Wednesday, October 15, 2014

EGA National Seminar - Italian purchases

Saturday I'm going to Italy... well, not really, but it's as close as I can get right now - I'm going to the EGA National Seminar in Phoenix, Arizona and Vima deMarchi Micheli is bringing over some Italian embroiderers, similar to the EGA National Seminar in San Francisco in 2010.

I can't wait to see the ladies again and I've been saving my pennies as they always bring stitching supplies, books and patterns, kits and stitched pieces from the Italian province of Umbria.

I've been told that there will be stitched pieces for sale in the following embroidery styles: Assisi, Catherine de'Medici, Antique Umbrian, Perugino, Antique Deruta and embroidery on Tulle as well as the Orvieto and Irish Crochet Laces.

There will also be ceramic beads, buttons and fuserole from Anna Lisa Piccioni of Deruta as well as threads and fabrics for executing the above-mentioned techniques. 

Italian linens!!! I believe that there will also be handwoven works from the Giuditta Brozzetti Workshop.

I am drooling at the thought of Merchandise Night on Tuesday, October the 21st!

There are going to be Italian teachers demonstrating Assisi, Catherine de'Medici, Perugino and Antique Umbrian Embroidery as well as embroidery on Tulle. I hope they will be doing tassels too but I don't have confirmation on that one.

The ladies won't be taking credit cards so come prepared, I can't wait!!!!

Thank you Vima for the use of your photo!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Snowflakes… Guest Post: Gioja Ralui

Today I willingly relinquish my blog to a "friend":

Hi! It's Gioja Ralui, author of the manual: Sardinian Knot Stitch

First, I'd like to thank everyone who has purchased it and especially those who published their book reviews on Amazon. I must admit that I was particularly pleased to hear that many of those who reviewed the book had appreciated the clarity and comprehensiveness of the instructions.

Secondly, for those who would like to purchase it, the book is available through Amazon. Proceeds go to the Mission of Camp Garba in Isiolo, Kenya.

Well then, after this dutiful introduction, let's move on to the reason that I asked a few friends for space on their blogs (see also TuttoRicamo and Ricamo e… altro).

We are already into autumn, by now the summer holidays are just a memory and we are settling down to our usual routines… so I thought: why not give those Sardinian Knot Stitch enthusiasts an idea, a little inspiration if you will, for a Holiday Season gift?

So here they are for you – my snowflakes: a small one for those who are still exploring this technique and a bigger one for those who are feeling pretty comfortable with their ability.

For each snowflake there is a complete design, to give you an idea of the final result, and an enlarged pattern of one quarter of the motif so as to be more readable.

This is the complete pattern for the small snowflake… 

…and here below is an enlargement of one quarter of the same snowflake:

This is the complete pattern for the bigger snowflake

…and this is one quarter in detail: 

These two motifs can be used separately but also together for a tablerunner or for a cushion or even connected with a zig-zag pattern (that you can find in the book) to become decorations on a Christmas placemat…

Thanks again for the hospitality and attention and good luck! I'll leave you with my email address

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Sardinian Knotted Embroidery - new book by Yvette Stanton

Today Yvette Stanton of Australia is launching her latest book: Sardinian Knotted Embroidery. If you're already familiar with Yvette's other books, you will know that this latest book can safely be purchased sight-unseen. Yvette makes excellent needlework books. After writing half a dozen, she knew what to do and she did it very well.

She is also a very talented designer and needlewoman. You will delight in her work and the projects she has proposed.

Sardinian Knotted Embroidery - Whitework from Teulada is Yvette's seventh needlework book and this time she has turned her eye on Italy. She and her family vacationed in Italy so she could better research this book and she was able to meet people who embroider this technique, see their manufactures and absorb the tradition and history of it in it's native environment. All of this shows through on every page as does Yvette's talent and enthusiasm. She takes your hand and stays with you every step of the way through learning Sardinian Knotted Embroidery - whether you are right or left-handed. Yes, you read that correctly. There are left-handed instructions for the embroidery as well as right-handed ones. And I'm not talking about just mirrored images, but real, helpful, achievable left-handed instructions as you see, Yvette herself is a left-handed stitcher.

The book starts off with a quick introduction and some background history, there is a bit about materials and equipment then by page 15 you dive right into the beautiful projects that Yvette has designed and stitched herself. There are 11 projects in all of varying degrees of difficulty and time-investment: the smallest item being a necklace pendant and the largest being a tablecloth. Even though the tablecloth is the biggest, it is simple enough that you can see yourself actually stitching it and not having it become a UFO (unfinished object). Yvette's photography shows off the projects nicely and it's easy to just sit and drool for a long while before picking up your needle and thread!

After the projects section are the instructions which fill the remainder of the book. There are not just instructions on the embroidery, but also on hemming which include planning, folding, mitred corners and three different hemstitches with complete right and left-handed instructions as well as a lacy edge treatment.

Instructions on the actual stitch are enhanced by tips, tricks and advice such as right and left-handed instructions on working the knot, changing directions, ending a motif, ending a thread, changing the thread, particularly tricky motifs and how to handle them, typical mistakes and how to avoid them but also how to fix them! All of these things have both right and left-handed diagrams to help you out.

Then there are instructions on damp stretching the work once you are done the projects and finally where to get supplies. A removable envelope of fold-out patterns is glued to the last page. Text in English.

You can purchase Sardinian Knotted Embroidery direct from Yvette's website where you can also get thread and fabric too including imported Italian linen. If you're contacting her right now, give her a few days to answer you, she is at a needlework event in Adelaide launching the book and teaching classes.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Italian Renaissance Recreation

Today, my article on the Italian Cassone or Hope Chest is making a guest appearance on the La Bella Donna website, with my permission of course.

Signora Giata Maddalena Alberti contacted me a few weeks ago and I'm so glad that she did! She is a member of the SCA which is an international organization dedicated to researching and re-creating the arts and skills of pre-17th-century Europe. Her particular field of interest is: 

"Italy during the trecento, quattrocento, and cinquecento. I especially am enamored with the city-states of Firenze and Venezia. So for my "persona" within the SCA I have chosen to learn about and portray a woman born in 'Florence' in the late 1400s who lives in 'Venice'. I have, through research, chosen a name and during our events I dress, speak, think, and even dine as she would have (except during the lovely steamy summers, where I transport further back in time and wear Roman or Greek garb)."
Signora Giata has done a great deal of research on Italian women and much more and has made her research available for free download here. There is a lot more to download and read here on what she's been doing.

Grab a cup of tea and settle in for some interesting reading!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Estense Embroidery - new book!

At long last there is a second book on Estense Embroidery from Elisabetta Holzer of the cultural association RicamArte of Ferrara. This book is worth the wait since her first book in 2007.

The manual is over 200 pages and weighs in at 1.8 lbs! Elisabetta is not kidding around about it being a "manual". There are 36 embroidery stitches, 8 drawn thread corner treatments, 10 trimmings, 4 frames, 15 filling stitches, 3 borders, 2 decorations, cording and 7 delicious projects – plus photos of other ideas and suggestions for further combining all the stuff that has been diagrammed.

And there are a lot of diagrams.
I know.
I did them.
Did I mention there are a lot of them?

The explanations include drawn diagrams which feature the paths of the working thread showing through so you can tell what's happening on the back of the work, along with a colour photo of the front and back of the stitching.

Sample stitch instruction page

Great pains have been taken to make this manual comprehensible. It is jam-packed with colour photos of examples of ways to execute and combine the stitches, techniques and colours that make up Estense Embroidery.

Il manuale completo del Ricamo Estense [The Complete Manual of Estense Embroidery] is the fruit of several years of labour. Everything has been stitched and tried out and then improved and re-stitched. When I was doing the diagrams I had three fabric doodle cloths going. If I didn't understand something Elisabetta listened and in some cases reworked her instructions, diagrams and/or photo sequences because she reasoned that if I were confused, other stitchers might be too. More often though, I didn't have any trouble working the stitches because Elisabetta's precise step-by-step photos and diagrams are very, very clear.

Hours and hours have gone into the study of the colours used in Estense Embroidery. Taking her inspiration from the ancient Ferrarese graffito ceramics of the 14th to 16th centuries, Elisabetta has found that for the most part Anchor thread colours work the best but she has studied which DMC colours might be substituted and provided a list so that you can start embroidering that much sooner, not having to figure out the conversions for yourself.

There are many things that I love about this manual but one of the top things has to be the explanations for how to turn the corners for all 8 of the drawn thread corner treatments.

Sample corner treatment instructions

Among the 7 exquisite projects (I want to make all of them!) is the exceptionally lovely bomboniera from the 2009 Italia Invita exhibit.

All projects have instructions for the embroidery, the construction and the finishing. Text is in Italian.

For those of you not familiar with Estense Embroidery, I wrote a bit about it here.

You can see a preview of some of the pages on the publisher's website. To order, send them an email and tell them you want to pay with PayPal. Otherwise you can get if from Tombolo Disegni, send them an email to order.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Sardinian Knot Stitch - new book English version

As I told you here, I've been working on a book on punt'e nù, a counted thread needlework technique from Teulada, Sardinia. In that previous post, I told you that I'd let you know when the English version was available... so it is now!!

Back cover

I've checked and Sardinian Knot Stitch is already available to order on and and the other amazon websites will show it in the days to come.

A sample page spread from Sardinian Knot Stitch

Sardinian Knot Stitch is the collaborative effort of four stitchers who set out to learn more about this beautiful needlework found traditionally on men's folk costumes from Teulada. The back cover above shows a close-up of the richly embroidered collar and just above you can see the cuff of a man's traditional folk costume shirt (click on the images for a closer look).

The book is 70 pages and covers some historical background along with technical instructions, some traditional patterns and then a few non-traditional projects of varying levels of difficulty, this being the most complex:

Cushion project from Sardinian Knot Stitch

Sardinian Knot Stitch is intended as a beginner's approach to the needlework. As punt'e nù has traditionally been local to Teulada and handed down by word-of-mouth, there has been very little written about it.

There is a group in Teulada now who has been working to bring this and other embroidery typical of the area to light with needlework shows exhibiting non-traditional pieces adorned with punt'e nù like towels, tablecloths and other household and personal linens. For more information about this group and/or visiting Teulada and seeing this work, contact the owner of this blog.

If you happen to be vacationing in Sardinia right now, on August 5th there is an exhibition in Teulada:

If you get to go, will you leave a comment below?

Sunday, July 27, 2014

St. Bridget's Altar Cloth

Almost a year ago I was contacted by a lady from Sweden who is the grand-daughter of a lady named Elsa Peterson who started a lacemaking company in Vadstena in 1920. Today the company is run by the lady who contacted me's 90-year-old mother and she was interested in reproducing some old patterns so that they would not be lost.

Now, there was a highly skilled designer/lacemaker named Aurore Ingelotz who lived in Vadstena from 1889 to 1893. She specialized in making designs for the church. In 1895 she made and sent a lace altar cloth to Santa Brigida Church in Rome. Now St. Bridget of Sweden came from Vadstena so you can begin to see the connection. (Aurore's work was so good, some of it was selected to represent Sweden at the 1893 Chicago World Exposition.)

Well, back to our story. Some of Aurore Ingelotz's patterns were recovered from an attic and found their way into Elsa Peterson's possession. Here you can read (with the aid of Google Translator if you don't speak Swedish) the fascinating story of the research behind these patterns done by the lady who contacted me.

While doing her research, this lady was trying to find out if the lace altar cloth sent to Rome in 1895 still existed. We contacted Santa Brigida Church to find out that yes, it was still there and was used and exhibited once a year during the celebrations of the canonization of St. Bridget on October 7.

As I was going to be in Rome at the time, I offered to try to see if I could get some photos of the altar cloth or at the very least, go to see it for myself. The sisters of Santa Brigida also took some pictures in the meantime and when we visited they were very kind to let my friend and I have a few minutes after the ceremony alone at the altar to take a few photos.

The altar cloth is 4.4 meters long and 1.3 meters wide, at each end there is a medallion (two different designs) and there is a lace border of 20 cm wide.

Thank you very much Karin for letting us share in your adventure!