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Pre-Christmas Extravaganza!

December 23, 2011

I’ve been busy the last week or so, baking Christmas cookies, wrapping presents, and generally getting ready for the holiday.  I finally finished the last batch of cookies yesterday, on the same day I finished last year, according to the notebook I keep!  I made 12 different kinds of cookies this year, with several new experiments in the mix.  I packed up a couple of small boxes to give to our next-door neighbors later on today.  There are a few more boxes to pack for family and friends, depending on what the actual plan for Christmas Day turns out to be.

Last week, I finally finished up the last brick stitch project I was working on.  It was a small design, so took a long time to fill in the area!  The design is a simple basketweave pattern in white and I filled in the little diamond areas with three different shades of green, just for a little variety.  This is destined for another needlebook gift for a friend who uses this design as part of her heraldry.

The bigger blocks go much more quickly, and I started the next piece while at Cynnabar’s Wassail last Saturday.  I just finished the majority of the white stitching last night and started on the colored areas.  I’m anxiously waiting the arrival of another inter-library loan book – Schuette’s Pictorial History of Embroidery, which is often listed as another good source for brick stitch images (hopefully some in color).

I think I came to the realization over the last couple of days that I will do a brick stitch project for this year’s arts & sciences competitions.  The regional display should be some time in April, with the Kingdom level competition at Crown Tournament on Memorial Day weekend.  There are several existing examples of brick stitched pouches from the 14th century.  I don’t think I’m going to exactly recreate one of those, but use them and the other patterns I’ve found as the inspiration for my own project.

With this in mind, I’ve been engaged in finding sources for silk embroidery thread, since the existing examples of brick stitch are typically silk thread on linen backing.  There is a needlework shop near Grand Rapids that used to sell a couple of different kinds of silk thread, but not anymore.  I checked out there a couple of weeks ago and they said they hadn’t sold them for a few years – just no interest.  Apparently the big thing in needlework right now is “overdyed” threads – people take commercial embroidery thread and then redye it so it has deeper, richer, or more shaded colors.  Nice, in many cases, but not what I’m looking for!  Not many places in Michigan list themselves as carrying silk thread on the web.  There are a couple of shops on the east side of the state that I may have to check out some time when I’m over there.  Either that or I’ll just have to resort to mail-order.  Luckily, there’s a conversion chart for just about every brand so I can tell how the different manufacturer’s colors relate to good old DMC floss!

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