Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Save the Date - Casket Tour

I am a bit behind in getting all the details in stone and written up for everyone - but we have been working and are close to getting the Casket Tour of England ready to announce.  I know that many would like to know that there is a tour and what the dates are - so the dates are October 14-24th, 2015.

As soon as we have all the details final (we have been working since last summer) we will post an announcement and details as well as when we will start taking reservations.


Monday, December 29, 2014

Disappearing Craftsmen - Scissors

I was interested to see this video from the BBC about the Sheffield scissors makers - but also disappointed as I have been in Sheffield twice in 2010 (once on the Jacket Tour) and we could have visited the scissors makers!!  Ernest Wright and Sons, Ltd are one of the few handmade scissors makers left, but the internet is giving them new life and their apprentices are now in the first 18-months of a 5-year apprenticeship.

I will be ordering some scissors so I can think about cutting the threads that I know who made with scissors that now I know who made!!


Sunday, December 28, 2014

Christmas Robots

Teamwork at the beginning of the day.  Their posters behind
them go over their research project on dyslexia and grit
and robot design process/programming - they made all that.
Christmas has been a bit depressing this year with my FIL in hospital/rehab so having our robot kids around has been a godsend to divert our attention.

So my little team ran their 'little robot that could' over and over at the MA State championship a few days before Christmas.  Their results were stupendous - this contest is for kids 9 - 14 with 9 being a bit soft and we took advantage of that in the spring of 2013 to have the kids join their older siblings/friends to run to the National level.

Well, hanging out with the big guys and watching them for years really seems to pay dividends.  In what should have been their first year as a team - they won the 2nd place robot performance award for the second highest score out of 400+ teams.  My big team never cracked higher than #7 in performance.  They managed to improve their robot programming in the two weeks between contests and could hit 530 on a good day - 471 in competition.  They only lost out to the team they beat in the qualifier (a team of 14 yr olds) who also won the entire state and are on their way to the World competition.  In the afternoon while
About ready to run for their high score.  This is run with
16 tables inside a full college basketball court with flashing
lights, buzzers, thousands of spectators screaming and MCs
narrating on loud speakers - a dyslexic nightmare.
By the time the eliminations had started my guy was so sick
with a headache that he laid on the ground outside throwing up.
I was so proud of the team - he was the best driver and on two
of our driving teams and they took
over, mixed driving teams (they practiced choreography
for a month so they could be down to 12 sec total in
base to replace attachments) to replace him and
weren't fazed and went onto win the elimination
after six rounds.  I have emphasized GRIT all year
long as the most important life skill and they have
absorbed that in spades.  Bad run? Get back on that horse
and do it again and again until it is great.  Paid off.
the judges deliberate, a fun (and trophy winning) contest is held as a single round elimination - half the time and two teams join together to compete their robots, joining their score.  It is fast paced and really fun for the thousands who watch.  My little team won the whole elimination -- beating out that Worlds team in the finals.  The Worlds team is a great set of guys - we have been competing against them for years with the big team - lots of respect between them and us.  They won't be going on to the next level of robotics as their town doesn't do it -- so we were happy to see them get the big prize of the day.  Deserved it!

I am so happy to finally have two girls on my teams.
These girls are very smart and full of verve and grit!  I am so
looking forward to working with them for the next ten years
We were terribly excited to win two trophies as well as to score very high in the research side of the day.  The little team is at a huge disadvantage as being nine makes it pretty hard to answer questions as insightfully as they will in a few years - they often don't understand the point behind the question.  It wasn't until my other team were 11 that they even made it to the States.  When you realize that they are programming this robot to follow lines by doing math on the light sensor values, do boolean logic, and auto align itself over and over on tables that could be bigger or smaller than regulation - it is really amazing what they have done before they can even do long division!  My son told me yesterday that he found out he never learned how to multiply two digit numbers by two digit numbers in his old school (math was behind) and thus failed his homework last week in the new one (where math is accelerated).  But he can quickly write a master program to run all the separate programs automatically with all kinds of if-then loops  (Yet another reason why this contest should be required for all schools - what they learn in practical ways blows away curriculums).

When they finish building their team website and 'publishing' their research project - I will post it.
Two trophies!!  What a haul!
They came up with a comic book tool for dyslexic tutors to use with newly diagnosed dyslexic kids to help them understand they have strengths that balance out the reading difficulties - as self esteem is the biggest stumbling block for dyslexic kids to succeed.  They have endorsements from every major US dyslexic organization as well as orders in the hundreds for copies just from one.  Pretty cool for being so young.  One group tried out the comic with a set of students and they all cried - it resonated so much with the kids.  Our group has many dyslexics in it and so they just were able to articulate in a way that really connected kid-to-kid.

Normally this would be the end of robot season for me... back to embroidering.  But the big guys have my entire dinning room turned into a robot competition zone and have been programming/building non-stop as school is out.  I have no less than 4-9 of them in there everyday trying to get multiplexers, sensors, IR beacons, and 3-stage lifts and servos all to work seamlessly.  They go to early February at least unless they are lucky enough to move on.

A pair of digital glasses a MIT friend let me borrow from
a kickstarter campaign - they played "First Lego League"
across the grated lenses all day
Thank you to the lovely ladies on the East Coast Casket Tour - they made a lovely donation which was used to print the comic demo copies to send to dyslexic organizations as well as buy materials for the big team.  The big team just presented its outreach work to the MIT Edgerton center.  This center develops hands-on-STEM activities for kids and will be incorporating many that our team has developed in a national summer camp this year.  So your donations are having ripples to many, many kids!

Every year I have a theme for my teams - based upon what they need to learn and internalize to become great over the long haul.  This team needed to learn GRIT.  They are talented and have grit in other aspects of their life but hadn't all learned yet that they could apply it to academic areas.  Not a surprise as they all are square pegs in the round hole of school - very, very smart but don't fit the mould.  So while they might be the type that practices music or sports for hours a day to improve - they didn't see the translation to their challenges in the classroom where their learning style was different from the curriculums.  So we spent tons of time in discussion, practicing, watching Ted talks on grit, and taking the grit test.  We learned that you have to believe that you can improve to have grit in that area.  Very profound and the subject of their comic book.  I am thrilled to say that I saw the transformation and internalization of these lessons during the months I hammered on it.  You think you can't program as well as him?  Well, just get in front of that computer until you can.  We must have practiced their talks 30 times until they could smile at the judges, have it memorized and speak clearly and fit 20 slides in 5 min.  They are learning that 'being bad' at something isn't a pass out of it on my team.  It is a ticket to more practice towards mastery.

As they say in FIRST - "Its the Hardest Fun I've Ever Had"

Friday, December 26, 2014

Day 12 - 12-Days of Christmas Giveaway

Day 12 brings us some pamphlets of 17th century embroidery from the Lady Lever Museum in Liverpool!  There are five sets of these to give away.  To enter - send an email to me at with LADY LEVER in the subject line.  Send it by midnight EST on Dec 27th and make sure to add your postal address (and yes, I do pick international winners too!)


Thursday, December 25, 2014

Day 11 - 12 Days of Christmas Giveaway

Day 11 brings us some yummy fibers - soft wool, silk chenille and some silver twist!  To enter - send an email to me at with THREADS in the subject line.  Send it by midnight EST on Dec 26th and make sure to add your postal address (and yes, I do pick international winners too!)


Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Day 10 - 12 days of Christmas Giveaway

Day 10 brings us a set of five Just Cross Stitch magazines! To enter - send an email to me at with JCS SET  in the subject line.  Send it by midnight EST on Dec 25th and make sure to add your postal address (and yes, I do pick international winners too!)


Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Day 9 - 12-days of Christmas Giveaway

Day nine brings us some bookmarks of 17th century gloves from the Fashion Museum in Bath!  There are two sets of these to give away.  To enter - send an email to me at with BOOKMARK in the subject line.  Send it by midnight EST on Dec 24th and make sure to add your postal address (and yes, I do pick international winners too!)


Monday, December 22, 2014

Day 8 - 12 Days of Christmas Giveaway

On Day 8 we have a really good one - the issue that features Rachael Kinnison's amazing beaded basket!

If you would like to have a copy of this issue, send me an email at with BASKET in the subject line plus your mailing address in the body of the message.  Send it by midnight on December 23rd EST.


Sunday, December 21, 2014

Day 7 - 12 days of Christmas Giveaway

Another Just Cross Stitch ornament issue!  This time one for 2013 with more projects from Tokens and Trifles as well.

If you want to be entered in the drawing - send me an email ( by midnight on December 22nd EST with JCS 2013 in the subject line.  Then add your mailing address in the body of the message.


Saturday, December 20, 2014

Day 6 - 12 Days of Christmas Giveaway

Today's giveaway is the wonderful book Samplers from A to Z by Pamela Parmal.

This was the small catalog for an exhibition that ran at the Museum of Fine Arts of Museum in Boston in 2000.

Send me an email at by midnight EST on December 21st.  Put "A TO Z" in the subject line and your snail mail address in the body of the message.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Day 5 - 12 Days of Christmas Giveaway

Today is a copy of Inspirations Issue 81 (2014) with an article inside about the Cabinet of Curiosities course!

If you want it - send me an email at with ISSUE 81 in the subject line and your postal address in the body of the message.  I need the email by midnight EST on December 20th to put you in the drawing!


Thursday, December 18, 2014

Day 4 - 12 Days of Christmas Giveaway

Today I have four copies of a real yummy thing!  Copies of ROBE May 1667 a faux fashion magazine of the 17th century produced for the wonderful exhibit by the Royal Collection on Stuart fashion in the summer of 2013.

Four lucky winners will get a copy.  Send me an email with ROBE in the subject line ( by midnight EST December 19th.  Send your mailing address in the body or I will have to pass you by.

Hope you win!


Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Day 3 - 12 Days of Christmas Giveaway

Hmmm - how about five issues of Piecework - most of 2013?  This will go to one winner of the random pick of emails sent to me at by midnight December 18th EST with PIECEWORK in the subject line.  And don't forget to send me your post office address in the email or I can't send it to you!


Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Day 2 - 12 Days of Christmas Giveaway

Today the giveaway is a cute little notebook with an embroidered pattern on the cover.

The rules are the same - send me a email by midnight Dec. 17th EST at  Put NOTEBOOK in the subject line and SEND YOUR POST ADDRESS.

Hope you win!


Sunday, December 14, 2014

12-Days of Christmas Giveaway - Day 1

Yes!  I am doing my 12-days of Christmas Giveaway again this year.  I have been saving or collecting yummy things to give away in the spirit of giving.

Today's item is the 2014 Just Cross Stitch Christmas Ornament Issue and I have more than one copy to give away to lucky respondents.  I will chose the winners randomly from emails I get before midnight EST on Dec 15th.

Send JCS CHRISTMAS in the subject line so I can easily find your email.  AND your post address in the body of the email.  I won't be searching for your mailing address!  Send the email to

Then watch for the rest of the giveaways and you can enter for each every day!


P.S.  Thanks for all the well wishes for my father-in-law.  It has been a rough week and the future is
Total Elation at 460 points in 2 min 30 sec
hazy.  But fortunately we are also deep in our robot competitions and that has been a great way for my husband to keep busy and positive when not at the hospital.  I will leave you with a great photo - my husband made it to the regional competition from the hospital just in time to see our young team have a 'perfect run' of their robot catapulting them to the highest robot score in the state last weekend.   The kids were  understandably terribly excited as you can see on their faces (and they were going against a great veteran team of 14 yr olds).  Every year our mantra is 'one perfect run' in competition and this is the first time it happened in the six years of coaching.  They also won the most Innovative Research Award for their comic book for dyslexic kids which is going to be published (more about that later when it debuts publicly).  Quite the double play by the kids on a day we needed a pick-me-up having both stayed up all night at the hospital.  Saturday they go to the State Championship to see how well they can do.  They have worked 500 hrs as a team this season and it is showing!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Embroidery Frames - Linda Eaton

Linda Eaton has discussed the importance of maintaining the original mounts for needlework with the piece in talks.  Recently she published an online article about the subject.  She makes a good argument for what type of important information can be had from these auxiliary materials.
I will be starting my 12-days of Christmas giveaways soon.  Sorry for the light blog.  Focusing on lessons and shipping at the moment because I am in 'high robot season' and my Father-in-Law had a massive stroke on Friday.  He is improving a tiny bit but the future of what level of care needed is unclear.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Turkey, Gingerbread and Bots

I hope those in the US had a lovely holiday!  Mine was really nice yet hectic and eventful, I have to admit that the actual Turkey dinner was a sideshow to the main events.  There is nothing quiet about our Nov/Dec in this house as it is prime robot season with our competitions all in the several weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas (except the older boys now compete every few weeks until the
This WAS the dining room.  As soon as the
Turkey was cleared, they moved out the
furniture and set up the 14 foot square robot
field.  I hear I get it back for Christmas Day
middle of Feb).  So ALL the time the kids had off (except Thursday), they were here.  Literally I would have to walk around the house and count how many people were in it (my extended family, robot kids, robot parents, in-laws, etc) to figure out how many were eating at each meal.  The number wavered between 12-24 at times.  The spontaneous parties and kids blowing off steam with NERF all over the place added to the chaos.  I am letting the older kids run their robot team this year (learning to organize - growth but a loss of parent control) but that means that I never know what is up.  They text and 'call in reinforcements' as progress goes forward and that can mean that a few teens show up at the door at 8pm to work when I thought we were just emptying out!  (Time to get out more chips!)

Grandpa adding the ball track made from wreath forms while
watching football in my family room.  Note the almost finished
gingerbread train (it moves)
Add to that an event at MIT that my side of the family has gotten into and has become a tradition for us and it gets REALLY CRAZY.  MIT hosts something called the FAT (Friday after Thanksgiving) Chain Reaction.  It is a giant Rube Goldberg device that is built on that day with segments built at home by teams.  This was our 4th year doing it and we go nuts.  We don't start until my parents and brothers arrive in town for Turkey, work on it like mad with all the toys in the house and many trips to Home Depot and set it up in front of the football on TV, only taking breaks to cook and eat the turkey.  For a family that is all mechanical, this is a crazy thing to collaborate on as we all think we
know what is best.  I guess it keeps us from arguing about politics.

We haul ourselves down to MIT on Friday and set up.  It takes forever to tweak it to work and usually still requires 'the hand of god' to move a ball that gets stuck somewhere in the movements.  The public comes in around 1pm and they swarm around all the teams and ask questions and watch your segment run.  The whole thing goes off around 3:30pm and is filmed in a crazy dance to much audience delight.  Almost 2000 people are there.  Tons of kids and that has become our speciality - doing something that delights.  What I am really proud of is how many teams over the years have told us that they came the year before and saw ours and decided they could do it and got their kids doing it with them.  That is awesome!  I am not sure if they are thinking 'heck - I could do better than that!!' or if our team's use of things we have laying around the house is inspiring for last minute prep.  We always limit ourselves to kid-friendly materials, which of course delights the kids as well.  We were the first to use toys and now that is a major theme of teams.
Fox news interviewing my oldest on our team's link.  In addition
to the moving gingerbread train that transported the ball, there
was a lego elevator, a robotic arm (to remove the ball from train),
long winding aerial ball track and a Lego CNC machine he built to
carve the year's theme (17) into a block of floral foam (a big
crowd pleaser).

This year, our theme was gingerbread.  Yes, half our set up was edible and that was a first.  I have been asked for years to redo my legendary moving gingerbread train (my kids remember it from their baby years), so we did it again.  The Lego robot teams used their breaks in competition training to decorate our houses for the set up (a convenient excuse to sugar load before going back to robot tweaking!).  My mom had to bake tons of cookies as diversionary materials for the robot teens and grown-up men so they wouldn't raid the structural gingerbread.  There was generally too much sugar imbibed by all.

The Rubicon X team.  What you can't see is the wire structure
in the air that carries the ball around - it disappears in the picture.
So the hilarious thing is that our link in the chain reaction has been photogenic each time and we have gotten an amazing amount of press every year.  This year we were the picture in the Black Friday events around the nation in Time Magazine.  And those who have met me personally won't be surprised by the description of my family in this Boston Globe article.  We are team Rubicon X (as in Crossing the Rubicon).  In past years we have used Hex Bugs to push the ball, brought robotic talking hamsters,
and used more Knex, Legos, than you can shake a stick at.  We still haven't incorporated live animals (this has been done with bunnies and ducks) but I am thinking of training my hamster for 2015!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Another Lamora Jenner!

Can you just imagine the end of the 21st century when embroidery curators and enthusiasts are saying "Who is X?" when looking at the volume of embroidery we are right now creating in the 17th century style.  I hope you are all putting your story on the papers of your caskets and the edges of your pictures!

There are at least 2 stumpwork mirrors, 2 caskets and now 2 pictures known to have been worked by the elusive Mrs. Jenner in the pre-war period in England.  This piece just turned up at Christie's in their Dec 2nd Masters and Makers sale and I was shown the other picture at the Holburn Museum this summer!  One of the mirrors is at the National Trust, saw a different one at Witney's a few years ago too.

It really is making me want to find out this woman's story!

And maybe it makes me feel just a little bit better that her work is being treated so well by the Antiques market.


Leonora Jenner C. 1940 Lot 441 Sale 5870 Christie's

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Pinterest Board for Textiles at MET

New Pinterest Board for Research photos of embroidery from the MET
I am thrilled to let you know about a new digital initiative at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  The successful 17th century embroidery exhibition Twixt Art and Nature in 2009 resulted in a treasure trove of amazing conservation photographs of pieces using special techniques by textile conservator Cristina Balloffet Carr.

This is a digital initiative that aims to use social media in a new way - new boards on Pinterest will be added every week, each dedicated to a single object and presenting images that convey technical information.  

The success of this on the part of the museum will be gauged by the number of followers.  So get on there often and be amazed at the images which are unprecedented.  These are the types of images that are usually reserved for scientific publications and show the closest details of the embroideries.  I am thrilled because the access to information like this is usually limited to just a few of us.  I can just imagine the new materials, insights and inspired embroideries that will come out of this initiative as well as the scholarship that this will result from open access to research photography.  Please remember to credit Cristina Carr and the MET in any discourse you have about what you learn from the images.  And you will need to check with the MET on proper use/credit of images.

Cristina and I have been writing articles on a few of these objects for Inspirations, the first being a sweet bag.  The article is now coming out in the latest issue.  We will be treating a few more objects in future issues.

So please support this!! It is but one of many new educational digital initiatives that will enhance the understanding of embroidery and textiles by the MET and bring them to a broad audience around the world.  To follow and be alerted to new posts of objects, use the "Follow" button on the top of the page.  You will have to have a pinterest account to do so.

There is a second page on a specific and wonderful exhibit on tapestry and their technologies that is currently running at the MET (my tour group saw it a few weeks ago).  The exhibit has its own Pinterest board and it is really interesting.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Beaded Basket for Sale - Christies

A CHARLES II BEADWORK LAYETTE BASKET Lot 480, Dec 2nd, 2014 Christie's Sale 5870

There is another beaded basket for sale at Christie's, so if you have been keeping a file folder with them for study, get over to the site and look at the pictures up close.  This one is similar to one at the V&A with a square net worked in panels to go over the metal frame.  The frame is uncovered in spots so if you want to get a feeling of how the piece is worked there are places to take a peak!


Thursday, November 20, 2014

Help Winterthur Acquire Wonderful Pattern Book

Winterthur has an opportunity to purchase a set of 18th century pattern books for embroidery.  These were created by a German drawing master named Johann Netto.  The books are unique because not only do they include patterns found on 18th century German samplers, they have worked examples of the motifs in them!  The three volume set is amazing and the embroidery and instructions are worthy of being in a museum.  There are just a few pictures attached to this blog post.  The MET has a copy of the book and has a nice little write up about it on their Heilbrunn Timeline.  One of the volumes (from a different collection) has been digitized and can be 'leafed through' (give each page time to load) on

Any amount is vastly appreciated (a bunch of $5 checks add up!).  Checks can be made out to Winterthur and sent to:

Winterthur Museum Pattern Book
Attn. Linda Eaton
Winterthur Museum
Winterthur DE, 19735

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The Geek In Me Loves this Stuff!

A wonderful article about a Coats of Arms piece likely worked in Boston is finally up on the web and able to be shared with you all.  I love things like this because they use the techniques of my grad school days to solve problems associated with historical objects.  In this case, there was a bit of the lead white paint on the un-embroidered surface which said "Gold".  X-ray radiography was used by Angela Duckwall at Winterthur to figure out why the word was there and if there was more under the embroidery!

Enjoy the read and be amazed at the pictures

(Link just updated - it should work now)


Sunday, November 16, 2014

What's up Behind the Scenes?

If you enjoy the blog, you might not know that there is a secret blog running as well!  I have a social network site for those in my online classes called NING.  Ning is a place, kinda like Facebook (but better) where forums are ongoing with photos and personal pages.  Think of it like a meet-up spot for everyone who goes gaga for 17th century embroidery.  It is unbelievably lively with posts of embroideries in process for caskets, stumpwork, etc. as well as some amazing sharing of research photos.  Because of the private nature (password controled), if a group visits a museum and the curator gives permission (to me) for the pictures to be posted, the group then shares them.  Imagine that - it's like you were a mouse in their pocket without the expensive airfare to Australia or England or wherever! It's one of those unexpected benefits of classes.

It is also where we post pics like this.  Here is the king off a piece of stumpwork I am teaching as a side project in the Stumpwork course to show detailed how to on making such things as boots, hands, and the ever scary - faces.  This is one of the lessons for next month's installment.

It is hard to tell how much relief is involved in this figure - but he is almost 1 cm off the surface in most places and then gets a big fatter in others.  His queen will be finished soon and I will try to post pictures of her.


Friday, November 14, 2014

On My Christmas List

The new book by Naomi Tarrant (former curator National Museums of Scotland) chronicling the emergence of a distinctive Scottish sampler style is on my short list for Christmas.  There are so few books being published now in embroidery that one has to both support and enjoy those that are able to be published.

Unfortunately at the moment there is only one US vendor (that I know of -- please let me know of other sources) - Amazon.  Amazon has been the locus of price undercutting that has made it even harder for volumes like this in special interests to be published.

You can buy direct from England as well through the publisher.

The book name is 'Remember Now Thy Creator' Scottish Girls' Samplers, 1700-1872 by Naomi E. A. Tarrant

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

A Yummy Casket

This little (6 3/4" x 8" x 5") casket was sold recently by Sotheby's and is almost too yummy and tiny to mention!  A fall front piece and if the dates painted on it are to be believed, it is a quite early piece.   Dated 1658 it falls into a set of about a dozen dated pieces in the 1650s. Not surprisingly, these dated pieces also have quite a variety of shapes and configurations too.  I wish the dates were embroidered into the piece as so few out there have painted details.  Not being commonly seen, I have to reserve judgement on the date as I have seen so many pieces that have had their embroidery 'brightened' with paint over the years.

But it is still really sweet and makes one want to make a small box too!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Interesting History from a Sampler

This was a post today from the Sampler Consortium and after reading the article, it seemed a good thing to repost.  A sampler by "Charlotte Turner, Liberated African" is now in the collection of the Seattle Art Museum after a donation by Ruth Nutt, a collector of embroidery and other art objects.

Through the announcement of the donation, a reporter became interested in the description of an 1831 (pre-civil war) liberated African making a sampler at 10 and wanted to know more.  So she went on a fact finding mission which is at odds with the history that others want to ascribe to the object (many want the piece to be an American sampler).  It is an interesting written perspective from someone who has no previous work in the sampler field, and highlights as well the difficulties that museums have with interpretation and wishes for an object.

Read the article here


Saturday, November 1, 2014

Embroidered Bookbindings

There is a nice site using Flicker to show 17th century embroidered bookbindings and microscopic images of the embroidery on them.  The five books are in the collection of the University of Glasgow Library and can be found at their Flicker address.

I suggest putting them on the slide show feature because you can really see great details.  Also put your cursor over the "Presented here..." text.  It will bring up a pop-up window where text discussing the books and their embroidery will be shown.


Saturday, October 25, 2014

New Casket to be Sold

Lot 1 Sotheby's October 28th, 2014 Auction
Sotheby's has a casket in their October 28th auction.  It is a flat stitched piece with the Esther and Ahasuerus storyline.  What is unusual about this one is the big initials on the front (MC) worked in silver threads couched down.  I do like it and that is an interesting monogramming option for those of you designing caskets at the moment.   Note the family crest in between the M and C that incorporates the keyhole.  Very cute.

Enjoy the pictures!  If you go to their site, you can look at the piece closer or prepare a bid.


Thursday, October 23, 2014

New Book by Rebecca Quinton on Burrell Collection

Well, it is not so new, it was published in December but while I was in the Burrell this summer I stumbled across it and was really surprised that I hadn't heard about it!  Rebecca Quinton, the curator of the fantastic needlework collection at the Burrell has written a book about their 17th century costume collection.  It is very well done with lots of color photos and many of the close up photos of the embroidery that I always want to see in a book!

Reasonably priced at $21, it might be something that you have to put on your Christmas list this year.  I wasn't able to find a way to buy it through the museum (that way they get the funds) so if your local bookstore/needlework store doesn't have it you will have to use Amazon.  Maybe Hedghog Handworks will carry it if we ask enough times (I like using small businesses).


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Sampler Exhibition at Witney Antiques

Witney Antiques have announced their annual exhibition and it will be centered around samplers this year.

The exhibit is called Industry Taught in Early Days and runs from Monday, November 3rd to Saturday, November 22nd, 2014.  No word yet on one of their amazing catalogs for this year.

Witney is at 96-100 Corn Street, Witney OX28 6BU, very near Oxford so it is a do not miss if you are traveling in for the Ashmolean Exhibit!


Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Paper and Embroidery - The Pulp Fashion of Isabelle de Borchgrave

I love works in paper and I love embroidery - so we have to love the art of Isabelle de Borchgrave which mixes phenomental papers and fashion.  How someone can make paper look like embroidered silk... just wonderful.  There is a lovely pinterest on her work as well as a documentary to drool over!

This is paper!
She has done pieces for temporary exhibits as well as museums all over Europe reproducing time frames as early as the 16th century all the way through to modern times.  The works her referring to 18th century France are particualrily  yummy!!


Saturday, October 4, 2014

Unusual Stumpwork Picture

Very unusual arrangement of scenes that could almost be framed
by casket sides instead.  National Trust
I was looking at pictures tonight to wind down after two straight days of robot coaching (having so much kid energy to direct can be pretty exhausting).  It both makes you feel alive... and old.

So I came across this piece and I found it really unusual in its design.  First, the four corners have been treated like little vignettes with their own 'sets'.  Architecture and details that you don't normally see on pictures but might on the side of a casket.  If those of you out there are interested in the Esther story and the scene around the table - there is a nice drawing in the upper right corner.  The other item I find fetching is the
A more typical treatment with castle at top balanced by the grotto.
Flowers in the corners and birds/beasts to balance out.
National Trust
castle in the bottom left.

If you stare at it long enough, you will see the turkey in the piece!  Quite a few things to make one look twice.

Check it out magnified on the National Trust website.

Now contrast that with a more typical stumpwork picture, another one from the National Trust collection.  This one also has a tent stitch slip in the center but the corners and cardinal directions have more predictable content.  Really nice to see the contrast.

Building big metal robots.  Nine lanky
teen boys in a small area with nuts, bolts
 and rivet guns all over!
How many little robot kids can
fit on one small couch while
analyzing the robot missions in a
huge projected spreadsheet
So I need to take a hot soak and get some sleep - tomorrow there are work sessions by the robot kids too... My house looks like a war zone.  Caskets in the dinning room, boxes of kits everywhere, I am about ready to do the Winterthur pack and robot pieces and empty chip bags are everywhere.  And to top it all - the robot challenge this year has 140 whiffle balls that fall out of a structure onto the field.  Yes - 140 whiffle balls rolling around the house right now.  (Our testing of methods to get the balls into the tubes for scoring was totally hilarious - 10 people throwing them into the air to see if the 'shooting' method had merit.  Think I will have to repaint the darn walls again!).  And a whole tour of lovely needleworkers to show up in three weeks.  Gotta find a place for these robot parts to hide away!

Ok, these walls were only painted four
months ago.  Oh well.  
I have a lot of work on my plate in the clean up.  I am my own worst enemy.  I had the little guys go through an exercise in goal setting -- and so they plastered the walls in my hallway with post it notes - things that they want to do in their life.  Was so cute and so illuminating about their inner thoughts.  We are going to continue the exercise next week - trying to teach them about thinking big for their life and how to break dreams down into small goals to try to achieve on the way to big ones.  I was thrilled to see that every one of the 9-yr olds had 'go to MIT' on their list.  'Invent something that changes the world' was one of my favorites too.  And funny to see how many of them want to start a company with a teammate.  Cool.  I want some stock options kids!  Payback for the investment in the startup of you.

The funny thing was about fourteen years ago, my husband and I did this post-it note exercise ourselves.  It is a very illuminating exercise, focuses one on what you are doing now and what you really want to be doing.  One of the things on my list was 'make a casket'.  We are almost there!


Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Was this a Casket Side?

Sometimes I do a bit of surfing to see what is out there - looking for more examples.  It can take awhile to turn up something new.  Here is a piece of stumpwork that doesn't read as a project but I think seems like the side or back of a casket.  What do you think?

You can see some close images of the piece on their site.  Or take it home for about $1000.


Monday, September 29, 2014

Stumpwork Panel with Close Photos

This site has a nice piece that has been conserved (note the long threads tied down north-south).  But there are lots of close pictures.  Click on a picture, then hit the little four arrows in the bottom right and you will see the picture up close and can tell what threads and stitches were used.


Sunday, September 28, 2014

Where have you been?

I know some of you have been wondering where the blog went all summer!  Long Story - and humorous too in a 'glad that's not me kinda way'.

Well, my husband changed his job a little over a year ago and is able to take time off on his own schedule - working for himself.  Previously he was a high-tech start up guy and that meant a few short, high intensity vacations scattered around (this man doesn't vacate - he adventures).  But after 20 years of the fast life at work, he was a bit burnt out and needed to slow the work pace for a bit.  BUT he can't seem to slow the adventure pace - he just has time for it now!

So last year and this one he poured his heart into planning a few very long adventures abroad (hard to say no as he points out I can mostly work anywhere).  Before kids, when we had time we did a lot of backpacking around Europe - which is how I started all this embroidery research.  We never stopped - not even for infants (did you know German grocery stores don't sell diapers?).  But he hasn't quite learned that there are other ways to travel (elevators in hotels?  It means you are spending too much on a room).  Wife can't drive a stick?  Well it is too expensive to get an automatic - she will learn on the autobahn in a 20 km traffic jam.  I did put my foot down years ago and refused to carry the luggage on my back anymore.  But he won the battle on number of bags (as a family of four we still only have two).  I won the right not to wash my underwear in the sink and dry wet socks on my feet at night.  He has the same sweater in 24 years of vacation photos (Note to self - burn that thing!)

We go to amazing places.  Don't get me wrong - I love seeing the world.  But kinda wish the travel wasn't so much on the 'edge' because when you travel on the edge, things happen.  I never know what to say when I return looking ragged and people gush about the places and how refreshed we must be. I am dumbstruck about what to say - I just want to crawl into bed for a week.  Friends who really know us, line up to hear the 'latest stories' and laugh like crazy over a glass of wine.  My father usually picks himself off the floor laughing and reiterates his original statement after our 1-month 12-country honeymoon -"If I had known, you wouldn't have taken my daughter!" (Of course they have joined us twice now - just to see if my outlandish stories were true.  They were - but my husband did upgrade the level of hotel.  There were views, but no elevators to my dad's chagrin).  When we ask his sister to go somewhere with us - her standard refrain is "no rats".

We have been in police stations in the best of countries.  I have tried out every socialist health care system and really, really like them.    There may be a warrant for me in Prague but no one checked this year.  I know a few ways to get pharmaceuticals when lost (but this year the 'sew it into the stuffed flamingo' and fed-ex it didn't work).  Look both ways when crossing an active runway.  I always leave a selection of things I might need on my kitchen table -- just in case a family member needs to ship them to me.  I have learned that you can jump on a moving train... and boat.  Always buy the extra car insurance.
22 caskets and untold mirrors and stumpwork in
six days.  That was a good yield!  Some 6000
up-close research photos
And absolutely wear a money belt with your passports.  My son has a stance with his hands jammed in his pockets on travel to prevent loss - or monkeys from getting their hands in.  And once after hearing about 15 min of 'don'ts' before crossing into Northern Africa during the Arab Spring, the kid smartly asked - 'Why the heck are you bringing us here then!?'

So what could happen on a nine-country tour?  25 cities in 29 days?  Where at one point the four members of the family would be in three countries as diverse as Iceland, England and Turkey - only meeting up in Sweden for the first time since leaving the USA?  The 14-yr old had eight airplane legs for just his part alone?  No - nothing could go wrong?  When this year there are TWO Excel spreadsheets to keep the itineraries straight - worry.  And the hubby wonders why I was dreading this trip... Of course, if you read the last blog - you realize that nothing could faze him anymore.  You are getting the gist... the last 25 years of travel has been one long audition video for Amazing Race.

So the blog went dark because after the Chevy Chase around England/Scotland to see caskets and
THE FISH.  And we didn't even eat it.
stumpwork - I had a few days at a friend's place on the coast of the Baltic.  While there, my son and his friend were fishing.  They caught a great big fish and put it in a bucket.  Brought the bucket up the cliff to where I was 'relaxing' (i.e. working for the first time in days).  They stayed about 12 feet from me and showed me the big fish.  Nice fish.  Then fish went back in the bucket, where upon it thrashed and sprayed the entire deck with salty sea water.

Yes.  No more computer.  At this point insert Benny Hill ditty with Tricia drying computer with hairdryer, racing their boat back to Stockholm, begging Apple store to help her (no go - seems you need three weeks to get a
If you see this part of your
laptop - not good.
Genius bar slot), computer corroded, no english keyboard, many calls to USA, Apple store in Berlin, finally hard drive is corroded too.  Will have to wait until back in USA for back up drive.  No ability to work for 21 days.  Have to catch up when get back - and add 21 days of work to pile.  You can imagine the dumb founded look on Genius's here in Boston when I handed them the computer and said a fish did it.  (It was a whopper of a tale!)

This would be pretty bad if it wasn't the culmination of nine days of really, really bad travel juju.  You see my husband and friend had JUST landed the boat after trekking back to the airport to retrieve my bag that had been MIA for four days.  And that was the SECOND time in seven days.  I now had so many toothbrushes and deodorants to carry around.  And a full set of clothes that I had bought in only two hours at 4x what they cost in the USA.  And if that wasn't bad enough there was when we landed at the wrong airport.  The lightning that hit the high speed train.  The Mumbai train ride (just don't ask!) the only thing to know is that now my son and I have claustrophobia and couldn't ride a subway the rest of the entire month.  And when British Air decided to cancel the 14-yr old's flight and not reseat him - gave all the empty seats to adults even though we had paid them to accompany the child.
Despondent teen to dad after spending a week in the basement
storage areas of museums watching mother and friend
go ga-ga over "dirty old embroidery".
Poor substitute for Turkish resort and Scandinavian girls
He never made it to Turkey.  The details are gory and I have to thank my travel companion that week (a stitching friend) who had signed up for seeing lovely caskets with me - not to sleeping in a room with a very disappointed teen (missing a gift from his Swedish 'family' to go to a resort with them).  And at the end - when I was good and exhausted - we still had a technical conference to attend in Vienna for a week.  The husband dropped the older kid and I at a random train station in rural Austria and made an autobahn beeline for Munich airport.  We found our way to the conference.   The kid was giving the poster and workshop and I was the chaperone.  Three of the robot kids were there in this adult world.  I had to teach them how to negotiate an adult conference, network, the art of the reception, etc.  They did spectacular but it was exhausting.  Of course I would have to get food
Conference kids - they looked
good, were professional, and made
waves with their opinions on education.  

Then there was the volcano.  It decided to erupt as we landed in Iceland.  Why not?  Every time an Iceland volcano erupts I am flying.  Yes - this is the third time for me.

So I got home.  Almost no blog for eight weeks.  I still have 396 emails to process.

Husband is already trying to plan crazy international ski thing for February (bet the blog will go dark then too).  I didn't mention that my brother got married five days after we landed.  So we had to fly to that.  At least as we were standing forty people back in the cheep car rental line (sooo jet lagged) and the boys were lambasting their dad for not using his Hertz gold membership - he finally got it that we have had it and we dragged our bags across the street to Hertz.

Maybe there is hope for him.  Yes, he was wearing the trusty travel sweater.  I swear that thing is a bad luck charm!

I am going to burn it.


P.S.  He has NO input in my tours.  :-)  'Nuff said!