Thursday, August 28, 2008

Back in the USA

We returned home yesterday from England, we had a great time, but there is no place like home.

We have so many good memories of the people we met, the places we visited and the things we saw, we will be talking about everything for years to come.

As a member of The Sampler Guild I had the opportunity to visit Belfast, Skipton, Ashford in Kent and several homes.
They are great group of people who welcomed me into the guild and treated me as if they had know me forever. I really appreciated all their kindness and hospitality. In a previous posting I posted pictures of the gifts I received, I will enjoy them all and will fondly remember each person who gave them to me.

This is a picture taken at the Linen Museum in Belfast, I had never thought about how linen is made, she is spinning the flax and then the linen is woven on a loom.

I have two places that I visited several times and would go back to again, if any of you ever go to England you should see the Sunbury Embroidery and Hampton Court Palace.

The Sunbury Embroider is an amazing needlework project created by the village of Sunbury. You can go to their web site to see pictures:
There is also, a walled garden and a cafe with freshly baked treats and tea.

The picture is of the sculpture of a French knot, I talked to one of the people at the museum and they are going to have the French knot sculptures, in a small version, to sell. A great gift for someone who loves needlework. There is no charge to visit this museum and pictures are allowed.

My other favorite place is Hampton Court Palace, the home of Henry VIII and where the Royal School of Needlework is located. The gardens are beautiful, I have visited them in February, May, July and August the gardeners are always working to keep them in excellent shape. A great place to get ideas for future projects.

Now it is time to get back into a routine at home and make time for stitching everyday, I have a friend who stops working every afternoon at 3:00 to put needles in her hands, either to stitch or knit. I need to remember to do the same everyday, so I will have new pictures to post.

Hope everyone has a nice Labor Day week-end!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Hardanger Workshop Update

I have had a few messages regarding the Hardanger Workshop I taught last week in England and thought I would tell everyone why I taught the workshop and the reason I selected the fabric I did.

I was invited to teach the workshop because I had been attending an Embroidery Class every Monday at the Community Center since January and the tutor asked if I would be interested in teaching the workshop for her. She knows I want to teach needlework classes when I return home and she thought it would be a good opportunity for me.

The fabric we used for the workshop was 28 count linen because I did not have any other options, I understand 22 count Hardanger fabric would have been easier to see but I was unable to get Hardanger fabric before the workshop. I am excited about going home where I have a wonderful shop and I have lots of supplies at home too.

Thank you to everyone who made suggestions, I appreciate the input.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Hardanger Workshop

Yesterday I taught a Hardanger Workshop at the community center here is England for seniors. There were nine ladies, some of them had done Hardanger in the past, like 40 years ago and others have never tried it before. Most of them need to get new glasses as they could not see what they were doing. I would go around and make sure they were doing OK, if they had made a mistake I would remove the kloster blocks and redo them to the same point, by the time I got back I would have to another repair job. I always explained and showed them where the error was so they would know, I told them several times to look at the back of their work a good way to find errors. The tutor was there to help and that was great, not sure I could have handled it without her. The workshop was for three hours and I think there were three who got the kloster blocks done, they were just making a square with 6-8 kloster blocks on each side. I did get three started on the buttonhole stitch around the edge.

I had brought written instructions and they were glad to have them to take home and practice. One lady said "Hardanger is not for me." I appreciate the honesty. One lady said I was a very patient teacher, even my husband said that when he arrived a few minutes before we were done. I couldn't believe how tired I was after just three hours.

I did have a good time and it was exciting when a couple of them said they would make something, hope they send me pictures I would love to see what they make.

Today we all had lunch together and several ladies thanked me and said they enjoyed the workshop, the tutor thought it went well too.

This was my first teaching experience and I learned a couple things to help me when I teach another class:
1. I would limit the number attending the class
2. I would ask that the students can see
3. The students should have a little experience working on even weave fabric

Overall it was a good practice for me and I will want to teach more when we return home.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Needlework Treasures

Saturday I went to the last Get Together with The Sampler Guild in England before we go home next week.

This is a picture of the gifts I received, they are going away gifts, but I will be back next year.

The "cake" is a tape measure, a friendship box, scissors with a fob and a friend made the Biscornu for me, it is lovely with beads and little pink flowers. I have been spoiled with all these treasures.

We have gone to Covent Gardens in London a couple times and I found more treasures, just what I need more to pack to take home but I couldn't pass them up and I did a little bargaining too.

I have wanted a half doll for some time and the one on the left is perfect, I love the yellow and the blue, it will be fun to make the pin cushion for her. I found the thimble, I don't have one and decided I need a thimble so I will have an excuse to make a thimble holder. The hooks and eyes were made in the USA and I think they need to go back home and I was surprised to find large ones all in the original package. The laying tool will be handy for removing stitches as well as for a laying tool.

Do any of us needle workers need an excuss to buy new tools?

Silk Shading

I finally finished the silk shading project from the two day class I took at the Royal School of Needlework last May. A friend flew over from the states to stay for a week and take the class with me, we had a great time visiting Hampton Court Palace, Sunbury Embroidery, Kew Gardens and Richmond Park.

Anyway I have finished my sunflower and I know it isn't perfect, but I also know where the errors are and I will have time to practice more silk shading before I take my Certificate Class next spring.

I haven't pressed it yet and not sure if I will frame it or what yet. I will decide later when we return home to the states.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Certificate Classes at the Royal School of Needlework

The Royal School of Needlework (RSN) has a program where people can take four classes to earn a Certificate, the classes are Jacobean Crewel, Canvaswork, Silk Shading and Goldwork. After the four basic classes are completed successfully there are additional advanced classes that can be taken in other techniques.

All of the projects for the Certificate Classes are worked on slate frames. It takes between 1 and 1 1/2 days to create the design, frame up and transfer the design to the fabric. The slate frame is wonderful to work on as it keeps the fabric very tight, it is worth the time it takes to frame up and have the fabric stay tight while stitching the project. Each project is assessed and the student receives the assessment with the score and comments from the tutor.

I have completed the Jacobean Crewel and Canvaswork Certificate Classes. I took the intensive classes, which are two weeks, Monday-Thursday from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM each day for each technique. I brought each project home over the week-end in order to finish on time. The mounting takes another day or so to complete.

The projects are suppose to be original designs. For my crewel project I looked at 3 different designs and took parts from each to create my design. We were suppose to use 2 colors with several shades and one contrast color also with several shades. We used Appleton wool for the crewel projects. The design was suppose to be a tree of life with an insect or animal.

My canvaswork project was taken from a photograph that I took while in Bayeau, France. The water wheel is located near the Bayeau Tapestry. We were suppose to have a water design to learn to do the reflection. The design was traced and then transferred to the canvas which was on the slate frame. We had to use a variety of stitches and threads on 24 count canvas. I used about 22 different stitches, DMC and Anchor floss, metallic thread and flat silk.

I will take the Silk Shading class next spring in San Francisco and return to Hampton Court Palace in England for the Goldwork class. I will be working on small projects to improve my skills.

Monday, August 11, 2008

RSN Day Classes

The other days classes I have taken at the Royal School of Needlework are Silk Shading, Stumpwork and Knot Garden.

The Knot Garden class was actually in Winchester for just one day, but enough to create a small garden and make plans for a larger one soon. I have the DMC box with the glass insert in the lid, I think it will be fun to make a knot garden to put in this box and I have been thinking about a lavender knot garden too. I have taken pictures of many knot gardens for inspiration. especially the gardens at Hampton Court Palace and Kew Gardens.

The stumpwork class was two days, again enough to give me ideas of other projects I can make later. There were several kits to pick from, I selected the castle because I wanted to learn to make buildings and the mount with the bushes. I also, purchased one other of a snow drop. Some of the other people made orchids, they were beautiful.

The silk shading class was for two days and we used DMC and/or Anchor floss and stitched on silk fabric with calico (muslin to the Americans) on the back. There were several different flowers to pick, I like yellow and my husband is from Kansas so the sunflower had to be my project. Now I have learned that I should have picked a tulip instead of the sunflower, but that can be my next silk shading project. This project is still not finished, I will finish it and work on more silk shading to improve my stitching. In this class we used two ply of floss, but most classes use only one ply which is slower but much easier to work with. I think the silk shading is the hardest class that I have taken, so I need to practice a lot before I take the Certificate Class next spring.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Royal School of Needlework - 3 day Jacobean Crewel Class

It has always been a dream to take classes at the Royal School of Needlework. Last February the dream came true. We had retired and now living near Hampton Court Palace and going to school. The three day Jacobean Crewel class is the first class I took and throughly enjoyed every minute. I had taken a crewel class as the Elsa Williams School of Needleart near Boston many years ago, so I did have a little experience although experience is not required.

There were 10 people in the class and we were shown several designs we could stitch or we could design our own. I choice the above design. We used the prick and pounce method to transfer the design to the twill linen fabric. I had never seen this method of transferring designs, I found it easy to do, maybe not fast but that is fine too.

Next we had to select colors, I choose shades blue, purple, yellow and green, love the colors. I probably would not have picked the purples but I do like the combination.

And then the stitching began using many different stitches from the book "Embroidery Stitch Bible" which several of us purchased at the Royal School of Needlework shop.

The project is done and waiting to be framed, I will post a picture of the framed piece.

Proper Project - Hampton Court Palace

This is the embroidery project that I stitched in an embroidery class at the community center. I took a photograph at Hampton Court Palace, made a few changes - added the birch tree and enlarged the bench. The fabric was painted with fabric paint and the bench was drawn on with a fabric pen. By painting the grass and sky on the fabric there was no need to stitch it. The picture to the above shows the photograph and the painted fabric before any of the stitching was started.

I used DMC, Anchor and overdyed cotton floss, made a case to hold the thread to try to keep them straight and organized.

The fabric was put on a frame and the stitching began.

The stitches used were stem stitch, chain stitch, small straight stitches, satin stitch, French knots, buttonhole, lazy daisy, long and short, fly stitches and bent straight stitches.

It took a couple of months to complete this project and it is well worth the time. This is the first time I have ever done something like this and look forward to doing more of these kinds of projects in the future.

I will be posting more completed projects from the classes I have taken at the Royal School of Needlework in the next few days too.