Tagged ‘Debbie’

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.

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!

Treats AND Good Works

November 10th, 2008 by Jill Hall

Have you heard that the new Janet Arnold book, Patterns of Fashion 4: The cut and construction of linen shirts, smocks, neckwear, headwear and accessories for men and women c.1540-1660 is finally really being released?

If you haven’t heard, take a deep breath.

Janet Arnold died unexpectedly in 1998, and since then the historic clothing world has periodically buzzed with rumors that her linen book would be out “soon”.

This time it isn’t a rumor. A review copy sits on the desk before me as I write, thanks to Susanna, our book buyer, and Karin, Plimoth’s library custodian, both of whom let me have first peek. Let me assure you, it has been worth the wait. Unlike the first 3 books in the Patterns of Fashion series, this one has color pictures. Black & white ones, too, but lots of color. This is excellent because many of the shirts, smocks, coifs, drawers, etc, have embroidery on them. In many cases the photos are clear enough to see the motifs; in others Janet has illustrated parts of repeating motifs or entire isolated ones. There is a wealth of detail about seam treatments and other construction details, and of course the patterns on graphed pages with Janet’s own invaluable notes. The interesting thing to me about this volume is that since she never finished it there are places where her guesses or questions to herself have been left in by Jenny Tiramani and Santina Levey, who organized the material and at last brought the book to publication.

Amazon is taking advance orders, but I have a BETTER deal for you — a chance to buy yourself a book you know you want AND support a very good cause all at the same time.

Right now Plimoth Plantation’s mail order department is taking orders for this book for $49.95 plus $8.95 shipping. The proceeds of these sales, as all retail sales at Plimoth, will directly support Plimoth’s programs. (So every time you buy some of those yummy chocolate covered cranberries, you’re helping put shoes on an interpreter, for instance.)

You can feel good knowing A) this awesome book is on it’s way to you and B) your money is going to a cause you support. We still need a few supplies to finish up the jacket, namely thread, sequins (oes), needles, plus we’re planning, and beginning to pay for, the exhibit that will go with the finished jacket – the mannequin upon which it will be mounted, the petticoat, the explanatory panels, the case to put it in, all those things that will make it possible for the public to see and experience this marvelous piece first hand – and will let us travel her to other museums and institutions so YOU can see her first hand.

To order, you can access the mail order gift shop through the website at www.plimoth.org You can also contact the retail department directly at 1-800-262-9356 X 8204 or X 8332 Nicole Hallahan is in charge of retail mail order and you can reach her at nhallahan@plimoth.org

I’d like to ask our regular readers from the SCA to please share this information with your fellows – I think many of them will want this book and might be glad to have their money to this excellent project rather than to a faceless megacorp.

The review copy¬†was hijacked by us arrived in the office during the last embroidery session; in the photo from left that’s Carli, Debbie, me and Lyn admiring. It took a supreme effort to prevent myself from hogging the book in an unseemly fashion.

As always, thanks.

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.”

So.

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).

New Session Dates!

June 23rd, 2008 by Jill Hall

Come stitch on the jacketThe early bird gets the worm with the funny wrapping.

Friday August 8 – Monday August 11

Friday September 12 – Monday September 15

Friday September 26 – Monday September 29

Wendy left a note in the comments. I was too distracted by the news that done does not mean done to listen to the explanation of what exactly the funny wrapping is. Debbie explained this morning that it is an under-over-wrap-around the horizontal lines of the ceylon stitch. Debbie compared it to a straight-line spider rose type thing; Penny said that maneuver is a stitch used in tapestry weaving. Speaking of Penny, she’s answered the Earl Grey tea cupcake question for us:

Hi there! The Earl Grey cupcake has the tea as an ingredient. Originally, the recipe called for green tea powder, but Emily is a big fan of the Earl of Grey tea combined with chocolate, thus the cupcakes. The recipe comes from the bookVEGAN CUPCAKES TAKE OVER THE WORLD by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero.

 

Nineteen

June 20th, 2008 by Jill Hall

We started our anniversary embroidery session today. This weekend last year was the first time embroiderers gathered together to work on the jacket. There’s been a lot of water under the bridge since then, not to mention a lot of orts.

Like this.Here’s a picture of Wendy showing JoAnn where the 3-D pea pod pieces will be sewn, eventually. I started working on one today, and am not thrilled with how it looks. Everyone else thinks I’m being extraordinarily fussy.Old friends and new.

Here are Astrida (background) and Debbie (foreground) talking over some aspect of the embroidery with Wendy. Debbie is a new friend – I met her a few months ago when she came to work on the jacket the first time. Astrida is an old friend. Years and years ago when I was a new tailor with the Wardrobe department, Astrida used to drive down from the Portsmouth, NH area to volunteer on Saturdays. Way back then wardrobe was in our old office, extremely tiny and like a rabbit warren – several itty rooms connected like a maze. It was part of an old dairy barn. Anyway, no one else was in on Saturdays and the Happyphone almost never rang, so we had lots of time to talk. Time passes and life moves on; I hadn’t seen Astrida in years before this morning. Another gift of the jacket – bringing old friends back around.Make a wish.

Today was Emily’s birthday. She is 19 whole years old. Penny made her a special a plate of special vegan Earl Grey cupcakes with yummy chocolate frosting. The candles say “Happy” instead of “Happy Birthday” because I and my tiny brain bought the wrong box of candles. I accidentally bought the “happy retirement” candle assortment. Ooops.

Tallying the Progress

April 14th, 2008 by Jill Hall

Today Wendy counted up the motifs that were done this weekend. I had high hopes for this session and I was not disappointed. There were many hands working and a great deal was accomplished:

blue worm16.5 worms. The plain worms, not the fancy worms. We don’t have directions for those yet. But the plain worms gave us plenty of head-scratching moments, as we tried to figure out what color each should be, comparing the photos of the original and the different pieces of the jacket. The half worm disappears into a seam, and it was the back half that was stitched, which led to some merriment. Oh, and Debbie thinks they’re actually slugs, since they have little feelers on they little heads. Are slugs ickier than worms?

completed pansy3.5 pansies. Pansies take a LONG time to work, and they’re not as spectacularly colored as the pansies I’m familiar with. Still very pretty, and after these 3.5 were done, there are not that many left.

pink and leaf2 whole pinks. Pinks, or carnations, and in the 1627 village gillyflowers (hence very popular with me). Also take a long time to do, and we’re almost done with them, too.

6 leaves, 1/2 a pea pod, 1/2 a rose hip, 1/2 a thistle calyx, 1/2 a honeysuckle, 1 set honeysuckle buds, and one little edge of a pea pod that vanished into a seam. It was just a tiny line, but it was fiddly to work since the way it was oriented meant a long column of one buttonhole stitch per row rather than one long row of stitches. Abigail did that one. Some of those half motifs were partially done at other sessions by other stitcher, some were the kind that disappear into seams or off the edges of the pieces.

thistle calyx and trefoilAND TWO of the dreaded trefoils. That’s a thistle in the bottom of that photo, with the calyx of course the green part below the blossom. Debbie did one of the trefoils and Linda did the other. Linda was with us only on Saturday.

Not to mention 9 lace motifs in only two days (that was Bryce, speed lacer.)

rose progress 2Here’s a picture of Wendy working that very first rose motif. She stayed late tonight to finish it, “so her boss won’t yell at her.” We’ll see what Tricia thinks of the result, maybe next time we can add another motif to our repertoire.

Thanks, everyone. I so enjoyed this weekend.

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