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.

15 comments:

t does wool said...

Oh Claudia-what wonderful embroideries they are...treasures...and I have to say I love Beatrix and all the tales she's told!

Firefly Nights said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Firefly Nights said...

Poor Mr. Puffy, having to go around in the winter naked with no sweater. A guy can never have too many doggie coats, so even if the perfect yarn hasn't turned up yet, please knit the little guy something.

Your mother's embroidery is very lovely. You both are very talented ladies. I'm sure your embroidery projects will be just as nice as all of your knitting projects.

tiennie said...

Your mom does amazing work! You two are so talented!

Tracy said...

You mother has done some exquisite needlework...Loved seeing these detail/close-up shots...The colors are so harmonious in this particular work. I can see what you mean by her talent for color pairings. You and you mom are bursting with needlework gifts! I used to do a lot of embroidery myself, and am only lately taking it up again after many years of just knitting, sewing & jewelry making. I lik to mix it up too! :o) Love the embroider transfers you've found--B. Potter designs lend themselves so well to the colorwork of embroidery. Have fun! ((HUGS))

Kelly said...

fairies and beatrix potter, we share the same tastes for sure :)

Channon said...

Exceptional, and thanks for triggering some fond memories for me. My mother and several women on my father's side of the family did incredible needlework, and that was my hobby for many years, until I overdosed on cross stitch while flat on my back several years ago.

We actually had dogs named Flopsy and Mopsy...

Hilary said...

Wow...your mother is amazing! I hope that as you get more into needlepoint, you show your work here -- I would be very excited to see it.

knitting dragonfly said...

Oh the embroidery is lovely. I would describe you as knitting classic pieces, I don't like to knit too trendy either.
I can see where you got your great eye and needle skills.
Vicki

Marie said...

The embroidery work is stunning. I can't get over how talented your mother is.

I love to do embroidery every once in a while. It can be so relaxing.

Mr. Puffy can team up with my Jake. Poor Jake is still waiting for his knitted blanket. I haven't been able to decide on a pattern or a color.

Monika said...

Some refer to this art as "painting with a needle" or something, and I think that's what you do here. It's beautiful, and you must be a very patient person to do such beautiful work.
I don't have fine white linen as you would like to have, but I'm going to get really old linen from my mother, and she's got it from an old aunt, and HER mother made it. IT's rough, but I think one can sew bags or a table cloth with embroidery from it. Looking forward to your own embroidery work!

Pat K said...

Just beautiful, and what amazing work! Having embroidered for years, I can appreciate the work that went into that picture. I would love to some more embroidery myself, but I'm very unhappy with the flimsy material that seems to be sold nowadays with the patterns. If you find a good source for some good linen, perhaps something in a twill, let me know.

raining sheep said...

Like - WOW - that is incredible. She totally had a talent with color because the picture just really has depth. My grandmother on my dad's side was also like that. She lived in Bulgaria during the war and they did not have printed patterns - they followed a chart and basically she also chose her colors. I marvel at the women in the past who did not have the same advancements in fiber arts that we have and still produced beautiful pieces of work.

amanda said...

Your mum is indeed very talented and has a fantastic eye for colour.

Good luck with the Beatrix Potter embroidery. We've been staying right in Beatrix Potter country for the last week.

Sherry said...

Your mother's embroidery is amazing. So many beautiful colors and lovely stitches. I can't wait to see your embroidery.