Of Menorah's and Santa's

Menorah_3 We make a multi-celebration around our house during the Holiday Season.  Smith has his Chanukah menorah collection which we do enjoy lighting during that time and I have needlepoint Santa's that I have created over the years.  When we were first married we tried to decide the best way to meld our beliefs. His tradition is Jewish and mine has become a little eclectic over the years.  We do light candles for some nights of Chanukah (how many ways can you spell Chanukah, Hanukkah, Channukah?) and have enjoyed collecting a wide variety of menorahs over the years. If not careful we could burn the house with all his menorahs and they do make quiet a sight when all are lit.

Fruitsanta As a needleworker it has been fun to create ornaments as gifts and decorations. Santa has no religious meaning for us so we welcomed him into our home as part of my tradition. Over the years I have needlepoint many Santa's and Moresantachoir collected a few, too. We decided on Santa's that would sit on shelves or be made into pillows as decorations around the house. Each stitched Santa started as a handpainted canvas and I chose the stitches and threads that brought them to life.  Some were classes for my needlepoint students, but all were fun to do.  My favorite is one call the Fruit Santa and he pictured here. He stands about 5" tall. The others I will put in a photo album for you to enjoy.  And here is the 'choir' of Santa's in different sizes and shapes that we enjoy, too.

A note on the Desert Socks.  The yarn was from an Ebay seller and she hasn't had anything new for some time.  I DID frog it and will start again. The pattern called for size 2 needles and that's what I used (I'm a tight knitter). As Susan pointed out it would be too loose to wear well if I went up a size so, she came up with a fix.  The solution will be to add a stitch to the 2 purl rib between the design stitches. BUT, I just might pick a quicker easier pattern and make myself some socks NOW!

And another note on the wonderful 100 lists.  I want to be Katy if I grown up!


Needlepoint As Art

Needlepoint has been a big part of my life for several years. I learned to knit first but when needlepoint with wonderful threads came along I fell in love with it, too. There are many excellent artists who paint exquisite pieces of art on needlepoint canvas. The goal for a needlepointer is to take the design and add texture in the form of stitches, with a wide variety of threads, to make it their own...a unique and beautiful piece of artwork.

It was 1987 when I traveled to my first Needlepoint Seminar which was hosted by ANG in New Orleans. It was a great city and when not in class we had fun eating our way around the town. Classes were incredible, fascinating and really taught much more than I could ever have learned locally. For several years I was able to travel once or twice a year to further my needlework education. With that travel, correspondence classes and visiting teachers of national caliber I became very adept at this art form.

The LNS owner asked me to teach in 1997. It was intimidating at first. Could I really take a beautifully painted canvas and make it ‘better’, make it come to life and create something the student would love? It really was easier than I first thought because of the needlework education behind me. The students were (are) marvelous stitchers who needed a little guidance in choosing stitches and threads that would enhance their purchased canvas. We had fun right off the bat!

If only the pictures would really do justice to these beautiful works of art so that you could see the stitches and threads used on the canvas. These women are true artists. Please allow me to introduce some of my students. (Click the pictures.)

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This is Jane. She is working on a wonderful Santa which will hang above her fireplace mantel each Christmas season.

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Jean loves little Petei Santa’s.

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Ive Dene is a master at the large and elegant canvas.

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And Kathryn is a star student. She loves a challenge and always does the most perfect work. If only you could really see the wings of this moth. It is all hand painted metallic thread and it takes your breath away.

They are all wonderful artists and I’m so pleased to be their guide, teacher, sensei.

Check the Kersti Blog, too. Lots of good things happening over there!


The Passion of Needlework

Teresa and Nathania are two of the knitters that I’ve found on the blogs who also do needlework.  I was taught at the age of 8 by my mother to embroider and shortly after I tried to knit and failed.  Crochet was easier and became a main diversion. During the 70’s learning to knit was a big attraction as the patterns were wonderful and the yarns were becoming better all the time (I gave up crochet after learning to knit).  As years pasted and there was time to give to pursuits of leisure, needlepoint became a big part of my life. That led to Japanese Embroidery. This is a piece I did after 4 years of study.

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Then a freind taught me to stitch on fine linen with silk threads (Counted Thread) and that became a passion. So, in the last 30 years I have been knitting and stitching needlework as much as possible.  Membership in every guild in the area (and many around the country) can keep a girl busy.  But that didn’t stop me from starting another.

On April 8th the entry on this blog was about an historic embroiderer named Martha Edlin.  It is fortunate that her work was cared for over the centuries and now is in the Victoria and Albert Museum where thousands can see it daily. That is not the fate of many samplers.  Many museums do not have the funds to care for, house or show the schoolgirl samplers in their collections.  Many are trying to do so but with limited funds.

The fate of these little pieces of history, the schoolgirl sampler,  was the main drive in the creation of the Swan Sampler Stitchers.  The guild started small with a few local members but, when Carolyn Webb (the person responsible for introducing me to linen and Counted Thread) designed a wonderful Quaker Swan Box our membership grew quickly. We had over 100 members the first year.  Membership is now almost 300, in our third year, because of the wonderful designers we have and exclusive projects we do.  Many friends have stepped up to help with the large task of running this organization and it couldn’t be done without their help. Thousands of dollars have been given to museums to aid in the endeavor to protect and preserve the samplers in their care.   This is one of the most important accomplishments of my life. 

If you would like to see an online exhibition of historic antique samplers you can go here. They are truly fine pieces of women’s history.


Everyday Almost Done!

The knitting is done! Knitting Pure and Simple Neck Down Jacket is ready for it’s zipper. That is as soon as it arrives from the Zipper Stop. Then I will check the zipper for size, wash the jacket and sew the zipper in. Can’t wait to wear it!  This jacket will be well worn over the years.

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It felt like a friend had left when the jacket was done.  So, the only thing to do was keep knitting and the Willow cardi is now up about 12”. Pictures will be here later in the week. It’s another fast and fun piece to knit.

In June the Swan Sampler Stitchers,  is having Lauren Sauer come to teach her interesting and unique Etui.  It’s called the Mermaid’s Sea Chest and it actually makes up into a chest full of sewing tools that you can open and lay flat to use when you stitch.  There happens to be quiet a bit of stitching to do before the class…so-oo-oo some knitting time will have change into stitching time for awhile.  I’ll show you progress on that as it grows. 

Here is a piece for the local Needlepoint Guild that I finished over the weekend. It will be a hanging ornament of about 5x51/2.  It is stitched with stranded silk and a braided metallic thread and counted out on 18 mono canvas.  It is was neat to pick my own color family and fun to stitch.

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Now for your decadant drink of the week.

Brady-Rum Mochaccino

This drink’s chocolate-brandy-rum combination makes it a special one for chocolate lovers!

Single shot espresso
1 ½ tsp brandy
1 ½ tsp rum
1 ½ tsp crème de cacao
1 Tbs chocolate syrup
3 ounces milk, steamed
¼ cup heavy cream, whipped
Ground cinnamon
Ground nutmeg

Thin wafer, for garnish

Mix espresso, brandy, rum, crème de cacao, and chocolate syrup in a glass. Add 1 ½ ounces steamed milk and 1 ½ ounces milk foam. Top with shipped cream, sprinkle with cinnamon and nutmeg and garnish with a wafer.  Serves 1.

That ought to keep you relaxed and knitting!


Martha Edlin - Embroiderer Extraordinaire

The answer to the mystery embroiderer is Martha Edlin, as many of you knew.  She was born in 1660 and at the young age of eight years, made a beautiful sampler which you can see here. There is some historical information on Martha’s life on that page, too. 

She may be considered precocious by some today but in the 17th Century many young girls were beautiful embroiders at early ages. They didn’t have the distractions and responsibilities that girl’s of today encounter. Life was slower and there was little for a woman (girl) of leisure to do.
The sampler is a polychrome band sampler (multi-colored rows of different stitches) stitched on linen, usually around 50 threads per inch, with silk thread. It is dated and signed. Most 17th C. band samplers are reversible!  That is quite a time intensive and embroidering feat!  The next year, 1669, she embroidered a whitework sampler. That is a sampler stitched with white silk and/or linen threads to create a lace look.  This is a modern example.

At the age of 11 she made an embroidered casket. The caskets were made as a ‘final’ project of a girl’s education at the time.  They are small at about 12”w x 10”h x 8”d.  Here is one for sale that you can own!  Click on the picture for a closer view.  The information on that page tells you more about the work on these exquisite treasures.  This is a link to see Martha Edlin’s Casket using MS Media player (best with broadband). It’s a 2:38 minute video.  Sometimes the link is busy but, it’s worth checking it until you get through as it shows her work up close.

Several other items of needlework were found inside the case, as well as a few needlework tools.  Both her samplers were housed inside, too.  This is the reason they are in such good condition today. All the items were passed down through the female line of her family and lately given to the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. 

The needlework that women have done throughout history is an important part of our heritage and history as women.  It proves we were here and well educated (if money was available).  Antique samplers can be sold at auction or by dealers at very high prices and are highly collectable. 

Now you know a little more (more than you wanted?) about my other passion, embroidery.

And now to the business at hand!

The winner’s aaaarrrreee (drum roll):

Laura Gallagher (she asked for the Denim if she won) and
Cameo Voltz (what a great name!)

I don’t think either has a blog so if you do please let us know. Let us also see the finished Broadripple’s when they are done. 

Thanks to everyone who entered the contest!  Your embroidery education will continue each time a contest happens here at Zeneedle.