Saturday, April 30, 2016

Robot... Robot...

I am still closed and being on the road for 17 days is quite something!  We made it back for 36 hours and I had a ton of shipments to do as the Frostings Club went on wildfire.  So haven't gotten to blogs.

This is me yesterday - we are still going at it and today is the last day!  Many stories to tell...wish us all luck today!!


Friday, April 22, 2016

What is in the Second Frostings Box?

18 Trame colors in the bottom of the box
There are so many yummy threads in the Frostings Box 2!  I wanted to highlight a few of them today.  In the last few posts, I went over the new Trame threads, available in 18 colors that look in the box like a lovely rainbow.

There are most of the medium shades of the color families in my collection - the most used when you grab for a thread.

Accompanying these in the box are an assortment of useful threads for 17th century embroidery as well as a few 'Frostings Bonus' items that allow me to release a few small projects without you looking for that really hard
When you open the box
to find item.   Look for those projects sometime in May after I am back from my jaunts in 'teen land' and can get back to finishing them.

The first new sets of thread to mention is the two new silk gimp threads in the two olive colors that were introduced to expand the greens.  We started with a set of soie paris that links to the 199 color in the current green palette and included themin the stumpwork course.  Then a set of silk purls were made in the two colors and now the silk gimps!! This gives those making grasses and trees another set of textures in greens to use which provides a really needed break from the bright green set to add depth to your scenes.

The new olive green silk gimps, the light 199 olive green
is already in the regular green package
Small strawberry forms
Another item in the box is the smaller strawberry forms for stumpwork.  I like these newer sizes for a more delicate look.  There just might be a project in store for them!

My next post will complete the list of items in the box, going over the metal threads that are in it.

Now I have to head off to the last college visit. Pretty tired of walking all over campuses!

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Thistle Threads Closed - April 16-May 1st

Well, I was so busy getting out of town that I wasn't even able to post the closing!  It is spring break and time for college visits, followed by our trip to the FIRST Worlds Championship.  I will need a huge break after dragging myself through six states with 1 grumpy teen (this week) and 12 excited teens (next week).

The four to six hours of tours a day is already really old and we are only on college #2.  Three more to go (yea!).  Engineering always has its own tour to add on and yikes these land grant colleges are huge.

So if I am not answering emails that quickly,  I am likely glazing over in some room listening to meal plans and some silly story about how you won't graduate if you step under that arch.  Truly these could be compressed significantly!  I think it is some sort of additional hazing that all families need to go through - you would think that college tuition would be enough hardship.

I will try to get some interesting and useful blogs up over the next few days while soaking my feet.  :-)

Sunday, April 10, 2016

What Else Can You Do With Trame?

The REAL reason I wanted Trame was what you could make with it!  I won't tell you what else we have in the hopper that uses it in manufacturing, but it is also very useful at home for the experienced embroiderer.

I have known for a long time that the 17th century embroiderer was adept at taking a filament silk and dividing it or combining lengths and spinning it to make what they wanted.  That hand spinning technique is something that is still practiced in Japan and other Asian embroidery techniques and can be adapted to make many of the threads I have seen under the microscope.  

One of the clues was the sheer number of variations we could find on one piece.  Threads that were made with three colors and two weights of thread and then there were 10-12 different ones in one grotto.  That didn't make sense that you could go and buy spools of those threads off the shelf when if you just had a few raw spools - you could make about 18" of any combination you wanted.  The best example out there is the mirror with Jael & Barak at the MET.  If you look at this close picture, check the rock on the left hand side from the mirror in the mermaid's hand and then skip over one more.  It is made of threads that are sometimes called boucle.  But if you magnify them, you will see that the thick undulating core thread is wrapped by two very thin threads, often in different colors.  One goes in the Z direction and the other in the S direction around the core.  

So for years I have been experimenting with the Japanese flat silk and Soie Ovale to try to get these threads.  The missing link for the historic color line has been a thin thread to use with the Ovale.  

Just like on the Jael & Barak grotto
So while I am telling you now - I WAS going to accompany it with videos immediately showing how I made these with the Trame and Ovale.  That will have to wait a few more days until the finger heals enough to have the bandaids come off so I can hand spin threads again.  

In the most basic of discussion, thread making is all about putting the opposite twist into filament silk and then joining it with a second with the same twist and giving them a reverse twist together to balance them out.  When working with three plies, like the picture, I then put more twist into the pair and added a third ply.  Until the videos, this will seem like gobble gook.  

Anne Gomes has put a lovely primmer on making a basic 4 strand -> 1 twisted thread online which is a great basic if you want to start thinking about what can be done with these threads and how you can go to the next level of hand making threads.  

Here are some other examples of threads made with both Trame and Ovale.

From the left to right (1) Soft twist with ovale and trame, (2) hard twist with ovale and trame and (3) a boucle with two different trames and a ovale

Friday, April 8, 2016

Warning - Frostings Spoiler

So if you are still waiting for your Frostings Box 2 to get out of customs - stop reading and come back when you get your box!  But from the chatter, I can tell that the bulk of the shipments have arrived at their destination and so it is time to start talking about what is in the box and explore the contents!

This box is dominated by a new line of silk thread that I have been working with Access
The larger silk thread in 714 (Light blue) is Soie Ovale as
compared to the thin Trame below it, also in 714
Commodities to get in our colors.  Trame is a very thin, untwisted filament silk that is about 1/8 the thickness of the Soie Ovale.  Unlike Japanese filament silk, Soie Ovale has a certain number of filaments that twist around the flat silk about 1 twist per foot so it is extremely hard to see, but if you are familiar with dividing flat silk and have tried, you found this out by making a huge mess.  I had heard this enough to realize that there was a desire for a thinner, shiny filament silk thread for our caskets.  Now you can use one or more lengths to make whatever thickness of flat silk you want.  And if you are thread painting, you can change the color or change the number of lengths in your needle to get effects.

Then there are the miniaturists!  Those who are stitching really small versions or want to include silk gauze embellished pieces on their caskets.  This thread is thin enough to work with multiple counts of  gauze or work satin stitched pieces in miniature.  So I am excited that we have been able to bring 18 colors of our 32+ color line to life - more than doubling the number of colors of Trame that Au Ver a Soie has made and for the first time providing a shade series in this line.

Couching over striped gimp with Trame
And there is great power in having at your fingers so many weights of thread in the same colors.  You can mix and match in texture and the Trame is the BEST for couching all the other materials we are making, especially the new striped gimps.  It is so thin that the stitches just disappear - check the picture of the couching.

So thread painting is the first application of this thread that I want to talk about and provide a project for you with the Frostings Club to try.

Royal Armory in Stockholm
While the students making caskets sometimes used very thin threads like this, especially on the drawer fronts where small details of scenes were sometimes worked, professionals in both England and the Low Countries often worked their pieces with such a variety of thread weights.

This casket top is likely a professional piece, the thin filament silk used for her face and flower garland is close to the Trame.   Thread painted flowers, especially tulips and similar bulbs surrounded by heavy gold thread framing were especially indicative of Dutch or Flemish works.  This Dutch glove in the collection of the Royal Armory in Stockholm as well as this purse at the Rijksmuseum are examples of such works.

I have worked a project inspired by the Rijksmuseum Iris for you using the Trame and gold thread in Box 2.  Included is the Cordon (striped gimp) from Box 1.  Just add a ground fabric and a couching thread (or use the Trame) for the gold thread and you have everything you need in Frostings.  The piece is just 2" square and the tiny nature of it just makes it all the more precious (as well as doable!).

New Frostings Club project - 17th Century Dutch Iris - The link to the project instruction
Now the story behind what it is. isn't finished.  I had visions of making it into a tiny purse with two stiff squares that contained a small silk drawstring bag in between that was tied shut using the blue and cream lacet in Box 1.  So why isn't it finished?  Well, let me not so briefly tell you the 'Spiralizer Story'.

Well, what happens when you get back from a major robotics competition and haven't seen real civilization for months?  The robot boy had his iPhone fail while we were gone so we decided to reward him with a new one for the non-stop work.  So a trip to the mall was had by me and the boy.  You know you have been heads down far too long when you can't find any of the stores as they have all moved!  "God - how long has it been", I thought?  Of course, I could have just looked down at the slightly stained shirt from the '90s I was wearing to tell you the answer!  So I decided to reward myself and at least walk around the mall once with him - really I was trying to acclimate myself with current trends again (I think my outfit read 'Nerd mom' to everyone who looked at us).  So we got sucked into William Sonoma with their cute Easter display and then we saw it - The Spiralizer.   It was like someone said - here is a kitchen robot, try it out!  It was complete with nice recipe books that promised that I could turn zucchini into spaghetti and my kids would eat it!  We were quickly seduced in a moment of great weakness.  Clearly we don't get out much!  So while I have a three general rules about the kitchen: (1) never buy gadgets to clutter my cabinets, (2) never, never ever buy something with a blade and (3) remember rule #2; I broke them all with the siren call of the Spiralizer.  It didn't help that when I asked the nice lady about how it folded up, my robot boy figured everything out and all its cool gadgetry.  He made those sounds that a teen would normally make seeing a hot rod go by or a cute girl.  Clearly he doesn't get out enough too!
The kitchen robot aka "the spiralizer'
aka 'no more needlework this month'

So two days later and a ton of curly fries, 10-foot long cucumber spirals and the like; I decided to use more of that robot boy labor I have around here and asked three of them to process some potatoes since I was making them dinner (Again!).  I can't tell you how thrilled they were with the results and how much they fought over who was twirling the veggies.  But before they got going, the boy pointed out that the plastic wasn't clean in a spot and, still recovering from the sensation overload that is THEM, I reached down and violated the reason for rule #2.  I tried to scratch the offending dried veggie off the plastic and ignored the fact that there was a blade.

Ok, an hour later we were still debating if I needed stitches after the pressure was just not stoping the bleeding.  My right index finger!  My most important stitching finger!!  And on top of it, in front of all the kids and my judgmental teen.  Of course he didn't realize rule #2 and why it had been a 20-year standing rule in our house.  I am not allowed near kitchen blades.  I am relegated to the dull knife.  (Don't ask why I am not allowed to grate cheese).  I will never, ever have a mandolin - seems useful but I will just change what I cook to avoid those.

What I envisioned...
So not only can I not stitch, I had to hear about my massive stupidity from the judgmental teen for a few days.  And then I re-injured it two days later trying hard to box some caskets (how can something bleed again so much?).  But there was some justice for the ridicule; that day my tall robot boy had to help me make dinner because I couldn't put any pressure on a knife and he decided to use the Spiralizer to do the deed.  Well, it only took a half hour to stop his bleeding.  So now we are both walking around here with matching band-aids and I can finally tap the keyboard with that finger to write out the story.  So maybe in a week or two it will heal enough to allow some embroidery.  Definitely two or more until finishing with thin
needles can be done.

So the iris embroidery was done, but not the finishing.  It would be lovely to put a tulip on the other side of the purse!  I will have to leave it to the club members to imagine their own finishing from my drawing.


Sunday, April 3, 2016

New Online University Course Posted

I am going to be running a course to make a Peacock for your casket (and your pins and needles) using lacets.  The course starts on June 1st and will run for two months.  The sign up for the course is on my new shop site in a new location.  Courses will start to show up there and I have the next three for 2016 up there now with start dates.  The sign ups for the others will be posted soon.  With so many delays with materials, I have had to wait until the materials have gotten made and then to the USA to make sure I can pack the kits.  

There will be 100 spots for the Peacock and a few people already found it after it posted Sunday afternoon, so a few are spoken for!

Friday, April 1, 2016

A Yummy Basket

Today I spent a great deal of time updating the weblinks for my Cabinet of Curiosities course and Stumpwork course.  The web is a dynamic thing and often they go fallow.  Sometimes that is a good thing as a museum has finally gotten their collections online and I stumble onto a better set of pictures than ever existed on the web.  Today was one of those days!

Here is a beaded basket in the collection of the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge.  The basket formerly only had a picture that was close up on one corner, keeping us from seeing what the entire piece looked like.  And this one is such a lovely example!

Fitzwilliam Museum Acc. No. T.162-1946

Fitzwilliam Museum Acc. No. T.162-1946

Fitzwilliam Museum Acc. No. T.162-1946