Tagged ‘Robbin’

Never a Dull Moment

June 21st, 2008 by Jill Hall

FIRST: You didn’t miss anything, tatting has nothing to do with early 17th century fiber arts – Kate is just interested in almost ALL the fiber arts, whatever their origin. She doesn’t tat on site here, either as an interpreter or in the Crafts Center.

The day in pictures:

A beehive of activity.Here is the workroom, which is a beehive of activity, photo courtesy of Robbin.

The Mayflower Sampler Guild came this morning, partly to see the jacket work but especially to see the EC sampler, which they gave $1000 to help conserve. They really enjoyed their visit, but because I didn’t think to ask their permission, I can’t post the photos Robbin took. Five of them bought embroidery kits, and there’s talk of organizing a stitching session for them to come as a group. We’veLacey’s ambitious project. had a couple of sets of friends come together to stitch, and they (and we) have really enjoyed that. Don’t be scared, just sign up. Bring your sampler if you want help, and we’ll help you figure it out. I never did a bit of this kind of embroidery until last winter, and now I’m stitching the detached pieces that will be sewn over the pea pods. A little practice and you won’t want to stop.

Lacey took on a very ambitious project a couple of days ago. Beth, one of the interpreters in the 1627 English Village, needed her stays altered. The front cups weren’t comfortable for her, so Lacey took out the stitching, extended it to the top edge, and reboned the fronts. It was also too big around, so Lacey cut the back down, redid the boning and put in new grommets. It was ambitious because it all had to be done on Beth’s weekend; she needs to wear it tomorrow morning. And here it is finished!

First and only.Because it is our anniversary session, Marcia made us a special dessert. When I mentioned that, several people said, aren’t all her desserts special? How much more special does it get? This much specialer. It’s as delicious as it looks – chocolate ricotta cake, or as Marcia’s son-in-law calls it, cannoli cake.One year later.

And speaking of old friends, look who came today! Laura, “our girl Friday”, last year’s intern, without whom I never would have made it through last summer. It was so good to see her. The four of us here, Robbin, me, Wendy and Laura, were also here for the very first stitching session last summer. There will be no cake with a “2″ on it, believe me.

Laura’s first lace lesson.Laura got very interested in the bobbin lace, and here is Robbin giving her a first lesson on the starter pillow Carolyn has left here for that very purpose.

It was a good day.

Just Text

May 21st, 2008 by Jill Hall

I think my home computer is looking for a little (hopefully little) monetary expression of our affection. It’s refusing to open or edit pictures, or just about anything else that requires any thought. Maybe its jealous of all the time I’ve been spending with the laptop at work.

At any rate, instead of pretty pictures tonight we have just text. The end of the May session went fine, as I found out yesterday, except for my brain cramp regarding notifying Marcia about allergies. Sunday’s lunch covered just about every allergy possible but thankfully everyone realized it in time and there were no trips to the ER. Luckily there were some super-yummy leftovers that stepped in to cover my mistake.

Saturday night Laura and I had a hugely profitable discussion about construction techniques for the eventual sewing-together part of the jacket project, ably assisted by Robbin and Jen who quickly hunted up every photo we wanted to look at.

Kris A came in on Monday after five days in a Japanese embroidery class, and continued to work on the jacket Tuesday and Wednesday. Yesterday I asked her if she wasn’t tired of embroidering. “This is what I do,” she replied “well, what I’d do all the time if I could, anyway.” Yep, the whole eating and sleeping thing wicked gets in the way of my fiber time too. Pictures tomorrow.

We Get Mail

May 3rd, 2008 by Jill Hall

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.


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

True Confessions

April 7th, 2008 by Jill Hall

I haven’t blogged three out of the last four nights because I simply can’t think of anything to say. Nothing new has happened since about 10 days ago when Carolyn and Robbin worked on the real lace. I’ve been taking this project one bite at a time for over a year (remember the old joke about how to eat an elephant? One bite at a time…) and right now there just isn’t another bite on the fork.

Don’t mistake me – there’s plenty left to do. More silk embroidery (more trefoils!) more GST embroidery, more lace (WAY more lace!). And there are more things to figure out – how to manage the gold work, how to marshall the legions who’d like to sew on sequins, and don’t even mention the whole putting-it-together part (no, really, DON’T mention it!). And then when it’s finally done, there’ll be the creating an exhibit to go with it.

But right now, this week, no decisions or choices are in the offing. We’ve got an embroidery session starting on Friday, the first one with embroiderers AND lace makers working at the same time. That’ll be exciting. And hopefully some of them will bring some show & tell that I can then share with you. But right now…..

So, if you have any wonderments, anything you wish I’d explain, anything I explained so long ago you don’t remember where we’re coming from, anything at all, let me know.

Even embroidered birds have to eat.To make up for assigning you the blog for the next couple of days, I’ll leave you with a picture. This is a detail of a gorgeous 17th century raised-work embroidery which belongs to Joanna Hill, a textile conservator and friend of Tricia’s. Joanna so kindly brought this embroidery to a couple of sessions last summer and let us all get really close to it and take lots of pictures. It’s the only real 17th century artifact I can actually post pictures of here. I love that the bird has a bug in its beak. Ewww.

More Hands

March 26th, 2008 by Jill Hall

Alex’s peapod.

On February 29, our intern Alex worked on the jacket for the first time. Here are her hands stitching a peapod.

Myrna working reverse chain outline pansy.At that session we also had another new embroiderer, Myrna. Melanie Anne decided that the state of Maine was under-represented among the embroidery corps, so she persuaded her friend to come down with her. Myrna is pretty new to this type of embroidery so she practiced for the morning and then worked reverse chain outlines.

The last picture for today is of Melanie Anne stitching a thistle top in Gilt Sylke Twist bisse.

Melanie Anne working a thistle in Gilt Sylke Twist.

The office was a little beehive today, with five volunteers joining us. The hand sewing on three shirts was finished plus part of a fourth was done; a great deal of stab-stitching on a pair of breeches and a cassock was also accomplished. Meredith spent part of her birthday volunteering; we wish her many happy returns of the day. I got a phone lesson from Rich on managing the new forum, and Robbin volunteered to help moderate, which offer I immediately and gratefully accepted. Welcome to everyone who signed up, and if you haven’t checked it out yet, please go see.

Forum’s Up

March 24th, 2008 by Jill Hall

I was planning to address some of the questions in the recent comments, but Robbin has done an admirable and really thorough job. Thanks, Robbin. I was a little swamped, with opening and then a come-to-my-house holiday in the same weekend.

The bottom line on the session schedules is – we’re flexible. I am scheduling the lacers carefully to make sure that on each lacer’s first day one of our two mentors/moderators/detail people is able to come. Robbin and Carolyn have generously offered to help us all stay on the same page and keep the lace looking as much like one lacer made it as is possible. Other than knowing what your first day will be, we’re open to people coming in early, leaving early, skipping a day, coming later, what have you. If you have specific concerns, just let me know. If you’d like to come for only part of a weekend, let me know so I can try to get another lacer to work the pillow the other days. But really, not to worry. These weekends are supposed to be a special treat for you to devote uninterrupted time to work you love to do and enjoy a community of people working together to accomplish a major goal. Be easy.

Hey, we have another toy! I mean tool. But aren’t they the same, really? Rich has set up a forum for us. Look at the top right column for the link, and register and start a conversation. Thanks to Kar who asked for this opportunity, and thanks to Rich who jumped on the idea and made it happen. I wrote to him this afternoon, that if anyone had told me last year that by now I’d be blogging and have a forum and doing all these other techno-things I’m doing I simply wouldn’t have believed it. It’s good to learn new things.

I’m looking forward to Friday and Saturday, when Carolyn and Robbin will be setting things up for beginning the lace. I should have some handsome pictures, too. The hurdles are falling one by one.

Of birds, and lace

February 17th, 2008 by Jill Hall

The bird on the blog header is indeed the same as the bird on the jacket, as Mary says in the comments. The bird on the jacket will be a little smaller, though, and the stitches may be a little different. Since we traced and Tricia worked that sample we’ve received more detailed photos of the original. Last I talked with Tricia about the bird she was musing that there might be something more interesting and complicated going on than she’d first thought. She has to study the photos some more, and maybe consult with Ms North at the V&A. I can’t wait to see what she finds out. Of course we’ll share with you too.

robbin workingSpeaking of sharing, tonight I have pictures of Robbin (of the laptop donation) and one of her treasures. Robbin brought in the piece of antique Honiton lace that was her wedding veil.Honiton

I learned that Honiton lace takes its name from the place in the west of England where it has been traditionally made. Honiton is worked in pieces or motifs and sewn to a net ground. Long ago the net was made by hand, but the piece Robbin has dates from around 1900 and the net is likely machine made. Robbin explained that Honiton was made by the cottage system, where workers made individual lace motifs which were then put together to make big pieces of lace. A worker might make one motif, the small flower with leaves perhaps, over and over and over and over.

Robbin bought this piece of lace intending it for her veil and then shopped for a dress to go with it, like the dedicated textile lover she is. Here’s a detail of the veil.

Robbin also brought her lace pillow with her sample lace still affixed. She thought I would like to see it that way, and take pictures for the blog. She was right. I was fascinated to see the lace on the pricking with some of the pins still in, and the bobbins still attached. Robbilaceonpillown was careful to mention that these bobbins are not the kind recommended for working the sample, but she has lots of them and not lots of the recommended (Dutch) kind. They worked tolerably well, she thought, and was willing to put up with their drawbacks as it was less trouble than hunting up enough pairs of the other.

These are the lace bobbins with spangles – bobbin spangles, not the kind of spangles that will be worked into the lace. Yeesh, this is confusing.

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