Monday, May 30, 2011

Sicilian Drawn Thread Work

In April I went to Sicily with a stitching friend to take a Sicilian Drawn Thread Work course from Roberta Rizza in Comiso.

Roberta has a lovely shop in Comiso called Passione Ricamo (at the corner of Via Salvatore Quasimodo and Via dei Roveri) where she and her mother Franca run workshops and have a large display area for all their wonderful embroideries.

Lots of beautiful things in the shop windows!

There is a special area for embroidery courses well away from the commercial area with lots of great lighting. The course lasted three days for a total of 12 hours. We started on a Wednesday morning and our fabric was presented to us already cut and ready to go.

We learned that Sicilian Drawn Thread Work is made up of three principal types: '400, '500 and '700 and a few variations. The '500 Inverso is a variation of the '500. Patterns from the different historical periods are traditionally used with each different type (eg. patterns from the 15th century are used with '400 and so on). You can, however, use any cross stitch or filet pattern you like for executing this kind of embroidery.

A netted ground is prepared for most types of Sicilian Drawn Thread Work by cutting the ground fabric warp and weft threads and then wrapping the bars with thread. The fabric used is usually a high count evenweave linen. For the Cloth Stitch which is used in the '400 type of Sicilian Drawn Thread Work the fabric is then "rewoven" back into the netted ground with thread to fill the squares of the design. The '400 is done before wrapping the netted ground. For '700 the design is woven onto the completed netted ground using the Darning Stitch. Here is an example of the two types together, the top left corner is the '700 and the petals are done in the '400:

In the '500 type of Sicilian Drawn Thread Work the design area is not cut out of the middle of the netted ground but instead the ground fabric is left and it is outlined with an overcasting stitch:

'500 Inverso is the design made up of the netting and an overcast stitch outlining the edge of the design:

Here is our course project, the first photo is what I've got done so far on mine and then a photo of the finished stitched sample in the shop:

On the last day of the course, we were taught how to cut the fabric. Of course I miscalculated and cut mine wrong! It is fantastic to have a teacher to explain everything to you, so much more enjoyable than learning from a book at home alone! I feel confident in cutting out a new design but I'll have to lock myself in a room alone with no distractions to do it!

Roberta is an excellent teacher and gave us lots of hints and tips for working our patterns. She likes to travel around Italy to teach and you can invite her to your place by giving her a call: +39 333 705 3976.

There is an excellent tutorial at Tuttoricamo, click on the British flag for the English pages, then click on "How it's done" and then on "Sicilian Drawn Thread Work". 

Thanks to Elisabetta for the photo of the works in the shop window!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

The Parish of San Giovanni Suergiu

Parish photo copyright by giorgiodiana
While in San Giovanni Suergiu in Sardinia this past month, I visited a stitching group which calls the Parish of San Giovanni Suergiu home.

These ladies donate their earnings from embroideries sold at two exhibitions a year to six children adopted from the Garba Catholic Mission Camp Isiolo in Eastern Kenya.

The were kind enough to let us join them, once in the afternoon and once in the morning for a bit of stitching. The range of work that they do goes from classic embroideries like works of cutwork and counted threadwork, to knitting and crochet and everything in between.

They also do work on commission like the bomboniere for weddings, first communions and other special events.

The ladies also proudly showed us the embroidery of the Parish itself, there were so many beautiful works!

This is "false cutwork", the red part is painted with fabric paint and the design is executed with chain stitches.

Of course they do works of Bosa Filet:

With one of the ladies from this group, we went to Bosa to visit with La Foce, a group of women who study and work this ancient Sardinian technique, but more on that later...

Visit the blog of this group from the Parish of San Giovanni Suergiu to see all of the beautiful things they make!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Borders of Aemilia Ars

The long awaited Bordi [Borders] of the Quaderni di Aemilia Ars series is out!

78 pages of clear instructions on how to make this breathtakingly beautiful needle lace.

Once again the pupils of the Aemilia Ars master Antonilla Cantelli have worked hard to bring you step-by-step instructions. This book is in the same format as their previous publication Fiori [Flowers], this time they present numerous borders, edgings and inserts with large clear colour photos.

If you are a regular reader of this blog you will know that I have spoken often and lovingly of Aemilia Ars needle lace. It is truly a jewel in the crown of needlearts.

The ladies of the Association I Merletti di Antonilla Cantelli also had a booth at the Italia Invita Forum in Parma this year and it was full of exquisite pieces of Aemilia Ars needle lace, both new and old (click on the underlined text for some pictures).

I was the lucky recipient of this needle lace flower which is absolutely perfectly made and attached to some wire so that you can hook it around a button:

While in Bologna, I couldn't miss the opportunity to revisit the Collezioni Comunali d’Arte museum and the only continuous exhibit of Aemilia Ars needle lace that I know of.

Can you see the snails? Ah well, more about that later...

If you're interested in the book on Aemilia Ars needle lace borders or even the one on flowers, check out the online needlework store Tombolo Disegni.

As always, many thanks to Elisabetta for the photo from the museum in Bologna!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Deruta Drawn Thread Work - Deruta Sfilato

About this time last year, I wrote a post about the Castello di Verrazzano in Tuscany and the unusual needlework on the curtains we found there.

This year at the Italia Invita Forum in Parma, there was a small booth filled with this needlework called Deruta Sfilato or Deruta Drawn Thread Work. The booth was displaying the work of Maria Elide Melani and the Association Ago, Aga e Fantasia of Pistoia.

I was delighted to meet Maria as we had exchanged some emails some time ago regarding the curtains at the Castello Verrazzano. She has been very busy researching this technique and producing some wonderful needlework.

This shawl for a bridal gown is exquisite:

And there are matching shoes!

Maria decided to exhibit the work at the Italia Invita Forum this year to see if anyone was interested in it. From what I saw of the continuous crowds around the booth and the talk of the people attending, Deruta Drawn Thread Work has a solid future and we will be seeing more of it in the future.

The Association Ago, Aga e Fantasia is offering an intensive embroidery course on Deruta Sfilato from June 17 - 19, 2011 at the Hotel Leon Bianco in Pistoia - how I would love to go... isn't it beautiful?

Corso Intensivo di Deruta Sfilato

Some days later in Florence, we came across the hand embroidery shop TAF at no. 17-red in Via Por Santa Maria and spotted what looked like the same kind of needlework:

As the shop was closed, we returned the next day to ask about it. We were told that the price was reduced as they only had pink tablecloths left and didn't think they could get any more of this kind of embroidery as it was done by elderly embroiderers in the areas surrounding Florence.

I was also told by another person that this kind of embroidery is done in the Sorrento area of southern Italy. Hmmm... this will mean further investigation into the roots of this needlework!

At the website Tuttoricamo, you can read some history about Deruta Drawn Thread Work, from the homepage, click on the British Flag for the English pages, then on "Techniques", then on "Deruta Drawn Thread Work", there are some pictures of a couple of fantastic cushions there too.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Italian Holiday

Well, if you've been wondering what had happened to me, I've been in Italy for a month!

I just got back and haven't unpacked yet but I wanted to give you a little preview of things to come...

I visited Bologna (needlelace piece from the Collezioni Comunali d’Arte Museum in Bologna):

...Sicily (sign for the Drawn Thread Work Museum in Chiaramonte Gulfi):

...Sardinia (Byssus Museum in Sant'Antioco):

...Parma (Puncetto stand at the Italia Invita Textile Forum 2011):

...and Florence (Palazzo Davanzati Museum and the trapunto quilt reproduction stitched by Silvana Vannini):

It was a needlework-themed holiday and I saw and did so very many lovely things!

Special thanks to Elisabetta for the photos of Bologna and Sicily! 

Please be patient while I get myself organized and start to answer all your emails!!