Sunday, August 22, 2021

Needlepoint - contemplative stitching

 There is something to be said about simple stitching … in this case, one of the needlepoint panels I had languishing in my stash for ages. 

As the first bands of hurricane Henri arrive on the Connecticut shoreline I have been up for a while working away on the 3rd panel. 

Glad to have unearthed these in my stash during this last year of unsettled activity.   Still on the lookout for the fourth, now out of production kit - Irises. Perhaps one day I will find that last panel by Ehrman also. 

I have not posted for a long time now but have been stitching all along, selecting from my stash  many things I had collected over the years with notions of stitching them ALL.  They prove to be just perfect for these last months. 

Hope all is well in your part of the world… all the variety of techniques in my collection are proving once again to be most healing and useful.  So grateful for all the good things around in these times. 

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Happy Valentine’s Day - hoping for a finish

 Aiming for a finish on this Valentine’s Day!

Adding some finishing touches on Mary Starkey aka The Chase sampler ... some interesting textures and DMC does have a sheen ...

Hope you are all well .... more to come !

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Wishing you all a Happy Thanksgiving

Even though our lives have been riddled with challenges and problems, I choose to be grateful for all the blessings.

May this find you and your families in good cheer and health.  May all of us find the strength and courage and not lose hope. 

Sunday, August 16, 2020

Life interrupted - once more -

 Life and planned finishes and all needlework plans and projects interrupted - dealing with a ‘flood’ and all the resulting damage at the office ... 

So close to a finish on yet another easy sampler during these trying times ... just not sure if I have the energy to get this off my frame today....

And, the long promised update on all my recent sampler projects from last year until now will have to wait a while longer ...I do apologize ...

Here is a simple project I started on May 10, 2020... could have finished it in June as planned but practicing with new protocols and N95 masks etc resulted in exhaustion and no stitching or even other activity for weeks.  And, just as we were getting used to the N95 masks and getting back to a more ‘normal’ rhythm, we were greeted by ‘rain’ in our office thanks to the tenant above inadvertently leaving the bathroom sink faucet running and vacating the premises for 2-4 days because of the power outage in the building thanks to the storm 1.5 weeks ago.

It has been a very trying time once again - really disheartening to see a space we have taken good care of for years in such a state of disrepair... have been working nonstop to try and get some semblance of order since last Friday  ... water and sophisticated electronic equipment are not a good mix...lots of research and work ahead ... some of the framed needlework pieces, Japanese embroidery, diplomas etc  were ‘in the rain’ - have not had time to really look closely at ‘decorations’ yet.

Anyway, here is the last little bit left on this NΓΌrnberg sampler by Essamplaire ... started it on May10 during the mandatory Covid shutdown... was a delightful project to work on while attending the 7-11 webinars daily since early March trying to understand and learn more ... lots of worry and research ... having simple stuff in my stash to keep myself busy with was really a treasure to have.

Grateful that no one was injured ... many of us are going through difficult times ... and once again, time with needle and thread - creating,  even with just simple techniques,  is a soothing ‘constant’ in my life. Most thankful for the little things ... 

Hoping that all of you are well and that you have found time to ‘create’ things also... 

Sunday, March 15, 2020

A change of pace - Ann Dale ‘on a short hold’

Taking a break from Ann Dale was finally my only solution ...
I have to think through color choices and have already spent the past months letting a simple cross stitch project deter me from my original plans for this year.  Finding out that this once so out of print and hard to find chart and kit is now readily available is not helping my attitude towards this project.
Making me question why I looked for years, bought a chart and then found the original kit with a chart and paid quite a bit for it ... this, only, so I could explore ‘primitive stitching & samplers’ and see how another designer approaches their work!
I am planning on taking a week to ten days away from it but have to continue with it - otherwise I know it will end up being a UFO (Unfinished Object) forever I fear.... and that would be a total waste of energy and time and money.
The recent out of print / limited editions and then back in print ‘simple samplers’ have made me very wary of the way social media is being used to drive sales and market things.

Anyway, I decided to get some of the recent social media driven ‘on a whim’ simple/travel  project category’ purchases out of my system.  So, I tried to work a simple sampler and attempted to work it in hand once more -  that lasted about 15 minutes !  Then tried sticking to a hoop - about 2 hours of unproductive results  late on Friday night and finally set up things on a frame and then started, changed colors, added stitches to keep my interest and finished this project on Saturday afternoon.  The finishing instructions that had originally made this Facebook store post intriguing to me and had driven this purchase are not what I had hoped for... so, I will consult my books to jog my memory and make it a bit of a learning experience on some other points at the end of the month.

And, so, on this beautiful Sunday morning I started another one of the simple sampler project kits that was a ‘special shop exclusive’ last year ... until I have Ann Dale sorted out so it can be just a late night / when I am tired sort of project, I think I will just get some of these ‘new to me, simple projects’  out of the way...

ENJOY the weekend - hope you have time for needle and thread ! 

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Early morning light ...

My favorite way to start a Sunday ... watching the early morning light dance across my needlework and see the silk threads gleam golden.  It is more spectacular with filament silk but I was working on a simple sampler this morning... trying to solve some color and charting issues ...
the ‘real’ camera was upstairs and sadly the IPhone did not capture the glimmering silk.... but see the long shadow a small needle cast in the second photo ...
Ann Dale 1827 - Shakespeare’s Peddler 

Ann Dale 1827 - Shakespeare’s Peddler 

I know I am woefully behind in updating you all here ... had every
intention to get this done on January 1, then February 1 .... maybe it will be
a long post on March 1 .... no promises though πŸ˜‰
Anyway, hope this finds you all well,  hope you are enjoying your times with needle and thread ....
I have had some excellent experiences that will take time to describe.
At the present moment I am trying to figure out some details on what I consider simple but charming,
mainly cross stitch samplers - things that were supposed to be fun and easy are actually taking up more ‘thinking time’ thus  slowing down my progress on what I call ‘easy stitching‘.

Anyway, just wanted to post briefly - am still around.

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Happy New Year - 2020!

May this first day of 2020 usher in Peace, Happiness and Contentment
- wishing you all a Happy New Year !

I hope the last few days of 2019 have been peaceful ones for you.
I am most grateful for all the things that are part of my life.
I hope to post about all my recent activities and the long overdue needlework
and sampler photos shortly.

Hope you enjoy this first day of the year !
Can’t believe we are now entering the year 2020 ... that seemed so far
in the future ... even ‘1984’ seemed so far away when I was reading
A. Huxley’s book for the first time ...

May we all embrace each moment and have the Courage
to face all the adventures still ahead ...

Sunday, December 1, 2019

December 1 ! A brief update ... much to be thankful for

Thanksgiving in USA this year was later than usual... and it found us stateside this time - canceled yet another bunch of trips and activities while tests continue to figure things out far all data is well within the normal range which is good and puzzling at the same time.

The result of all these cancellations of activities is that we got to spend Thanksgiving Day with all the family and extended family - it is rare to get everyone together these days! My mother and sister did all the preparations - my contribution this time was just one cake amongst all the cakes - it got polished off  so quickly that I ended up baking another cake so that people could enjoy it a bit more on the days after Thanksgiving.  We had a smorgasbord of delicious non vegetarian as well as vegetarian dishes to accommodate everyone’s tastes... not ‘just’ turkey with all the trimmings but also chicken and herbed salmon etc. etc .... didn’t even get to many of the dishes which is a sign of ‘aging’ - just do not enjoy the ‘stuffed feeling’ anymore !

 Another good thing that came out of all this  ‘trying to get better ‘ is that I have made slow but steady progress on the needlepoint pillow kit I had pulled from stash at the end of October ...
Also,  now that the cough is in the past and I  am not feeling as weak as I have been these past months it is time to will myself back to my normal schedule - mind over matter as always ... grateful that I can override things still since the weird fever and chills continue.

It is dawn here as I write and the colors of the sky outside are turning all shades of scarlet and pink oranges - it is a cold and brilliant sunrise - no sounds of the birds yet .... the colors on my canvas match some of the colors I see outside right now ... an interesting coincidence on what will be my last day working on this project.

I have finished a few simple samplers this year - will post on those shortly.

Sunday, October 27, 2019

A rainy Sunday update

Still not feeling great on this rainy Sunday of Diwali.  Trying to focus on at least feeling like I am doing something productive - needlepoint this time ... 
amazing how fever and cough messes up ‘simple projects / basic counting’ but the colors make me feel better no matter what thread I am using. 

Friday, September 13, 2019

This evening’s study

Many of you have emailed or messaged me to find out if things were okay ...
I have been weaning myself off of Facebook and trying to not ‘waste time’ finding and posting fun stuff on social media but using my time instead to focus back on my own work.

This has been a summer full of ‘events’ ... mostly good and exciting events - I got to see some places that I had only dreamed about and imagined from books I have read ... only 
to see that my imagination fell short of the grandeur and magnificence of the actual places.  

Anyway, just finished all the samplers I had earmarked this summer for ‘tennis watching/
travel’ projects ....  a bit after the USOpen tennis 🎾 BUT the games this year were amazing and made it impossible to stitch even easy cross stitch samplers!

So, this evening found me looking in my stash for something to replace that category of projects ...
Came upon some of my Rhode Island Balch samplers in the ‘1-2 year start/ travel projects’ files.  This lead to my trying to remember all the ones that have been reproduced and their chronological order.... couldn’t remember or put my hand on the book where I had read things when I was studying the Balch school etc ....
Went online and found a nice article which may be of interest to some of you :

Anyway, I know I have neglected to post for a while - will do so shortly... fun and easy stitching this summer ... 

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Some thoughts - continued

I had begun writing a blog post last Friday at a time when I was not feeling too great ... my stomach continues to be touchy and is stopping me from getting much done in any area, but I digress.  I thought I had put the post in the 'Draft area' because I got sidetracked by 'technology'.  I realized that my lengthy post in March after returning from Advanced Class at the Japanese Embroidery Center where I attempted to share some thoughts and reasons had never posted (!) and  was sitting in the Draft area.   Anyway, this is just to explain the rather abrupt post on Friday - I had planned to insert some photographs of my slower than planned progress on the Norwich Sampler.  I will rectify this here now for those of you who are following this simple but charming cross stitch sampler with interest:

Part of what I was trying to say also in my last post was that I have restricted my blog posts mostly to samplers and western embroidery and that I have shared many more things on my Facebook page - shared links and articles there (too many perhaps) on a variety of topics.  I do think that many of them have the common underlying threads of mastery, passion, focus, heart. I know that many of you are not on Facebook but may find some of the embroidery related links I find through my 'research' as I browse the internet just as interesting.  Even though I like the 'sharing' on Facebook, I do wonder about the communications and about some of the ways people just 'take your posts and share' without giving credit or thanks or taking the time to comment or say anything.... it is similar to what puzzles me here on this blog -  few people comment here or subscribe but when I look at the statistical analysis there are some posts that have over 500 views and some of the whitework closeups I so naively provided in full resolution because of 'everyone wanting to see more details' without even 'marking/watermarking' my photographs are over 1000!
It is also interesting to note that when I provide a link to the new blogpost on Facebook, traffic increases, comments and likes ensue there but rarely here ! I have met many people who have told me in person they love to read my posts but I had no idea they did since they had not subscribed or commented.  Some of my needlework friends want me to share on Instagram ... I have watched some of the things there and it puzzles me even more ... videos are available briefly there and then 'disappear' just as quickly as they arrived.  I must confess I do not understand the ins and outs of 'technology', of bombarding /marketing laterally on various platforms with the same images.  I know that this constant bombardment of info must be effective,  people are earning money somehow or launching/promoting their business in this manner.  The sheer string of # (hashtags) attached to each post is interesting to observe.  I know there are a number of things I have to sort out, a number of decisions to make - all of that takes time.  And, again, I am not writing all this here 'looking for likes or comments' - just trying to assess if it is worth my sharing anything at all - all of this takes time; no problems with me on that IF there is relevance and IF this has a value.  There are certainly a multitude of images of all sorts of embroidery available on the internet and I certainly don't want to add to the 'noise' since I am not an expert.  There are plenty of people with much greater knowledge of techniques and historical context.  I addressed this in my March post - suffice it to say that the world of the professional embroiderer is a world that inspires me.

For now,  I hope I can figure out how to attach some links to my blogposts here and also to find out if you feel this is of value.

Here are just three links I have shared on my Facebook page many times before

Joy Jarrett of Witney Antiques on Samplers

An interesting video with the director of the Cluny museum

making a tapestry :

After seeing some of the discussions on Facebook regarding providing details on samplers because of people 'stealing' the information,  I have gone back and reduced the size of all my images here even though I know that this is no 'protection' per se and that those 'stealing' have already gleaned all the information and incorporated it.  The reason for me to go back and do this is not to 'protect' my embroidery ... I have my work and pictures and some of my own smaller designs that I so enthusiastically shared have already made it to Pinterest etc.  The main reason is to try and 'protect' the work and copyright of the designers of the samplers. Most of them provide closeups of the original samplers on their websites anyway and share good pictures on Facebook so that I can 'study' and 'compare' or further research things on my own as I am apt to do but it was never my intention to provide people with clear magnified pictures... I have described and shown closeups of many techniques - the idea was to share my experiences and show some ways of how I work through my projects - some of the questions being talked about on social media now have been addressed in previous posts here - just studying some of the pictures provides many clues.  I sincerely hope that showing such detail did not harm the business end of things for some of the designers.  I know from a few of them that my blogging about certain samplers or crewelwork pieces brought in some orders for them.  I do hope that will continue... I choose to believe in the goodness of mankind.

Friday, June 21, 2019

Some thoughts ..

I am closing in on completing the Norwich sampler shortly - it had been an easy project and I must admit I wondered if I should ‘add’ other stitches ‘just’ to break up the monotony of simple cross stitch.

I have shared many  posts on my Facebook page on sampler stitching

Sunday, June 9, 2019

A Sunday update - the Norwich sampler

A beautiful Sunday - enjoying the French Open 🎾 at Roland Garros .... 
an excellent weekend witnessing immense passion, heart and skill in tennis and at the Belmont horse races yesterday 🐎 ....
Hard to watch and stitch on the sampler ... so will be a bit behind in finishing the Norwich sampler ! πŸ˜‰ 

A simple but fun sampler ...  this was a progress photograph from a few nights ago - closing in on the last band now but won’t finish tonight - the games are just too good to watch and stitch! 
 A Norwich sampler by the Examplarery ...

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Band samplers ...

The ‘theme’ this weekend on one of the Facebook sampler groups is ‘band samplers’.  Here are just some glimpses of some of the  band samplers I have stitched and shared on my blog ... in the past, I used to mostly stitch band samplers that were considered ‘advanced’ - now, it seems I am stitching fun and easy projects lately - getting carried away by all the  fun samplers I see on Facebook groups ...
Got to get back to my own, ‘old / disciplined’ ways .... samplers will remain standbys - tennis 🎾 and horse races πŸ‡ and TV watching stuff ....

Will share my progress on the Norwich sampler soon ... have a great Sunday !

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Quick update : Agnes Begbe sampler & a new start

The month of May ushered in lots of celebrations.... my parents 60th wedding anniversary, graduations from high school and universities in the immediate family and finally, signs of Spring!

Life on my end has been busy - the organizational review of all systems continues on the side - a lot of work but also a good feeling to slowly be getting back to ‘old routines’.

It seems like the posts where I express my opinions in needlework do generate a lot of interest - there are many ways and lots of things I know have worked better for me than others - I usually don’t share too much of that because I realize that most things are personal preference.  Please let me know if you would want me to share some of the tools and ways I have found to work for me ...

So, I know some of you are curious to see the recently completed samplers ... I will post  my working photographs today - I was waiting for good light to take better pictures.
Yesterday would have been a good day for this but I was too busy taking a day off and watching the Italian Open tennis championships  πŸŽΎ and then the Preakness horse races πŸ‡ 🐎 after that!
So here are some photographs of Agnes Begbe : 

May 8,2019
Agnes Begbe  - The Examplarery
35ct. Linen & DMC threads in the kit 

And then, like it often is after I have finished a project, I feel extremely odd just sitting there and watching TV... I just didn’t feel like getting into something ‘complicated ‘ at the moment since the days are pretty filled with ‘organizational’ decisions and leave me quite tired at the end of the day. 
The other day when I was ‘helping’ a friend choose her next project I had made the big mistake of opening my file cabinets filled with fun and easy samplers suitable for travel etc.  I had taken out three samplers to show her ... Agnes Begbe was one of them ... and the next one was another sampler kit by Joanne Harvey.  Another kit I had bought a very long time ago ... I always like to begin a needlework project  on a ‘special’ day ( birthdays in the family, anniversaries etc ).  I had been resisting the urge to start a rather complicated Japanese Embroidery project on my parents’ 60th anniversary and sitting around after coming home from the luncheon celebration with them was just too ‘weird’ ... I knew we would be busy with a longer /larger celebration on Saturday  so, on Friday evening, I started this simple sampler instead :


It was fun setting it all up on Friday night and then having something fun and easy to work on while watching 🎾 tennis or horse racing πŸ‡ these past few evenings or watching some interesting videos on YouTube on music, musicians, history/ crafts etc etc ...  it turned out to be a perfect project since I was feeling a bit under the weather too...
So, here are some progress photos on this new project - A Norwich Sampler by The Examplarery... using all the kit materials - 27 ct. linen & 2 strands of DMC threads provided in the kit.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Completed Agnes Begbe - The Examplarery

Just a quick note - I will post in greater detail on this beautiful Scottish sampler by the Examplarery.
It was a sampler I started on a whim last month... it is a sampler that is not very challenging for me but was perfect for at least keeping my hands doing something  ‘needlework related ‘ during a very busy month.

This is just a quick post to address something I have seen many people discuss on social media and it is a topic I have addressed here on this blog many times before.  I know I have been remiss in following up with photographs etc for many years now.  The question on what materials to use, whether it is on ground materials like linen vs. Aida or congress cloth,  or what threads to use - cotton or silk or others - is an entirely personal choice.   I have noted a tendency for some time now where people discuss the counts of linen or their choice of silk threads as something that puts them in a ‘sophisticated league’ of sorts ... I really feel that we should first and foremost ENJOY our time with needle and thread, enjoy our hobby and use the materials that best suit our abilities, our budgets and our specific lifestyles at this moment in Time ... I enjoy seeing everyone’s work - it is all beautiful to me because it is first and foremost, a manifestation of our life’s energy, an expression of our creativity and just one example of how we choose to spend our time on this Earth.
I don’t feel that silk is ‘better than’ mere cotton threads - it is as always not so much about the materials we use but rather, for me,  more about our personal attention to detail and personal commitment towards Excellence.  And, over the years, I also know that ‘life’s circumstances’ change abruptly sometimes,  and one may be faced with physical or other  challenges that make it difficult to even make a ‘simple’ cross stitch as ‘easily’ as one once could.
Anyway,  even though this is a ‘reproduction sampler’ we will rarely / never have access to the type of linen or the types of silks people had access to in the 1600s, 1700s, etc ...

Many of you following me for a while know by now that I enjoy working and learning and continue honing my skills in a variety of different types of needlework.  I have taught many types of needlework before, actively teach Japanese silk embroidery, always  to a very small group of students etc...

I am grateful to have a profession I thoroughly enjoy and various hobbies - needlework is one of my favorite ones. When I look at the life and stresses and quality for work expected  of ‘professional embroiderers’ all over the world,  I am always inspired by their beautiful work but also thankful that I can just ‘enjoy’ needlework on a ‘hobby level’ .... so that is why I feel really sad when somehow lately some people are made to feel ‘inferior’ because they choose a lower count of linen or if they choose cotton threads over silk threads etc...
so, here is a quick photograph I just took of this sampler I finished last night - I used all the materials provided in the kit so thoughtfully put together by Joanne Harvey of The Examplarery.  I hope I can capture the sheen of DMC cotton threads for you ...  35 ct. linen and one strand of DMC thread was my choice instead of the 2 strands of floss recommended by Joanne ...
I will post a more complete post on this sampler and also on silk vs cotton threads soon ...
Hope this helps some of you ‘feel better’ .... like I always say : the main thing is to enjoy the process and the journey.... there is Beauty all around us and as always one can always find room for improvement of one’s skill - that is part of what makes Life such a great adventure !
Agnes Begbe- The Examplarery ... the sheen of cotton threads 
Again, these are just my thoughts - I have received many emails of late ... we should all support each other and be grateful of  the fact that in this world we can actually have the luxury to pursue our ‘hobbies’ whether they be with silk or cotton threads.

Monday, April 22, 2019

Status on Agnes Begbe & sharing some Facebook activity ...

My hope is that we all find a peaceful way to live ...

Just a quick status report on the Scottish sampler Agnes Begbe as of this Sunday evening: 

On one of the Facebook needlework groups, I came across this comment by one of the members this Sunday afternoon  :
“So I have what is probably a silly question and hope you all understand my newbie-ness.  Can anyone tell me what, if any, is the difference between Edinburgh, Belfast and Cashel linen?  Is it just the location where it is made or do they have different weaves or textures perhaps?  Thanks!
now, those of you who know me or have been following my blog, would know that I don’t believe in ‘silly’ questions and all of us are ‘new’ at something just about every day in our lives ... so I chose to read the comments/ answers that followed this question.... 
and some of the answers were getting me a bit confused - and so, next thing I knew I was answering the question (!)

I was just thinking that this may be of interest to some of you but you may not be in that Facebook group so am posting this to my Facebook page and my blog.  It is just a quick copy and paste - hope you don’t mind.

So here is my answer/ I have deleted the name of the person asking the question :
  “good question ... all the names are ways of distinguishing the weave of linen... Zweigart chose to use names of cities that were once major textile manufacturing places.
In America, this means that the linen threads are counted in the warp and weft directions in a 1” square of fabric.... then these are the names and examples: 
20 count = Cork
25 count = Dublin
28 count = Cashel 
32 count = Belfast 
36 count = Edinburgh 
40 count = Newcastle 
55 count = Kingston 

And so on ...

22count is also used for Hardanger...
By the way, Moygashel linen is a beautiful linen for clothing - named for a small town in Northern Ireland”

And then another person asked a question : “I've seen other types like legacy and so on. Are they evenweave?”

And here was my response :

 I was wondering if I should continue on in my previous reply ... this is also a good question....

So, basically, if you read my explanation above, I talk about the count of linen threads within a 1” square which then is used in America to give the linen a ‘count’ = # of threads in a 1inch square of linen fabric.

Now - linen is then further categorized to be an evenweave or an unevenweave ... determined by if the count is the same or different in both warp ( threads that travel from top to bottom on the loom  and weft  ( threads that are woven by the shuttle and go from left to right ) - a different count of threads in both directions makes it an uneven weave - so your cross stitch can end up looking fat and squatty or elongated depending on how you decide to use the fabric ... so, to me, this makes cutting and using the fabric ‘correctly’ very important although I know many people do not pay attention to warp or weft.

Legacy linen is another company just like Zweigart or Wichelt.

Then there are companies like Lakeside Linens, R&R etc - they take yardage from Zweigart for example and dye them further ... 

Hope this helps ...

There was/ is still a fair amount of activity on the other group ... I think most of you know all the stuff I wrote above but maybe it will clarify things for some of you in other countries or newer to needlework on linen....

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Frances Burwell & Agnes Begbe - a finish & a start

This Sunday finds me working on samplers again after a busy week and weekend.
 It feels good to get back to taking time to assess  all aspects of life , edit and organize every thing in greater detail once again.... working on all systems in the office and at home one area at a time;

Anyway, I had mentioned that I had finished Frances Burwell ... it is a fun and easy sampler to work on and quite an attractive one... it really surprised me.
Frances Burwell by The Examplarery
 Colonial  Williamsburg collection
35 ct linen and DMC threads

I started a Scottish sampler, Agnes Begbe, by the Examplarery quite on a lark last weekend. It is another fun stitch and I have worked on it off and on in the evenings this past week ...
I had organized the threads etc many years ago but never started it - guess Scotland is on our minds these days.  We plan to see Dougie MacLean in concert  again early this week... so perhaps that is what influenced my choice ?!
Here is my progress to date :

Agnes Begbe Kit  - The Examplarey ... one week’s progress ...
35 ct linen and DMC threads as provided in the kit 

Wishing that you enjoy each moment with your needlework!  This sampler will be a good project to work on in the evenings in this busy upcoming week! Nice to just sit quietly in the evenings and hear the soft rhythmical chirping of crickets and frogs beginning to wake up from their winter slumber ....

Sunday, March 31, 2019

A perfect weekend - quick update

On Friday I was online communicating with a needlework friend - I went upstairs to check my stash... my intention was to help her but just focus back 100% on my silk embroideries.

Well... since I had finished Frances Burwell (top right in photo below) and had no real easy project around for evening stitching on those busy weekdays  and since I needed a side project ... I ended up ‘shopping my stash’ and started another “easy, busy days/ travel project’ .... a Scottish sampler this time : Agnes Begbe reproduced by Joanne Harvey of The Examplarery.

Looking forward to Federer at the Miami Open Tennis Finals 🎾, stitching and setting up this new project and then later listening to music and organizing my projects for April and maybe finally updating my blog!  

A great weekend in my book ... all meals are ready to go so just relaxing today... love being back to my old organized ways ...  frees up time to enjoy things we love to do!

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Home after an amazing week at Advanced class at the Japanese Embroidery Center and an attempt at an explanation ....

Got home after an amazing experience at the Japanese Embroidery Center in Atlanta, Georgia many of you know I enjoy all types of needle work and am always eager to learn and improve my techniques. This time I can at least say that I came back with a little bit better understanding of how gold leaf, dye and stitching can be used to complement and enhance an embroidery.  There is much more for me to learn and study on color, texture, historical context and of course, the refinement of techniques is a good challenge in itself.

I do not blog or show pictures of my Japanese embroidery often - although it is one of the silk embroidery techniques I focus on most of the time.  Some of you have contacted me on this many times asking for details so I thought this might be a good time to share.  My journey to the Japanese Embroidery Center in Atlanta started in November, 2005.  My master teacher, Masa Tamura, introduced me to the world of filament silk.  There are 47 basic techniques which are introduced over ten phases... I was smitten and went through all 10 phases rapidly - all other embroidery took a back seat while I simply inhaled the Japanese embroidery techniques... took many trips to Atlanta during the following year and a half  and  attended phase 10 class in October, 2007 after taking all my finished pieces down for Masa to see and approve before this Phase 10 class.  That is when I was told that not too many people have finished the ten phases that quickly and stitched them as well as I had managed to do; for most people this is a 7-12 year ‘process’.  Oh well, I know I have always had my own pace and not having boundaries and immersing myself fully into the intricacies of this beautiful embroidery was just perfect for me !  Teaching Japanese embroidery had not crossed my mind at all, Masa had asked me around phase 6 if I want to teach which surprised me.  I gave her a diplomatic answer (I was proud of it at that time ) saying that if and when the time comes I would consider it but that I had so much more to learn and refine so my focus for now would be just enjoying my own learning.

Totally by chance, at my very first EGA local meeting in November, 2007, a lady sat down next to me during the break, briefly looked at what I was doing and talked to me and then wrote out a check and handed it to me saying that she would like to learn Japanese embroidery from me.  I was surprised and taken aback, tried to get her to go to the ‘teachers’ in New York State or Massachusetts but she wouldn’t budge ...  I got home; my husband expected me to be all excited about finally meeting one of the designers I had previously corresponded with via email in person only to see my confused face and hear my story about being asked to teach Japanese embroidery! During that week I got emails from two other women saying that they heard I would be teaching and they wanted to be part of my class!  I guess the drums were beating in the embroidery world in Connecticut!  I was amazed and called Masa ...she reassured me and said that I would learn to teach as I instructed my students through Phase 1;  she said that she too went through a similar process when they first moved to Atlanta.  So, I started out on that venture -  I stitched Phase 1 again taking pictures, videos and PowerPoint presentations to assist my teaching and over the years I have stitched just about all the phase projects 1-8 in the catalog so that my students would have a class sample and I would have a better understanding in guiding them if they chose that project... I spent a considerable amount of time and resources in this quest to be a better teacher - until Masa-san told me to stop and get back to my own pieces... and then 'life' intervened and I am still trying to get back to where I left off !

And as we went through years of ‘upheaval ‘ in our lives with one medical issue after the other, as many of you know who follow my blog .... samplers and other embroidery techniques helped me through,  thus rekindling my interest in all types of embroidery again;  I had taken all my stuff out of the closet as many of you know with the intention of ‘getting rid’ of other embroidery stuff ... just couldn’t do it and am so glad I did not act on my initial thoughts.  These past years,  dealing with frozen shoulder issues and then the mess after my fall have proven to me once more that all of my stash has value, all the embroidery techniques are the best form of ‘physical therapy ‘ - far better than the therapy I received from the specialized therapist I sought out after my fall...

Over the years, I have continued to teach my small group... we have shared many laughs and learned a lot of things about Japanese embroidery techniques and Life.  They are progressing well and have started understanding my reasons for striving for excellence, striving to develop a way of 'seeing' and understanding the complex dynamics of not just a well executed stitch, an organized approach, but also seeing color,  developing a feeling for texture and appreciating the design in it's historical context of Japanese culture.  I am always pointing out how certain designs were influenced by other countries and cultures - that even in ancient times designs and information were 'borrowed' and adapted, refined and interpreted. This 'give and take of ideas between cultures is what has fascinated me since my childhood and was at the core of my Master's thesis in German Literature a long time ago.  Appreciating this now in color and design, in music and foods is what many of my Facebook posts are about ; it is what I like to 'research' in my spare time - I realize now it is what surrounded me in my childhood growing up in India - it is part of the exuberance of life in India.

My personal study and fascination for needlework continues on - my approach has evolved though and will keep evolving - my intensity in learning has not wavered - I doubt it will and so life continues ... my focus remains 'learning and refining' - in my profession and in my hobbies.  The accumulation of certificates and honors has never been my focus - it is nice to have them ( Japanese Bead and Silk embroidery 'certificates' and the professional ones many of which are in drawers - I don't want all the walls plastered with certificates at the office - I need the space there for my needlework  after all! ) and it is nice to 'teach' - I do not 'advertise' - in my embroidery classes just like in my profession ...

Many of you have asked me why I don't share my silk embroideries, my bead embroidery or my own designs spanning all sorts of techniques.... this is hard for me to explain without sounding 'weird'.... some of you know how hard a process it is for me to even share my sampler related/ western embroidery.. This blog started as an interesting 'experiment' for me to try and understand 'technology' when I was home sick with a cold/flu as some of you may recall and the carrot was possibly 'winning' a sewing box ( of which I have many) by posting sampler related progress on a now defunct blog.

I will however, try to  make an attempt at explaining my approach, my quirky reasons for hesitating in showing my projects...
you see, in a world that now is becoming so increasingly "noisy"- where everyone is posting their work, their creations, their ideas (like I am here now)...  'true mastery' often is undervalued - overlooked even... 'everyone is an expert'... and yet, Mastery is undeniable, it presents itself with quiet confidence - it is an unmistakable sign of excellence rooted in years of focused work, deep understanding and " unconscious competence" as George Leonard puts it and many before him have tried to 'discuss" in their books. I am fortunate to get small glimpses of it in my profession - it has been a long focused journey.  I have also been fortunate to see exquisitely stitched pieces of Indian embroidery in the maharaja's collections, Japanese and Chinese embroidery and Western embroidery done superbly by talented, dedicated professionals.... when I observe their work, it takes my breath away... when gold, silver and silk threads shine brightly to breathe life into each line and angle stitched, when the stitches, twists and foundations themselves 'disappear' and all that remains is the 'whole' experience - that, to me is Mastery in needlework.   And  then, even within the ranks of the professionals you can see variations in skill and attitude.... just like many people can play a musical instrument or paint, and there are many very talented professional musicians or painters but there are only a few in that group who rise above the rest,  and then,  there are rare individuals like Bach, daVinci or the Chinese master embroiderer who stitched a large piece of double sided embroidery depicting a tree branch with a white crane on one side of the fabric and a brown feathered eagle coming in for a landing on the other side of the same piece of fabric - that is the endangered world of the Suzhou Master Embroiderer ( and this is not a tourist gimmick glue job but a certified piece of exquisite embroidery).

I realize that an argument can be made for sharing needlework etc - some of you have written to me  to tell me that my blog has helped you in various ways. It is interesting to note that usually a message or email arrives right around the time I am ready to stop blogging since few people comment here  and the likes etc on Facebook always leave me wondering but some posts have over 1000 visits (according to the stats).

Even at the Japanese Embroidery Center there is now a push to share whatever was embroidered in class - it is projected onto the big screen thanks to technology - so I have to now hesitatingly share my half baked ideas ( of which there are many when  I start a project ) and see them projected  on the big screen interesting experience that makes me cringe each time! And then, the result for me now is that all this 'sharing'  of my half baked ideas  mingled and jumbled up with everyone else's thoughts and ideas and stitching experiments  at Advanced or Teachers class results in my not even touching that embroidery frame for a long while upon my return from class because even though I may have tried to prepare myself for the class and think about color and techniques before class and in the evenings whilst I am there.... all the sharing is just  'noise' and it gets in the way when I  come home from such a class and hinders me from continuing with that project.

 I used to come home from Advanced class with some idea of which of my thought processes were worth exploring, getting good ideas from the Master teachers as to what I needed to consider etc - now it is a constant bombardment of images in my head/or through social media of others 'sharing' in this seemingly new 'race' to be the first one finished
....and all I am looking for is quiet and clarity...
I preferred the old way.a bit more : less talking, more observation -which is now even more possible because the Master teacher has hooked things up so we can watch him stitch on the big screen if we weren't 'expected to stitch something to show' during that time,  more sharing of ideas through seeing beautifully stitched pieces by professionals - observing excellence in choice of stitching technique, seeing the expertly used colors and textures of a professionally stitched piece, hearing more about the historical context of life is rare to see such works of quiet elegance and sophistication these days.... the world of the master embroiderer is now getting drowned out by all the 'chatter of the masses'.... it takes time to learn a skill,  more time to aspire to duplicate a professionally stitched piece in an acceptable way, and then even more time to find your own voice and  develop your own design at a decent level..... I hesitate, because I am just barely aware of how high the mountain is ...
which may not be a bad thing... all you can do is put one foot forward, then the next and then keep moving ...
It reminds me of something the German poet Rainer Maria Rilke wrote in a letter to his wife when studying Cezanne:  "I am learning to see, yes, I am beginning to see ... "

so, perhaps now you can understand my hesitation ?  Understanding a stitch is a start, and executing a technique is just one more step ... but there is a huge mountain ahead still.