Sunday, December 23, 2012

Cadolingio Embroidery

Ebe Ciampalini Balestri has just released her latest book, this time it is a style of embroidery which she invented herself, inspired by the ruins of an ancient castle near where she lives in Tuscany. If you have Facebook, you can visit the archaeological dig's page and read in English and Italian what they've been doing and look as some photos in their photo albums.

Cadolingio Embroidery, or Ricamo Cadolingio as it is called in Italian, falls under the category of metal thread work and reminds me of the ancient works like Queen Constance's crown found today in Palermo's Cathedral.

The book is 51 pages long and is divided into two sections: Italian first and English second. Each section is further divided into subsections which list the materials used, technical information including finishing ideas, the history of the family and the castello which inspired this embroidery, seven different projects and more ideas and then the bibliographical notes.

Ebe, acknowledging the economic difficulties of our times, has sourced materials which are easier to fit into your budget than real gold threads and gems for the projects of this manual but if you have the resources for using more expensive materials, that option is always open to you.

The projects are delightful and not your usual embroidery items, here there are mirror and picture frame surrounds, small boxes of various shapes and eyeglasses cases. As the materials used are synthetic, they are also washable, making the projects more usable.

Speaking of eyeglasses cases, Ebe made one for me!

As usual when I translate things, I learned a lot. This book taught me not only about the different aspects of this embroidery style but also about a family's history which I always find fascinating.

You can purchase Cadolingio Embroidery from Tombolo Disegni, send an email request to order.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Genoese Needlework, Textiles and Fashion - Part One

I know almost nothing about Genoa, Italy in relation to textiles. I've never been there and so it is conspicuously missing from the range of needlework that I've talked about here.

I was recently contacted by Maria Daniela Lunghi, a fibre artist, author and textile history specialist from Camogli in the province of Genoa. She was kind enough to send me some textile museum catalogues from Genoa.

I colori del lusso. Scialli del Kashmir a Genova [The colours of luxury. Kashmir Shawls in Genoa] is a little booklet of 32 pages with lots of lovely colour photos of the collection of Kashmir shawls displayed at the exhibition in 2002 at the Museo di Sant'Agostino in Genoa. It covers the history of textiles in India, the production of cashmere in europe, woven shawls and printed shawls among a few other interesting things. (Text in Italian.)

Now, you might be thinking: What do cashmere shawls have to do with Italy? Well, you may or may not know that Europeans had some periods of time where Eastern designs, fabrics and customs became very fashionable. Periods of Turkish, Chinese, Japanese, Bedouin as well as other eastern styles each had their turn influencing the latest fashions for European women and men and India had her turn as well.

Marchesa Emilia Negrone Centurioni by Giuseppe Antonio Frascheri. Oil on canvas. Villa Saluzzo Serra di Nervi, Galleria d'Arte Moderna, Genoa.

This little catalogue also discusses the influence of these shawls on the fashion pages of French magazines, the commerce of Kashmir shawls in Genoa and the relationship between Genoese men and women and Kashmir shawls.

There is a small bit at the end about the restoration and conservation of this collection.

I learned quite a bit about these shawls and their high appreciation by Italian women of the period between 1770 and 1870.

Thank you M. Daniela Lunghi for this fascinating lesson in fashion!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Christmas Macrame

I finally treated myself to Adriana Lazzari's Christmas Macrame book, I've been looking at it since it come out in 2009.

Some years ago I tried to create a Santa Claus out of Macrame from a RAKAM magazine but he never really worked out and last year I wanted to create this bell, but even with help and infinite patience from the ladies over at Tuttoricamo, I didn't get very far.

This year, I've had some practise and am determined to create some kind of Christmas ornament in Macrame.

This nice little book has 55 pages, the text is only in Italian but there are lots of diagrams and photos, if you know your way around Macrame, you'd probably have no trouble if you don't speak Italian.

The first section deals with materials and the basic knots after which follows the patterns and ideas section which is the larger part of the contents. The projects include three angels, a chimney-sweep, a couple of brooms, two Christmas trees, a snowman, a witch, a poinsettia, the Nativity Scene from the front cover, three snowflakes and a bell. A bell very similar to the one I was trying to make last year. (If you're wondering, the broom, chimney-sweep and witch relate to the Italian tradition of the Befana coinciding with the Epifany on the 6th of January).

I like Adriana's books as she always tells you how much thread to cut. This helps math-challenged people like me as it leaves nothing to chance. I think I'll make one of the snowflakes to start out, they look like something I might be able to handle. I'll let you know if I succeed.

If you're outside of Italy, you can purchase this book from TomboloDisegni, click on "Libri", then "Libri Macrame": send an email to order, she takes PayPal. If you're in Italy, you can contact the author at her website.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Italian Finalists - A Mirror to my Art Contest

You have seen several posts here regarding the Needleprint blog's A Mirror to my Art Contest. I was personally very taken with the concept and enthusiastic to invite some of Italy's needleworkers to join.

I'm proud to say that several Italian stitchers stepped up and 4 of them became finalists with the 3rd place prize being shared between two works, one of which was the stunning gold and silk embroidery by Francesca from Rome. Check out Francesca's blog where she describes (in English!) the creative process of her design. Don't miss this post about Francesca's mirror art at the Needleprint blog either.

Silvia from Turin was a finalist with her needle lace/trapunto combination inspired by an amazing tablecloth in Aemilia Ars work held by the Palazzo Davanzati Museum in Florence. She has written about her creative process in this post on her blog as well as being the subject of a spotlight post here on the Needleprint blog.

Elisabetta from Ferrara was named a finalist with her beautiful Estense Embroidery mirror. Attention to detail going right down to the beads on the cording closure which match the thread colours of the embroidery!

Rosella from Milan was a finalist with 2 designs (see them here and here) of the 5 embroideries that she submitted! Rosella has kindly allowed me to show you her other works which were submitted to the contest.

Rosella told me that she was inspired for one of her entries by an old collection of patterns given to her by a 91-year-old friend. These old patterns had belonged to the friend's mother, some of them dating back to the late 1800s. Rosella's friend was pleased that the patterns had inspired one of Rosella's entries for the contest and she was sure that her mother would have been pleased as well.

Thank you Rosella for sharing your photos!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

English Insert for Il Reticello by Paola Barbieri

A quick note to let you know that the English translation booklet (pictured above) is now available for the book Il Reticello interpretata da Paola Barbieri published by l'Associazione Il Punto Antico.

If you've hesitated to get this lovely book because it was only in Italian text, now you don't need to hold off anymore. While the website says that the English will be available soon, I know that it is available now as I have waited to get the printed copy in my hands before announcing it's availability to you.

The insert is 31 pages with the complete text of the book translated into English. The English is of very good calibre, not done with an online translator so it is actually understandable. The first sentence of the note from the author reads:

In the pages that follow, you will find very simple and accurate instructions. In fact, several times I choose to also repeat the various steps required for creating a quadrant, in order to be very clear, so as to allow those who have never experimented with reticello to be able to approach this technique.

If you purchased this book already and want the English text, contact the Associazione Il Punto Antico to get your insert sent to you.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Deruta Drawn Thread Work Sample

I seem to have less and less time for my blog as I do more and more translations but I cannot give it up just yet. Quickly I want to tell you a fun story.

Some years ago I corresponded with Maria Elide Melani of the Associazione Ago Aga e Fantasia while she was researching Deruta Sfilato or Deruta Drawn Thread Work Embroidery. We have since met (at Italia Invita 2011) and correspond once in awhile. She wrote a lovely book on the technique, which I told you about here.

I have been very lucky with my internet friendships and I have been able to meet lots of great people who share my interests. I have been very enthusiastic in my reporting of Maria Elide and her endeavours because I find her to be a delightful person as well as a talented embroiderer.

Some time ago, a reader of my blog from the Netherlands wrote to me that she was going to Tuscany and wanted to learn about Deruta Drawn Thread Work. I put her in touch with Maria Elide and they enjoyed a lovely visit together. Then a couple of readers from other countries did the same and I was excited to assist in the discovery by stitchers outside of Italy of this wonderful Italian needlework.

But the best has got to be when you assist without knowing it. Maria Elide was contacted directly by a whole group of Japanese stitchers who were going to Italy and wanted to learn Deruta Drawn Thread Work while they were there. Maria Elide didn't understand how they had found her or why they would choose her over the many embroidery schools in Italy but when the group arrived they showed her a printout of my blog post about her! When she wrote and told me after they were gone, she assumed that I had known - but I was completely ignorant! 

I can't tell you how happy this kind of thing makes me. It is the whole point of this blog. This past week I received a thank-you gift from Maria Elide which, while unnecessary, is much appreciated. Lovely Deruta Drawn Thread Work done by her own hand. It barely fit into my scanner:

I'm very happy to have helped these people and hope that my readers find things of interest in the posts that I write, however infrequently they seem to be written these days.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Punto Maglie - prizewinner

Back in September I told you about the Hand Embroidery and Weaving Exhibition in Valtopina and how some Veronese Crochet Lace split the prize for the lace category with some Punto Maglie needle lace. I'm happy to tell you that I can now show you what the Punto Maglie entry looked like:

Napkin with corner insert of Punto Maglie needle lace. Image copyright Assn. Punto Maglie.

Central insert of Punto Maglie needle lace for the tablecloth. Image copyright Assn. Punto Maglie.

Following the theme of the exhibition: Green Monuments of Umbria - the trees, we can identify the leaves and the fruit of the Olive tree in the Punto Maglie pieces pictured above. Besides occupying an important role in mythology and symbology, the olive is also predominantly present in the two regions of Umbria (where the exhibition was held) and Apuglia (where Punto Maglie comes from) thus, this entry creates a bond between the two areas. Exhibition participants were required to demonstrate the development of their ideas for their patterns on paper and produce pieces of their chosen lace or embroidery for a six setting tablecloth (140 cm x 160 cm) with matching napkins (40 cm x 40 cm). The central insert of Punto Maglie needle lace pictured above measures 30 cm x 21 cm.

I wrote to Liliana Ciriolo of the Associazione Punto Maglie to ask her some details about this prizewinning lace which she made together with Anna Borgia, Mina Saponaro and Renata Skovran from a design by Alessandra M. Chiurazzi inspired by a 16th century model. It took them a month to make the pieces using white DMC no. 80 thread. Stitches employed were the buttonhole stitch, the cording stitch, picots and the net.

Congratulations to the women of the Associazione Punto Maglie and thank you for sharing these pieces with us!

On November 4th, the town of Maglie was featured on an Italian TV program "Ti ci porto io" [I'll take you there]. Around the 8:25 mark of the video below, you can see how they execute Punto Maglie needle lace and see some of the Associazione Punto Maglie's work which includes a bridal gown which took four women more than 5 months to make.
The interviewer says: Four people took five months to make it? Why do you do it?
Anna Borgia answers: For love.
The interviewer then asks how much it might cost and she asks for a ballpark figure.
Anna Borgia: Around six thousand euros.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Embroidery using a hoop

For those who would like to learn to use an embroidery hoop to aid in creating beautiful traditional needlework, Anna Rondelli of Bologna has just released her second publication: Ricamo a Telaio [Embroidery using a hoop].

Translated from her website:
Through the pages of this book, we learn how to hold the hoop in hand. It is the "ABCs" of embroidery that you should know before moving on to more complex techniques. The principal stitches of embroidery executed using a hoop like cording stitch, padded satin stitch, shadow work, buttonhole stitch edgings, Rodi Stitch and many others and their variations are explained step-by-step. Different projects are presented in detail in the third part. The designs of some of the work (on transfer paper and ready to use) are enclosed in a separate envelope. This publication may be useful to experts for consolidating their technical knowledge and for beginners who want to get to know embroidery using a hoop.

Sample of stitch instructions.

This book is also a showcase of Anna's gorgeous traditional embroidery. There are some designs dedicated to the bridal trousseaux in elegant colour choices.

Anna dreams of continuing to publish more and more complex stitches and techniques in the future, so if you enjoy this book, there may be more to come. The text of this book is in Italian.

If you're in Bologna from the 16th to the 18th of November 2012, you can get your hands on this book by attending the fair Il Mondo Creativo in Bologna, otherwise you can contact Anna through her website La Prilletta.

For a review of this book in Italian, see the TuttoRicamo blog.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Scuola d'Industrie Italiane - Piecework article

For those who enjoy a good story to go along with your needlework, check out the Nov/Dec 2012 issue of Piecework magazine:

Inside you will find the story of the Scuola d'Industrie Italiane of New York by Ivana Palomba.

Some of you may remember me telling you about Ivana's thesis being published last year on Carolina Amari and her impact on the emancipation of women. This article tells of the school/workshop that Carolina Amari and Florence Colgate started in 1905 in New York for italian immigrant girls as a means to earn a living without having to work in a sweatshop or factory.

While translating this article I have to say that I was fascinated by the lives of the women we tried to research and found it immensely frustrating to be so far from New York and all the archives that are there. If you have an ancestor who was a student of the Scuola d'Industrie Italiane of New York. I would love to hear from you!

Photo by Joe Coca, image copyrighted by Interweave.

As Piecework required a project to accompany the article, there is a Punto Antico needlebook inspired by a card case featured in an advertisement for the Scuola D'Industrie Italiane from The Journal, November 1908.

I hope to have more news early in the new year regarding the Scuola D'Industrie Italiane of New York, so keep an eye out for further developments!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Italia Invita 2013


The 6th International Italia Invita Forum of Textile Creativity has updated their website to include the theme and competitions for the next Italia Invita Forum in Parma, Italy on May 10 - 12th, 2013.

Techniques covered at the next Forum will include: Embroidery, Lace, Quilting, Knitting, Crocheting, Felting, Cross Stitch, Weaving, Straw Plaiting, and just about any other textile art.

The theme will be: Intreccio Internationale which is difficult to translate into two words."Intreccio" is a weave, a plait or braid, a plot (of a story), an intertwining or interweaving - of paths, lives, things. The way they have explained it on the English general info page of their website is as follows:

...the theme is “Intreccio Internazionale” because we will search the path that “the thread” has made, prior to materialize into an art, a technique, a precious artifact. An invitation to retrace the steps through which every single work of each school has reached perfection, thanks to contamination with other techniques.

As usual, there are two competitions open to the public with the entries being displayed during the Forum:

The topics chosen for 2013 are ‘circle’ and ‘internationality’: one as a symbol of unity, of what has no beginning and no end, and the other as the basis of the “growth” due to the exchange between different cultures.

The Squaring the Circle competition is open to individual quilters, groups and associations and the International Circle competition is open to anyone who wants to use any textile method to create a themed piece.

Prizes include a Juki sewing machine, a Juki cutting and sewing machine, Aurifil threads and €1,800.00 in vouchers to spend at the Italia Invita Forum in the vendors section.

I was waiting until they had made the rules available in English on their website to tell you about this but I have learned that the rules will not be made available in any other language than Italian. This seemed strange to me for an international competition and event. I received this response to my query from Fiere di Parma, the company that hosts the event:

The rules are only in Italian because the competition is reserved only for Italian citizens due to issues with the Government.
Unfortunately, the law does not allow Italy to organize international competitions and so we were forced to deal with this limitation.

There will be workshops and classes that you can register for and attend and I am told that a list of these will be available in the next couple of weeks.

A list of exhibitors and vendors will become available after the new year.  So check back to the Italia Invita website often for updates.

In other posts I have told you about previous editions of Italia Invita Forums:

Italia Invita - Part One - 2003
Italia Invita - Part Four - 2009
Italia Invita - Part Five - 2011

Truly, if you get the chance to go, make the effort. No where else can you get so many Italian needlework schools, teachers, techniques and supplies at a single event.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Ricamo Italiano - Digital Magazine

I used to subscribe to one of the Italian needlework magazines called Ricamo Italiano which started up in the fall of 2004. The subscription for overseas was about double the European price but at the time I could afford it and anyway, I usually figure on paying about double the cover price for any publication from Italy because the shipping is so much.

In 2010 they decided to raise the overseas price for a subscription so much that I had to give them up.

Silvia from Turin emailed me to say that she had discovered that they now have a digital edition which you can purchase and download instantly.

I decided to purchase an issue and take you along with me for the ride. Before we get started, let me say that I'm not recommending/soliciting this magazine and I don't earn anything by this post. This is just an adventure in Italian Needlework.

I took screenshots along the way and then added some arrows in with Photoshop. My monitor is a 27 inch iMac so I'm sorry, there is a lot of white space but I didn't want to cut anything off that might help you if you were going to try this.

Now, I didn't find anything indicating that this was even available on the Ricamo Italiano website, but there might be something there that I just didn't see, or they may have updated it since this post if you're reading this sometime in the future.

Click on the photos for a closer look.

Arriving at the EZPRess website, which thanks to Silvia, we know exists, use the pull down menu at the top for English or which ever language you like, it uses Google Translate which does an okay job for what we need here.

On the left is a "search by category" heading with directly below it another pull down menu. For reasons probably to do with translation, the list does not appear in English alphabetical order, so you'll find "embroidery" under "boys". Don't ask, just select "embroidery" and let's move on. ;-)

There are only two choices for "embroidery" and they are both Ricamo Italiano, so you can take your pick between September 2012 (issue 95) or October 2012 (issue 96) or you can sign up for a subscription. I chose issue 96 and clicked on "acquista ora" - the buttons don't translate.

When you click the button a little pop up menu tells you that what you've selected has been added to your cart and you have the option to continue shopping or going on to the cart and paying which is the option I chose.

Now you must click on "cash", you'll notice my "x" shows that you must pay the value added tax or VAT. Many international websites are set up so that the program knows if you're overseas and that you are not required to pay the VAT. This is not one of them. I also understand that in Italy there is a difference in business license, if you anticipate mainly Italian clients, you choose one license, if you anticipate international clients, you choose the other (more expensive) license. These people are anticipating Italian clients and I'm not going to argue over €0,50 which is like, $0.65USD.

Now we must register with EZPress. Click accordingly and you will land at the page which gives you some advice about google.mail clients. I forgot to take a screenshot of this page until after I'd finished, so you may notice in the next photo that my cart is empty on the left. Yours however should still have your magazine in it.

Click "register" and we go on to the cart where you have your choice of payment methods. I chose PayPal and then "check out" at the bottom.

Now, I wasn't quick enough to get the next screenshot but a big green check mark flashed on the screen and some text telling me that I'd entered my order correctly and that I was now being re-routed to PayPal's website, which I was.

After completing my PayPal payment, I chose to return to the EZPress website and landed at this page. I clicked where I indicate with the red arrow, but if you chose a subscription you must click where I've put the 'x".

This brings you to your order summary and you must remember to download both the magazine and the "foglione" which has some patterns on it. It looks like you can do this 100 times each.

What they don't tell you is that the magazine file is 74.1MB so that takes a few minutes to load. The 'foglione' is only 135 KB (for issue 96). The magazine is 86 pages.

If you choose the subscription, you get the same price that Italians get for a printed subscription and you'll get "12 months". Just a word to the wise, this magazine does not always print issues in consecutive months so "12 months" usually takes you into the following year. This can be confusing but at least this way, you'll know it didn't get lost in the mail!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Punto Maglie

Photo copyright Associazione Punto Maglie.

The town of Maglie is located in the Apulia region of south-east Italy. The heel of the boot if your Italian geography is a little vague.

Punto Maglie or Maglie Embroidery is a type of needle lace which takes its origins from Burano, the famous lace-making island in the Venetian Lagoon.

Photo copyright Associazione Punto Maglie.

Characteristics particular to Punto Maglie are the human figures (pupo or pupa, masculine or feminine) often found among the geometric motifs, the most important of which are the star motifs.

Inserts are built upon a support of fabric with the pattern attached on top and are then cut away from the support and inserted into fabrics. Whole pieces can be constructed in this manner or by withdrawing some threads of the ground fabric and building on top of it in a similar method to traditional Reticello.

In 1905, as an experiment, evening embroidery and lace classes were added to the curriculum of an Applied Arts school instigated by Egidio Lanoce, advocate and pioneer of technical schools for the working classes. It was here that Punto Maglie was born.

Photo copyright Associazione Punto Maglie.

Around the same time a local noblewoman, Lady Carolina De Viti De Marco in Starace started a group of embroiderers, some who had trained at the Applied Arts school, to produce embroidered items to sell in order to supplement their household incomes. Lady Carolina and her descendants would go on to become very important to the textile arts of the area, but let's leave that for another post.

Photo copyright Associazione Punto Maglie.

Embroideries and laces from Maglie were exported to America and other European countries and participated and were recognized in the various International Fairs of the period.

Magie enjoyed much success with these endeavours until the years of the First World War.

Today the tradition of Punto Maglie is continued by the embroidery school Associazione Punto Maglie located at no. 60 via Luigi Puzzovio in Maglie. You can contact them by email at: punto maglie @ virgilio . it (remove all the spaces between the characters).

Many thanks to Liliana for the photos!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Gigliuccio Hemstitch - Embroidery Canada

A note to let Canadian readers know that in the fall 2012 issue of the Embroiderer's Association of Canada (EAC)'s magazine Embroidery Canada, the last photo of my article on the Gigliuccio Hemstitch is missing.

Sandra the editor tells me that there will be a note in the next issue but in the meantime, here it is below for your reference (click on the image for a closer look):

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Lace Exhibit at the Met Museum in New York


If you find yourself anywhere near the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York before January 13, 2013, check out their Gems of European Lace exhibit at the Antonio Ratti Textile Centre!

Taken from the press release:
Included in the installation are examples of the two major lacemaking techniques: needle lace (built up from a single thread that is worked in a variety of looping, or buttonhole, stitches) and bobbin lace (woven—or braided—together from multiple threads organized on individual bobbins). Beyond the two basic technical categories, lace is also often described with the name of the town or region where a particular style was first made. The exhibition will include outstanding examples of Venetian (needle) lace, Brussels (bobbin) lace, and Devon (bobbin) lace. Of particular interest is a 19th-century handkerchief associated with King Leopold II and Queen Marie-Henriette of Belgium. The queen was a patron of the local lace industry.

There is also a lovely filet lace dress which belonged to the early 20th century American socialite Rita de Acosta Lydig an avid collector whose pieces formed the basis for the Costume Institute at the Met.

Two Italian examples in the exhibit are from the Nuttall Collection, donated by Magdalena Nuttall in 1908. You can read more about this collection by downloading the Bulletin of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1908.

A special thank you to Sarah for the info about this event!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

A Mirror to my Art finalists

The 20 finalists are posted on the A Mirror to my Art blog this, as you may recall, is a needlework challenge put on by the Needleprint blog for hand-held mirror needlework, I talked about it here

I know of at least two Italian entries and I am so proud that the Italians took up the challenge to enter this contest as their needlework is so beautiful, I really wanted the English-speaking world to see some of it.

Go and vote for your favorite piece, there are 20 entries, each with it's own post. You must leave a comment below the photo to vote.

I will wait to talk about the Italian entries until the winners have been chosen so as not to influence the voting in any way.

Good luck to everyone!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Veronese Crochet Lace - prizewinner

Every year I long to attend (but never have) the Hand Embroidery and Weaving Exhibition at Valtopina in Perugia. I search the internet for reports from attendees and drool over photos posted on blogs and websites. The region of Umbria is rich in embroidery history and there are so many interesting local techniques. One day I really must attend, if for no other reason than to satisfy my longing to do so.

Along with the various exhibitions at the show, there is always an open competition and this year's theme was Green Monuments of Umbria - the trees. This year, participants were required to demonstrate the development of their ideas for the pattern on paper and then to produce a tablecloth big enough for six settings (hemmed measurement: 140 cm x 160 cm) along with matching napkins (hemmed measurement: 40 cm x 40 cm) with their embroidery or lace ideas applied.

The category of lace was split by two winners using the techniques of Veronese Crochet Lace and a needle lace from the Apuglia region called Punto Maglie.

I wrote to Anna Castagnetti of Ricami a Fili Tesi to congratulate her and asked if she would share some details on the prize-winning piece of Veronese Crochet Lace she made together with Donatella Granzarolo. Here is what she said:

"Donatella made all the Veronese Crochet Lace pieces and I joined them together with needle lace bars covered in buttonhole stitch, after having prepared the holes in the fabric. Each tree is made up of eight pieces (three leaves equal one piece) and the trunk. At the four corners of each insertion there are a further four pieces (the sets of leaves). The insertions are finished around the edges with a cording or overcast stitch surrounded by a row of four sided stitch. Threads used were: DMC Cordonnet Special no. 80 for the buttonhole bars; Anchor Lace no. 20 bobbin lace thread for the Veronese Crochet Lace; Crochet Cotton no. 60 for the rest. I can't tell you how much time it took to make it all, we worked together which doubles the execution time and as we live 50 km away from each other, additional time was required for travel."

Below is a picture of one of the inserts:

Congratulations Anna and Donatella! Thank you for sharing the details of this piece with us and for the great photo!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Lamporecchio Embroidery

In 1911 in the Tuscan municipality of Lamporecchio, an American heiress named Laura Towne Merrick (1842 - 1926) founded a school of lacemaking and "women's work" to provide local women with a means to make extra money. The seat of the school was in a property owned by Ms. Merrick in Piazza Francesco Berni, Lamporecchio.

The teacher Clotilde Negroni (1862 - 1931) was brought in from Reggio Emilia to give lessons to students who were to be of at least 12 years old with priority for admission to the school/workshop going to those women who were the most economically in need. These women became workers for the school who produced embroidered items for sale.

Taken from Segui la treccia, trovi il ricamo by Federica Mabellini, 2010.

A special embroidery style, Lamporecchio Embroidery was developed and works were exported to America where they sold for high prices. This characteristic embroidery style was an overcast stem stitch applied to outlines of mostly animal shapes enriched by satin stitch motifs with openwork and pulled-work accents. Design inspiration came from the paintings and romanesque sculptures found in local churches.

Virginia Torrigiani, lady companion to Laura Merrick continued the interest in the school/workshop after the death of Ms. Merrick, eventually passing the technique of Lamporecchio Embroidery on to her niece Vannina Bonfanti. Today the technique is kept alive by the Club del Ricamo di Casale in Casalguidi.

Further reading:

Laura Towne Merrick a Papiano. "La cultura anglo-americana in Toscana alla fine dell’Ottocento" by Michela Cammilli, 2012.

Le Dimore di Pistoia e della ValdinievoleSection 1, Chapter 8: Cultura Eclettica 'Fin de Siècle' e Residenze d'Élite. Tre episodi a confronto: Le Ville di Vaioni, Papiano e Cozzile by Gianluca Chelucci; Section 1, Chapter 9: Una Americana in Valdinievole. Laura Towne Merrick e la sua Villa a Papiano by Simone Martini, 2004.

Segui la treccia, trovi il ricamo/Follow the plait of straw, you'll find the embroidery by Federica Mabellini, 2010.

Storia e Arte del ricamo, Il Punto di Casalguidi by Paolo Peri, 2007.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

DMC Italy & Casa Cenina for Charity

It's called A Bag Full of Aid and it is a relief effort for the people of the Emilia Romagna region in Italy who were hit by many earthquakes and strong aftershocks last May

Below is a translation of the DMC Italy page:

A Bag Full of Aid: DMC and Casa Cenina for the earthquake victims of the Emilia Romagna.

A few months have passed since the earthquakes that struck the provinces of Modena, Ferrara, Reggio Emilia and Bologna, media attention has diminished but the process of reconstruction will still go on for a long while.

Through Casa CeninaDMC has decided to promote a charity initiative for the earthquake victims of the Emilia Romagna; a way to contribute to the rebuilding and to keep attention on the difficult plight of the earthquake victims.

"A Bag Full of Aid" is the name of the initiative that will see DMC transfer 20% of the price of each bag and small case purchased through Casa Cenina to the earthquake emergency account set up for the Emilia Romagna Region.

The participating products are:

This high quality collection with detailed finishing is suitable even for those who don't embroider because these bags and small cases were made for the traditional use of these fashion accessories – and at the same time for easily carrying your stitching projects.

A perfect gift for every woman ... even at Christmas! In fact, the initiative will be valid from July 28 until Christmas [2012]. Until all of the items are sold out, you can calmly choose the bag or small case that you prefer or that you wish to gift and help us in this initiative.

The total donation will be posted on DMC's website and that of Casa Cenina at the end of the initiative.

You can read the English pages of the Casa Cenina blog for more info.

Which one will you get? I can't decide on just one!!!!!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Broderie Suisse - Chicken Scratch Italian Style

In the last couple of years, what we know as Chicken Scratch Embroidery has become very popular among Italian stitchers. In Italy (and France) this technique is known as Broderie Suisse. Swiss Embroidery. It is also known by several other names in English, as is the fabric that it is stitched on: Gingham, Vichy, Checkerboard, ecc.

Origins are unclear and I can't tell you why the French and Italians call it Swiss Embroidery however, they have adopted it and the applications are very attractive and imaginative.

The Italian firm of Fratelli Graziano has many styles of Gingham fabrics (under the name Riviera) suitable for the technique of Broderie Suisse, a larger selection exists in Italy than what we can get in North America. One noticeable difference is their Gingham fabric is made of linen, not cotton. You can however, still find cotton or cotton blend Gingham in Italian fabric stores.

Anna Castagnetti of Ricami a Fili Tesi has her finger on the pulse of embroidery as usual and has just released a book on Broderie Suisse.

A sample page from Broderie Suisse by Anna Castagnetti.

This volume of just over 60 pages (text in Italian) is packed with large, close-up, coloured photographs featuring numerous step-by-step series of many of the basic stitches and some innovative combinations, finishing instructions for 9 projects - each with several different combinations of patterns to choose from. Projects include bags of various sizes and uses, cushions, towel borders and Christmas tree ornaments. Colour choices are vibrant and eye-catching - there is no end to Anna's imagination!

Anna is not constrained by geometry and she applies Broderie Suisse stitches as filling stitches for curved shapes as well as traditionally squared patterns and even produces some three-dimensional ideas!

You can purchase this book on Broderie Suisse from Tombolo Disegni (look under Libri/Libri di Ricamo/Ricami Particolari-ricamo svizzero), send an email to order.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Whitework Sampler in the Palazzo Davanzati

There is an Italian whitework sampler in the Palazzo Davanzati Museum collection which haunts me.

I have never seen the whole thing up close as it is displayed all folded up in one of the glass cases in the embroidery and lace room on the first floor.

photo from Merletti a Palazzo Davanzati.

There is a photo of it all opened up in the museum catalogue entitled: Merletti a Palazzo Davanzati - Manifatture europee dal XVI al XX secolo, edited by Marina Carmignani, 1981, page 53. On the preceding page there is a brief paragraph which I will translate here:

33. Italy, end of the XIX - beginning of the XX century
Sampler on white linen of needlework stitches
50 x 70 cm
Inv. Stoffe 1338
G.F.S. 293283
A series of stitches reproduced in the style of the second half of the XVI century: pulled stitches, drawn-thread stitches, reticello, satin stitch embroidery. The sampler is probably 19th century and falls into the vast production inspired by the 16th century Italian pattern books, revived from pattern books by Pagani, Vinciolo and Vecellio, back in vogue between the end of the XIX century and the beginning of the 20th century, of which Aemilia Ars was among the most famous and perfect interpreters.

I take as many photos of it as I can whenever I'm there. I'm totally fascinated by the wide range of work that is on it.

The name Laviniana appears at the top. Who was she? How old was she when she did this? Was it meant as her resume? Perhaps that is not even the stitcher's name, perhaps it means something else? Oh the things I want to know!

Close up photos show a rather rustic work:

But there is also a lot of skill shown on this sampler. Unfortunately my photos of the reticello work are far too blurry to be of use.

There are some religious symbols as well, just under the name:

Is 2213  (or 2211) a bible reference? Why are they upside-down?

... and there are little people in the needle lace:

She has fingers! (click on the image for a closer look)

To study this sampler properly I'd have to brush up on my symbolism and bible study as well as my needlework. I want to see the back of the work. I want to study it with a magnifying glass, with needle and thread in hand. I want detailed close-up macro photos!

Most of all I want to be in Florence at the Palazzo Davanzati!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Openwork Embroidery - New Book!

Surprises in the mail are always welcomed and this time I want to tell you about Anna Castagnetti's latest book on her Ricami a Fili Tesi or Openwork Embroidery.

Progetti Moderni per Ricami a Fili Tesi [Modern Projects for Openwork Embroidery] is packed with fun, colourful projects for you to try your hand at this intriguing style of needlework. I especially like the cover photo which shows a table runner with a fun flowered vine broken up by some lovely hemstitching.

Anna likes to combine traditional techniques like Hedebo, Reticello, Drawn-Thread work and traditional embroidery and simplifying the more complex procedures, she always comes up with attractive designs. In this volume she has added other textile techniques to her projects like quilting!

While this time the text is only in Italian, the photos are clear and concise and you should have little trouble following them:

There are many little motifs to try and this is nice, in case you just want a little taste of something different to add to something you already have on the go.

There are 13 exquisite little flowers, 3 Christmas panels, the table runner from the front cover and 2 purses to keep you going. Stitch diagrams and patterns for assembly of the projects are all included.

This book is a lovely follow-up to her first volume. You can purchase it from Tombolo Disegni, send them an email to order.