There is a new book out on the 23rd of March that will become one of those 'rare library' books almost immediately. There are many interesting facets of the book set to mention - many storylines. But first, some pictures and video of the unboxing of this massive 2 volume set covering furniture and embroidery.
The Embroiderer's Story
Tuesday, March 7, 2023
English Needlework 1600-1740 The Percival D. Griffiths Collection
Tuesday, January 17, 2023
Cleveland Museum of Art Blog
Earlier this year I worked with Textile Conservator Robin Hanson at the Cleveland Museum of Art on a gold threads workshop for the American Institute of Conservation. One of the absolutely amazing artifacts we pulled out for the workshop, and had inspired Robin to contact me, was a Lord Chancellor's Burse. She and colleague Holly Witchey, Adjunct Professor of the Department of Art History and Art at Case Western Reserve University have started a blog about this object with many close pictures of the amazing embroidery. It is worth a read into the background of this piece!
Wednesday, December 28, 2022
Where are the 12-Days of Christmas?
For several years I have had a 12-Days of Christmas giveaway and that was again the intent this year with a bunch of giveaway stuff ready in a pile. As Christmas came and went without it up I almost gave into the stress of not having it up on the 26th but drew a deep breath and decided to go with not posting at all. Sorry to disappoint and perhaps things will get to the point where it is in the cards. I hope so as that means that I have excess time to spend!! I have read that all super-successful women with children really got going after 50. I believe it! Think about the extra effort in being a mom and when that weight is lifted after they launch, that energy gets poured into career/job. Watch out - my empty nest is coming up. But life is certainly throwing in quite a few curveballs trying to get there.
As I breezed through the news yesterday, I came upon another article on the theme of 'women doing too much' on CNN. There have been quite a few in the last two years brought on by the shear exhaustion borne by women during these pandemic years. They concern the new understanding (now didn't all us women know!?) that there is significant energy and work in the process of thinking about everything that needs to be done and it isn't shared equally at home. In the past we called it 'wearing too many hats'. In this particular article it pointed out that it is usually the woman of the family who is keeping track of all the to-do items regarding the holidays. The mental lists of who you need to get a gift for, what to get, shipping schedules, etc. That takes energy to make sure things don't slip through the cracks. And often because we are all socialized for this, we end up holding in our heads the tasks that our spouse said they would take on to 'help us' and hasn't gotten done yet (i.e. forgot about). Yes that one hit hard as on the 23rd, hours before my extended family was to show up I asked my husband as he was cooking (yes, he does do a great job with that - as long as I plan it) - did you get that gift for your mom? Uhhhhh...I grabbed the keys and back out again I went to save the day. Exhausting.
I had a business trip to work at the MET mid-Dec on some amazing embroidery research for several days and that added to the balancing act and likely was the time that would have ended up being the 12-Days giveaway. But at the same time, I needed out of dodge badly and I didn't realize it until I had been on the train a few hours. The experience of the last few months melted away as 'it wasn't my job' at that moment to be Dr. Mom (ok, so the Dr. Dad texts were coming in for me to dispense advice on what to do). As I was able to focus for a few hours on my work, I realized how much I haven't been able to do that for months. My son at home had three concussions since late Sept and the dizzying set of symptoms have kept me on a knifes edge constantly. I swear that even when I get him to school, he shows up a few hours later back with a migraine and I go into high gear again figuring out the triggers, calling the school, etc. While the doctors are caring, they don't have answers. My friend who is at Children's Hospital admitted to me that the research on recovery and thus their recommendations are changing every six months (yes, I agree!). And on top of it, people who have learning differences are removed from all studies as they 'mess up the data' and doctors don't know what to do about their different symptoms.
So I have had to dig into current research myself and figure out what is going on in my son's head and search out the right people to help him. I play 20-questions with him constantly to tease out all the cause and effects daily in an effort to deduce what is going on. We play small games to figure out capabilities as his abilities/deficits are confusing. He can 'robot' like normal now but will often throw up after taking a math test. I kept track of all the complaining and realized that he was right - he wasn't forming proper memories of new material. All the while, holding him up emotionally, dealing with his teachers and the school about the big picture, and listening to my husband (who feels powerless) endlessly worry while keeping my worries to myself. It got really dark for about a week and I stopped doing anything but making things move forward so my son had hope. Since our other son was in the middle of his own exhausting competition and needed support as well - oh my gosh I felt like a ping-pong ball. He tried to collapse here for Thanksgiving but couldn't as he had to do grad school applications, due days after his robotic competiton - so I spent that weekend being his muse and editor for the dozens of essays and videos he had to pop off so quickly.
Things are looking up, we have found the right specialist. The therapies are slowly working - I am doing them with the kid daily to get them done and extend his brain time with them (they work at minimizing headaches in dyslexics so good for me too). He and I stayed back from the family Christmas vacation because he isn't allowed to fly. So we are alone here since Christmas in 'brain bootcamp' as he calls it. He isn't liking the low-inflammation diet. His brother has been a saint - offering immediately after his apps were done to tutor his brother in all his AP courses to catch him up on 12 weeks of high school. Since they both get up insanely early this time of year, they work on it between 5-7 am. That was one of the huge issues, the kid can't really read well at the moment and is toast at the end of school day - so we couldn't hire anyone to catch him up during normal hours leading him to be despondent. His brother has been fabulous at getting a moody 18-yr old to do everything he doesn't want to do. It's a whole family affair, I would have to say. We have about three weeks in the new year to catch up the entire semester so his college apps are valid and move forward. It is so much pressure - the Canadian colleges who would have already made a decision have put his apps on hold and he is starting to get deferrals from his early admissions applications. The elephant in the closet is that with the high stakes college environment where the slots are going early, this short term injury may change his result and that is so hard for him to swallow after four years of just doing everything right.
Once the new year gets going, I have to manage the school. He has taken all the tests for Q1 but they still aren't graded as the teachers are in a slow-down, impending strike action. God, I hope they don't strike that week or I will go nutcase. Some colleges are waiting for the results of the incomplete transcript to put his application on the evaluation track again.
So I have had to take my 'Thistle Threads' hat off daily to put on my 'Dr. Mom' and 'Dyslexic Concussion Expert' hat on instead. I was going to launch the Stumpwork Course again next week. I was going to do a ton of new things - lectures up - papers written - new projects up. Even those things that are pretty much ready to go - I have put aside as I just can't add to my mental load until late January. Sometimes your injured family needs you to help carry them across the finish line. I hope then I can celebrate with a 12-Days of Valentines Day or something like that!
Tuesday, November 29, 2022
Katie Strachan - "Queen of Color"
Maybe many of you know that during Covid I ambushed Katie after seeing so many of her class projects and original designs on NING (and winning in some of my contests) and begged her to become a needlework teacher. I called her "the Queen of Pale" and called Lamora Haidar of Access Commodities and told her that Katie would be one of the stars of the next generation of teachers/designers. It has thrilled me to help answer questions about the needlework industry and give encouragement and advice to get her going so she can bring her own unique vision and color sense (absolutely outstanding color sense!!) to the field.
You might know that Katie is doing Flosstubes on YouTube to grow an audience that crosses over from the cross-stitch field up to the COC experts. She has been gaining quite a following with her videos that sneak in quite a bit of special knowledge and tries to stretch people in their stitching skills. One of her recent videos is just such an example with her new Christmas ornament, Theodora, using sequins from the couture industry and historical colors that are explained in detail. Even the name has references in history. Take a watch!
Theodora: 2022 Holiday Ornament by Katie Strachan
She is introducing her first online class, The Elzabethan Valentine in January - but it is already sold out!! It is a really lovely piece!! I have been supplying lacet and the fun scallop thread for it and need to get my own butt in gear to make her more so she can run another version for her waiting list. Sooooo exciting to see Katie be successful!
|The Elizabethan Valentine by Katie Strachan|
Tuesday, November 22, 2022
New Witney Catalog for Preorder!
There haven't been many new publications in the last few years of significant embroidery from the 17th century. That drought has been broken with the Nov 2022 publication of Witney Antiques annual exhibition catalog. Witney Antiques is a fine purveyor of 17th century embroidery and 17th-19th century samplers in the UK. Their fall exhibition is always a mix of stunning pieces for sale and a selection of embroideries from private collections loaned. It is a wonderful way to see things that you would not normally see. And for those who aren't lucky enough to make it to England for the month it is up, the catalog is the next best thing.
Friday, November 18, 2022
Store Opening Again - Amazing Embroidery and Robots too
|MET 2016.526 Bearing Cloth|
Tuesday, October 11, 2022
Winterthur Conference - Virtual Talks
For those who couldn't make it to the Winterthur conference in person, there is a virtual option and that is still open for registration until Oct 14th. The talks in the main sessions were recorded and will be available to watch for a month for those who register for the virtual version of the conference. At $200, it is a nice way to support the museum and see talks from your own home.
My talk on the life of Martha Edlin is one of the lectures. Afterwards I got quite a few comments that no one expected the level of information or detail that I had uncovered. Lynne Anderson did an amazing talk about Mexican samplers - bringing them to life with both primary sources, descriptions of the stitches in Spanish, and even books describing how to teach them! The images were quite yummy. Kelli Barnes gave a talk about her work on samplers worked by black girls/women in the European tradition either in Africa, the colonies, or the USA and drew upon embroidery tradition in Africa to give context.
Kate Sekules talk about mending knocked it out of the park. She was so engaging - starting out with the earlier than understood prehistoric use of needles to modern day co-opting of mending as an environmental movement among the younger generation by fashion houses. It was extremely illuminating to everyone in the audience, not only about the technology of mending during war years but how we are manipulated today by mass marketing. Everyone loved it. We asked for her to come back and do a take on darning samplers someday.
Other traditional embroidery topics were to be had - from 17th century Boston Coats of Arms and a wonderful, wonderful talk from historian and author Marla Miller about a turn of the century embroiderer who worked a reproduction design on cloth that was spun and woven by ancestors in the 1700s. I don't want to spill the story.
A unique aspect of the talks this year were the inclusion of newly graduated students from the Winterthur program giving short talks about either investigation or conservation of a piece. The conservations were fascinating - seeing how tattered pieces could be stabilized and brought back to life so they could be displayed. Each required very cutting edge technology. Then there was one Massachusetts embroidery which was being scientifically examined to try to understand the slips attached to it. Laura included this one as it had a twist that had the entire audience sit up and say "hello!!" in great surprise in the middle at the conclusion of some of the analytical data. Previously it was 'yeah yeah... silk, metal... and then - WHAT??" There was a real story in there and not at all what we all sitting there expected which made it fun.