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Hello poor neglected blog! If you have been following my other blog, you know that my life has been through some major changes last year. I've quit my job, moved back to Sweden and am now a PhD student in historical archaeology!

What with the move and the (still...) ongoing unpacking, there has been way less crafting done than what I would like to. That said, I'm still working on the wedding cushion (so much guilt over the delay!!!), and have done most of a phone bag I'm making for a friend.

A flower in progress on the wedding cushion. Click on the thumbnail to see the other (finished) flower peeking out behind it.

I'm happy with the flower on a phone bag, but the heart is giving me trouble: the width of the yarn makes it awkward to do a grid pattern inside it - it's either too spaced out or much too close.
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I've spent the evening wrestling with my woollen embroidery. I'm glad I bought extra yarn, because so far I've ripped one and a half arm out (and neither of the four arms are done yet and I have to go to bed soon). So irritating: only doing the outlines and it looks great, then I fill in the arms and they suddenly look too chubby. Note to self: next time you intend to embroider human figures (or anything "realistic" really), make the outlines slightly narrower than intended.

And it's going so so slowly. I can do one flower in a whole day. I had assumed it would be a much faster thing, and now I'm so horribly behind. The new "plan" (as it were...) was to have it finished this summer, but I've no idea how it would be doable considering I'm working full time and doing one research project as well.

It wouldn't be so bad if it was for myself. Own projects can take whatever time they will. But this is a wedding cushion, and I don't want to risk them divorcing before the embroidery is done. And the leftover fabric was intended to be used for another gift (embarrassingly it's part of an exchange where I've already received my gift...). I fear I just have to use some other fabric for that one.
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Winter teased me a bit by going away and then coming back again. It's only a couple of degrees at night now, and I'm glad I didn't get around to putting away my winter coat - I will probably need it tomorrow.

Crafting is going slowly. I haven't touched the wedding cushion for a few weeks - I busy helping a workmate for her upcoming wedding. Nothing too elaborate or time consuming: just taking up the hem of her dress and making a sash out of the offcuts. The fabric is a bit flimsy, so the sash (as it will be in eyesight of everybody, as opposed to the hemline) will have to be sewn by hand. A bit tedious, but at least I can turn off my brain while doing it.

Next Thamesreach revel is costume and sewing themed, and I have a plan: I need to make new hose, and this time I want to try In Deme Jare Christi's tutorial. I should have some wool suitable for hose somewhere in the stash, and I definitely have cotton for the toile. With any luck I will have nice hose for the summer revels and events.
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And you'd think January means a comfortable start at work, plenty of time to sit at home embroidering? Eh, I wish... I have a deadline for a grant at the end of the month, so I've been busy writing and re-writing. Also, since the house is heated with electric storage heaters, there is only residual heat in the evenings and nights, so it gets a bit chilly now when it's around 0°C outside. I find it a bit more tempting to huddle up in bed with a good book or two than sit embroidering. On the other hand, compared to houses I've lived in before that had a timer for heating and were freezing when you had to get up (obviously to save money we only had the heating on for the few hours in the evening when we all were in the house, meaning that the heat never got into the walls of the house and heated it properly), it feels like utmost luxury to have a warm room to get out of bed in.

Although, seriously: can we be done with winter now? A day temperature of +10°C would be nice.

I think the only major thing I've done "craft"-wise is to add my friend Eva's costume blog to the reading page. As usual when it's a website with no feed-button, it took me ages to find out the rss for it (in Firefox: Tools -> Web developer -> Page source. search for rss). But now it's there so I can keep up to date with her latest things without much effort.
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This year I finished the Thamesreach bunting! It took a long long time, but it was so worth it in the end. Not saying I'm volunteering to do more of the same kind, mind you. I've only come slightly further on the split stitch griffin for the shot glass pouch since last year, but, well, the bunting was definitely the primary thing on the to-do list.

I've also come a fair bit on the wedding cushion (no pictures, since I forgot to pack the connection cord between the camera and the computer), but it won't be finished before I go back to the UK. I hope to have it done by March, so I could send it to them in time for their wedding anniversary. Fingers crossed...

Plans for 2016 include finishing the wedding cushion, doing a small woollen embroidery phone pouch for a friend, and finishing the griffin shot glass pouch. I would like to practice making tassels and turks head's knots to go with a 14th century brickstitched pouch, but that is low on the priority list for now.
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Due to unforeseen offers of two fully funded PhD positions, I've done no crafts for what feels like ages. I will still work on the PhD applications over Christmas (not due until the 6th January), but I have decided to find time for embroidery, no matter what.

I'm leaving tomorrow and have almost finished packing. The warm weather has made it difficult to pack: what do I bring? what do I wear when travelling? Right now it's 8°C back home: a bit too warm for the winter coat, but what if the weather turns cold after Christmas? I can't leave the coat in England, and since it's bulky I have to wear it rather than pack it in the suitcase.

I've barely worn any wool this autumn, apart from during a very brief cold snap in November (?). And tonight I found that some evil insects had got on to my merino sweater and eaten a big hole right in front... HATE!!!! So now the sweater is in the freezer, in the hope that any remaining eggs will die. Luckily nothing else in that box seems to be contaminated. And of course any advice on how to de-contaminate your wardrobe/room after insects is to wetwipe everything. Clearly not written by people who live in places with wall to wall carpets everywhere (including the bathroom). So now I'm just going for minimizing any potential future damage. All woollen yarn is already in plastic bags, but my woollen clothes are in cardboard boxes with lavender bags in them. Although that seemed not to be enough, judging from the sweater attack. Any ideas from you readers?

Trying to look on the bright side, I don't have to sit on the suitcase to close it.
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The wedding cushion is progressing slowly. My plan for working on it in the evenings has failed, since one side effect of my medicine for an ear infection apparently is increased tiredness. I can barely do my full hours at work, and when I get home all I can manage is a simple dinner and some light internet browsing, perhaps a chapter or two in a book (re-read only, and nothing complicated). I hope once this week is done that I will be back to normal.
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This Saturday night excitement is sitting on the sofa taking in a skirt waist and listening to Kevin and Ursula eat cheap. I've done the mere basics of my weekend to-do list, and the skirt wasn't even on it. Not that it didn't need doing, but, you know...

But there is Sunday. Which will - fingers crossed - involve window cleaning, some garden stuff, and tidying of the craft boxes in the living room. I also hope I will have some time for quality relaxing/embroidery whether at home or at a cosy café. Mainly because if I have the wedding embroidery mostly done by the time I go home for Christmas, I can easily buy more wool yarn if it turns out I bought too little back then.
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I've embroidered during conferences, in cafés, would have embroidered in the park but it's getting a bit cold for that now, but still, it's not going as quickly as I would have wanted it to. I blame too many other things to do in combination with sheer laziness and internet temptations. But every stitch I take is one closer to the finish. I hope I can have a few evenings when I can do nothing but sit in the sofa, listening to an audiobook or podcast and just embroider one or two hours.

partially embroidered stylised flower
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Two years ago, I was in the middle of watching a documentary on British embroidery - opus anglicanum to be precise - when my computer died. I have now discovered that some kind person has put it up on youtube! There is admittedly some cropping of the upper and lower part of the screen, but not looking a gift horse in the mouth and all that... It's one of those programmes the BBC produces that makes me wish for a good accompanying book with lots of detailed photographs.
parlstickare: Line of ants. One moves away from the line, saying "Ohh a book store. Shiny." (Bookstore = shiny!)
Spotted on the New Book Display shelves in the fabulous* Sackler library in Oxford (dealing with archaeology, classics and art history):

Gitte Hansen, Steven P. Ashby and Irene Baug (eds) (2015) Everyday products in the Middle Ages. Crafts, consumption and the individual in northern Europe c. AD 800-1600. Oxbow Books.

I’ve heard about this book for a while now, but was waiting to see it in the flesh, as it were, before deciding to buy or not. And it seems like a highly useful book if you are interested in basic consumer goods, its production, the craftspeople and the consumers in Medieval northern Europe. The list of contents is up at the publisher, and it has quite a variety in its topics, from general articles on craftspeople, to pottery and glass imports, leather working, bone and antler working, textiles, stone working, iron production and blacksmithing.

*: not because it’s particularly fancy – it’s not – but because they have so much useful and interesting stuff.
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I have put something important somewhere very safe. If anyone has a good ear with St Anthony, please help.

Or is this St Anthony's way of telling me to tidy up my room properly?
parlstickare: yellow griffin on a red field, embroidered in couched work (Griffin (Thamesreach bunting))
The heraldic bunting is finally finished! Both sides of my personal arms are stitched together and the group arms are also done. Those are not embroidered, as it was way easier to appliqué the wavy fess (= horisontal band) and just embroider the laurel wreath. I like the Thamesreach arms. Simple, yet effective in evoking the association to London, i.e. the Thames bisecting the city.

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My personal arms and Thamesreach's arms

The question now is what I'll do next. I have several items on the to-do list. I could start work on a brickstitched pouch for a friend (she's naalbinding me a pair of mittens, and I think she's almost done by now) or I could start on my friends' wedding cushion. The plan is to have something to do during idle moments on a conference next month, so nothing too minute that requires really good light (thus, the shot glass griffins are not suitable). Neither project can be started straight away: I have to decide on pattern and colours for the pouch, and do the final pattern drawing and transfer the pattern of the wedding cushion. At least I have a few weeks to decide.
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In an ideal world, having the evening to myself would mean a nice audiobook in the background and whizzing along on the embroidery. However, it's been way too warm lately and with way too little sleep, I'm more tempted by my new book and (hopefully) a very early night. I hope I can get some more done in the weekend, as last weekend was intensely social with late nights (but very fun!).
parlstickare: yellow griffin on a red field, embroidered in couched work (Griffin (Thamesreach bunting))
Thanks to a kind person who has uploaded the entire Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries on youtube, I'm not only updated with season 3, but have finished all the vair parts of the heraldic embroidery, and have started on the red bend! Whee!!!

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I've been busy with non-medieval things lately that I'm only now allowed to talk about: H and A, two of the founders of my lindy hop group, had a combined birthday party and the secret plan was a wall hanging with quilt-squares that we would personalise. A lot of effort, and I'm glad my only contribution was a single square. Even so, due to interference from dance events and holidays, it turned out I had less than a week to get it done. I wanted to embroider something, but cotton is not great for covered work such as brickstitch or couched work since the threadcount is so high. So instead I tried out a very basic stem stitch outline of a dancing couple (i.e. H and A) filled in with Japanese sashiko type stitches.

The design was actually the tricky bit. I wanted a good outline of preferably a recogniseable lindy hop move. I didn't feel up to drawing from scratch, so I looked for a photograph to trace. But it's a very lucky photographer who'll get a dancing couple in just the perfect position. So I trawled the internet, and finally found two decent pictures to use as a guideline. Part of me wish that I had had more time to work on the design, particularly on body proportion. But I know I can be a very finicky person when it comes to personal things, and other people may not always notice what bugs me.

The party was this afternoon, in a pub by the Thames. We had delicious cakes (intentional plural!), played Aunt Sally, the DJs were playing (not swing for a change), and we all enjoyed ourselves. H and A loved the wall hanging and the other presents.

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My contribution

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The whole wall hanging. We even got a contribution from N and J in Australia!


Apr. 26th, 2015 08:00 pm
parlstickare: yellow griffin on a red field, embroidered in couched work (Griffin (Thamesreach bunting))
I've finished the upper half of the vair pattern on the bunting, and started on the lower half. Can this be finished for the July revel???? I certainly hope so, but I'm also fully aware of my hope for having it done for the March revel...

In other good news, we started the big silk painting project at the last revel. All the labours of the months, upscaled and painted on silk to be hung in front of the windows in our meeting hall. We drew the outlines of ten pictures. Next step is painting gutta on the outlines, then start the actual silk painting. I've never done silk painting before, so it will be a challenge but also very fun.
parlstickare: Line of ants. One moves away from the line, saying "Ohh a book store. Shiny." (Bookstore = shiny!)
The Oxbow spring sale catalogue came to work last week, and as usual there are lots of interesting books in it. Such as these:

cut for length )
parlstickare: yellow griffin on a red field, embroidered in couched work (Griffin (Thamesreach bunting))
The SCA shire I'm playing in, Thamesreach (i.e. London) has a long set of bunting with the members' arms on interspersed with the Thamesreach arms. It looks really neat and is also a way to remember people who moved elsewhere. Most are either painted or sewn/appliqued.

I wasn't quite sure how to do mine, since my arms are complicated, with a background in vair (small pieces of white and blue). First I thought I could paint them, but seeing another member's painting going a bit pearshaped when the paint ran outside the borders made me re-think that idea. My second option was appliqué but when I had done the first quarter I looked at it and wasn't satisfied. The colours looked flat and the appliqué had scruffy edges despite careful stitching.

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The appliqué follows the post-medieval way to depict vair, with a pattern made of rectangles and triangles. The medieval version is a rounded shape, but the tiny edges at the bases are impossible to do with appliqué.

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Even using the later version, it was a very fiddly process, with small stitches. You had to be careful so it wouldn't unravel, particularly at the points. I had first tried putting anti-ravel liquid on the edges, but that would make it impossible for the holes from the needle to close up afterwards.

So I went back to my trusted needlework. Klosterstitch or split stitch would be more accurate time-wise, but since couched work ("bayeux-stitch") is immensly more economic with the amount of thread needed, I chose that instead. One panel of vair took me about half an hour to do (keep in mind that the fabric is ordinary cotton so there is a high threadcount compared to normal embroidery linen), but the result looks so much better that I don't mind the extra time. All you need is a couple of evenings with something mindless on the tv or a couple of podcasts and you can get a lot done.

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Heraldic beasts comes in two versions: the ones with a different colour of their claws, teeth, tongue and genitals (where applicable) and the ones that are entirely single-colour. Adding a new colour felt like overkill when I designed my arms - particularly since vair as a background increases the total number of colours to four. Single colour can make the animal very plain, so I added some lines to indicate the three-dimensionality of the animal.

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And what a difference it made!

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Ta dah!

Now all I have to do is another one for the other side of the bunting...

ETA: colour references for DMC cotton: blue: 147, white: 2, red: 321, yellow: 726.

Mea culpa

Jan. 15th, 2015 09:36 pm
parlstickare: geometric embroidery in bright blue, red and yellow (Default)
Apparently anonymous commenting has been switched off for an unknown period of time... This was never my intention since I like to make it easy for people to comment (but please sign your posts, even if it's just an initial - I like to know who I'm talking to). But thanks to awesome J, who went to the extra effort of creating a DW account so she could let me know what was going on, it has now been fixed!
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