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A cap of flowers, and a kirtle...

I think I was supposed to be working on a QC project this morning, but I haven't heard from the guy in charge...  Maybe I should check.

Or maybe I should sit here and blog.

Ah, choices.

The design work is going well - so well, in fact, that I should have at least two nightcap designs in kass_rants 's hot little hands before Holiday Faire.  Eadric and Kass will be selling my stuff (knitted purses, lacing cords, patterns), and I'll be in the Vortex (now reaching epic proportions), selling jewelry. 

Whoo!  Making and selling!  It's awesome!  I'm already seeing the results of selling coif patterns - here is a gorgeous interpretation of one of my coifs by my friend Cindy:

The designing is fun - the coifs were my fairly faithful interpretations of original pieces, but the nightcaps and subsequent patterns will be original designs, created with period elements, and faithful to the decorative style of the period. 

(I created an awesome frog design from a period embroidery, you guys!  Eep, feet!  Paws!  Eep!  It will be on the nightcap that features lots of little creatures.)

(Yes, I'm designing a nightcap with lots of little creatures.  Are you excited now?)

I spend a lot of time researching, and not just from the period sources - I keep a constant eye out on what modern embroiderers are doing and publishing, because I don't want to tread on the toes of anyone else (or be accused of copying their designs).  It's actually very useful research - one of the things it's telling me right now is that there's a lot of geometric redaction going on in blackwork patterns, but not as much of the free-hand style that is so quintessentially English.  I plan to remedy that.  *excited* 

(Individuals are doing lovely work with various styles of embroidered work, but the patterns available for English Tudor/Stuart work are few and far between, especially in laid out and ready to embroider form.)

Blackwork is actually a very popular modern embroidery technique - many patterns exist, and there are some beautiful things out there.  The only thing I find over and over again is that the linen ground used by modern embroiderers is actually too coarse to support the 16th-17th century style - the weave is regular to help show off the incredible variety of fill stitches popular in blackwork, but the nature of the ground material makes it look just a little bit off.   Most modern embroidery is too big and well-spaced out.  Period embroideries are crammed with design, and in some cases, so finely worked, they look like engravings. 

Embroiderers prefer the evenweave linens, in part because of the slub free texture, but also because the threads are far enough apart that the fill stitches show nicely.  This is not the case with the period ones - I have done thread counts on a number of pieces, and they are frequently 75-100 threads per inch (or, incredibly, more.  I found one that was (sorry, I fail)  EDIT: 150 120 t.p.i.).  The linen they use is very fine - in at least one case, almost transparent - which supports the really delicate nature of some of their fill stitches and speckling.   The period "blackwork" (i.e., monochrome silk embroidery) is often embellished with gold stitching, but even with heavier polychrome sticthing, the thread count of period linen remains remarkably high.  It's easier to do delicate curls and free-hand style embellishments with a finer linen - the thread doesn't slip through the weave, and the tighter threads support the needlework better.

This lack of fine, tight, evenly woven linen has affected the design aesthetic of modern blackwork needlework designs - even the designs that originally were freehand seem to be re-created with a counted stitch outline, giving them a very even, ever-so-slightly geometric look.  With my designs, I'm trying to give a more free-flowing look to the embroidery, independent of the weave of the linen.  The plus side of this is that you can use a linen with slubs; unless you go mad with the fill stitches, the thread should travel over the slubs with no difficulty.

My goal as a designer is to bring that aesthetic to my patterns.  Modern patterns are too evenly spaced, too geometric, and generally, too open to feel like the embroideries of the Elizabethan/Stuart eras.  I've studied the modern pieces, and I've studied the period ones, and I think at this point I'm fairly confident that I can branch out from redacting patterns to creating entirely new ones of my own, and I'm really excited about that.  I feel like I did the day I realized I could write my own lyrics for songs, rather than trying to find poems of the period and trying to fit them to music.

I really love being in this creative space; it takes a bit out of me (I have Lidocaine patches on both upper arms today, and they're doing their job quite nicely), but it's worth every drop of energy.  I'm really looking forward to producing more patterns for all of you.

Okay, I'd better see if I can find out what's up with the QC.  *hums happily*


( 55 brains — Leave a chunk of brain! )
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Sep. 30th, 2008 01:20 pm (UTC)
Awesome! I'm so very excited about this.

By the way, check your email tomorrow for end-of-month totals.
Sep. 30th, 2008 01:22 pm (UTC)
Excellent! I'm excited.

Thank you so much for making this possible for me. Without you, I'd still be dithering about shop stuff - I really am more grateful than you know. *sniffle* :)
(no subject) - kass_rants - Sep. 30th, 2008 01:30 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - attack_laurel - Sep. 30th, 2008 01:39 pm (UTC) - Expand
Sep. 30th, 2008 01:21 pm (UTC)
A nightcap! With creatures! And Frogs! Oh my!

MUST HAZ!! Will pay with cheezburgers
Sep. 30th, 2008 01:23 pm (UTC)
No cheezburgur fr U!
(no subject) - hugh_mannity - Sep. 30th, 2008 01:42 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - lilybeee - Sep. 30th, 2008 06:48 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - albreda - Sep. 30th, 2008 11:22 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - hugh_mannity - Oct. 1st, 2008 01:48 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - attack_laurel - Oct. 1st, 2008 10:06 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - hugh_mannity - Oct. 1st, 2008 01:51 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - albreda - Oct. 1st, 2008 12:52 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - attack_laurel - Oct. 1st, 2008 10:07 am (UTC) - Expand
Sep. 30th, 2008 01:36 pm (UTC)
They’re so pretty!

You realize you’re going to start something with people running around in their jammies during the day. Everybody will want to wear their nightcaps in the daylight for people to see. :-D
Sep. 30th, 2008 01:40 pm (UTC)
Nightcaps are cool for daywear, I swear it. :)
(no subject) - chargirlgenius - Sep. 30th, 2008 01:59 pm (UTC) - Expand
Sep. 30th, 2008 01:41 pm (UTC)
so very pretty. i wish i had the attention span to do something like that. i love embroidery, but it generally takes me a long long time to get something done...i just don't have the attention span to stick with it consistantly.

in other news, i heard on a british science podcast about a new anti-pain thing being done at harvard. uses capsasin and something else (i can't remember) to target pain nerves ONLY, so you don't get the addiction issues, or the side-effects, etc. likely it won't be around for a while, but it's something to look forward to...or volunteer to be a guinea pig for a study....
Sep. 30th, 2008 01:46 pm (UTC)
I am soooooo excited to see what you have been doing, your work is so brilliant!
Sep. 30th, 2008 01:58 pm (UTC)
Do you have any plans to put your jewelry for sale online in the future?
Sep. 30th, 2008 03:45 pm (UTC)
Actually, I don't. I work it on and off, and each piece is unique, because I use the things I have to hand, special purchases, etc. The logistics of selling single pieces are more than I really want to handle right now, and I don't want to make multiples of one design. Sorry. :(
(no subject) - alinore - Sep. 30th, 2008 05:12 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - lorebubeck - Sep. 30th, 2008 07:16 pm (UTC) - Expand
Sep. 30th, 2008 02:01 pm (UTC)
what about sleeve patterns, have you thought about anything like that?
Sep. 30th, 2008 03:47 pm (UTC)
There are a number of larger ideas in the pipeline; I plan to work a lot of things up.
(no subject) - albreda - Sep. 30th, 2008 11:23 pm (UTC) - Expand
Sep. 30th, 2008 02:13 pm (UTC)
Can I quote you on the thread count of the existing pieces? I haven't found any others for my Elizabethan sampler documentation. The best I can see to count is 40-45, and either period embroiderers had spectacular eyesight, or else they had a magnificent ability to consistently estimate the distance between stitches.
Sep. 30th, 2008 03:48 pm (UTC)
Yes you can, and yes, some of them are amazing, but they work over multiple threads for the counted fills. Usually they travel 2-3 threads, but it's been 10 years since I looked at the originals, and would have to dig up my notes for the exact thread jumps.
(no subject) - redsquirrel - Sep. 30th, 2008 06:26 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - janinas_nest - Sep. 30th, 2008 11:04 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - albreda - Sep. 30th, 2008 11:26 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - attack_laurel - Oct. 1st, 2008 10:11 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - attack_laurel - Oct. 6th, 2008 10:28 am (UTC) - Expand
Sep. 30th, 2008 02:15 pm (UTC)
From Ghoulies, and Ghosties, and long-leggedie Beasties,
And Things that go bump in the night,
Good Lord, deliver us!

"And besides, I'll instruct you like me to entwine
The myrtle of Venus with Bacchus's vine!"
Sep. 30th, 2008 11:24 pm (UTC)
Okay, the scary thing is I can identify both of those quotes...and have actually sung the second one.

Gotta love a national anthem filked from a drinking song!!
Sep. 30th, 2008 03:00 pm (UTC)
Oooh - is that picture one of the patterns they sell? I love it!
Sep. 30th, 2008 03:49 pm (UTC)
Yes, that pattern is available from Kass. You can even buy it on-line. :)
(no subject) - thlmakai - Sep. 30th, 2008 05:14 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - kass_rants - Sep. 30th, 2008 04:27 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - thlmakai - Sep. 30th, 2008 05:06 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - florentinescot - Sep. 30th, 2008 11:42 pm (UTC) - Expand
Sep. 30th, 2008 04:39 pm (UTC)
Modern embroidery linen is lovely but yeah, it is soooo frustrating trying to find something to do period reproductions on. I found some 45-ct that looks nice and seems to have a similar hand but compared to the period grounds it is still a bit clumsy. I considered at one point trying to use it and stitching over one thread but my eyesight is not up to that anymore :).

Looking forward to the blackwork/nightcap designs! Hope it will also help folks realize that blackwork does not HAVE to be counted work, sigh.
Sep. 30th, 2008 05:20 pm (UTC)
Agreed, I've done some of my Rus embroidery (loosely based upon archeological finds) on linen and actually found it was much better looking on a high thread count cotton silk I had which got me thinking along the lines above.

if you find a good source please post. I'd be grateful. Course I have this idea for a blackwork sampler for my mother since I love the stuff, think its neat and don't do late period.
Sep. 30th, 2008 05:29 pm (UTC)
I'm thinking I should pick up some of that linen voile I saw the other day, it's at least 80 thread count and crisp/smooth as a dream.
Sep. 30th, 2008 11:06 pm (UTC)
Would you be so kind as to let me know where you found this linen voile? I don't usually do counted work, and need the good stuff for my usual embroidery.
(no subject) - taamar - Oct. 1st, 2008 03:44 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - attack_laurel - Oct. 6th, 2008 10:31 am (UTC) - Expand
Sep. 30th, 2008 06:01 pm (UTC)
(Yes, I'm designing a nightcap with lots of little creatures. Are you excited now?)

You are soooo evil. ;) Even before I read that, I'm torn between a couple of the coif patterns, PLUS all of the other neat stuff on Kass's site, sigh. I really need to win the lottery- that would make things simpler and I could just buy them all! ;)
I think I may have to order that nightcap pattern when it eventually comes out- my brother has frogs on his heraldry. ;)
Sep. 30th, 2008 11:41 pm (UTC)
You must make a matching coif with froggies! *want*
Oct. 1st, 2008 01:04 am (UTC)
wow that is just lovely do you have the awesome frog design from a period embroidery for sale?
Oct. 1st, 2008 10:13 am (UTC)
Re: frogs!
Working on it. :)
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