Monday, August 18, 2008
The Domestic Arts
My mother is an excellent knitter, as you have seen from the few examples I have shared. But growing up I never saw her knit. She was at that time in her life very much into embroidery and needlepoint. This picture was hand embroidered by my mother and hangs in my guest bedroom. My parent's home is full of beautiful examples of similar tapestries that she has either had framed, as this one is, or made into pillows that grace various chairs and couches.
My mother no longer does any needlework, but when she did she never worked from a kit as she enjoyed the process of selecting the colors herself. I remember the care she took with choosing which colors to place where. She has a particular talent for understanding and choosing color combinations. It is from watching her that I invest a lot of time into selecting the right yarn and color for a knitting project. We're talking years here. If you notice, my projects are hardly ever cutting edge. That's because I take a long view of a knitting project. Even Mr Puffy becomes exasperated at times. You should see him roll his eyes when I tell him I'm still looking for the yarn for his sweater. That project has seriously been long overdue. But I digress.
I love this style of embroidery. So often now when you see embroidery it is of the style that merely outlines an image with a simple back stitch. Close examination of my mother's embroidery shows that she not only fills in the image but she also uses a variety of embroidery stitches to give texture and character to a piece.
I have done a little embroidery myself, but not for many years now. I am going to add embroidery back into the mix, though, as I like to vary my hobbies. To vary one's hobbies is not only good for the hands but is also helpful to keep a balance in one's life.
Working from iron-on transfers allows you the most flexibility. You can add the iron-on transfers to tea towels, guest towels, or as a small embellishment to an otherwise plain white t-shirt. When I was in my late teens, a favorite top of mine was a plain white t-shirt on which my mother had embroidered small yellow flowers to match a pair of my yellow tennis shorts. I loved that outfit. I'm not sure I ever won any tennis matches wearing it. But, oh, how I did love wearing it.
I recently found some of the iron-on embroidery transfer books and now I am in search of linen embroidery blanks. The linen blanks are hard to find and I may just have to settle for something less than perfect if I wish to get underway. Ideally I would like to use a plain white Irish linen. Not easy to find, let me tell you. If anyone has any suggestions as to where to find embroidery blanks, I would love to hear from them.
My mother used to buy her supplies, as did I, at Thumbelina's in Solvang, California. Amazingly this shop is still in business but now it primarily carries cross-stitch and needlepoint supplies. By the way, if you ever have the occasion to be driving along the southern coastline of California, be sure to take the minor detour inland to visit Solvang. It's a small Danish town that is full of shops and more importantly, has wonderful Swedish smorgasbords and Danish pastries.
These are the transfer books I ordered, and some examples of the designs. As you can see, I'm a fan of Beatrix Potter and all things fairy; these transfer books (along with others) can be found on-line here and here. If you are interested in learning embroidery, here's a link to some basic embroidery stitches, Needle 'n Thread.
It's hot here, there and just about everywhere; so I hope you enjoyed this cool refreshing break from woolly topics! Have a terrific week everyone and remember Fall is just around the corner.