25 September 2010

A challenge from the past

Followers of this blog know that I'm digitizing some ancient embroidery magazines...In one of the last issues of "Il Ricamo" I took photos of, there was a beautiful floreal cross-stitch pattern with poppies.
The pattern is fine, the composition is very good and it isn't even perfectly symmetrical (a cheap modern way to save work ;-) made even easier by computers), here all the parts have been designed carefully... But the key is missing.
According to the pattern description in the issue, the key should be right under the image but it isn't there...Nor in any parte of the magazine. Somebody just forgot it! We can imagine that at the time some readers complained about it and the key was included in one of the later issues, but unfortunately I don't have them and I can't check.
Is this pattern useless therefore? I don't think so! There are not so many shades of colours in it...Back in 1905 there were not the intricate cross-stitch patterns with many dozens of colours (and maybe quarter stitches and blended needles) we find today. I think that an acceptable choice of threads could be made by any experienced stitcher.
Does anybody want to give a try and stitch it?
The pattern in full size is here ; I can also try to get better pictures if this isn't good enough (but I think it is).
I will do my try, but it would be nice to see what other people do!
And of course even if the flowers are poppies, nobody is obliged to stitch them red or very "poppy-colours-like"...Why not to try somethings completely different for example?
If you decide to try this, please send me a link to your blog or a photo of your work!

18 September 2010

Ending a scarf without fringes

I recently wove three scarves and decided, this time,  to make them without fringes. One is already finished, but the other twos were still attached and unfinished, so I thought I would take photos to show how I did.
Well, this was the end of one scarf, once cut from the loom...

I took a long needle, and wove it back for a few cms into the scarf. Any long needle can be used; I found that this Sashiko needle by Clover was perfect for this!
The tip is slightly curved and makes it easier to weave (actually it looks exactly like a weaving needle. Once the needle is woven back, I thread it with one of the warp ends and pull it through, so that the thread is woven back for a bit. This will be enough to stop it firmly.
I continue, doing the same with the other warp ends; here a couple of cms have already been finished this way (notice the thread ends coming out of the scarf a few centimeters from the end):
In the end, the whole side is done!
The hem is barely visible at the bottom of the photo... (colours are different because in the meanwhile I had to switch on the light, and haven't found how to change the light option on this camera!)
Here it is a photo of the finished scarf, after washing, trimming thread ends and sewing the label...
It is a slow work, anyway! it takes almost as much time to weave the ends back as to weave the whole scarf (and that's definitely less interesting!)...I don't know whether I'll adopt it many other times. But the result is neat, and the scarf end without fringe looks very well in my opinion.

14 September 2010

Election de Mister Nounours 2010

[This is an entry to participate to the Election of Mister Nounours 2010, a competition reserved to old Teddy Bears, promoted by the blog Le Jardin de la Brodeuse  ]

"Vous avez conservé votre vieil ours chéri dans une malle ou le fond d'un tiroir et vous avez envie de le sortir de l'ombre le temps d'une photo.

Pour rendre hommage à votre nounours, écrivez un article sur votre blog, photographiez-le sous 2 formes différentes. Indiquez le nom que vous lui donniez jadis et son âge.
Le 30 septembre, nous élirons le plus beau nounours dans le jardin de la brodeuse ."

Je vous présente donc, mon candidat:

Sutti , âgé d'environs 46 ans.
Taille : presque 30 cm
Poids : léger
Yeux: 2
Signes particuliers:  sourd d'une oreille, paille qui sort des mains et des pieds.
Lieu de vie: il a passé les dernier 30 ans dans une armoire au sous-sol. 

Meme s'il ne deviendra pas le Nounours de l'Année 2010, Sutti est très heureux car grâce à jjbrod du Jardin de la Brodeuse, il a pu laisser l'armoir où il  passé la plupart de sa vie, et il va aussi avoir des mains et des pieds neufs.

08 September 2010

Le Palais Idéal du Facteur Cheval

Sometimes big things are born from  little nothings...

One day, while marking School Certificate papers,   J RR Tolkien scribbled on a blank paper "In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit"....And The Hobbit was born.
In another place, at another time, a country postman stumbled in stone, and that changed his life.

Ferdinand Cheval was the postman at Hauterives, a village in the Drome region that counted about 1300 inhabitants at the time, the second half of  1800,  and isn't much bigger today. He was generally known as "Le Facteur Cheval", that is "Cheval  the Postman", as he probably was a familiar presence to all the villagers. His daily tour to deliver mail was 32 kms long, and he had to do it on foot.  Life at the time wasn't easy...
One day, during his usual delivery tour he stumbled, and nearly fell. He wanted to discover what had made him stumble, and saw it was a stone... A stone of such an unusual shape that he put it in his pocket in order to look at it better later. The day after he returned on the spot and collected other stones even more beautiful...
And he was inspired.
Many years before he had dreamed of building a palace, or a cave; something wonderful and unique...But he was no architect, he didn't know anything about art, or buildings, or masonry and had spoken to nobody about it because he felt it was an impossible dream and didn't want to be ridiculed. But this time something changed. He decided that "As Nature wants to make sculpture, I will do architecture and masonry"... And he started to build his Ideal Palace.
For the following 33 years he dedicated  very spare moment of his life to his Palace...  He added another 10-15 kms to his daily tour as postman in order to collect stones to use in his building; he worked at the Palace by night, at the light of oil lamps,  sleeping only 2 or 3 hours before having to resume is daily job...

And his palace was built.

Some things are built with a precise project in mind; this palace grew up almost like a natural thing, as Ferdinand Cheval had no notions of architecture, he just had his dream to follow and nobody else to help him. So every detail of the surface is the result of a sudden idea, of the decision to add something here or there...

At some points villages seem to grow on the façade....


...Or strange processions walk to the top the roof...


And trees and birds seem a natural presence in that landscape.


Giant human figures and statues are integrated in the building


Sentences by Cheval are written all over the Palace; his way to transmit his thoughts and considerations made during the building....


Death is a constant presence in these writings, as it was in Cheval's life... By the age of 19 he had lost both his parents. His first son died when he was only 1 year old, and his beloved daughter Alice died at the age of 15... And he was widowed twice.


He had planned to be buried in his Palais Idéal, but the law didn't allow that and made no exception....Therefore, when he finished building his Palace, even if he was 77 he started building a grave for himself at the local cemetery, in his peculiar style. The construction went on for 8 years and he died 2 years after it was finished, in 1924.

Ferdinand Cheval's grave

Like on his Palace, here too there is a  writing, by now almost deleted but still visible: "Le Tombeau du Silence et du Repos sans Fin"...The Grave of Silence and Endless Rest.


Le Palais Idéal was declared National Monument in 1969, and Fernand Cheval's life and work are today an inspiration for everybody.
The palace is there to show you that you don't have to be important, or cultured, or rich, or even have a lot ot time to make your dreams come true; things can be built a bit at a time, day after day.

If you pass in the region south of Lyon, north of Orange and Avignon, find the time to stop in Hauterives: you will see things in a different way.

Ce monument est l'oeuvre d'un paysan
                                                           (Fernand Cheval, written on his Palais Idéal, Eastern façade )

Le Palais Idéal du Facteur Cheval - Official site

05 September 2010

New book on embroidery

I received from the publisher a brand-new book on embroidery, just printed (date inside is August 2010!).
It's "Il piacere del ricamo", by Silvana Fontanelli and it's mainly on Punto Perugino. Explanations are very easy to follow, both because it's a rather easy technique and because photos of each step make it clear how to proceed...It's a book very suitable also to beginners and stitchers who have only done cross-stitch, as it's a counted thread technique and the look isn't so much different from cross-stitch...Those who have never tried any other surface embroidery technique might find it an excellent starting point to do something different from cross-stitch, yet uncomplicated and easy to do.
The beautiful drawn thread work that appears on the cover is explained in the second half of the book, and allegedly is a variant of some existing stitch ...The effect is very decorative and in my opinion would be very beautiful inserted in some Hardanger work too.
The book is available in usual bookshops that store embroidery books (and of course in my shop  too).

01 September 2010

The Shores of Faery are still faraway...

... But at last I've started weaving at this tapestry again! I don't even know how many months I've left it aside, working at other things, feeling a bit guilty each time I saw it on the loom...
But a couple of das ago at last I decided I want to finish it...If only to take it off the loom and start a new work!  I have ideas for new tapestries, but I must keept them in  wait until this one is finished.
It is a slow work, but even few minutes a day are better than nothing! And two days of work showed  some progress! I reached the foam of the "green sea" , and soon the sky will become lighter as I approach the Moon...
31 August 2010
Will the sea be the right hue of green? I don't know... I can't judge it yet, and when it will become clear, it will be too late to change it...
Tapestry weaving is very different from painting. You can't correct a colour you've woven a few centimeters away: the only way would be  to undo completely everything and start again. If you don't,. your mistakes will remain and become part of the tapestry. But maybe this is the way should be. I'll finish weaving and decide that no, the green should have been a tone lighter...That's too late, ther's no "undoing" like in embroidery, where one can selectively undo a part and re-stitch it in a different colour.
Things change. If I started this tapestry today I wouldn't do it this way anymore (which is probably why I left it aside so long). I would use bolder contrasts, brighter colours... Maybe one day I'll remake it and weave a "The Shores of Faery II" that will have little in common with Tolkien's watercolour.