Tagged ‘Kathy’

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).

Spangle Making

April 17th, 2008 by Jill Hall

Mark in the Crafts Center.Last Friday the embroiderers at our April session got an unexpected treat – Mark was working in the Crafts Center making spangles. Lots of Mark’s work isn’t suitable to the Crafts Center, requiring a big fire like it does, but this work is great for that space.Mark in the Crafts Center cutting spangles.

Wendy and Tricia took photos and also video, I believe. Wendy sent me these photos.

The spangle maker’s work bench in the Crafts Center at Plimoth Plantation.Two tubes of the silver thread for the lace making arrived in the mail from Tricia this morning. Carolyn sent a note that she and Wendy will be down week after next to wind bobbins. Carolyn will finish off the wing piece that Bryce did, and start the next piece so Jill H can work when she comes in May.

Joann G’s embroidery sample arrived a couple of days ago and Kathy sent a big pile of embroidery kits out. Those of you who were waiting for kits, they’re on their way. I think that’s all the news for today.The Spangle Maker’s display.

Day Two

June 20th, 2007 by Jill Hall

Day Two is in the books. I’m amazed at how quickly some of the stitching is going; one embroiderer has completed everything that can be done on her frame (it was one of the smaller ones, but still!). Some parts can’t be worked until the threads arrive, and all the goldwork has to wait till last. So she’s sharing a frame – two people working on opposite ends of one of the larger frames. I’ll try to get a picture of that tomorrow.

A huge thank you goes to Tricia Wilson Nguyen, Wendy White, and Justyna Teverovsky of Tokens and Trifles for donating kits for this sweet needlebook to all the stitchers. This project was designed by Wendy using motifs adapted from one of Plimoth Plantation’s samplers, which we’ll see Friday.

Another huge thank you goes to Ann Blalock of Coats & Clark, for donating the threads for the kits, and supporting embroidery outreach in general. Tokens and Trifles plans to donate kits for all the stitching sessions, ‘personalized’ with the dates of each session, as you can see on the back here.

Thank you doesn’t even approach what is due Kathy and Laura. Wendy nicknamed Laura ‘our girl Friday’ because she’s everywhere something needs to be done. This whole week would be impossible without Laura’s good humor and willing hands and Kathy’s quiet attention to every detail.

Here are a few pictures of the progressing embroidery. My photography doesn’t do them justice. The bits of embroidery look like little jewels on the mostly-still-black-and-white pieces. Every day there are more jewels. The stitchers are now working mostly on their own, giving Tricia time to trace off a right-side-up coif pattern, and transfer it to linen. No silly paper hats today.

Wendy and Kris bagged the next batch of kits, which are waiting for one more element and then should go out Monday.

I have been taking notes on what’s working schedule-wise. I’m thinking next time we’ll have to build in a time for show & tell. Several people have brought in original embroidered pieces or latest new creations for us all to admire during breaks.

I spent quite a bit of time walking around in the humidity, planning tomorrow’s Needle Arts Studio filming. It should be a great show. I’ll post the airdate when we know it. Likely it will air in early 2008.

See you tomorrow.

ALMOST the Last Minute

June 18th, 2007 by Jill Hall

First, the new arrivals: samples came today from Irene A, Ann B, and Patricia E.

Today Tricia and Kris brought down everything else we needed for tomorrow. Wendy, Kris and Ann showed up (or were drafted) a day early to help. Most of the day we worked in the Colonial Wardrobe Department’s big workroom.

Lots happened today: pieces of linen with patterns drawn in ink were stitched to the canvas strips of slate frames (here’s Laura working on that);

The frames were assembled and the linen pieces laced onto the side bars of the frames to maintain correct working tension (Kris in the foreground lacing, Wendy on the other end of the couch stitching linen to a frame);

Tricia traced a section of the master pattern onto a triangle-shaped piece of paper so we can make that forehead cloth I told you about last week. A little later, she transferred the pattern from the paper to a piece of linen, which was then sewn & laced into a frame.

Late in the afternoon, we moved to Accomack, which is where we’ll be working most of this week.

Here’s Kris & Laura putting together some floor stands. These will hold the framed pieces of linen. The stands are adjustable for height and angle of working to suit the embroiderer. Those boxes on the table on the right hold four daylight lamps with magnifiers; we unpacked them a few minutes later.

Ann sorted the spools of silk into boxes. The boxes will go on the tables so supplies are in easy reach. Don’t they look like bags of candy?

I didn’t get any pictures of it, but Kathy and Laura moved all the supplies we’ll need for coffee & tea breaks and meals to Accomack, and set everything up. It looks beautiful.

We left Accomack by 6:00 pm, well ahead of schedule. Tricia referred to doing things at the last minute a couple of times today. I’ve seen The Last Minute (remember those ambitious exhibits I told you about?) and this wasn’t it. I even got home in time to post tonight. We’ll all be back by 9:30 tomorrow morning to meet the rest of this session’s embroiderers.

Samples Received!

June 14th, 2007 by Jill Hall

Samples received! Maybe there was a holdup at the post office, or something, because we got FOUR samples late yesterday.

Samples from Norma B, Rosemary C, Margaret H, and Carol S have safely arrived and been logged in by Laura.

Today, Kathy and I discovered a miscommunication, which will mean we’ll be in a different room on Friday. Later, I also discovered this was my mistake. Sorry, Kathy. We have Accomack reserved for Tuesday – Thursday, but on Thursday night we’ll have to move. We have our choice of alternate rooms, though, and I’m not worried. Actually, I’m relieved. I’m thinking (but shh, don’t say it too loudly) that this is the Big Glitch and now that we’ve found it and made a contingency plan we won’t have any more surprises. We’ll see.

The last of the five new role-players started work in the 1627 English Village today. His wardrobe is ‘thin’, which is shorthand for ‘yikes! He needs more clothes right away!’ but the heat’s off for the moment. And he’s so good-natured and easy to please he made me feel like I’d given him robes of cloth of gold, not a baggy brown linen cassock.

Other than that, it was a pretty quiet day. I took a few hours off to attend an event at my son’s first-grade class. Tricia’s kids are out of school and her family is taking some R&R for a couple of days, but I have a feeling she’s brought her work with her, even though we didn’t talk on the phone today.

It’s time for some more gratitude. Tricia wrote this section but the heartfelt ‘thank you’ comes from both of us:

The Wisnefski Foundation made a generous donation which made it possible for us to have the Needle Arts Studio episode shot at Plimoth Plantation. The show had no budget for a location shoot, which this project really required. Without the Wisnefski Foundation’s support, we would not have been able to take advantage of this opportunity.

Buffalo Sampler Guild – Visiting here just after the project was proposed to me, the guild was very helpful in brainstorming how the greater community could be involved. Many of the suggestions made were implemented (including this blog from their youngest teenage member!). They also did a great job of keeping the project ‘secret’ for us.Jeannine’s Sampler Seminar – Jeannine Koons allowed me to tack on a extra talk at the last minute to pre-announce the project to her attendees so that we could gauge interest and start collecting names of interested stitchers. She also directed two businesses, Thistle Threads and Books-and-More to donate their traditional 10% of gross sales at the boutique to the project. These funds were used to help support the hiring of the crew for the PBS filming which will happen next week.

Celebration of Needlework – Pam found a spot for a special lecture on the project to solicit stitchers. They also made a donation to the project for materials.

Happy Flag Day.

Why Not?

June 13th, 2007 by Jill Hall

“So, want to make a coif and forehead cloth to go with the jacket?” Tricia asked me that a few weeks ago, during the time that she was wrestling with how to get all the jacket pieces out of one piece of linen and still be able to fit the pieces into the frames we had (or thought we could get). My first thought was that the stress of the impossible puzzle had finally sent her around the bend. In my mind the jacket alone was still looming as a gargantuan goal and a logistical nightmare. This coif & forehead cloth wasn’t exactly a new idea, though. Months before, when we were laying out this project in broad strokes, one of the goals I outlined was to increase the embroidery skills and knowledge base of the Colonial Wardrobe Dept staff. Expanding skills is a worthy object on its own, but ultimately I was intending to create a coif and forehead cloth to match the jacket, like the suite of entirely metal thread embroidered jacket, coif, and forehead cloth in the collection of Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts. So my second thought was “why not?” Why not indeed. So we’ll be working on a coif and forehead cloth too, over these next months. Why not.

Thanks to Libbet, who left a comment confirming my suspicion that an embroidered coif & forehead cloth in the Burrell Collection is displayed upside down and backwards. I was hesitant to say so definitely, only having seen it in a photograph, but it is put together upside down and the forehead cloth is sewn on with the point going the wrong way. This is an easy mistake to make, especially if one has never tried to wear a coif; yet another example of how doing can teach you things even long and careful looking won’t reveal.

A forehead cloth, or in some period records, a cross cloth, is a triangle with tape or ties on two points. It is like the kerchiefs that were popular a few years ago and in the 1970s. It was worn in the 17th century over a coif, with the point facing forward, towards the forehead. They seem to have been part of informal wear, sometimes worn to bed.

Thanks also to the several ambitious embroiderers, some working solo, some in teams, who have left comments or sent notes to say that they are also working on embroidered jackets. If you send me some pictures (less than 3MB each) I’ll post some, so we can see what you’re doing and cheer you on.

Most of the daily work on this project right now is focused on getting ready for the first bee, which will start in less than a week (really? Next week already?). Much of what we’re doing, while necessary, is unglamorous and doesn’t seem particularly blog-worthy. For instance, today Kathy, Laura and I decided how many of each kind of table (small round and long rectangular) we’ll need, and in what arrangement. Not very exciting, but needed to be done. We’ve made lists of supplies we need – power strips, extension cords, nametags, coffee mugs. We’ve ordered a bunch of stuff and are crossing our fingers that it will all arrive in time, including daylight lamps, boxes to store supplies on the stitching tables, scissors for those boxes, and frame parts. I know Tricia is working on the master instruction book, which will have all the motifs and what colors & stitches they should be worked in.

I haven’t received any samples since Friday; I’ll keep noting here when I do so you’ll know yours arrived safely.


June 1st, 2007 by Jill Hall

Hey, it’s JUNE. The month in which we’ll begin the real, actual embroidery. I’m excited.

Today we changed the room we’ll be stitching in for the June session. I have to say; never in my wildest dreams for this project did I imagine we’d have to deal with what to do with too many people. I had scary visions in which NO ONE wanted to work on the jacket. I had scary visions in which we couldn’t find appropriate materials. I had scary visions of the whole thing taking way too long. But never did I dream we’d have more embroiderers than we could fit.

So we decided to move from the medium-sized room in the Visitors’ Center that has pretty good light to a much bigger room in a building across the path. This building, called Accomack, has plenty of space with lots of windows, but the lighting in the center of the room is not great. We thought buying lamps would be easier than being crammed into a too-small room. This reminds me; if you’re accustomed to working with a magnifier, please bring it along. And the chairs are wooden, so if you think you’d like a cushion, please bring one.

Kathy is also sticking pins in me about the schedule for the session. I’m working on it, and so far can say for certain that we’ll be checking in Tuesday the 19th beginning at 9:30 am in Plimoth Plantation’s Henry Hornblower II Visitors’ Center. We’ll begin stitching at 10:30 am in Accomack. We’ll end this session on Friday afternoon at 4:00 pm so those with a long drive can get started early. I have promised Kathy that I’ll send a proper, detailed schedule to the June participants before Monday morning. I will of course also post it here.

So speaking of the scary visions of not finding appropriate materials, the lovely new linen is still languishing in customs, but we no longer care. Tricia pretty much cornered the market on any of this linen already in the US and came up with one piece large enough to make the entire jacket. We really wanted to avoid cutting from two separate pieces because of concerns about differences in dye lot. After a lot of fiddling and figuring and planning and plotting, Tricia was able to make the largest piece work.

Next step is tracing the pattern shapes onto the linen, and then tracing the embroidery pattern on. All of which she’s going to take pictures of so we can share. Meanwhile, I’ll be making canvas cases in which to store & transport the frames, once the linen is mounted on them.

One last thing, some folks have had trouble finding Kathy’s contact info, so here it is again:

Kathy Roncarati, 508-746-1622 X 8114 or kroncarati@plimoth.org

And here’s mine: Jill M. Hall, 508-746-1622 X 8119 or jhall@plimoth.org

© 2003-2011 Plimoth Plantation. All rights reserved.

Plimoth Plantation is a not-for-profit 501 (c)3 organization, supported by admissions, grants, members, volunteers, and generous contributors.