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Wednesday, February 17, 2016


On the Saturday after  my week at the beach in late January, I attended a Guild workshop for the Certificate Course. These run once a month and are open to all Guild members. They are very popular. Certificate students get priority for teacher time but the rest of us learn heaps and have a terrific time. There is a sense of purpose and shared interest.
This class was on Schwalm embroidery, a whitework technique developed and practised from the 18th century in the Schwalm Region of Germany, north-east of Marburg. In German it is called Schwalmer Weisstrickerel - white stitching from the Schwalm. 

Christine Bishop, our tutor and the organiser of the Guild's Certificate Course, has written an authoritive book on Schwalm, Bishop, Christine. Schwalm Embroidery, Techniques and Designs (1743). Australia: Sally Milner Publishing Pty Ltd, 2008.
As usual, Christine had prepared kits for the class - a simple design on 30 count Belgian linen providing for several stitches, that could be practised and mastered in the workshop. Each stitch is clearly explained and illustrated in the notes then demonstrated as many times as needed by Christine in class. She is a great teacher - no nonsense, direct, clear as a bell, alert, observant, focused and flexible.                                                                                      
Also as usual, I came away with a project well advanced, knowing what to do next, motivated and relaxed. 
At home I finished stitching the design within days and moved to construction, removing threads from the border and marking the outer edges as per the instructions, tacking then stitching.

On a project like this I find myself once again attracted to counted, and particularly to drawn, thread work. The precision is so satisfying and the effects so pleasing. The design is large enough to see with minimum magnification - and the piece small enough to be achievable.

The process of creating the frame in stitch has its own logic that keeps me going to finish. The fabric demands to be folded and secured.

I've always loved hemstitching - although it is many years since I have done much. 

It is not only relaxing, but immensely satisfying and somehow appropriate - fitting for the task and tidy.

The project was designed as either a mat or a little pillow. I chose the option of a lavender pillow.

I stuffed the pillow with fibre-fill and added some lavender. It looks and smells lovely.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Gold scrollwork and flowers

The Embroiderers' Guild of SA runs a Summer School each January. This year it was held at the Guild premises over four days. Classes were each two days. I only attended one class as I was going away.

I chose a goldwork class - to stretch myself a little. I have done a couple of goldwork classes with Alison Cole in previous Summer Schools but that is the extent of my experience. 

This class was a goldwork scroll with flowers, taken by Di Fisher from our Guild.

The work required a frame rather than a hoop. I chose my Doodler frame because it is hands-free and portable. It worked well.

The design was very small. Even with a magnifier I struggled to see clearly. I did better with some threads and with some stitches.                                                                                         
The design used reverse chain, interlacing, loop stitch, ladder stitch, single back stitch, herringbone, blanket, buttonhole, Elizabethan corded trellis stitch, detached corded buttonhole filling, overcast/wrapped filling, herringbone-threaded and Vandyke stitch.    

The scroll itself wasn't too bad but I really struggled with the leaves and metallic thread.                           After the class I came very close to abandoning the project. Undoing was not an option with the threads - and I didn't think I could do better without significantly enlarging the design.
The thing that kept me going was the thought that I could use the completed piece on the lid of a small magnetic needle box I had stashed away, where it would look blingy and, well, gold!

It certainly would not pass the eye of any Guild member (myself included) but is decorative.
So here it is, duly mounted and useful.
I find these boxes useful and they make good presents. I am regarding this as a practice piece - and reminder to only try very simple, rather than very small, goldwork in future!