Tagged ‘trellis stitch’

Holy Spangles, Bat Girl!

October 28th, 2008 by Tricia

The title of this post was Wendy’s reaction to my email that the Laton Jacket was sitting in front of me ready for inspection.  I loved it.

Back to the jacket, Wendy had a number of questions for me pertaining to the embroidery on 1359-1900.  They all centered around one issue – “did we figure it out right????”  The great thing was that I didn’t find many elements that we had been mistaken about.  Phew.  But there was one which really surprised me.  The carnation (or pink) calyx was actually stitched in trellis stitch on most of the jacket and not detached buttonhole like we did.  It took awhile to figure out how we
were wrong about that one.  But then I noticed that the two carnations/pink calyx (so what is the plural of calyx?) on the back of the jacket were stitched with detached buttonhole and this was the only photography we had at the time.

My goal when I entered the storage room for both the V&A and EG was to photograph a close up of every motif on the piece so I could go back later and look at this type of detailing which I wouldn’t have time to systematically do at the piece.  I achieved that goal with over 1000 pictures total. Thank heavens for digital!  I think it will take months to review the data as questions come up.  But I am trying to record what I learned immediately in the blog while it is sharp in my mind.

Here is our calyx.  Even though we are wrong on some…we aren’t taking them out now!


Bird – Beak and Feet

October 15th, 2008 by Tricia

We haven’t worked the birds on the piece yet as we had questions about some of the detailing and were awaiting my trip to examine the EG piece closer. The birds on the EG piece are in yellows and greens with blue beak and feet. The jacket has red, green, pink and yellow as the color scheme. But the left over silk that had degraded from the beaks and feet were in a tan color.

The one bird on the EG panel has a complete set of feet and beak. I was happy to find a combination of reverse chain and stem stitch on the feet and a heavy ceylon for the beak. All set, I thought. But when I saw the jacket the next day, there was a beak on one bird. Worked in trellis stitch. The legs were a little different too. Reverse chain and satin stitch at the top to help give the impression of a thigh.

Another thing I noted was the use of the blended thread for the motifs. It shows up in the bird to make transitions between the stripes of color in the body and head. The body is worked in trellis
and the head in spiral trellis. The wings were another spot where we had questions. The wings are made of of segments of stitches worked in different colors of silk and silver gilt thread. The segments are outlined in black. Two birds were worked with heavy chain and ceylon, but the third had more variety with plaited braid and a fly stitch thrown in.

On the EG panel, the wings segments were worked with plaited braid and heavy twisted chain all in silver gilt and silver threads. It is interesting to see how the same overall scheme is used on both pieces and motif to motif but there are slight variations. I am not sure if this is hand differences or just bored embroiderers. The black outline seems to be a combination of stem stitch and reverse chain. Hard to tell if one or both were used as the black thread gets brittle and pieces snap away, leaving just holes in many areas.

To give you some eye candy – here you see the time trial piece I stitched from the book photos of the jacket.  From afar, the stitches on the bird wings appeared to be the braid stitch/knot stitch. Now we know it is different. For all of you who slaved over learning this stitch in the sample kit, sorry!


Thank God for Stash

August 13th, 2008 by Tricia

Tricia’s FlorilegiumSometimes we all come by some book and decide to buy it and later think that you may have been crazy to have done it. Years ago I bought a modern copy of The Besler Florilegium, which was originallyborage-13.jpg published in 1613. It is huge and used to hold my computer up. But I have used it many times on this project to look up the flowers on the project to help confirm that it is what we think it is or some
detail. It came in handy last night on the borage.

The borage from the florilegium.When we made the pattern for the embroidery, we traced the existing embroidery and the borage looked like there were just two rows of black in the center. We worked it yesterday as we can see it on the piece. But the placement of the pistils just didn’t look right to me. As I was working on the instructions for the books, I pasted in pictures of the original and noted that some of the borages had a few more rows. Hmmmm, I thought. Might the center have been filled entirely with black and did it degrade over time? I have been working on another project with a blackwork nightcap and have been studying where the black threads cleave from the surface of the linen and so the pattern I was seeing on this borage made sense that there may have been more. Hence looking up of the borage in the Besler Florilegium. It isn’t a flower I am familiar with and I wanted to see how aWhat the finished borage should really look like - and now does. period interpretation of the flower looked. As you can see here, the center is a cone of ivory and black framed by the pistils. There was the answer, our borage is a funny projection and I needed to go back and add more black trellis stitches immediately! Here you see our new ‘finished borage’. Much better.


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

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.

Trellis Trials

May 9th, 2008 by Jill Hall

The other day I decided it was time to branch out beyond the detached buttonhole stitch. I hadn’t worried about the other stitches since there was (and still is) so much buttonhole to do.

trellis first tryHere’s my first try at trellis stitch. I gave up halfway through the shape, hopelessly confused. (If you click on “trellis stitch” it should link you to the directions for it. I hope.)

Here’s my second try. Much better, although it is only one color, not stripes like the butterfly bodies ontrellis take two the jacket, but you have to start somewhere. Next time I’ll try putting in a stripe.

I share these ugly trials with you in the hopes of encouraging anyone who is afraid to try the stitches or afraid to come embroider; a little practice makes a big difference, I’m finding, and one of the objectives of the whole project is to encourage embroiderers to try new techniques (these ones; when the jacket’s done you can try OTHER new techniques). Incidentally, another of the objectives was to increase the embroidery knowledge base of the Colonial Wardrobe Department staff. Check.

Guests for Lunch

February 9th, 2008 by Jill Hall


Today we had special guests join us for lunch. Jonny and Shelley spend much of their time caring for the rare breed animals in the 1627 English Village. That brief sentence doesn’t begin to capture all they do (I realize I say that often about the staff here, but it’s always true). They build and mend fences, feed and water, clean pens, train the cattle to walk and stand and greet visitors, and lots of other things. This session’s embroiderers enjoyed talking with them about their work but even better was petting Winter, a baby boy goat. That’s Shelley and Winter.

pansynumberthreeThere were frames enough for Wendy to stitch today. She’s working on the first pansy. Several motifs, pansies included, are not worked identically over the whole jacket. Some of the honeysuckle, for instance, are cream on the inner part of the petals and yellow on the outer parts; on some of them the colors are reversed. Tricia has identified at least four different ways pansies were worked on the jacket, and where on each piece the variations occur. Wendy was working a #3 pansy on the lower jacket back today.

Karin has been embroidering with us, too. Karin is the Curator of Originals for Plimoth Plantation, and has generously made time in her busy schedule to show each session’s embroiderers the samplers in the collection. Here she’s working trellis stitch butterfly bodies (striped!) on the coif. Thanks to Wendy again for all the photos. I left my camera on the computer desk at home. Karin

Believe it or not, we left tonight in the snow. I made sure everyone had the information to find out if Plimoth is closed tomorrow due to weather, but the meteorologists are promising these are just isolated snow showers with no appreciable accumulation. Is it any wonder I’m getting a little paranoid, though?

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