Tagged ‘GST’


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.

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).

Repeat Repeat

September 12th, 2008 by Jill Hall

Carolyn left a detailed comment about working with the GST. I thought more people would find it here:

The main feature of the thread that I had to learn to deal with is similar to what the stitchers have noted: it is raspy when rubbed against other threads. This means that when tensioning, I had to be very careful to note if the GST got caught anywhere and had to fuss with it a bit more than some other threads. The positive side was that once in place, it did not move much because of the wire structure.
Another tensioning problem was that the silk stretched a bit more than the metal, so if pulling too hard the wire would break leaving an area of bare filament silk that “puffed” a bit if not twisted. These areas were not very noticable if in whole stitch cloth, but showed up more in half stitch or filling areas. Once I got used to it, though, I could avoid over-pulling and my rate of metal-popping went way down.
If the GST rubbed too much on the edge of a bobbin or hairclip (I used the same kind of small hair clip to hold the thread on the bobbin as is used for the metal threads, shown on an earlier blog entry) the wire would break, so I also learned to make sure I moved the rubbing spot often. Kind of like avoiding nerve wear in carpel tunnel syndrome!
I’ve now finished the Torchon square with the GST so can also comment on tying off with it. I used magic threads at the start, so just had to pull the GST through the loops. It was raspy, and in one case my magic thread broke because it was so much thinner and weaker. Overall, though, it was easy to manage the GST and the knots held well. I used a surgeon’s knot(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Surgeon’s_knot) to make sure the silk held tight. The knot ends could be bent over to a spot on the back and stayed put because of the wire.
And the outcome? The colors are wonderful, the lace has some structure from the wire so I could see using it for flowers, leaves, etc in 3-D work, sort of a middle-ground between silk and actual metal wire. The gold is not obvious but adds another depth of sheen to the silk, and glimmers subtly in certain angles of light. I really like it and plan to use it for more lace pieces.

-Carolyn W


September 11th, 2008 by Tricia

I just had to add my two cents on this piece of ‘show and tell’ that Carolyn Wetzel brought in at the last session.  I had close-up pictures that I really wanted to post as they showed the gilt sylke twist used as bobbin lace.  It was very exciting to see her piece.  I had been thinking about begging someone to try it out.  Carolyn had a few comments on working with it from a ‘how-to’ point of view. I hope we can convince her to add her experience to the blog as a record.

There are others out there trying this thread for a number of other stitches and uses that were not historically found.  Please let us know what you are doing with it.  I can tell you that I made GST silk purl by hand about a month ago for a project I will be teaching.  I will try to post a picture of it soon.  Another very, very strange twist is that the thread is conductive.  Of course, if you wrap a copper-silver-gold wire around silk, it is basically an electrical wire.  My main occupation is in a field called electronic textiles which is now growing rapidly.  One of the big problems in that field is that all the yarns we use are gray (stainless steel or silver based).  The industry has been very excited by this GST development and many researchers are trying the thread to see what other textile processing techniques can be used without destroying the wire wrap.  I hope we can find some good ones, for both the historic and modern users will help provide a market to keep the thread alive.


August Show & Tell

August 24th, 2008 by Jill Hall

One of my very favorite parts of these embroidery sessions is getting to see all the beautiful items our talented volunteers bring in for show & tell day.

First up is a piece of bobbin lace Carolyn W is working using some Redde Gilt Sylke Twist.

In the second picture Carolyn is removing some of the pins.


May 22nd, 2008 by Jill Hall

Stitched columbine motif.Here, courtesy of Wendy, is a photo of the stitched columbine motif. In my opinion, it is the wackiest of the motifs on the jacket. It sort of resembles a columbine to me, but not much. And it looks crazy. Several columbines were embroidered this session; Norma B from Connecticut stitched this one.

It not only has the first bit of green GST on the jacket, but it also has blue, and pink, and red GST, not to mention a little plain pink silk. It’s the kitchen sink motif.

Blue Silk

May 5th, 2008 by Jill Hall

I’m sorry I didn’t post last night. There was a lot of homework to do at my house, and by the time my number came up to use the computer, it was today.

Here as promised, though, is the beginning of a new story.

Eventually, the embroidery will be done, the oes sewn on, and it will be time to free the pieces from their frames and sew them together into a garment. (I can hear you asking, and the answer is – Probably me, but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.)

The jacket will have to be lined, both for its longevity and to perpetuate the accuracy of the reproduction. Margaret Laton’s jacket is lined in a carnation-pink silk. V&A #1359-1900 is lined in a pale blue silk. What color, and what silk should we use?

Several months ago one of my colleagues got in touch with me, coincidentally just about the time I started thinking seriously about what we would use for a lining. Justin is a first-person interpreter in the 1627 Colonial Village, but last winter he was working with Kate Smith and Norman Kennedy at Eaton Hill Textile Works in Vermont.

So, said Justin, have you thought about using a hand-woven silk for the lining? Maybe naturally dyed? No, I hadn’t, but obviously it’s a great idea. I’ll do up a little sample? he said, And see what you think? Oh, yes, please. I thought blue, since the embroidery pattern, and thus the colors, are coming from #1359-1900, which is lined in blue. Besides, there’s something irresistible about indigo, don’t you think?

The sample came, much faster than I would have expected, a little snip of blue silk in plain weave, with impossibly fine warp and weft. The silk is fine, but with a crisp hand not unlike taffeta, but not so crunchy.

Blue silk lining sample and threads.We put it up next to the blue silk and light blue GST – and look. What did we think? Fabulous. Late last week Justin sent me some photos and details of the silk production process so far. I’ll be sharing them with you over the next few days.


May 1st, 2008 by Jill Hall

Anne’s leaf.of yesterday’s stitchers and their work.

First, here’s Anne and her leaf, embroidered on the coif. Thanks to Robbin for this great picture.

Here are a couple of pictures of Tricia, Sarah and Susan. I love how Tricia curls up in a chair to work on these big frames. No matter how huge they are, she looks cozy and comfortable, not like she’s wrestling with a bulletin board (which is how I feel, and probably look.)Stitching on April 30th.

UK stitchersWe had another Sarah in stitching yesterday. Sarah R is 11 years old and was in the office trying on period clothing – she’s going to portray a young colonist in the Village occasionally this summer. She was fascinated with the embroidery and Tricia explained just what was going on and why. Then Tricia got her a doodle cloth and some floss, and this is what she did! The bear faceSarah R’s first embroidery and the “S” are Sarah’s, and they were her first embroidery. The Project once again inspires a newbie to pick up a needle.

We’ve got a birthday and an anniversary coming up. May 15 is the blog’s birthday – one year since we started this online community. We’ve got an embroidery and lacing session May 16-19; I think we’ll be having some birthday celebrations!

The June 20 – 23 session is our anniversary – that weekend last year was the first time we gathered to work on the jacket. It seems so long ago, especially judging by the pieces. Back then, those first embroiderers really had to take their courage in hand to make the first stitches on the huge blank linen pieces. And then, after a whole day’s work, or a whole FOUR days’ work, there would be . . . two buds and a trefoil. Or a bud and two leaves. What a leap of faith on all our parts, believing that others would come after and keep filling in, that the Gilt Sylke Twist thread would get made, that the lacers would join us, that the spangles’ mysteries would be revealed. . . . I think there will be some festivities that weekend as well.

There’s still room in both sessions. Email me. jhall@plimoth.org

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