Saturday, May 30, 2015

Estense Embroidery in Inspirations Magazine

The latest issue of the Australian embroidery magazine Inspirations is out and it is a really, REALLY nice one. Among the other beautiful projects in this issue are two little Estense Embroidery items from Elisabetta Holzer of Ferrara, Italy.

Elisabetta Holzer's Estense Embroidery projects from the latest Inspirations.

A thimble holder and a small bell-shaped ornament done in the characteristic colours of Estense Embroidery. I translated the instructions and did some stitch diagrams and I have to say it looks wonderful and I am so proud to have been a part of this! Inspirations really is the world's most beautiful embroidery magazine.

As you already know, I absolutely love Estense Embroidery so I jumped at the chance to help make this happen. I had such a good time stitching the projects (I always test out my translations if I can by making the project I'm translating or at least trying out the stitches to ensure that what I've written in English makes sense). I had never assembled something like this before but always admired those little thimble holders.

My own attempt at the thimble holder project.

There was something very enjoyable about putting these together that made me notice and miss that I haven't had much stitching time lately.

I really only needed to check the assembly instructions for the bell so mine is not as ornately embroidered as the one in Inspirations, but I like it all the same.

There is even a little book review of Elisabetta's latest manual:

If you haven't take a look at Inspirations for awhile this is definitely an issue to treasure, it is packed with so many interesting historical articles and the projects are outstanding. You can get a digital subscription or just buy one digital issue from Zinio instead of waiting for the mail.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Giuliana ricama - new needlework magazine

Last June I received an excited email from a friend in Verona with news that very soon a brand new embroidery magazine was about to come out with their first issue. My friend had met with and liked the people involved and was writing to tell me that she was sending me a copy.

There was much excited buzz online about this new magazine when the first issue was released. It was different from all its predecessors and distributed only through needlework schools. Issue "0" was free of charge!

Issue "0" of Giuliana ricama, June 2014.

Even before I received my copy I had lots of emails from Italian embroiderers asking if I knew about it, if I'd seen it yet, what did I think? Reviews were mixed. Some people were very enthusiastic, some less so. What I did hear loud and clear was that it was different from what people were used to - in every way. Change is good. The magazine had gotten people's attention and they were talking about it.

Italian embroidery magazines have traditionally tended to be beautiful. High-glossy pages full of breathtakingly beautiful masterpieces. Sparse on instructions, mostly eye-candy.

When my copy of Giuliana ricama arrived I tried to be impartial as I wanted to do a review on my blog. Large format (9 1/2" x 11 7/8") with perfect binding and a heavy card cover, it has semi-gloss paper inside and just over 100 pages. It's too big to fit in my scanner so I have to give you cropped cover pics.

The macramé beach accessories on the cover interested me. The first page inside the cover had an advertisement that promised digital download for your smart phone or tablet, this also interested me.

The letter from the editor asked for feedback, collaboration and ideas.

There was a wide variety of projects: traditional embroidery, drawn-thread work, cross-stitch, macrame, crochet, bobbin lace, trapunto, reticello, punto antico, cutwork, huck-weaving, sicilian filet lace. Traditional projects like bed linens as well as fun things like t-shirt embellishment. Relatively simple projects, nothing that seemed like years of work. The magazine seemed to me to be aimed at young women or perhaps women with younger children.

Personally, (and you know I'm interested in Italian needlework almost exclusively) while there were some Italian-needlework specific projects, I didn't think it would be a magazine for me mainly because of the level of simplicity and that I felt the projects were too "young" for me.

However, when issue No. 1 came out and I saw the cover art online with Sardinian Punt'e nù embroidery, I was curious enough to ask a friend to send me a copy. I was delighted to find that this new issue had a number of historical articles and an interview with one of the masters of Italian needlework.

Issue no. 1 of Giuliana ricama, November 2014.

I started to hear good things about the staff of the magazine from people who were meeting them at the various textile fairs and shows in Italy.

Giuliana Ricama was not distributed on newsstands but through Italian embroidery schools. If you wanted a subscription, you had to do it through your local needlework school. I liked this idea, it meant that only those who were interested had exposure to it. The down-side to this of course is that all those people who embroider at home without attending schools don't see it on the racks of their local supermarket. But really, how often do you see needlework magazines on the racks anymore? Unfortunately this also meant that those of us outside of Italy could not subscribe. I was very lucky to have a friend gift me with a subscription but I feel incredibly guilty at the cost of overseas shipping every time I receive a new issue and imagine that my friend has other things to spend her money on, but I'm grateful nonetheless that she is making it possible for me to see this magazine.

One thing I noticed immediately in this issue was that the ad promising future digital support was gone and I have since learned that they have decided not to pursue the digital subscription option.

Issue No. 2 arrived and I was happy to see that the historical articles and interviews seemed to now be regular features. The range of ideas for projects was widening, this time there were things for those people who like to do historical re-enactment costuming. Step by step photos of stitch instructions were more elaborate and numerous than previous issues. There were some more-involved and technically-advanced projects too, not just simple quickies anymore, though small projects were still offered as well.

Issue no. 2 of Giuliana ricama, February 2015.

I have to say, having seen the cover art online, I couldn't wait for Issue No. 3 to arrive. This time I was inspired to stitch more than one of the projects. There was a subscription form in this issue which meant that if you lived in Italy, you could now get your issues delivered to your home instead of your local embroidery school. The letter from the editor continued to ask for feedback and collaboration and to point out that they were implementing reader suggestions in an effort to improve the magazine with each issue. I think they are doing just that - improving with every new issue. I saw the collaboration of various embroidery schools who seemed to be abundantly submitting projects. I for one, am looking forward to seeing what the next issue holds - changed my tune, didn't I?

Issue no. 3 of Giuliana ricama, April 2015.

When I was in Italy this past April, I went to their offices to meet with the editor-in-chief Marco and the sales manager Nicoletta. We sat in a room full of boxes of needlework that had been sent to the magazine for future issue projects. I may have peaked, but I'll never tell!

The staff are very dedicated to the magazine and very much in need of support from anyone who is willing to submit projects, ideas and/or articles. Their interest is not limited to Italian needlework so this means that you can support them with any idea that you might have. Contact them here. They really do want to hear from you!

Just so I've said it, the text of the magazine is in Italian.

Giuliana Ricama website:
Giuliana Ricama Facebook page:

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Valsesian Puncetto

I was recently gifted a flight to Italy and as you can imagine, dropped everything and went. I spent Easter in Rome then travelled to Verona, Florence, Prato, Bologna and on to the Valsesia region in the north eastern part of Piedmont, at the foot of the Italian Alps.

I had never been to this region and knew it only by reputation of the beautiful Puncetto needle lace so I was very excited to be offered the chance to drive up there with a couple of friends. I immediately contacted Paola Scarrone of the Scuola di Puncetto Valsesiano in Varallo to see if I could take advantage of their program "Puncetto whenever you want" which, aside from their other didactic programs, offers you the chance of lessons when you happen to be in the area.

I had recently been in contact with Paola as she and her association were kind enough to provide photography for my latest historical article on Puncetto in the May/June 2015 issue of Piecework magazine. We set up a lesson with Angela Stefanutto who I had previously studied with at Italia Invita in 2011.

We arrived at the historic Albergo Italia in Varallo where the lesson took place and were delighted to find not only Angela but the hotel owner's wife Ornella Marchi was also a lover of Puncetto. In the hotel lobby are some framed pieces as well as wood cut designs which imitate the lace and the dining room curtains all had inserts of Puncetto, each one different from all the others.

Different Puncetto motifs in coloured thread in the lobby of the Albergo Italia.

Wooden post with magnifying glass and Puncetto in the knob at the Albergo Italia.

We spent a delightful couple of hours together and Angela kindly corrected my mistakes and misconceptions and tirelessly showed me examples of all kinds of different situations. I wish I lived closer to her so I could go to her on a regular basis. She is the very best teacher!

Angela also told me that the instructional book that she and her association had written in 2009: A Scuola di Puncetto Valsesiano had finally been reprinted and was now available for purchase (see below). I know that many of my readers had been frustrated with it's lack of availability so you will no doubt be happy to know that you can now find it.

Of the three books that they have written, this is the one you want for getting started.
After coffee, we went along to their shop the Bottega Dell'Artigianato at Corso Umberto, no. 1 in Varallo (a short walk from the hotel) where there are all kinds of local artisan items for sale including Puncetto needle lace pieces.

The shop Bottega Dell'Artigianato in Varallo.

Coloured Puncetto on the apron of a traditional costume in the Bottega Dell'Artigianato.

Puncetto collar and yoke on the blouse of a traditional costume in the Bottega Dell'Artigianato.

I purchased four small pieces of Puncetto lace and the reprint of the manual. It was so difficult to choose, there were so many beautiful things!

Back at our home base in Prato Sesia, our hostess gifted me with an exquisite framed piece of Puncetto which she had hanging in her home.

Wonderful framed Puncetto hanging on the wall in Prato Sesia before it was given to me.

You can purchase A Scuola di Puncetto Valsesiano from Tombolo Disegni.

Thank you to Bianca Rosa for the use of her photo!