I have been working for easily six months on and off on the course - buying antiques, surveying the existing examples in museums and doing some of the all important figuring of things out. This one is a bit more complicated at the front end than it might seem on the surface. What are the issues a teacher should consider when putting a course on 17th century whitework from band samplers together?
So as I have been working on the math (making sure the bands will all work out and be in the right proportions) I have been sampling materials - linens and threads - that aren't available currently in the USA or generally to embroiderers, searching for what I want. This takes time and quite a bit of back and forth figuring out what could be available and when!
So if I want everyone to be successful - that means offering different counts of linen for the projects
|Notice that the background is not the same color as the|
thread! It makes working and counting the stitches easier for
fabric and look right? Of the 20 or so linen thread weights, which work for the different stitches on different counts? Which brands are spun consistently enough to be used for this? Can we get them??
What needles make the work the easiest to work? This is cutwork - so how about scissors? I must have spent hours today just investigating scissors I have picked up across Europe for this purpose over the decade and learning what makes good cutwork scissors by measuring things so I can give guidance. I hadn't even noticed that in all the decades I have been doing cutwork (I started at 12) I do something with my scissors that is unconventional! I flip them over so the thinner upper blade is against the satin stitch when I cut the linen. These are the things that make getting ready for a class take twice as long as it might if you rushed. I like to ask the question "Why?" as I outline the lessons and then that takes me to talking to scissor manufacturers to figure out why my favorite scissors for this work are actually made for a non-fabric craft!!
And recently I decided after some input to add a historically accurate high count linen to the mix just to make my life harder and satisfy all of us who just love that! After getting the samples from Europe I decided to make it eye-friendly I would need to do something radical. This is what is delaying me from announcing the course particulars and costs tonight. I want the linen custom yarn-dyed to the antique linen color before weaving and need to send a sample of the color (which I finally found in random piece in my drawer) to them for evaluation.
|Even the satin work looks better with a|
old linen color.
I like the effect. Three of the four I own are like this. At first you think, well... it is aged linen. But wait, the linen thread didn't age the same way so there was contrast originally. And when working with linen thread and fabric that match at high thread count - well, you can't see well enough to count anything. So off to scrounge in my stash for a dyed 40+ high-count linen and try the stitches on that. Ah - yes, that does the trick and makes the same work much easier to do. In other words, eye friendly.
So the last question to be answered is can they do it on my time frame and I should know in about a week. That would be cool, a linen dyed specifically to make a course more eye friendly for those of us who will try to stitch as they did in the 17th century on high count linen. And don't worry - there will be two lower counts as well!