Altogether a satisfying holiday season here at String Central.

We started off festivities last Friday, with a latke-fest.


We decorated the tree and deployed the M&M Man Army on Christmas Eve day, while the dinner was cooking:

There’s no such thing as too many ornaments in this house, but with so many on the tree, the special ones get overlooked. So they go on a small wrought-iron stand that sits on the coffee table:

Saturday brought Christmas Even dinner. The Resident Male outdid himself, with lobster bisque, pan-seared foie gras, a succulent and crispy-skinned roast goose with chestnut stuffing, ragout of wild mushrooms, and roasted golden beets. He even made an apple charlotte for dessert.

Sunday morning was rife with the traditional anticipation until everyone was awake:

Christmas day was another goose. (You can’t beat a two-goose holiday!) This time at the now-traditional gathering hosted by an old friend. It started as an “orphans’ holiday” in which those of us who had not gone to visit family for Christmas celebrated together. Over the years the gathering has become its own family, with themed dinners. This year’s was Swedish, with a warm and savory fruit soup to start, mushroom tarts, gravalax, the goose, three-meat stew, cream cake and many other goodies I’ve omitted mentioning. And a lot of good fun.

In terms of holiday present haul, I made out like a book bandit, courtesy of The Resident Male and Elder Daughter. Chief among my booty are these two volumes from the husband:

Needlework Through the Ages by Mary Symonds Antrobus and Louisa Preece is a huge tome published in 1928. It’s lavishly illustrated with photos (most black and white but a few in color). It’s a general survey course of embroidery starting at earliest known bits, through the end of the 1800s. A highly opinionated survey, I might add. Many of the photos are of items that are still in private collections, rarely included in other works. I will have much fun reading this, raising eyebrows at the authors’ various diatribes, and exploring the photos it contains.

My other gem is L’Histoire du Costume Femmes Francais 1037-1774 by Paul Louis de Giafferi – the first volume of a two-volume work issued around 1925. (The second volume spans the years from 1774 through 1870.) Each volume contains multiple albums of illustrations – stencil colored (as opposed to ink press printed) – with accompanying descriptions. Some of the plates from this first volume are available on line, and some are available in a 1981 paperback re-issue. But the original is magnificent. And inspirational! My French may be rusty, but reading is easier to speaking, so this is more than a “pretty pictures” book, for sure.

He also gave me a contemporary work, Viking Clothing by Thor Ewing. This looks to be an excellent reference for accurate re-creation of men’s and women’s dress of the period.

Elder Daughter also caught the historical spirit, but in a lighter mood. She gave me Kate Beaton’s book, Hark! A Vagrant. Highly funny. And Younger Daughter crafted paper sculptures. For me, a swan basket. For The Resident Male, a desk dragon:

Low key festivities continue, with the majority of us being all or mostly off from school and work. Hope your holiday is similarly pleasant, filled with family, friends, good food, and fun.

3 responses

  1. In answer to Rachel’s question about uneven thread count in period ground fabrics, articles in this newsletter mention it:

    Click to access filum_34_blackwork.pdf

    I addition, it’s pretty evident from pieces like this one:

    I’ve charted this design for TNCM’s sequel. The design for the free-floating rondels is symmetrical but you see that they have a lozenge-like compression on the X-axis on the artifact. That means that thread count was higher "east-west" than it was "north-south". I can’t zoom in fine enough to see the actual threads, and determine the count, but eyeballing the difference, I’d say it’s between 15-20%.

  2. You truley are a lifesaver *grin*……

  3. Looks like you made out like a bandit. The food sounds delicious and I followed the latke link and looked at the fudge link on the latke page that I think I will try. Fudge is one of those things I can’t seem to get right, I have problems getting the sugar melted to the right point, so we will see how that goes. I have been oogling the costume plates as well.
    Does the needlework book deal with all types of embroidery? I know that I have looked at other needlework books that cover more common embroidery other then Blackwork but are still interesting to look at. Also, do you have any period sources I can site for linen thread count not being evenweave? I am having a world of a time finding a source even though I know I have seen one somewhere. I just never wrote it down 😦

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