Tagged ‘Stitches’

Not So Much Seeing

July 17th, 2008 by Jill Hall

Another thing I’ve found, now that I’m working on the embroidery with something approaching regularity, is that once I get going, feeling the work is just as important as seeing it.

I was wondering if working in the Crafts Center would slow me down a little or a lot; most of the point of being there is to engage the museum’s visitors in conversation, after all. I thought looking up and down would cause me to lose my place and focus and impede progress. What I’ve found, though, is that people are quite happy to watch the work and don’t always need eye contact to keep the conversation going, for one thing. For another, feeling with the needle where the next stitch goes is really effective – both the detached buttonhole and trellis require you to loop the next row of stitches through the previous row. If you’re encountering resistance you likely haven’t got the right spot. I don’t mean to say I’m stitching without looking, only that looking up frequently doesn’t slow the work and is probably better for my eyes anyway.

Tonight, Tricia’s directions for the detached buttonhole needlelace. This is what she named the stitch for the completely detachable pieces, the pea pod covers and the butterfly over-wings. These three stitches (this one, trellis and detached buttonhole, links to which I posted earlier this week) are the most important right now. If you’re practicing, work on these.

See Robbin’s note in the comments about working trellis stitch up vs down; Tricia will send us a note too I’m sure and I’ll post that when we get it.

About the symposium conflicting with Rosh Hashanah, could someone let me know which parts of the weekend specifically conflict with observing the holiday? Linda left a comment about whether a person could attend the parts that don’t conflict, and in order to answer that or arrange things that way I’d need more information. Thanks. ETA: the symposium dates have been changed so as not to conflict with Rosh Hashanah. The New Dates are 24-27 September. jmh

Lace sample received from Linda K and embroidery sample from Nicole R. Thanks to both.

And Superhuman Eyesight

July 14th, 2008 by Jill Hall

Tonight, Tricia’s Trellis Stitch Directions

The other thing visitors to the Crafts Center often say to me is, “you must have really good eyes.” Umm, no, actually. My eyesight is so poor that whenever I order new glasses the technician delicately suggests I go for the ultralight lenses “so they won’t look so thick.” I think my glasses correct my vision to almost – but not quite – 20/20.

Many people use magnifying lenses to work on the jacket. Good light plus my almost-coke-bottle glasses work fine for me. One thing I wonder, though, and seems to me true, can you train your eyes like your other muscles? When I first tried this work I had more of a hard time than I’m having now, after several months of practice. Can your eyes get used to seeing fine work like your arms can get used to picking up heavy bundles?

Colleen asked in the comments why I scheduled the Symposium to conflict with Rosh Hashanah. Not on purpose, but not completely unaware either. We had to schedule around other events at Plimoth, staying aware of (and avoiding) high visitation periods, and try to take advantage of hotel availability. We also tried hard to avoid known needlework events at other museums. Plus early autumn is a very pleasant time of year to visit Plymouth. I know we’re going to lose potential attendees because of the holiday and because we’re scheduled opposite a conference on furnishing fabrics at (I think) Colonial Williamsburg that same weekend. Sorry. ETA: The dates have been changed. The Symposium no longer conflicts with Rosh Hashanah. Please note the NEW dates are 24-27 September. jmh

Extraordinary Patience

July 12th, 2008 by Jill Hall

I’m going to re-post Tricia’s excellent stitch instructions, in the downloadable pdfs that she has made available for the good of this project and the spread of embroidery knowledge. Please let me know if they don’t work for you, I’m trying a new way to do this. Here’s the first – detached buttonhole needlelace directions.

For the past two Sundays I have worked on the jacket (right front) in the Crafts Center. In the Crafts Center, modern artisans demonstrate 17th-century trades while creating artifacts for use on our sites or for sale in the museum’s gift shop. I’ve been so deep in this project for getting on two years now that it is very refreshing to show and talk about it with people who have never heard of this adventure before. Not to mention what a treat it is to have an entire day just to embroider and talk about one of my favorite subjects.

It is interesting, though, and I’m sure you’ve heard it too; many people remark that I must have a great deal of patience, or at least much more patience than they. The real truth, I think, is that everyone has something they do that others would find tedious or irksome or downright crazy-making. I know there are people who own long-haired pets and comb and/or brush them daily. And enjoy it. Amazing, and inconceivable to me. Yet I’ll sit still for hours making tiny loops and knots in fine thread, taking seven hours to cover maybe 4 square inches. Go figure.

I’ll be embroidering the jacket in the Crafts Center on Sunday July 20, Sunday July 27, and Sunday August 3. If you’re in the area, stop by and say hello.

The Directions

July 4th, 2008 by Jill Hall

Tricia’s Blog #3:

There are several sets of “Plaited Braid” directions out there. Excuse me if I don’t mention one you are aware of, but please let us know as it will help us solve this mystery!

The first is a set diagrammed by Mrs. Archibald Christie (Samplers & Stitches, 1920) that is often duplicated in other publications. I and others have found it difficult to understand and very difficult to work. To date, I haven’t been able to make it work without pins and an extra elbow.

The second is a set decoded by Elizabeth Creeden and diagrammed by *** (JILL PLEASE PUT HER NAME HERE mmm. not as easy as it sounds. I found the directions – but no one is credited for the illustrations. I think it was either Die Hoxie, Joanna Kline Cadorette, or Joanna’s father, Mr. Kline) and published by Plimoth as part of a coif pattern. I have used this set in many of my pieces. It has a lot of strength in that it works fast and easily. I mention this because a stitch used across a large piece would have to be relatively easy to work and not require any extra steps to make the stitch look uniform. But the stitch doesn’t look like the one on our jacket.

Two ends of Soie Ovale instead of three.The third set was published by Leon Conrad in Fine Lines (Summer 2003). Another stitcher, Linda Connors, took Leon’s directions and expanded them using more pictures and additional graphics to make it even easier to read. This version results in a stitch which is indistinguishable from the gold embroidery on the jacket we are attempting to reproduce. These directions also “truck”, as I am apt to say in the workroom. They work fast once you get going. And as we have found during the project, that is an important distinction when trying to determine the stitch order. If it moves and flows naturally, it is most likely good. Time was money in that workroom.

This last set of directions will be the ones that we will use for the project. They are also the ones that were used to produce the stitch in the picture.


Yes, as mentioned in the comments, Fine Lines is now defunct. jmh

The Plaited Braid

July 3rd, 2008 by Jill Hall

Tricia writes today. This is the second of four blogs she sent me before she left for Europe for two weeks. I tend not to read ahead when she sends me a few at once, but this time I’ve checked, and she answers most of your questions in the next three entries. I was going to skip tomorrow as it is a holiday in the States, but I can’t do that to you . . . look for Tricia’s #3 tomorrow and #4 Saturday. I’ll take a stab at the unanswered questions on Sunday. She sent no photo with this entry; I’ll repost the one from a couple of days ago. I believe all the different lines of stitching are the same stitch with different gold threads. Before you wonder where that nearly completed book is, blame the jacket – I think some of the time she had set aside to finish that book on gold stitches was actually spent on this project. Mea culpa.

New trial against old.Well, we have been asked a million questions about Plaited Braid over the last few months. And there has been a very lively set of exchanges between Jill, myself, other teachers, and readers of the blog who have been doing trials of their own. So I guess it is finally time to summarize this topic!

There are many people who have been on the trail of ‘Plaited Braid’ for years. I will try to recognize as many here as I can dig up in my memory! That said, there are two subjects to talk about. First, when we say ‘Plaited Braid Stitch’, what do we identify as that stitch? The second is how to do it.

On the first topic, I have been working on a book of gold stitches taken from 16th and 17th century English samplers and embroideries for years. Nearly complete, I have found almost 40 individual stitches worked in gold with different mechanics. Very few of them are identified in stitch anthologies. Even more frustrating is the
existence of several ‘braid’ stitches. Because they are difficult to decode, they have always ended up on the back burner. Now I have been going through my research photos trying to answer these questions.

What I have found is that there seems to be at minimum two stitches which can be called ‘plaited braid’. For awhile I thought that maybe we were looking at stitch density differences or maybe a bad stitcher here and there. But I have located one spot sampler where a queen stitch motif is filled in with both of the variants. Even more compelling is that one is worked in silver and the other gold. They repeat along the pattern in the same positions, implying that the stitcher identified them as distinctly different stitches. While I can’t share the photos from the museum here, one has a single V going down the middle and the other looks more woven like a herringbone.

So I believe that there was a family of ‘braid stitches’. In this family I also place stitches with related stitch mechanics such as the knot stitch (often called Braid Stitch). Now this creates difficulty because when you examine the published diagrams for “plaited braid”, the authors haven’t identified the objects they worked from or shown pictures. Therefore it is hard to say if any one set of directions is

Tomorrow I will talk about the directions I am familiar with and which ones we will be using.


Selecting the Gold Thread

June 30th, 2008 by Jill Hall

Tricia writes today:

New trial against old.If you remember, months ago we were trying out gold threads for the plaited braid stitch. Bill Barnes of Golden Threads had made a silk core wrapped with gilt strip for us. When it stitched, it was just too stiff to use, which was a surprise to me. When I gave him my comments, he responded that he had used three ends of Soie Ovale for the core and would I wait a few weeks for another sample using just two ends. He was sure it would work. Well – always trust the master!

We finally got the sample two weeks ago (another one of those international shipping dramas delayed it). Shown here is the sample alone and also stitched next to the previous samples that I had done. The thread is thinner but it still gives a nice and dense plaited braid. More importantly, it stitches easily. Well, as easily as a gold thread can! So I gave the green light to have miles of it made.Two ends of Soie Ovale instead of three.

A big thanks goes out to Access Commodities who have been coordinating this for us. They are the distributor of Au Ver a Soie thread and supply the silks that Bill is using for the thread. Lamora’s expertise with international shipping is one of the prime reasons we can make this happen!


Hi Mary, I’m glad it made you laugh. jmh

Linda’s Butterfly

June 22nd, 2008 by Jill Hall

Linda’s butterfly.Linda H came all the way from Pennsylvania to work on the jacket this weekend. Here’s a pictLinda’s needlework.ure of Linda pointing out one of the motifs she worked, a butterfly.

Linda brought some of her needlework for show and tell, which was today. Here’s a picture of some of her stitching, which will be part of a beautiful needlework accessories book.

Wendy and Linda, unaware that they are about to really surprise me.Linda was inadvertently part of a very rude awakening I had today. Wendy was showing her some of the frames, and pointing out what remains to be done. I had thought that the plain worms were stitched in ceylon stitch, like thisThe suddenly not-done plain worms.. Ceylon stitch period. Stop. Done.

So Wendy was saying, “and then the worms get this funny wrapping thing.” And I said, “The Fancy Worms.” And Wendy said, “No, the plain worms.” And she started telling Linda how the wrapping is done. And I said “The Fancy Worms. The plain worms are done.” And Wendy said, “NO. The Plain Worms.” “WHAT?” So apparently the plain worms are NOT DONE. They need THIS is a finished plain worm.wrapping, like this. And I am getting used to that idea.

A couple of updates – Robbin explained in the comments that Laura didn’t have a name tag yesterday so we gave her a spare. Her grandmother’s name is Irene so she picked that one.

I ran into the interpreter whose stays Lacey altered over the last couple of days, and she was all appreciation. Her stays fit so much better and she is much more comfortable. The only problem now is her waistcoat is too big! We can fix that – over her next weekend.

What I did on Jury Duty

May 19th, 2008 by Jill Hall

I missed today, the last day of this session, due to a summons to jury duty. I had to go to Brockton, a city, not The Big City, but a city nonetheless. I am definitely a country mouse. Luckily I didn’t get lost, and I found a place to park. The next hurdle was to send my bags through the x-ray machine. Yep. Bags. I have a horror of idle time (I can see your heads nodding out there) so I had … a few things to do. And read.

“Empty your pockets in the tray” I was instructed. Then the project bag went through the machine and “WHAT have you got in there?” the security guard asked. I cringed. “ummm, knitting…” I replied faintly. Then more faintly still “and, umm, embroidery. I can put it back in the car,” I quickly offered, not wanting to cause a fuss and remembering the last jury duty (11 years ago) when I couldn’t bring in ANY needlework at all. The trauma is still fresh.

Fortunately this guard was more compassionate. “Oh, no, wait a minute.” He pulled out the ziploc bag that the jacket project sample kit is in. “I think, wait, what’ve you got in here?” Turns out I’d left a small pair of snips inside the little ziploc. He took those, giving me a receipt to ransom them with at dismissal, and I was on my way.

What I really had in that bag was two books (one for work, one for fun) and the latest issue of Spin-Off magazine; two knitting projects, one simple, one more complicated; and the embroidery sample kit. Fortunately I’d had the foresight to swipe my daughter’s thread cutter necklace before leaving the house so I was wicked in business.

I blissfully knitted my way through the necessary paperwork and jury instructions, dutifully trooped down and up the stairs to a courtroom but was never called. I practiced doing two-color trellis stitch. I tried the knot stitch. I worked on both the knitting projects. I had so much fibery fun I should’ve been paying for the privilege. Actually, now that I think about it, the only thing I didn’t get to at all was the book for work. And now I’m off the jury duty hook for three years.

Tomorrow I’ll find out how the end of the weekend went and share, along with more pictures.

© 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.