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DIZZY GRAPES DONE!

A finish. I began at our Cape place around 14 July, and finished last night at the Cape place on 25 September, about 73 days of stitching, working an average of about 2 hours per day.

To recap, this was a vintage dresser scarf, clearly cut down and re-edged from some older piece of linen. It was very well washed, and although it had no broken warp or weft threads, there was a lot of blooming, where the linen breaks down a bit, with threads fused together and some slubs. The count wasn’t consistent, with some threads being much thicker than others, but spot measurements ranged from 28 to 34 threads per inch, mostly averaging out to between 30 and 32. It was ever so slightly skewed, but no where near as badly as other non-evenweave grounds I’ve worked lately.

The pattern has two parts – the main field which I redacted from a 17th century Italian cushion cover held in the Hermitage Museum, shown below (Accession T-2736 in case the link breaks). The companion border I doodled up myself.

Amusingly the skew count of the ground used in the original is greater than the skew of my vintage linen. You can see that clearly in the smaller motifs which chart out as squares, but appear taller than they are wide. Also my redaction norms the spacing of the motifs, which in the original does vary by quite a bit. But I preserve the “creep”. Look at the partials around the edge of my piece. They rise from/sink into the static edge line, each iteration of the swirl being offset from the previous one by a stitch or two in each direction. You can see the same thing on the original.

I stitched the design in garnet cotton (DMC #815). It took almost all of seven skeins. I worked the linear bits in double running, and the solid bits in a variant of Italian four sided cross stitch (basically cross stitch, but in a box). The version I chose is NOT double sided, instead it produces a grid on the reverse. The only reason why I chose that version is that I hadn’t attempted it before. I have no historical reason to pick it over the more usually done fully two-sided version. The full double sided version is more or less the same stitch that forms meshy totally overstitched grounds, but done “gently” as surface stitching, and not pulled to the max to both totally encase the ground threads and produce the characteristic mesh ground found in so many museum artifacts. Here’s my back showing the grid structure of my single-sided interpretation.

On the whole I am quite pleased. My goal of making a splendid runner for our sideboard has been achieved, and I can retire the old, ratty placemat that’s there now. It’s The Resident Male’s favorite spot for opening bottles of wine, and now he can do so in a style appropriate for a Renaissance princeling.

Things I would do differently. Hmmm…. I now wish I HAD done the solids in the reversible variant. Not because I want to have a true double-sided piece, but because I want to play with the challenge of that stitch some more. (Additional future experiments are warranted.) I’m also not entirely pleased with leaving the original dresser scarf edging on this. For one, the non-rectangular nature of the cloth is more evident with my on-grain, symmetrically sized stitched area. It bothers me. But consensus seems to be to leave it alone. So I will. For now at least.

And so I move on to an interim project. I have a wild departure queued up for my next big thing, but the materials to do it aren’t here yet, so I digress.

I want to make another forehead cloth. I really enjoy wearing the two I did a few years back. They are more fun than bandannas or scarves, and do a good job of keeping the hair out of my eyes. I have a piece of linen scrap I am considering. It’s very densely woven though at about 32 threads per inch, and I am not sure that it will show off my chosen design to good effect. (I do have an airier alternative, but I prefer the look of the scrap.) I don’t remember whose leftover this is, but send thanks again to The Anonymous Donor. As you can see I’ve plotted out the corner of my triangle.

There is plenty of real estate on this piece of spill, left over from Anonymous Donor’s sewing project. I’m aiming to make something midway in size between the two forehead cloths I already have. Something in the range of 14 inches for the non-hypotenuse sides.

Shameless plug department: These two pieces have been worn heavily and washed without mercy for the past three years, as can be seen by the frayed ties. But look at the stitching, it’s as good as the day I finished. I did it in the stranded silk thread hand dyed by my apprentice using a historical recipe. NO fading, no breakage in spite of the ground’s distortion from being stretched in wear. No harm to the ground beneath the stitches from the dye used. It’s a small batch item, and not always available, but when it is, it’s worth it. Highly recommended.

Back to the project at hand. I will be stitching a rather dense design I recently doodled up. I’m working on Ensamplario Atlantio III, and that pattern will be part of it. And I will be trying out Sulky thread, a spooled mercerized single strand cotton sold for hand and machine stitching. Possibly in polychrome. I have black, red, blue, and green, so I have scope to play.

More on this one as it develops, of course…

DIZZY GRAPES

Fueled by a week at the beach; hot, dry, and windy weather; paella, sufficient wine, and other indulgences, my grape-adorned sideboard placemat grows.

First an observation on the ground cloth itself. I had intended to preserve the simple crocheted edging that this piece of well worn linen came with. But as you can see – “loving hands at home” were at work when this remnant was rescued from a larger prior incarnation, and the edges of the cloth are far from parallel. The thin black lines are my basted guidelines, done on the weave to mark the absolute center, and also about 1.5 inches in from the edges. Obviously they are not parallel to the edges. The short sides are especially skew:

Eventually I will have to trim off the edges and hem. Then possibly finish with a bit of simple needle lace. I haven’t done that in a while, so it should be an interesting adventure. But for now, I will stick to the inside of the designated rectangle. I’m still contemplating designing a companion edge pattern to the field of the original artifact, so I won’t get too close to those basted lines, just to make sure I have ample room for both the edging and the field.

So, that being said, I started in the center. Note that I don’t stitch over my basted guidelines – I snip them out as I come close.

You can really see the even/uneven nature of the ancient linen in the shot above. Yes, I am working it in a hand-held hoop (although I’ll probably switch to my sit-upon later tonight). I’m using plain old DMC six-strand floss, color #615. This piece will become a placemat on my sideboard, where wines are generally opened. The grape motif is fitting, but there is ample chance for spills, and washability is my prime concern. The linen itself is already far from pristine, so a few more stains won’t make much difference, but I didn’t want to use silk or faux silk (rayon), to make care less complicated.

According to the updated notes on the museum photo, the stitches used are double running and an Italian double sided cross stitch. The original has a design that’s truncated around the outer edge, and might have been cut down from a larger work. I do believe that The Ancients were just as practical as we are today. If something wasn’t going to be seen flipped over, it didn’t merit the additional work of making it perfect on both front and back. A bold leap of surmise on my part, but since I have no earlier larger work to repurpose into this sideboard mat, I’m comfortable with not extending the extra effort. Plus, I am doing this entirely for me. I have no intention on documenting it and entering it in any historical needlework exhibit or arts competition.

The variant of the two-sided cross stitch I’m using produces a boxed cross stitch on the front and a square grid on the back. If you zoom in on the original the scrum of stitches does look like a cross in a box. I could have used meshy, either pulled tight or relaxed to go double-sided, or long armed cross stitch (another historically congruent approach), or even satin stitch, but I wanted to try something new. Here’s the back. You can see the little grids where on the front the presentation is solid color.

And of course, since nothing can be perfect, especially after all the wine referenced above – this particular iteration of the secondary motif was in the wrong place. I haven’t done it yet, but the whole square has to be picked out. But I made progress none the less. The offending misplaced robot-headed square is mostly unseen over my knee in the general progress shot below. The other two secondary motifs are correctly placed.

I will continue on with this cloth, filling in the additional iterations of the main and companion motifs. Still thinking of doing a companion edging, but treating it as they most often did contemporary with the design, by using butted rather than mitered corners. We’ll see what I come up with…

I’m “off paper” now, mentally rotating/flipping as needed, hence the dizzy title of this post. I like that extra challenge, too.

This design may end up being in The Third Carolingian Modelbook, a project I’ve already begun. But frankly there has been very little uptake of either of my two earlier citation rich for-sale books, and only marginally more from my free releases of mostly original material or from the free pattern broadsides or the SAL on this website. Sales and downloads, yes – but very little actual stitching from any them. It’s disappointing, and I am not sure I want to take the time if folk are just looking for shelf fodder and not actual stitching inspiration.

Have you done something from my pages? Please let me see it. If you give permission I would be happy to post your work here on String under a gallery tag, either with your name or anonymously as you prefer.

EPIC FANDOM STITCHALONG – BAND 17

JURASSIC JUMBLE

Oh, heavens. More dinosaurs. I couldn’t help it. I love dinos. This set is for the fans of the bumpy and finned back beasts. There are attempts at a pair each of a Stegosaurus and Spinosaurus variant hiding in the foliage.

Although we only see the center bit of the long repeat on the Epic sampler, if you are interested in working this design as a longer piece I do provide the entire long repeat and It’s a VERY long meandering repeat.

Time Factor 4, for needless and wanton complexity, a very long repeat that’s not easy to remember; and for having to do more dinos.

Use one color, multiple colors, or variegated threads, as you prefer.  As with the rest of Epic, there are no rules or must-do approaches.

As usual this band plus working notes and hints has been appended to the bottom of the write-up on the SAL page, accessible via this link or via the tab at the top of every page here on String-or-Nothing.

If you are working our Epic Fandom SAL either as a whole or as a strip excerpt, please let me know. It gives me great joy to see how my “pattern children” fare out in the wide, wide world, especially when they meet up with creative, playful people. And if you give permission, I’d be happy to share your pix of this developing sampler, it in its finished state, or derivative projects including one or more of the Epic bands here on String, in a gallery post, with full credit to you as interpretive artist.

Band 17 debuted on he Facebook Enablers group on 5 July. Band 18 will appear there on 2 August, and will be echoed here on 16 August.

#EpicFandomSAL

END OF DON’T, BEGINNING OF THE NEXT

Just finishing up Don’t. I think the Mystery Neice will be happy with it. We worked together to pick out the colors, typefaces, and border design used, so there was ample recipient-input on this one.

I’m happy with it, too. Although I have to confess a bit of a mistake at the outset, which has necessitated a somewhat rueful kludge.

The original did not include “Remember.” Why is it there?

Because when I started stitching the border at the left center line, instead of starting it at the center of one of the sprigged spirals, I started with one of the spirals that grows a leaf. That de-centered the inscription north/south. I walked happily down the left edge, across the bottom, and up the right side. When I got to the top I noticed that (horrors!) to make my corner fit there would be larger space between it and the words than there is at the bottom. Nine units more, to be exact. So I thought about what I could put there. More flowers? Possibly. Another ornament? Again possible. But the more I thought about it, the more I wanted to NOT add mass on top which would draw attention to the lack of space at the bottom. So a word was the way to go.

I decided on adding “Remember” and went pawing through alphabet resources to find something thin, elegant, and nine units tall – something that would fill space without adding too much bulk. The initial script R is from an antique Sajou booklet at the Patternmaker Charts site. The lower case letters needed to be smaller, and I found a good candidate in Creating Historic Samplers by Grow and McGrail – the same source I used for the lower case letters in the main area. It’s not a profoundly useful book, but it does have a section of beginners’ advice, plus some sample US Colonial era motifs, alphabets, and borders. Best of all for those just starting out, it’s very inexpensive on the used market.

Now on to the next – Grape Sideboard Scarf.

For the next project I’ve decided to use a well washed linen piece I picked up at a yard sale in Silver Spring, Maryland easily 42 years ago. It’s a dresser scarf, trimmed with a hand-turned hem secured by a simple crochet, with a crochet picot edge on the short sides. Based on the materials and back story I suspect it was cut down from a larger cloth and trimmed out sometime in the late 1930s or 1940s. I got it the same time as I got the larger finished linen piece that became my Everything is Worth Doing Well sampler, although they were not cut from the same source. Yes, it’s worn and a bit discolored from storage even before I got it, but it’s sound.

The stitchable area is about 16.5 inches x 28.5 inches (about 49.9 cm x 72.4 cm), and the thread count is roughly 32 threads per inch. That’s about16 units per inch using a 2×2 thread grid, with a total design area of 264 units x 456 units. That varies a bit across the piece, so I’m averaging measurements taken at several spots (penny method for easy thread counting here).

I’m going to stitch it in red, using a pattern I’ve recently redacted from a 17th century Italian cushion cover held in the Hermitage Museum (Accession T-2736 in case the link breaks). A thumbnail of the original is below. It’s about 40 x 48 cm, roughly 15.75 x 19 inches. No info on the thread count of the artifact.

Obviously I am going to maintain the dresser scarf’s edging. Also depending on the scale the design works up to I may only stitch to within 1.5 inches of the existing hems, then devise a coordinating sprouting edge to encircle the center field.

As far as the charted redaction went – this one was tricksy. There’s a major sub-sub-element that is off-grid; meaning that when I get to it (and write this here so I remember) I will have to “split the difference” on my evenweave, and shunt that bit over one thread.

Since this will be used as a protective placemat on my sideboard largely for opening the evening wine, the grape motif is appropriate. And I’ll use a DMC 6 ply floss, one of the garnets – 615 or 616, I haven’t decided yet on which one yet. I go for cotton instead of silk on this for washability because spills WILL happen.

The next step is to baste in my horizontal and vertical center lines, plus that 1.5 inch margin inside the hems. Then I begin, working center out.

EPIC FANDOM STITCHALONG – BAND 15

MAY THE FLOSS BE WITH YOU

The tribute here should be obvious. But there’s always room to insert yourself into the action, and this band is designed specifically for that. Obviously, the chart bears my initials over a ribbon, but it’s easy to modify to include yours there instead. Or instead of big initials, you can include a smaller set, bracketed by tiny AT-ST walkers. Or you could draft up a short saying, dedication, or motto to fit the spaces left and right of the center helmets. Or you could either doodle something else entirely to put in those spaces, or use the extra motifs I provide.

The whole idea of this strip is to help to make the piece uniquely yours, either through selection of the provided elements, or by taking that step into modifying a design or even drawing up your own bits for those two spaces. To that end there’s a worksheet on the last page of this band leaflet. I offer the layout, two sample alphabets (one large, one small); a panel with spaces to draw in your final design, plus a few “rehearsal” slots below with the corners of the available space drawn in, and those extra motifs.

Time Factor 5+ entirely for the accompanying layout and design task, plus the long straight stitch runs. (I can hardly wait to see what people dream up).

134 stitches wide x 17 stitches tall. 2 blank rows left between this and the following strip. If worked as a stand-alone continuous band, one full repeat in 134 units, plus one blank unit in between the full iterations.

Use one color, multiple colors, or variegated threads, as you prefer.  As with the rest of Epic, there are no rules or must-do approaches.

As usual this band plus working notes and hints has been appended to the bottom of the write-up on the SAL page, accessible via this link or via the tab at the top of every page here on String-or-Nothing.

If you are working our Epic Fandom SAL either as a whole or as a strip excerpt, please let me know. It gives me great joy to see how my “pattern children” fare out in the wide, wide world, especially when they meet up with creative, playful people. And if you give permission, I’d be happy to share your pix of this developing sampler, it in its finished state, or derivative projects including one or more of the Epic bands here on String, in a gallery post, with full credit to you as interpretive artist.

Band 16 will debut on the Facebook Enablers group on 21 June and will be echoed here on 5 July.

#EpicFandomSAL

EPIC FANDOM STITCHALONG – BAND 10

Time for one of the “in-betweeners” – the simpler bands that alternate with the more complex, themed ones. This one is entitled PORTAL TO NOWHERE

Yes, I know this was supposed to be a plain and boring strip. It started out as a simple geometric with some interlaced bits to make it interesting.  After I finished drawing, I noted the vague echo of a Portal Cube in its center motif.  Subconscious channeling from other dimensions?  Probably just coincidence.  Yes, that’s right.  Coincidence.

Time Factor 2 for height and the overlapping flanges on the motifs (Without those layered bits I’d consider this a Time Factor 1.)  Use one color, multiple colors, or variegated threads, as you prefer.  As with the rest of Epic, there are no rules or must-do approaches

134 stitches wide x 18 stitches tall. 2 blank rows left between this and the following strip. If worked as a continuous band, one full repeat in 12 units.

SamplesFabric UsedStitchThread Consumption/
Notes
28 count evenweaveBack stitch, 1 plyAbout 1 yard
each of black and red
18 count AidaBack stitch, 1 plyVariegated floss
28 count evenweaveBack stitch, 1 ply
28 count evenweaveDouble running,
2 plies
About 1.75 yards
of light red,
remnants of
light green
Top to bottom: Renditions by Beta Testers Heather, Danielle, and Callie plus Kim

As usual this band plus working notes and hints has been appended to the bottom of the write-up on the SAL page, accessible via this link or via the tab at the top of every page here on String-or-Nothing.

If you are working our Epic Fandom SAL either as a whole or as a strip excerpt, please let me know. It gives me great joy to see how my “pattern children” fare out in the wide, wide world, especially when they meet up with creative, playful people. And if you give permission, I’d be happy to share your pix of this developing sampler, it in its finished state, or derivative projects including one or more of the Epic bands here on String, in a gallery post, with full credit to you as interpretive artist.

Band 11 debuted on the Facebook Enablers group today and will be echoed here on 15 March 2022.

AMENDS

Modern Assisi work vs. historical voided work. I know that the counted thread stitching community lumps them together, but they are not exactly the same thing. What I call “modern Assisi” is the 19th century revival of voided stitching, that draws heavily on Italian folk and church embroidery styles, which in turn trace their roots back to Renaissance era voided pieces. And that late 19th century revival was again echoed in the 20th century, with the collection and republication of many patterns, and issue of new books on the subject.

Yes, both Assisi and earlier styles include prominent outlines usually done in double running or back stitch. And both feature largely unstitched foregrounds (sometimes with additional ornamentation) that contrast strongly with a stitched background.

One of the key defining characteristics of modern Assisi is the use of cross stitch for the background. That’s “plain old cross stitch (POCS)” – not long-armed cross stitch. The Renaissance era voided styles use many different ground stitches and approaches, but so far after looking at hundreds of extant examples, I haven’t seen any in POCS.

Which is why I got very excited when I stumbled across this piece. Now before you get excited too, I did NOT find the unicorn of POCS in pre 1650-era voided work.


“End of a Tablecloth” 15th-16th century. Italian, Sicilian or Spanish. Metropolitan Museum of Art, Accession 08.48.132

I made the mistake of idly browsing on my phone with its tiny screen, and jumping the gun I posted about the piece before I got back to my laptop and high resolution monitor. Obviously, once I was able to zoom in I corrected my mistake, but I did look like an idiot.

So to atone for my egregious lack of judgement, I charted the design in question, and make the chart available as a broadside, for your own personal, non-commercial use. Please do not republish my redaction or include it in other pattern collections.

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD A PDF BROADSIDE OF THE CHART.

Some notes on this piece.

My redaction is not true to any one repeat of the design. Instead I averaged all of them, evening out replication errors as best I could, to arrive at a single, uniform representation of the motifs. All design elements are there, in correct proportion and placement to each other, but there will be small deviations between the chart above and any one of the artifact’s pattern iterations.

The background is not worked in POCS. It was worked squared and unlike every other example of the squared filling on historical works I’ve seen, the stitches were pulled very tightly, bundling the ground cloth’s threads together. Meshy techniques for grounds were very popular in the 1600s and 1700s, but every other example I’ve seen has completely covered the bundled threads with stitching, making a very hard-wearing totally overstitched square mesh ground. In this case the ground cloth’s weave does show through.

The squared filling was worked up to but not touching the outlines of the foreground motifs. A one-unit “halo” was left around them. I’ve tried to represent that on my chart. There was considerable “fudging” in the way the filling was carried into the nooks and crannies of the foreground design. I’ve chosen the least acrobatic of them to include in the chart. Note that there are a couple of deviation points where a diagonal stitch was used to carry the ground thread up into a narrow area of the design.

Colors. Your guess is as good as mine. The outlines and the ground fill are clearly two different colors. If I had to guess, I would probably opt for black for the outlines and madder red for the fill. But other color combos do exist – not every historical piece was done in black and red.

The outlines – double running or back stitch? It’s impossible to tell from just looking at the front. I do note however that the spots on the leopards are all connected to the outline. There are none just floating in space, which makes the piece easier to execute in double running than a piece with discontinuous bits. The only minor challenge in this one if worked in double running would be that little hunting dog. It’s a small area not connected to any of the rest of the design.

And finally, the complementing edging. Note that the squared background is terminated with little “fingers” that slant up and to the right on the top of the strip, and down and to the left at the bottom. I tried to get the whole repeat on the chart, but I ran out of room. For absolute fidelity, work the bottom fingers exactly as tall as the ones on top. Don’t truncate as I was forced to do.

The moral of the story? Check, double check, and do so on the highest resolution display device you have to hand. Never let your excitement run away with you.

EPIC FANDOM STITCHALONG – BAND 8

To continue our slither through North American winter I present Band 8 – Snakes! And They’re Plain!
OK. So, this one is a bit more creepy-crawly than it is classic-blackwork-floral-ordinary. My excuse is that I drew it in the run-up to the 2019 Halloween season, adapting it from a design in Ensamplario Atlantio II, one of my free books of blackwork fills and borders. Plus, we should only ignore those who adore campy horror movies at our own peril.

Time Factor 1 for height and the ultra-simple straight repeat. Our scaly friends are all identical, with the second row flipped and travelling the opposite direction. Feel free to work all the right-bound crawlies in one pass, and then all the left bound ones, or hop back and forth as you please. Use one color, multiple colors, or variegated threads, as you prefer. There are no rules or must-do approaches here. One of the beta testers used beads for the eyes – a charming enhancement.

134 stitches wide x 16 stitches tall. 2 blank rows left between this and the following strip. If worked as a continuous band, one full repeat in 23 units.

SamplesFabric UsedStitchThread Consumption/
Notes
28 count evenweaveBack stitch, 1 ply
18 count AidaBack stitch, 1 ply
28 count evenweaveBack stitch, 1 plyAbout 2 yards
Plus 20 beads
(See below)
28 count evenweaveDouble running,
2 plies
About 1.5 yards
each of light red
and light green,
about 0.75 yards
of light blue and yellow each
Top to bottom: Renditions by Beta Testers Heather, Danielle, and Callie plus Kim

As usual this band plus working notes and hints has been appended to the bottom of the write-up on the SAL page, accessible via this link or via the tab at the top of every page here on String-or-Nothing.

If you are working our Epic Fandom SAL either as a whole or as a strip excerpt, please let me know. It gives me great joy to see how my “pattern children” fare out in the wide, wide world, especially when they meet up with creative, playful people. And if you give permission, I’d be happy to share your pix of this developing sampler, it in its finished state, or derivative projects including one or more of the Epic bands here on String, in a gallery post, with full credit to you as interpretive artist.

Band 9 debuted on the Facebook Enablers group today, and will invade here on or about 1 February 2022. I’m betting you’ll be long finished with Snakes before then.



DETOUR INTO KNITTING – FIREFLIES IN THE WINTER

It’s true I haven’t knit in a while. But I did do nine pairs of socks for the holidays this year, some of which are shown below. And while I was at it, I dropped hints to Younger Offspring, who was enthused by the thought of a new pullover.

I first knit this classic Penny Straker unisex design decades ago. It was probably the third sweater I made and was a present for one of my sisters. This is the cover photo from the original leaflet. Note the armhole depth (we’ll get back to that later).

It was the early 1980s – long before blogging, so I don’t have pictures or notes detailing my first attempt, but it was a happy success. I’m pretty sure I used Germantown worsted, in a deep burgundy and a lighter, coordinating plum. I do remember that it was super thick and stiff because of the Eye of Partridge stitch uses a lot of slip stitches, making a double-thick fabric. In fact that stitch often used as a self-reinforcing treatment for sock heels, to make them both cushier and more wear-resistant.

My sister’s sweater ended up being a great outdoor activity wearable – perfect for someone engaged in winter exercise like cross country skiing, and too warm for indoor wear. But as we were flipping through some possibilities it was the one that caught Younger Offspring’s eye. So I downloaded a copy of the revised pattern from the Straker website (it’s now offered in an extended size range) and off we went to Webs, making a small detour out in western Massachusetts on the official Deposit-Child-Back-At-Home-Away-From-Home trip to Troy, New York.

At Webs I found a candidate yarn that came in the desired black and screaming chartreuse colors – Euro Baby Babe 100. It’s a butter-soft acrylic/polyamide (nylon) blend, and at 356 yards for 100g, a great value.

But it’s not a true worsted. It’s a DK. That means that instead of the standard 5 stitches per inch (spi) in stockinette, it works better at 5.5 spi in stockinette.

Complications ensue.

Although the pattern is clearly written for a heavier yarn, but I took a risk and bought the Babe anyway. I swatched until I found a needle combo and gauge that I liked. In this case, 6 spi/8 rows per inch (rpi) on US #7s (4.5mm) in Eye of Partridge instead of the pattern’s specified 5 spi/7 rpi on US #8s (5mm).

I’ve done the math for Younger Offspring’s chosen size (a swim-in-it oversize fit), and have cast on the revised number of stitches, plus two more – I always add selvedge stitches for easy seaming. I will work my new number until I am close to the specified length for the below-arm torso, then I will figure out the raglan shaping, taking notes so I can match the row count on the sleeves. I know that these Straker patterns were all written with very tight armholes by modern standards. It was the style back then. So there is room for me to err on the up side. If I need a few more rows to accommodate the raglan shaping than the original used, that will be ok. The armhole will end up a smidge larger, and that won’t be bad at all.

So to finish this already over-long, stitching-free post, here’s three evening’s worth of progress on the back. The drape is fluid, and the yarn is super soft and luxurious, uncommon in an acrylic. The color contrast reminds me of fireflies on a dark night. With luck this one should knit up quickly into a bundle of fun.

MORE COUSINS

Just because I’ve taken a departure from classic stitching and am issuing heretical blackwork patterns for spaceships, robots, and dinosaurs doesn’t mean I haven’t abandoned research. I am also inching The Second Carolingian Modelbook (T2CM) closer to the goal posts.

I continue to find multiple instances of design duplicates scattered across various museums. Here’s a trio. Clearly stitched from the same inspiring pattern. Whether it’s from an as yet unidentified modelbook or broadside sheet, an atelier’s cloth reference sample, or just copied among stitchers hand to hand is impossible to determine. However, this design will be included in T2CM so stitchers of the future can keep this historical “chain letter” going..

First, my own stab at the thing, as worked on my big blackwork sampler. I call it “Leafy-Bricks” for obvious reasons.

The first instance of Leafy-Bricks I stumbled across is in the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, Accession #07.816. It’s a small fragment, but it’s the one on which I based my redaction. They tentatively identify it as likely to be Italian, but do not date it. This snippet was collected in the very late 1800s/first decade of the 1900s during the “Indiana Jones” era of embroidery and lace sample acquisition – the time in which monied families took a season touring Europe, vying with each other to bring back the most exquisite samples of whatever struck their fancy. These collections were eventually donated to major museums to form the backbone of their historical embroidery holdings. The time/place provenances furnished by dealers or middlemen and conveyed with these pieces upon donation are not necessarily to be trusted. Many museums are now revisiting these pieces to correct annotations that haven’t changed in 75+ years.

One interesting thing to note is that the count of the historical ground above is not as square as the count of my modern linen. The design is somewhat squashed left to right and elongated north-south compared to mine, although the unit counts are the same.

The second one is in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Accession 09.50.55. Unlike many duplications among museums it’s not an instance of one original artifact having been cut apart for sale to multiple buyers. Not only is the center panel duplicated here, there are also subtle differences in the design, especially in the border. The Met only shows this in black and white and does not provide information on the color used. They date it to the 1600s, and attribute it to Italy.

And third, which I only stumbled upon today. This one appears to be a photo only recently released by the Victoria and Albert Museum, Accession 645-1896. Be still my heart, it shows the design on fragments that were pieced into a wearable apron, providing a use case beyond what can be known from a simple fragment. The V&A also notes that the apron was composed from previously stitched fragments. They label the assembled wearable as 1630-1660, Italian, but it’s unknown what life the embroidered strips had before that usage. Best of all, among their images is one that shows the back. Yup. Double running stitch. And yes, I know they see vases in the composition, but my mind is stuck on describing the center bits as bricks.

Note the stretch across the bottom, seamed together from two distinct fragments. And the butted corner formed by a third, although butted corner treatments are more commonly represented in survivals than are pieces with carefully planned mitered or otherwise customized corners. As far as the design’s manifestation on the apron, it’s very, very close to that on the MFA’s fragment. But it’s not identical. There are small differences in the veining pattern of the main repeat’s leaves which lead me to believe it’s a fragment of another original, and not a leftover from whatever item was repurposed into the apron.

If you’ve spotted other instances of Leafy-Bricks out in the wild or have seen it in a modelbook of the 1500s to 1600s, please let me know.

Oh. And if you are interested in obtaining a copy of The New Carolingian Modelbook (my first and now out of print book), I know it’s hard to find. I don’t have any to sell myself, but on rare occasion someone finds a copy and sends it to me. Just such a copy recently came into my hands. I have sent it on to a charitable auction to benefit the SCA Barony Concordia of the Snows, which recently lost all of its communally held equipment in a devastating fire. That auction will be held on 28 August at East Kingdom Coronation. I do not know if the auction will be web-accessible. If I find out I will update this post accordingly.

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