Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Three Faves from the Diligent Needle Exhibit

The great thing about visiting museums is that I never know what will strike me when I go.  Yet invariably,  each time I visit there is always something that sets my heart racing and my mind spinning with new ideas and desire.

It's most definitely fodder for the creative soul and so I give you the three pieces that made an impression on me when I visited the Diligent Needle exhibit at Winterthur Museum this past weekend.

By far, this drawnwork and needlelace sampler was my absolute favorite and it hasn't left my mind since I've gotten home...

Note the drawnwork flower basket that overreaches the stitched sawtooth border.  

Worked by Jane Little in 1793, probably in Chester County, Pennsylvania...

It is stitched with silk thread on linen ground.

And the basket combines embroidery with drawnwork and silk ribbon accents...isn't it sweet?

As are the drawnwork and needlelace flowers that it contains...

The ruched silk ribbons that were used to border the needlelace flower medallions just add to the loveliness of this sampler.  

My second favorite is this wool and silk needlework picture on canvas most likely stitched in America or Britain between 1880-1910...

I was struck by the filament silk over a petit point-style tent stitch.  I'd never seen the two combined like that and it gave me pause...

But check out this close up of the butterfly in the upper right corner.  Though I imagine that the colors have faded over time, the shading gives movement to both the butterfly and the background.    And the way that the eye of the butterfly is stitched gives it an anthropomorphic appearance.

There were lots of artistic choices made by the stitcher in this piece that elevated the work beyond a mere embroidered representation of a picture.  

Lastly, there was this silk bedcover professionally embroidered in England or France in the 1800s.

The central medallion depicts an ancient emblem known as the "pelican in her piety"...

A symbol of self-sacrifice associated with motherhood.

The rest of the bedcover is floral vines beautifully rendered.  

The spiky sepal of this rose is wonderful...

The Diligent Needle exhibit runs through July 5, 2015.  I hope you get a chance to travel there yourselves.

Happy stitching everyone!

Monday, October 27, 2014

The Diligent Needle Conference at Winterthur Museum

Pic courtesy of Winterthur website
This is the second time I've attended the conference, the first was three years ago in 2011 which I blogged about here.

This conference, by far, is the best needlework event I have ever attended.  The speakers and attendees come from many different fields of needlework application and study and the conference content is diverse and deep.

The event spans two days with each day beginning with four morning lectures provided by historians, curators, and experts in the field of textiles and embroidery.  This year some of my favorites topics included embroidered maps and globes, 17th century embroidered caskets and the people who made them, needlework samplers of older women, and a biographical mystery of gownmaker and embroiderer, Rebecca Dickinson.

After the lectures, there is an opportunity for two afternoon workshops/intensives which range from project-type classes to behind-the-scenes opportunities to view needlework tools and embroideries at Winterthur to exploring the rare and antique embroidery books at the extensive Winterthur library (my personal favorite).

And if that's not enough to make you need oxygen, there was an embroidery exhibit titled The Diligent Needle and the Costumes of Downton Abbey Exhibit coinciding with the conference.

And here's a sneak peek of an 18th century whitework sampler, one of my personal faves from the Diligent Needle exhibit (more details to come)...


AND...it's not over.  The bookstore stocks up on needlework books, kits and threads for the duration of the conference so there's is still more inspiration to knock you off your feet.

The environment and grounds of Winterthur are absolutely lovely in the Fall and the food and hospitality of the lunches and wine reception are top notch.

Pic courtesy of Winterthur website
So if you missed the conference this year, here's the good news.  The Diligent Needle exhibit runs through July 5, 2015 and the Costumes of Downton Abby runs through January 4, 2015 (you do need tickets for the Downton exhibit so plan ahead).

The other good news?  Instead of having the needlework conference once every three years, they have decided to hold the conference every other year.  That means I'll see you all there in Fall 2016!

More details and pics to come in future posts but I've got to get stitching...

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Sweaty Ribbons

Sweat and ribbons?  I know.  It sounds like they don't belong together, right?

That may be true, but to my athletic and active nieces, the use of an elastic, hairband to keep the hair off their faces has become as much a part of their activewear as spandex and jog bras.

There are many types of elastic hairbands but the ones that are super popular right now are called Sweaty Bands and cost anywhere from $12-$15 apiece!

That's a lot of money for two strips of ribbon and a bit of elastic.  

So when this niece turned sixteen this past Summer, I offered to make some non-slip, sweaty headbands to add to her sports arsenal...

One of the key differences of sweaty bands is the velvet on the underside of the ribbon...  

The nap of the velvet keeps the ribbon from sliding off the head while you're scoring goals, running a marathon, or jumping out of an airplane...

Ribbons can be found at your local craft store but I used the "gift" as an excuse to order some designer ribbons from Renaissance Ribbons...

If you've never checked out Renaissance Ribbons, give yourself a treat and browse around.  Many of their ribbons are designed by artists such as Amy Butler, Laura Foster Nicholson, Kaffe Fassett, etc.

Hey, my niece needed to have choices, right?

The project was fairly quick and easy...

I found two tutorials online that helped with sizing and tips.  

I followed this advice of Gladys of Desert Chic blog who suggested fusing the velvet and ribbon together before sewing (which I did) as well as using invisible thread in the bobbin (which I also did).  Likewise, I found this tutorial from the Undomestic Goddess to be most helpful in figuring out sizes.  I have one niece who finds that the standard size headband is too small and gives her a headache so I made a couple bands one inch larger for her.

All in all I think they're great as gifts, stocking stuffers, teammates, etc.

Today I'm working on making leaves for Mrs. Rose.  It's a gray, rainy day so I'm wearing white to help with the low light...but roses seem to grow faster when it rains.

Tell you about that next time.

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