send a note to my home email

Notes from the Front

November 26th, 2008 by Jill Hall

Over the past few weeks several new blogs have linked to us – welcome! And thanks for helping to spread the word about this project.

Over this weekend I got the chance to work on the gold embroidery – wheee! I was the beneficiary of a personal tutorial from Wendy, which was awesome, because I’d really been struggling to understand the stitch diagrams. It is sooo confusing in the pictures, especially the starting maneuvers. Basically she sat next to me and my doodle cloth saying, come up here; down there; up here; down there. Yes, there. Really.

Across the table Debbie and Carli were smiling, because the beginning really doesn’t look like anything, and because it took even them several coils before they could start without checking the directions. Which made me feel better.

This is the little bit I managed to get accomplished, after what felt like a long time. Everyone else is going much more quickly.

The gold is interesting to work with, in a way it is much sturdier than the GST. It is also quieter; the GST is almost corrugated and it makes a thrrrrp noise as you pull it through the linen, because of the difference between the silk and the place where the gold wraps it. The gold passing thread is evenly covered so it passes smoothly and quietly. We’re using the hand made Japanese needles with it, which helps make a large enough hole in the linen for the gold to pass through, and also is gentler on the gold at the eye. Eventually the gold breaks there, though, and you have to cut and re-thread, but we’re finding it happens less than with the GST. And if you bite the very edge of the end you’re threading, just to crimp the gold, it will thread more easily and help it last longer before raveling.

Also, the gold passing (GP) is sturdy enough to pick out and reuse, more than once even, if necessary (ask me how I know). And, because it is stiff, you can feel right away if you’ve got a bump or a kink on the back. With the GST it happens often enough that you don’t find that snarl on the back till you turn the piece over to fasten the end. Grrr.

The suggested thread with which to practice the plaited braid is Kreinik #8; Debbie reports that using the high luster version is easier because it is stiffer. She feels that the blue is the most workable, but the universal opinion is that anything other than the gold passing is a poor substitute. This stitch demands to be worked with the real stuff, and this gold demands to stitch the plaited braid. It is harder to stitch even the reverse chain coils with the gold passing, because it is almost too stiff to make those small bends.

I know, you would work with the GP if you could get your hands on some, and it isn’t really fair of me to mention how nicely it makes a plaited braid. Several people have asked about buying a gold work kit, or just a spool of the GP. We’re holding off for right now, until we’re absolutely sure we have enough to accomplish the jacket, before we release any. I know we could sell this and buy more, but if there’s any kind of hold-up in the manufacturing or shipping (and I can imagine several scenarios with scarcely any effort) it would delay the jacket’s completion, and we can’t have that. As soon as we can let some go, we absolutely will.


November 25th, 2008 by Jill Hall

Wendy sent this post and the photos:

Over the weekend  there was much discussion about the recent request  to see the “Backs”.   We were a group of mixed reactions because  there are many stitchers whose reverse side of their work is as beautiful as the front and then there are those of us who will show you our reverse sides only under duress. In the end after lots of laughter and jokes about “backsides”  we agreed that  you should see them, so here are two of the pieces for your viewing pleasure.

Among the things we’ve learned  about reverse sides are that it is really important to make sure the silk work ends( the parts done with the silk perle)  are very securely  wrapped and tucked in on the reverse side otherwise the GST and  even the GP ( gold passing) because they have ribs will catch even a hair of the silk and pull it through to the front- requiring some fiddling to  get the ends back to the back or trimmed. Sometimes because of the friction in a neighboring area  the slippery silk perle seems to have a mind of its own and  sort of unwraps out of its spot  and then the only way to fix it is to make a noose to  try and capture the errant end ( about a half inch)  and snug it back into place.

Sarah’s hat

November 24th, 2008 by Jill Hall

Sarah and Karin came over the other day collecting library books.

Penny got this photo of Sarah wearing the hat that Penny made and Sarah won in the volunteer raffle last Sunday.

Whitney’s waistcoat

November 23rd, 2008 by Jill Hall

I remembered to take a photo of the final fitting on Whitney’s new waistcoat. Whitney’s also wearing her brand-new petticoat, made by intern Arianna and volunteer Carolyn. This was taken on Friday, when this weekend’s embroiderers were already at work.

The Saturday after Thanksgiving Whitney will be the bride for a recreated wedding in the 1627 English Village. I’ve promised Whitney this new outfit in time for the wedding, but I’m trying to finish it in time for her to wear a couple of times this week. We’ll see. I’m also hoping to spend some time today practicing the plaited braid stitch so I can audition for embroidering the coils. Wish me luck!

Left Upper Sleeve

November 22nd, 2008 by Jill Hall

Here are the long promised photos of the left upper sleeve. Lyn from Canada was working on this last time; Wendy has it this time.

Debbie’s been in touch with Lyn. Apparently there are 5″ of new snow where she is, preventing her from coming to this session. We miss you Lyn!


November 20th, 2008 by Jill Hall

Thanks to Justin for answering the Murphy’s oil soap question; he washed the warping board before he started using it, to get rid of the “50 years of barn dust.” And more apologies for the poor photo of him; I was stealth snapping trying not to get any visitors in the background. I surprised him more than once, as you can see. Sorry.

Last Sunday I went to Plimoth Plantation’s annual volunteer recognition event. Plimoth, like so many other museums and historical societies and historic houses simply could not function without our many dedicated volunteers. Denise Nichols organized a lovely tea and social for this year’s event, with music and a talk and reading by Peter Arenstam from his book about Nicholas the mouse.

Denise also organized a raffle of items donated by many of the different Plimoth departments. Penny donated on Colonial Wardrobe’s behalf – a lovely hand spun, naturally dyed, hand knit cap, which was won by Karin Goldstein’s intern Sarah. The first photo is Plimoth’s Chief Executive Officer John McDonagh announcing a winner.

The second picture is three of our child volunteers. They and the other children did a magnificent job delighting thousands of Plimoth’s visitors this year, and they had a great old fun time doing it. The program, revamped and reintroduced after a few years’ hiatus, was a smashing success by all measures; the adult interpreters enjoyed the energy and enthusiasm of the children as well as the increase in historical accuracy they brought to the site. Not to mention how cute they are. The visitors also appreciated the family atmosphere, and our child visitors really enjoyed having other children to talk and play with. I’m sure we’ll see them again next summer. (Before you and your kids start making plans, though, please note that all the child volunteers are children of Plimoth employees.)

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