SHOEHORNING

As you can see, I’ve finished out the dark, narrow strip on the right of the oak leaves. (I put a US penny on the frame for scale.)

It was a quick one, especially compared to the extra wide bands of long-armed cross stitch I’ve been working since March.

I like this design quite a bit, and I think it would be an exceptional choice for the top edge of a chemise (undergown), just barely peeking out at the neckline, as in Bronzino’s famous portrait of Eleanora of Toledo. Eleanora had a killer wardrobe and sat for many paintings. I’m hard pressed to choose a favorite because each one is spectacular. (Thanks to the Elizabethan Portraits website for collecting these links.)

Now I’m filling in the strip on the left. You can’t make out the design here, but it’s already clear that I’m mirroring along a horizontal axis.

Now, how did I know to leave enough room for these strips? I didn’t. I’m building this piece as I go, with little or no forethought on pattern choice other than a general idea of where darker and lighter strips should go. I still don’t know which way is up. To date all of the designs are non-directional, with neither up nor down. That will change soon. I’d like to include some patterns that feature mythical beasts, but I haven’t chosen them yet, and I haven’t figured out where they will go. But my fave beast strips are not up-down agnostic, so once I’ve picked one and stitched it, my up/down decision will be final.

Back to shoehorning designs in. To fill in these odd spaces, the first thing I had to do was to determine their width. Easy. I counted the stitches available in the target space. That’s design height, not length. I am not going to worry about centering these fill-in strips left-right. The just-finished area turned out to be 26 stitches tall. I had the center double bud design in the upcoming book. I also had a different pattern that used the little wiggle ancillary frame. I decided to use them together. However, each wiggle in its original form is 6 units tall. The center strip was 16 units tall – 28 stitches. Too many. I decided on a gambit often used in these period strips when borders are married to a main design. I stripped out a solid row of stitches between the wiggle and the main pattern but kept it at the outermost edges. This reduced the count to my target. An easy fix.

For this current strip, I’ve got a space that’s 27 stitches tall. But I don’t want to do another dark strip here. Something a bit less dense is in order. So instead of looking for (or drafting up) a single 27-stitch-tall pattern, I decided to take a 13 stitch tall meander from my first book and mirror it. (TNCM Plate 27:3). I’ll write more about this one as more stitching gets done. Mirroring in this manner is another perfectly common way 16th and 17th century stitchers used to to build wider repeats from narrower ones. I may play a bit though. There are a couple of bits where I could work in a gratuitous interlace to join the two mirrored repeats. We’ll see if that happens as I go along.

The blackwork fillings book…

I haven’t forgotten. I’m putting the finishing touches on it right now. I’ve asked some native Italian speakers for advice on the proper form for the name. Some say that Ensamplario Atlantio is the correct form. Others say it should be Ensamplario Atlantico. I’m leaning towards the former because the latter looks to be a form of Atlantic, not Altantia, and the book isn’t going to be named after the ocean. If you’re knowledgeable on proper Italian (especially Renaissance Italian), please feel free to chime in. It’s now up to 35 plates of designs, plus five pages of intro material. Ten of those pattern pages have NOT been previously posted here. So even if you’ve been downloading over the winter, there are ample new goodies for you in the final collection.


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