‘Schedules’ Category

Birds Next

November 9th, 2008 by Jill Hall

Mary asked a couple of days ago if she saw the beginning of a bird in the middle of the back piece.

Tricia started that bird ages ago, but before she got any further she realized we needed better pictures before she could really decipher what was happening there. We moved on to other things, and then when she had better pictures she was already planning her UK trip and thought to wait until she could see the motifs herself, in person.

Well, that has happened too, and last I heard she was almost ready to start work on the instructions for the birds. The original stitching in black may have to come out, I don’t know. As soon as we have something to show I’ll take pictures and share them.

One of the other items on Tricia’s plate right now is preparing to teach on December 12th in NYC. This class is one of the programs associated with the Metropolitan Museum’s exhibit of embroidery at the Bard Graduate Center for the Arts. The full description isn’t posted on the Bard College website yet, but you know it’ll be fabulous. Tricia’s going to do a gallery tour and then a hands-on class. You can get more information from wilson@bgc.bard.edu This exhibit is only scheduled to be up from December 11, 2008 to April 12, 2009, so plan your trip to New York now.

And while you’re planning, I’ve got three intrepid embroiderers signed up for another gold-blitz weekend 11/21 – 24; if you can get to Plymouth for even part of that weekend send me a note: jhall@plimoth.org

All that Glitters

November 5th, 2008 by Jill Hall

really IS gold, in this case.

The gold thread for the coiling vines is real gold, and, like the gilt sylke twist, was purpose-made for this project by Bill Barnes of Golden Threads in the UK. It is a gold wire wrapped around two ends of yellow silk thread. I know the next question is whether any is available for sale, and the answer is, maybe. Right now we’re tracking how much thread it takes to embroider the coils and counting spools of thread. If there’s any left over, it will certainly be made available. If there isn’t, and there is huge demand, well, look what happened with the GST. Every time I check, new colors have been added to the line, and two sessions ago there was great excitement when Tricia brought out spools for sale. Not one person around the table said “I want this color”, or “I’d like to have this one”; it was all “I need this one. And this one. And … this one.”


This past weekend’s experiment was exceedingly successful. Judy, who worked mostly at Tricia’s last week, arrived on Friday not babbling incoherently from too much gold work. She was still smiling and stitching and enjoying. Lyn J from Canada, Debbie A and Carli D from the NYC area all stepped up to the guinea pig table and took instruction from Tricia before practicing, comparing, and practicing some more.

Debbie reported that the gold is Not a pain to work with, in fact it is quite durable. She used one length for practice and was able to pick out mistakes several times and reuse the same length without trouble. The end you have to thread through the needle frays a bit, but Wendy reports that if you chew on it a little you can shape it up to re-thread.

Even after four days of coiling vine after coiling vine, Lyn, Carli and Debbie were still enjoying the work. I asked them if it seemed to take forever, because just watching them, to me, it seemed to go much more quickly than I’d thought (feared). They said that in the working it seemed to go slowly, but whenever they sat back to look, more was done than they expected, and less time expired. Lyn claimed to be Princess Slow-poke, but she accomplished several coils and none of the rest of us thought she was going slowly. I think she’s just accustomed to working more quickly than most and so this felt slow.

Here are pictures of Debbie and Carli’s pieces. Lyn was working well past the final bell on Monday, and Wendy didn’t remember to photograph her piece before we put it away. We will take a photo to post on Thursday, when we’re taking some studio photos of individual motifs. I think Carli was working on the right front and Debbie on the back.

Do you want to work some of the coiling vines? Our test group did so well we’re going to do it again. If you’re free the weekend of 11/21-24 (this is the weekend BEFORE Thanksgiving – I offered to run a session over Thanksgiving, pointing out that Pen and I will be here anyway, but got no takers), either have practiced the plaited braid according to Leon Conrad’s instructions as amplified and illustrated by Linda Connors, and are willing to work on matching gauge and stitch density, send me a note jhall@plimoth.org We can take 3-4 people to work vines, and a couple more to work silk or GST on the coif & forehead cloth.

We are “pushing” the jacket to completion this winter, in time for display at the beginning of May. I am worried about the winter weather too, look at last year! but look for more sessions in January and February. If you want to suggest dates, send me a note.

In addition to the gold workers, we had three lace makers this weekend. Sue, Linda and Colleen nearly finished the last short piece – the second cuff, as well as the long piece. Colleen also managed to do some embroidery on the coif. There are two new plans afoot – to develop some patterns for white lace to adorn the smocks, coifs, cuffs, and collars of certain characters on our living history sites, and to develop a smaller spangled lace suitable for trimming the coif and forehead cloth. If you’re a lacer and weren’t interested in working metal but might want to do some white lace, let me know and I’ll keep you apprised of progress.

I don’t have much news on the symposium, mostly because I’ve been focusing on getting the interpreters what they need to finish the season. I have a couple of firm commitments from speakers, one probable yes, and I have to get back to the couple I haven’t heard from; the biggest news is that the registration will open first to those who have worked on the piece. They’ll get a 5-week headstart to register and then we will open the registration to everyone. We plan to start this in December, and of course news will appear here and in an email blast to the stitchers/lacers. SO please update your contact information. I know there are some who have changed email/moved etc since coming. If you know someone in that situation, please ask him/her to contact us in order to stay informed. You can update by sending me or Kathy an email or calling 508-746-1622 X 8248 (Penny), X 8119 (me), or X 8114 (Kathy).

Exhibit Opening New York City

September 27th, 2008 by Jill Hall

Melinda Watt, the curator from the MET who was here filming yesterday, and Han Vu, the videographer from Bard College’s Graduate Center for the Arts, said goodbye this morning and headed back to New York.

Melinda is a teeny-tiny bit stressed over the way time is accelerating and the to-do list is lengthening as she gets closer to the exhibit opening. She’s still working on the catalogue for it, which sounds absolutely amazing and I can’t wait to see it. In fact, I’ve already pre-ordered a copy through our gift shop book buyer, but I refrained from mentioning this to her because I thought the idea that people were pre-ordering a book she isn’t finished with yet might be a little alarming. So send her encouraging thoughts. This exhibit is going to be excellent.

I promised you details – English Embroidery from The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1580 – 1700 Twixt Art and Nature December 11, 2008 – March 15, 2009, at the Bard Graduate Center for Studies in the Decorative Arts, Design, and Culture 18 West 86th Street, New York, NY 10024 – www.bgc.bard.edu

Melinda left a great brochure for the exhibit; here’s a bit of the description:

English Embroidery comprises approximately 80 objects from the MMA’s collection of embroideries and comparative supplemental material from the Museum and other institutions and private collectors. The exhibition is presented on three floors of the BGC and is organized in sections that explore thematic and typological characteristics of the embroideries. Original printed images and texts, combined with high-quality photo reproductions, help the viewer contextualize the embroideries in a way that has not been attempted previously. There is also a special animation component, consisting of three digital videos that demonstrate stitch techniques, to enhance visitors’ understanding of this art form.”

There’s a lot more, but I bet you’re drooling already. And as if that weren’t enough, Tricia and Melinda and the other exhibit coordinators are finalizing various special events around the exhibit. I’ll ask Tricia to do us a blog entry when the details are set.

Catherine, Laura and Jen

September 19th, 2008 by Jill Hall

Catherine, Laura and Jen joined us for last weekend’s embroidery session. All of them have been here before and so are considered “veterans.” They certainly showed their experience; they all accomplished a great deal.

Catherine was working on the unwieldy back piece, and stitched three complete roses along with a few odds & ends here and there. Laura mostly worked on the collar & cuffs frame, finishing the cuffs to the point that they are ready for goldwork. She also stitched the detached butterfly wing piece, and then sewed it to the collar, which made the collar done-done-done.

Jen was working on an equally unwieldy front, and did some of everything, including fancy worms. Fancy worms are composed of two parallel rows of ceylon stitch, in two different colors, with the head stitched separately in a third color but also in ceylon stitch. These worms also get black back stitched antennae (thus making them not technically worms, I know) but are not wrapped like the plain worms.

Here are all of them with their frames. They were friends from before this project, and traveled here together sort of like a girls’ weekend away. They have such fun together, it makes the atmosphere of the weekend sort of like a party. A few different times we’ve had friends meet here both to enjoy each other’s company and to work together on the project. It puts me in mind of all the different sorts of women’s gatherings to work and talk, like quilting bees or houseraisings (OK, there the men are working I guess but if you don’t think it’s a lot of work to feed timberframers, I’d like to introduce you to a couple of cooks I know…..)


September 16th, 2008 by Jill Hall

Please note! I am cancelling the October 24-27 session.

Great progress is being made this weekend on the silk embroidery. We have 10 embroiderers scheduled for September 26-29. I anticipate that after that weekend we won’t have enough silk and GST embroidery left to make a full weekend session worth while.

There is still plenty to do – we’re just on hold for the moment. Tricia is going to examine the birds during a trip to the UK next month (green, green, green with envy) so we’re holding off on those for now. The gold coils need to be done before any other gold, and the coils have to be a unified hand, however we’re going to manage that.

After the gold coils, we’ll be calling for volunteers to come again, to do lots of gold – the centers of pansies, roses, strawberry flowers and honeysuckles, the peas, the tops of pea pods and foxglove, the stamens of honeysuckle and columbine. And I’m probably forgetting something. Plus there will be the thousands of ‘oes’, and the sewing-on of the detached pieces. And I haven’t even mentioned the lace.

When I saw the finished collar, I remarked to Tricia that there were more oes than I’d imagined. She wryly agreed, noting that she had double-checked the density on the original jacket and there are indeed more oes per square inch than we were thinking. So. Don’t despair, there’s more to do and we still need lots of help. Just not in October.

This is bittersweet, for me, at least. It feels great to be approaching another milestone, but I will miss the gatherings of embroiderers. You all are great company, and talented too.


July 8th, 2008 by Jill Hall
  • We entered the dog days not long ago, and I can really feel it. The heat isn’t oppressive, but it is humid, the air quality is sub-par, and I’m suffering from embroidery craving. All I want to do is work on that right front piece, the one that’s less done than all the other pieces because it languished for months in an impossibly wide frame. It’s been re-framed and is marginally easier to work, and I want to stitch a columbine. And a pansy. And a few butterflies. Maybe some honeysuckle buds or a pink split by a gusset. But not the worms. I bear them a grudge for not being what I thought they were. Bah.
  • Gilt Sylke Twist is noisy. It’s thinner than the soie perlee, but because of the gold wire wrapping it’s almost ribbed. The first time I pulled it through the linen I gasped at the noise. The more experienced stitchers in the room chuckled, oh, yes, it IS noisy. After you work with it a while you forget, mesmerized by its beauty.
  • Thanks for the note about the symposium, Cate. We’ll be holding all the events at Plimoth, and the capacity is about 200. Which seems like not a lot unless you’re actually planning it and still aren’t sure if anyone will come. Then it seems like quite a lot indeed. Those dates are 24-27 September, 2009.
  • Lacey’s experience with the hot dog buns rang a bell for lots of transplanted New Englanders who miss the familiar buns of their youth. Isn’t it funny what you miss? Years and years ago I spent a year in England and missed Oreos. Like crazy. When I can have them any time I almost never do. And yes, I’m sure while there I saw The Jacket at the V&A, but alas I had no idea how important it would become in my life and so wasted the chance to really SEE it.
  • Who doesn’t want to come to Plymouth in August? Carolyn W has a free weekend and will be coming to make lace 22 – 24 August (Fri – Sun) so we decided to make a party of it and invite everyone. Have a few days? Want to come to the sea? Actually, by that time it usually isn’t so hot and humid anymore. And, at least we won’t have to worry about having to cancel for snow, like last winter. email me jhall@plimoth.org
  • The credit for the plaited braid stitch illustrations in Plimoth’s embroidered coif kit belongs to Oliver Kline and Joanna Kline Cadorette. I heard from Joanna that she drew the initial sketches and her father cleaned them up on the computer and made them all nice and easy to understand. Thank you, Mr. Kline.

The Embroiderers’ Story Symposium

June 27th, 2008 by Jill Hall

What are you doing Thursday September 24 – Sunday September 27, 2009?

I hope you answer, “Coming to Plymouth for The Embroiderers’ Story: Recreating a Stuart Jacket at Plimoth Plantation“! Yep, we’ve committed to throwing a major party to celebrate the creation of this remarkable garment.

I’ll give you the details I have now so you can mark your calendars and save the dates, but I don’t have the whole thing carved in stone yet. Susan North has promised to come, Susan North of the V&A, the benevolent godmother of the project, who has done so much to support this work. At first she thought she couldn’t manage it as there is a 17th-century dress conference in Switzerland the same weekend. This is one of those weird instances of problem-dissolving I’ve referred to before. After a few weeks of wondering if we could really have a jacket conference without her, I heard about that 17th-century conference in another context and realized – that one is 2008 and ours is 2009 and there’s no conflict at all. Whew.

We’ll have a pre-conference full-day class with Tricia Wilson Nguyen (who else? and I hope she wrote it down because she agreed in front of witnesses and if she didn’t write it down, well, I bet she will when she reads this) on Thursday. Friday and Saturday will be lectures/presentations in the morning and tours/classes in the afternoons. Some of the presenters will place these jackets in historical context, who wore them, how they were made, that kind of thing. Some will address how we made this particular jacket. We’re planning a tour to the RI School of Design Museum in Providence, RI. They have a portrait of a woman wearing an embroidered jacket. We’ll also see some of their fantastic textiles collection in a behind-the-scenes tour. We’ll have a farewell brunch on Sunday with a speaker, but it won’t be a full day. One evening we’ll have a benefit reception, another we’ll have a 17th-century dinner. I will of course let you know more details as they are finalized.

Please spread the word about this event. It will definitely be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. We are not prepared to take pre-registrations quite this early, but you know I’ll let you know the minute we can. Just don’t promise to be somewhere else that weekend.

(‘K. I’m just about ready to hit ‘publish’ and am feeling an attack of nerves. You’d think I’d be immune by now, having jumped feet first into so much deep water where this jacket is concerned, but no. Still nervous.)

ETA: This post now reflects the NEW date.


June 25th, 2008 by Jill Hall

Thanks, Rosemary, for catching my error in the dates for the August session. The formal session is 8 August to 11 August, a Friday to Monday weekend. However, Tricia is planning to be at Plimoth all week, from Monday 4 August to Friday 8 August (that’s what I was thinking of, I think) working on the gold. Anyone is welcome to come work for a dayAstrida stayed late to finish this rose. or more that week, running into the weekend session or not. Please let me know what you’d like to do so we can plan accordingly jhall@plimoth.org

Sunday Astrida was planning to leave about 3:00 pm to get home to New Hampshire in time for her husband to participate in one of his favorite hobbies. She stayed late to finish a rose; here she is pleased and proud, JoAnn determined to finish that pink before the bell.and a little tired too, with still a 2-3 hour drive ahead of her. She left around 5, I think, but not before Mr Astrida called wondering was she almost home? Not so much. We thank him for his patience and understanding – that rose couldn’t wait.

And here’s JoAnn, working furiously away to finish her last motif before leaving. Here are Wendy and Linda encouraging her work, and here’s JoAnn, alsoJoAnn and the next to the last pink. looking pleased and a little tired. JoAnn stitched a pink, a motif that’s taking most stitchers between 7 – 10 hours to do. It was the last big motif on this piece that we have directions for (we’re waiting for marching orders on the borage, the bird & the fancy worms) and the big blank space there was really bugging Wendy for the last couple of weekends. Must get that pink done. And JoAnn did! There is one pink left on the jacket, a “split” one that’s divided by the line where one of the gussets will go.

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