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 firstname.lastname@example.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).
Tags: Bill Barnes, Canada, Carli, coiling vines, Colleen, Debbie, gold thread, Golden Threads, GST, Kathy, Lace, Leon Conrad, Linda, Linda Connors, lyn, NYC, Penny, plaited braid stitch, Sue, symposium, Tricia, white lace
Posted in 2009 Symposium, Lace, Materials, Participate, Progress, Schedules, Stitches | 2 Comments
And let Linda V from Arizona write tonight’s post. Linda came to Plymouth last summer to work on the jacket. She also offered to work at home on a project for us. She’s reproducing a red silk double-running stitch-embroidered handkerchief from the V & A (where else?) that we can use either in the upcoming exhibit or in some of our living history programs.
The first picture is the front, with a dime for scale. The second is the back. Linda wrote:
It’s an interesting project and I’m enjoying working on it. At 55 count it’s a new experience for me to have to use magnification to do the job! It is a slow go however. What you see in the photos is roughly 30 hours of work. About 10 hours of work per flower/repeat. I’m going forward, but it will not be a quick project.
Lyn from Canada taught Linda a nifty technique for anchoring the thread without a knot. Linda writes: Nan Euler’s Surface Anchoring method is working well. It is a little challenging to do it at this scale, but I love that you hardly see the beginning or ending of the threads.
Elmsley Rose did a whole blog entry about the S and Z twist that we’ve been talking about. Check it out HERE.
Or comments, really.
Thanks, Jane, for your note. Jane’s from the UK and was curious about our UK stitcher, all of whom were in the US for the Celebrations of Needlework in Nashua, NH, which I believe wraps up tomorrow. I don’t know offhand where Sarah and Susan are from, but I’ll look it up when I get back to the office. Susan has an online needlework shop, Hanging by a Thread, (the shop’s address is London, so there’s a clue) and has been so generous about spreading news of the project. Sarah is Susan’s sister, and they look enough alike that I was having trouble keeping their names straight, though in my defense they were at first introduced to me by the other’s name, so after that I had no chance at all. Anne is Robbin’s mother-in-law (Robbin of the laptop grant, the lacemaking, the thistle calyxes, the gorgeous antique lace wedding veil, and the great photos). I’m pretty sure the information on where the blog hits come from exists, but I would have to go looking for it. (Yah. Who am I kidding? By “looking for” I mean “ask Rich”.) I know coral-seas is in the UK. She returned our first overseas sample, and writes a delicious needlework blog here. Our other international stitcher is Lyn. She comes from Ontario, Canada, and has come down to Plymouth several times now. She’s doing the repro of the Bosworth sampler.
And, in the comments a few days ago (I eventually get there) coral-seas asked if the jacket embroidery pattern has a repeat. The answer is yes, the master repeat is four motifs high and four across. Tricia told the story of discovering the repeat early in the blog – June 2 and June 3, to be exact, (and I can be exact both quickly and easily thanks to Lyn’s awesome index – Thanks, Lyn!).
It’s a great story, like a historical detective yarn. Or floss. Just kidding. Anyway, there’s a panel in the collection of the Embroiderers’ Guild in the UK which is so extremely similar to the 1359-1900 jacket in the V&A (the embroidery design source for our jacket) that they must have come from the same workshop. Examining the photos of the jacket and the panel and fiddling with the motifs for our design, Tricia had a “eureka!” moment and saw the repeat.
The four-by-four repeat is most visible on the back. Tricia worked the original motifs on the back, the ones she stitched in order to illustrate the directions for the instruction manuals. So at that first session the back was the only one with embroidery on it.
I have another great story in my pocket, so to speak, actually, in the laptop. I accidentally left some pictures at the office over the weekend; I will get at them Monday and start the next “bite” then. Tomorrow hopefully I’ll have some different visual treat.
Lyn from Canada was here last weekend embroidering on the jacket. She’s a veteran, she has worked on the jacket a couple of times before. On one of those trips last fall (before the snow set in) Lyn mentioned to Wendy that she’d be touring around Cape Cod for a few days before she headed back to Ontario. Wendy said, well, you have to stop in at Orleans Carpenters, Beth and Paul Dixon’s workshop on the Cape, where they make gorgeous Shaker boxes and some awesome needlework accessories. So Lyn did. And while there she told Beth all about the jacket project, and how she had come from Canada, and others from all parts of the US, and how fun and special it is.
I was overwhelmed. Beth, in her note, said that the jacket project sounded like a wonderful way to bring people together to serve a project that would add joy and beauty to the world and she wanted to support it somehow (I’m paraphrasing, because of course I’ve left the original at the office….). I was overwhelmed. The box, really a divided carrier, is just beautiful.
Beth and Paul’s original gift to the jacket has morphed into an even bigger gift to the jacket. The Dixons are selling these carriers for a limited time, and are donating $10 to the Textile Conservation Fund for each carrier sold. Go to their website, Orleans Carpenters, scroll down to the bottom of the left-hand list, and click on the Plimoth Plantation link. Even better, browse around for a while. They do beautiful work.
Thanks again, Beth and Paul, and thanks to Lyn for sharing our story, thanks to Wendy for helping Lyn and Beth meet, and thanks to you for supporting the Jacket!
Note to Susan, who in the comments asked if anyone was thinking about charting a reproduction of the EC sampler – YES! Elizabeth Creeden, noted expert in the field of historic needlework and popular teacher, is doing just that. I expect it won’t be ready for a bit, it’s a pretty big project, but you’ll see it here when it is. Thanks for asking!