Category Archives: Travel

Sandy Jenkins Needlepoint in Fredericksburg, TX

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I am on a bike trip through the Texas hill country west of Austin. I didn’t quite look at the weather forecast before we left (or perhaps I looked but decided to not believe the forecast!) so was not prepared for the extreme cold snap here. Sunday’s biking was a bit rainy but doable; Monday morning was not too bad it by afternoon, the winds had picked up and the temperatures fell so the biking was cut short quite a bit. The tour leaders decided this morning was way too cold and windy to be safe for biking so we headed into Fredericksbug. I quickly checked out if there were any Needlepoint shops in town. There is a fabulous museum to the War of the Pacific and a cute downtown. And of course, I found the Needlepoint shop!

Designer Sandy Jenkins (www.sandyjenkins.com) has a wonderful shop with all her own designs. I had to admit I was not familiar with her work. Since she gave up teaching and traveling to market, she does her own painting as well as designing. She welcomed me immediately even though she was working with a client pulling threads. When I responded that I was a stitcher, she encouraged me to look around at the designs and finished samples and reminded me not to touch samples (standard practice as we all know) and not to take pictures due to copyright issues since these are all her own designs.

Since I decided to limit myself to just one canvas, I had a tough time deciding! There was a lot of variety of style and themes. I chose a fun Thanksgiving Sampler, which she offered to kit for me. Since I was limited on time, I decided to not kit it for now. I did listen in as she was helping the other client pick threads and was impressed with how she worked with the client. While her thread selection is not vast, it was varied and I would have had no problem finding any threads I wanted or needed.

Sandy Jenkins’ shop in Fredericksburg, TX

While I couldn’t take photos inside, she did allow me to take an outside shot. She does host stitching retreats, so we may need to think about a road trip!

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Winterthur Conference – Day 2

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I am back in New Jersey to write this as I was just too tired on Saturday night. And yesterday Mr. M and I got to drive to Long Island so that we could have dinner with my father and sister to celebrate their birthdays (95 for him, 61 for her). Can someone explain to me how it take 2-1/4 hours to drive 125 miles from Winterthur, DE (even with some construction detours) and almost 3 hours to drive the 65 miles to Jericho, NY?  Gotta love the NY/NJ Metro area!

Saturday morning I got to pack up and head over to Winterthur for a free morning just wandering around the grounds and the Galleries. I was not sure of my timing so I didn’t wander too far, but I did get to see a few of the follies on the property (a folly being a costly ornamental building with no practical purpose). Maybe if I win the lottery I can build my own folly!

Autumn Garden

The Galleries provide an up-close and personal look at objects in the museum’s collection, and the pieces are changed periodically.  There are several galleries but I stayed focused on the Textiles and Needlework.  (You can access the collections online.)

There was a special exhibit entitled Dining by Design: Nature Displayed on the Dinner Table which included some very elaborate table pieces.

And, of course, there was the exhibit for the conference Embroidery: The Thread of History.

One of the most impressive pieces in the exhibit is an embroidered casket and toys created by Janet Carija Brandt from Indianapolis. It is part of a group of work she created imagining the adult lives of traditional fairy tale characters. The piece on exhibit shows the life of Little Red Riding Hood. My pictures do not do this piece justice so please click on the link here; it is amazing!  Be sure to explore her site to see the toys that go with the casket as well as all of her amazing work.

Of course the afternoon was spent in more fascinating lectures. Did you know that the National Archives and Records Administration in DC found six embroidered samplers in the tens of thousands of documents housed in the Archives? In Embroidered Evidence: Family Record Samplers in the Revolutionary War Pension Files of the National Archives, Washington, DC, Kathleen Staples described how these samplers were used as legal proof in determining the eligibility of claimants for Revolutionary War pensions!

In Embroidered Narratives: Storytelling Through the Eye of the Needle, Susan Boardman, an artist from Nantucket, described how she was inspired to create 8-inch by 9-inch textile narratives of women who lived on the island during the ninetheenth century. Her creations use dye painting, hand embroidery, handmade needle lace, appliqué, beadwork, gold leaf, carving and quilting.

In Collecting for Love or Money: A Discussion of Needlework Donations to The Met and the Art Institute of Chicago, Melinda Watt, Chair and Christa C. Mayer Thurman Curator of Textiles, Art Institute of Chicago, described the individuals who amassed diverse collections of European embroideries.

Our final speaker was Dr. Susan Kay-Williams, Chief Executive of the Royal School of Needlework, Hampton Court Palace, UK, who spoke on Fine and Beautiful: Historic Commissions from the RSN Studio. Dr. Kay-Williams was fascinating as she described some of the history of the RSN; it moved seven times in the 146 years since it was first established, settling in its current location in 1987. RSN tutors work in teams on a project and the training is such that no matter how many people are on the team the final piece looks as if it was completed by one person. One incredible project that they worked on was The Overlord Embroidery which tells the story of the D-Day Invasion and the Battle of Normandy in 34 embroidered panels, a total length of 83 meters (about 272 feet).

This conference was truly amazing and I’m so glad I was able to attend. The next conference will be in 2020 (date TBD) and will focus on the work of Erica Wilson, so it promises to be another exciting event.

For fans of The Crown, Winterthur will be mounting an exhibit in March 2019 entitled Dressing the Crown which will feature the fashions from the series.

Finally, for those of you who are readers of history, Dr. Joan DeJean, who I mentioned in my previous post, has written a book entitled The Queen’s Embroiderer: A True Story of Paris, Lovers, Swindlers, and the First Stock Market Crisis. I have my copy already and am looking forward to reading it.

 

 

Winterthur Conference – Day 1

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Winterthur 2018 Conference

Today is the first day of the Winterthur Conference Embroidery: The Thread of History. Approximately 200 people are in attendance, representing a number of states. The focus of the conference is how embroidery serves as a historical record of the socioeconomic issues of the time, allowing for a view of embroidery from a historian’s perspective. The exhibit of the same name is on view from October 5, 2018 to January 6, 2019.

The morning agenda was four fabulous talks on very different topics. We started with Tricia Wilson Nguyen of Thistle Threads whose program was Materials for Historically Inspired Needlework. Tricia spoke about creating threads and other materials for adaptions in order to make the reproduction as accurate as possible. In addition to showing extensive slides of historic needlework, she discussed the economics of producing materials for a limited market.

The second speaker was Virginia Whelan, a textile conservator and owner of Filaments Conservation Studio. Her talk, entitled Material Witnesses: Testimony of Embroidery, focused on how she was able to trace information about furniture, cotton manufacturing, and Independence Hall by using information extracted from the study of three different samplers given to her for conservation.

The third speaker was Joan DeJean, Trustee Professor of French at the University of Pennsylvania, who spoke on The Price of Beauty: Embroidery and Louis XIV’s Versailles. She discussed the role of embroidery in the rise of Paris as the center of fashion during the reign of Louis XIV and his construction of Versailles. She spoke about the loss of the wonderful tapestries that used to hang in Versailles’ Hall of Mirrors as well as the garments created for Louis XIV (the Sun King), because he needed the gold and silver threads used in their creation to finance his wars.

Our final speaker before lunch was Sally Tuckett, Lecturer in Dress and Textile Histories at the University of Glasgow, who spoke on the Ayrshire whitework industry. Needle Crusaders: The Ayrshire Whitework Industry in Nineteenth-Century Scotland described the production of this popular alternative to lace through a cottage industry. In the mid-nineteenth century it employed thousands of Scottish and Irish women but by the end of the century the industry had fallen into decline due to changing fashion as well as advances in textile manufacture.

After lunch the attendees participated in a variety of workshops that included tours as well as needlework projects, either 90 minutes or 3 hours. I was able to attend a 90-minute tour of the needlework collection on public view at Winterthur.

Bodice and Upholstery

The bodice on the chair and the sofa are the same pattern because the sofa was upholstered in the skirt originally attached to the bodice.

Lace

Lace

Sampler

Sampler

 

Needlework Box

Sewing Box

Needlework Frame

Sampler on Frame

We were also able to visit the study room and see some of the pieces in the collection that are not on public view.

My second workshop was to participate in stitching the Plymouth Tapestry. Rather than paraphrase I will quote directly from the brochure:

A large-scale embroidered tapestry telling the story of Plymouth, Massachusetts, is being created for Pilgrim Hall Museum, in honor of the 400th anniversary of the 1620 founding of Plymouth Colony. The Plymouth Tapestry will portray the experiences, familiar and unfamiliar, of the English settlers who arrived on the Mayflower, and the Wampanoag families who inhabited the region for millennia before their arrival. The tapestry is a visual exploration of history, memory, and cosmology, depicting the culture and everyday life of the Wampanoag, English, and American peoples who have inhabited this unique place.

The multimedia thread-on-linen embroidery will be comprised of twenty, six-foot-long panels. Three of these panels will be at Winterthur, where embroiderers (beginner to experienced) will have an opportunity to participate in the project. Elizabeth Creeden, who designed and drew the tapestry, will lead the work. For those who wish to learn more or simply witness the work in progress, she will also be available to describe the steps required to plan such a heroically scaled project.

The Plymouth Tapestry is a signature project of Pilgrim Hall Museum, repository of many of the real 17th-century belongings of the Pilgrims and will be exhibited in conjunction with Plymouth’s 400th anniversary commemoration in 2020.

I was able to put in some yellow stem stitching on the banner edges on the panel that includes the image of Henry VIII. The stem stitch on the top from “excommunicates” to “publishes” is my stitching, as is the bottom line in between Henry’s legs. Each stitcher signs the Record of Stitchers and there is a full-size drawing of each of the panels that each stitcher indicates exactly what (s)he stitched. It is an amazing undertaking and I was honored to be able to be a small part of it.

My Stitching 1

My Stitching 2

Tomorrow morning I will be touring the exhibit at a leisurely pace since I have no workshops scheduled. After lunch we will hear from four more speakers. At the end of the conference I will be heading home so tomorrow’s blog may have to wait until Sunday to be posted.

 

Winterthur Conference – Day 0

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Yes, I am at another needlework event. For the next two days I will be attending the Winterthur conference Embroidery: The Thread of History.

After the NJNA October Meeting last night I finally got home, unpacked from the Stitcher’s Hideaway Retreat (see my previous blogs), and repacked. I left early this morning so that I could stop at The Strawberry Sampler in Glen Mills, PA before heading over to Winterthur. It is a very well-stocked shop (cross-stitch, punch needle, and framing) in a shopping center with plenty of parking. I did a bit of browsing and picked up a few more charts (I think I now have to live to about 250 so that I can at least start everything). Check out the link as I did not get a chance to take pictures.

The Brandywine Valley is an interesting area – lots of history and very pretty scenery. It was a perfect day to drive down two-lane roadways. I was concerned a few times when my GPS directed me onto what appeared to be a residential street, but all worked out. Mr. M and I visited this area a few times decades ago; I think it’s time to go back and really explore the area again.

The conference starts tomorrow morning (watch for more blogs). Due to popular demand the organizers added a third tour of the Delaware Historical Society today as the other two time slots were filled quite quickly. The tour allowed participants to view the Society’s sampler collection, which is not on public display, and included a lecture by Jennifer Potts, Curator of Objects, Delaware Historical Society, and Cynthia Steinhoff, co-author of Delaware Discoveries: Girlhood Embroidery, 1750–1850.

Winterthur Sign

My photos of the samplers are a little difficult to see due to glare on the glass, so I won’t  them here. You’ll have to look through the book when it’s published (hopefully, by the end of this year)!

 

 

A New Shop – MA Edition

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Wednesday was a travel day for me as I made my way back from Sturbridge, MA to New Jersey. It was another bright clear autumn day – perfect for the ride home from New England.

I did, of course, have to make a stop at the new Bush Mountain Stitchery shop in Palmer, MA, just a short ride from Sturbridge. Maeann and Gary have opened a new store right on Main Street with cross stitch charts, fabrics, framing, accessories, and lots of threads!

The new shop is about 7100 square feet and they are still unpacking boxes so not everything is displayed yet.  And a few things were out of place due to the very successful Grand Opening event the previous weekend. I’m told about 200 people showed up for the two-day event.

But that didn’t stop me from spending two hours looking around at all the goodies that are already unpacked. During the course of my visit at least eight other Stitcher’s Hideaway attendees also made the stop.

I purchased a few new charts and some linen in great colors, including a Bush Mountain Balsam, which is an exclusive. Can’t wait to sort through my goodies!

Congratulations to Maeann and Gary on the new store!

Bling in the Holidays – Day 1

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Today finds me at the Publick House Historic Inn in Sturbridge, MA. I am attending the Stitcher’s Hideaway fall retreat – Bling in the Holidays with Thea Dueck of The Victoria Sampler.  I am a big fan of Thea’s pieces and she is a fabulous teacher, so I try not to miss any opportunity to take her classes.

We received our pre-work package in early September. Somehow I actually managed to finish the pre-work well ahead of schedule. Here’s the project when I arrived. This is stitched on 28-count Clay Cashel Linen.

Project Prework

Today we concentrated on all the specialty stitches – Partial Rhodes, Smyrnas, and Mosaics, to name a few. Thea provides videos of the stitch demonstrations in the class, which she then posts as YouTube videos for future reference.  It really helps a lot when there is a large group as everyone can see the demonstration.

So here is the project after today (and I am, thankfully, all caught up).

Project Day 1

Tomorrow we decorate the tree with all the bling!

Tonight we also had a gift exchange – those who wish to participate bring in a handmade gift. However, there is no stealing!  These are all the lovely gifts that were part of the exchange.

Ornament Exchange

This is the gift I received. I love these little ornaments and aren’t the scissors just adorable?

Christmas Tree Ornament

And here is the pillow I made. The recipient was appreciative of my effort. I am pretty pleased with it, considering that I could be categorized as a pre-beginner seamstress.

Merry Christmas Pillow

Tomorrow night we will have Show-and-Tell, which is always exciting. Stay tuned for more progress!

Bling in the Holidays – Day 2

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Today was a beautiful clear New England autumn day. It was delightful walking about (even if it was just from my room to the stitching room) in the crisp dry air. For those who have not been to Sturbridge, I’ve included a few pictures of the Publick House grounds.

Today’s class was all about the bling! Thea handed out accessory packets with beads, sequins, gingerbread cookies, and other embellishment goodies. Her videos this morning provided tips on attaching the various pieces to the tree. We were then left to our own creativity to attach the bling.

We started with Gold Rush couched with Kreinik for the garland. We then laid out our own bling scheme, taking pictures as needed so that we had a reference for attaching later on. Here is what mine will look like (more or less). I may still move a few pieces around before finally attaching.

Project Proposed Layout

Here’s my progress at the end of the day today. I did get my garland attached as well as all the beads in the snowflakes surrounding the trees. And I attached my lights, which are a little big so we’re considering them ornaments.

Project Day 2

I’ll attach the rest of the bling when I am at home where I can see the beads and have a large space to work on.

After dinner many of the attendees brought in pieces for Show-and-Tell. As always I was blown away by the fantastic projects and gorgeous stitching. Here’s just a sample of the pieces that were shown.

These retreats really are a great deal of fun and I look forward to attending more in the future.

Tomorrow I am heading to Bush Mountain Stitchery in Palmer, MA (just down the road), which had its Grand Opening last weekend. After that I’ll be heading to New Jersey for a night at home (after the NJNA October Meeting, of course). I’ll be blogging about Bush Mountain but it will likely wait until Thursday.