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Sunday, January 16, 2011

Embroiderers' Guild of SA Summer School - Ottoman Scarf

Last week I attended a two-day class on Ottoman Embroidery taken by Alison Snepp as part of the Embroiderers' Guild of SA Summer School. The project was an embroidered wool scarf. The Summer School is held at Hosanna Heights, now an International College in the suburb of Rostrevor.

The scarves provided by Alison for the class are Australian wool woven in India by a company called Raffal. They are quite loose woven and incredibly soft. Stitch tension is a challenge. The threads are Gumnut Stars stranded silk. I got mine, as did most of the class, from Christina's Craft and Gifts on Prospect Rd in Prospect, Adelaide. She has a great range and offers mail service -

Alison's design is for a bath towel - the embroidered covering carried by the Ottomans over their arm to cover up the towel they used at the baths, which they carried underneath the cover towel.

The project uses four stitches, chain stitch, stem stitch, Bokara and Atma stitch. Atma is a couching stitch, with satin stitch beneath Bokara.

It is a bit scary, as the satin stitch looks really ugly until the couching Bokara goes over the top.

Once you get into the rhythm, it is very soothing sewing. We also learned to make little tiny tassles to add to the scarf's own dangling knotted fringe. I need to practice these more, but by the time I have done 64 to accommodate the fringe at both ends I will be very good at it!

I have finished my first motif since the class finished on Thursday. It is designed to have two motifs at each end but could be worn with only one end embroidered or only one motif at each end.

I intend to embroider the four motifs.

I really like Alison Snepp's classes and her work. Two years ago I did her class in Naxos embroidery and made the necessaire that I make very good use of for my day-to-day embroidery projects.

                                                    It is a counted-thread technique.

I have also made a chikan sachet designed by Alison for Inspirations Magazine issue 61.

I really like Alison's historical knowledge and interest, as well as her focus on India, Greece, Turkey, Uzbekistan - probably what the British used to call the East. She is a very clear and patient teacher. She has published a book of embroidery based on May Gibbs's work and The Australian and New Zealand Book of Cross Stitch and Counted Thread Embroidery. Both are out of print but I managed to get copies through Abebooks.

29 January
Three of the four motifs are almost finished. I ran out of light green and light blue thread, so visited Christina's this morning to top up. It is looking good.

7 February
Finished the scarf late yesterday afternoon. I needed to buy additional silk in four of the colours - both blues and the two goldy greens. I substituted a slightly paler blue for the Atma stitches in the berries when the original wasn't available, but compensated by using dark blue in the foundation satin stitches.

I found the tassels a bit of a discipline to make - very fiddly work. It made me think of women in Ottoman homes gathering up the little pieces of leftover silk thread and working them together. I at least had mostly thread still on the hank. As I ran out I reduced the number of colours in the tassels.  

The reason it takes so long to make each tassel is because you are wrapping it around the existing knot on the tied off ends of the scarf. A regular tassel that is attached later would be a lot faster - but less effective.   

Even the back doesn't look too bad and will not draw attention when it flips over while being worn.

I am very pleased with the final result. I'll be wearing it when the weather allows.

 Many thanks to Alison for the class, Christina's for thread help and all those who have endured my tassel making.


Jillian Cheek said...

Both the work and the history are fascinating, Jillian. I might check out the Embroiderer's Guild in NSW. I've always thought it impossible, as I'm not in Sydney, but an event like this might be possible. Your motif on the embroidery looks gorgeous.
At present I'm dithering about whether to do an applique border for the embroidered quilt I have been working on for two years. It doesn't have one in the pattern, but I have seen one on display in the quilt shop, and it is very tempting to try.

Jillian said...

Yes, I think I'd be tempted too. A whole border is a bit daunting though. On the other hand, if you have put two years into it, you might as well make it really spectacular.

Anonymous said...

These are all beautiful! To be able to do classes like this would be amazing. One day.....

Jillian Cheek said...

The finished scarf is truly spectacular, and the tassels look worth every minute you spent on them.