Category Archives: Travel

A Cold Day at Woodlawn

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Hi Everyone —

As Linda alluded to in her earlier e-mail, a quartet of NJNA members visited Woodlawn today.  All of us were exhibiting so our admission was free!  HA!

As usual, Woodlawn was decked out in needlework glory albeit with fewer entries than past years.  We were allowed to take pictures and I took pictures of all of the NJNA pieces.  I think I’ll hold most of those pictures until later because it is always a fun surprise to turn the corner and discover your own piece in its Woodlawn location.

Here we are with OUR pieces:

Unfortunately, our SOTM Stars pieces were not hung together.  And we saw one Stars that was not from our group!  Similarly, we were disappointed that Andrea’s beautiful butterflies were not together.  And, we found three versions of Holiday Patches — only one was holiday-themed — and the casual observer would not have realized that they were the same.  Clearly a missed opportunity for Woodlawn.

We saw a stitched version of Beachcomber’s Booty — the Ann Strite-Kurz piece that is being offered by Needleworkers in mid-May.   It was more beautiful than any of us imagined.

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Beachcomber’s Booty — the background is a lovely shade of aqua that none of the photos has quite captured.  One of our group signed up for it on the spot!

Another item that we found fascinating was this sun/moon piece that I know at least one of our members has stitched.

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Notice that the fillet is gold on the sun side and silver on the moon side!  Unusual, but apt treatment!

Of course we had lunch in the charming Nelly Needler’s cafe — Sue and I always do a turn around the exhibit, have lunch and compare notes, and then view it all again!  It was such a pleasure to have Ellen S and Janice M join us this year!

It is always a joy to meet so many other stitchers and to see some some amazing creations!  I hope you will have a chance to visit for yourself!

We stopped at Waste Knot in Arlington on the way down,  visited In Stitches in Alexandria today, and plan to stop at Hillside Needlepoint in Stevenson, MD on our way home tomorrow!   And, yes, the credit cards got a workout!

This is always one of my favorite needlepoint adventures of the year!

Cheers!

Rosie

 

 

Nashville Needleworks

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As most of us do when we travel, we scout out local needlework shops.  I am no exception and recently found a jewel of a shop called Nashville Needleworks owned by Connie Camp.

It is a lovely, bright welcoming shop with two rooms.  One has a large table around which stitchers are always seated. There are hand painted canvases all over the shop of varying subject matter.  What struck me the most was the abundance of thread.  There were one or two threads I could not get locally, but there are walls of all the different color ways.  The picture on the bottom left is just Kreinik.  I did not end up purchasing a canvas, but did buy a kit for a frame weight that had been from a class taught at the shop in regard to beading.  I’d love to start that project soon, but the queue is rather long at the moment.  Of course, I did the obligatory magnet needle minder purchase as well.  Brenda Soffit is going to be teaching a remarkable rabbit that employs needle felting.  I’m sorry I did not get a picture of that.  It was so special that the rabbit was under a glass dome.

 

The store is known for its needlepoint retreats that are only open to out of owners.  Information on those can be found on FaceBook or call the shop.  If you are ever in the area, I highly recommend a visit!

Needlework Friendships

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As most of you have realized by now, being a needlework enthusiast brings with it, its own brand of friendship.  The non initiated think of needlework as a solitary activity.  It certainly can be that and many of us relish that alone time doing repetitive movement and creating at the same time.  However, the uninformed are astounded when I say, that needlework for me has a huge social aspect.  I have dear friends across the country that I have made over the years at conventions, classes, from guild memberships and stitch-ins.  Perhaps the dearest friendships of this type are with three ladies from my time spent on the national board of the Smocking Arts Guild of America (SAGA).  We met in 1985 as each of us was going on to the board for the first time. (Technically, one of us came onto the board a year or two later, but we never seem to keep the facts of that story straight.)  Let me introduce you.  I (Barbara) am from NJ.  Bonnie is from Wisconsin, Cary is from Alabama and Regina is from the East End of Long Island.

This friendship of ours certainly defies all odds.  We are from different parts of the country, have different religious and political beliefs, had very different professional aspirations and have led very different lives.  We have no idea what binds us together so tightly, but it is quite evident that there is an abundance of chemistry.  We may not speak for months at a time, but when we do, we pick up right where we left off.  Our largest claim to fame are our giggles.  There are lots and lots of those.

We meet usually once a year.  Formerly, we always got together at the annual SAGA convention, but as our needlework interests migrated we breached out and started meeting in other places.  For many years, the ladies came to Long Beach Island to my beach house, but when I sold it (to spend more time in CA with the “little people” ), we had to get creative again.  It can take us months to plan (just coming up with mutually convenient dates is quite the challenge) but there is not much that keeps us away from our appointed get together.  I missed once because of a death in my family and one time Cary got as far as Charlotte and then the flight was canceled due to weather.  This year it looked as if Bonnie wouldn’t make it because of a blizzard in Wisconsin, but somehow she got there at the appointed hour.

So where did we go this year?  We went to Nashville.  Now one might think we saw the Country Music Hall of Fame or that we took the tour of the Grand ‘ole Opry, but you would be wrong.  What we did mostly was scout out yarn stores and the one needlepoint shop, Nashville Needleworks (more about that in another shorter blog entry) and hang out in our suite hotel to knit, stitch and laugh. Cary’s grandmother was from Nashville so we did do some driving to see some of the mansions and horse farms off the beaten track. No honky tonk nightlife for us.

We all cherish this friendship and will be devastated when we can no longer manage these trips.  We are always up for suggestions on places to go.  However, SAGA turns forty this year.  We are hoping to make an appearance at the convention in the fall to honor the legacy of SAGA and more importantly the treasure of our friendship.

I will attempt to upload a photo of us at a yarn store in Nashville called Bliss.  That is such an appropriate adjective for how we feel about each other.  From left to right, standing is Bonnie followed by Cary.  Seated on the left is Regina and on the right, yours truly.  Now let’s hear about your needlework friendships.IMG_0246

More Lucky Winners!

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February 20. 2019

Hi Everyone —

We had four more lucky NJNA door prize winners at Stitcher’s Hideaway yesterday and today!

 

The great thing about this retreat is that it allows all of us time to stitch on special projects or long-standing WIPs!  No new projects — unless you count the ones you pick up at the stash swap, or the door prizes, or the gift bags, or the special giveaways.  Or, in my case, a very generous hand-off of an adorable design called “The Dog Park”.  Thank you Maureen!

Nonetheless, I am happy to report that I will have at least two completed projects to bring to our next NJNA meeting!

Snow started to fall tonight and we expect a modest accumulation overnight.  Sue and I plan to start our drive home a bit later than usual to allow time for the snow plows to clear the roads!

Thanks to Jen for organizing a great retreat and to the Publick House for seeing to our care and feedings!

Cheers, Rosie

Hiding Away!

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February 18, 2019

Hi Everyone —

Seven NJNA members were very appreciative of Mally’s Needlepoint Yoga post today!  We are attending the Stitcher’s Hideaway retreat at the Publick House in Sturbridge, MA.  So we stitched from 9:00 AM until about 9:00 PM today!

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NJNA Members at Stitcher’s Hideaway!

Sue C and I drove up on Saturday so that we could make a stop at the Enriched Stitch in Wilton, CT.  Sue R joined us there and we purchased threads, sale canvasses, bags, and other goodies.

The retreat started today (Monday) so the two Sues and I toured Old Sturbridge Village on Sunday afternoon.  We toured the Towne House and visited the old bank, the weaver, the tavern, the tinsmith, the general store, the shoemaker, the potter, and the candle maker.  You can see our weather was gorgeous, even if the streets were a bit muddy!

 

On Sunday night, we needed a table of ten for all of our NJ contingent which includes several EGA members.

Overnight, it snowed — at least three inches by the time we ventured out.  The snow continued all morning.

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Monday morning view from our room!

And, of course, what retreat would be complete without prizes!

 

Today’s lucky NJNA winners!

I think I’ll go practice my child’s pose!

Cheers, Rosie

 

Christmas in SC

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I arrived to spend Christmas with Carol on Thursday, and by Saturday we were ready to shop. We set out early, met up with another of Carol’s stitching buddies, and drove to Atlanta.

The first shop we visited was the new Labors of Love. Carol and I have decided to stitch “Patchwork of Peace,” the American-flag-in-little-boxes piece that I think Margaret and Sylvia have already stitched, so we had a LOT of threads to search out! We decided to focus on the blue threads to start. Mark and Charlesy helped us pull the threads, and especially in my case, to find substitutions…because of course I decided to be different and stitch on Congress Cloth and not 18-count canvas. Imagine, we found ALMOST all the threads in one shop! And they special-ordered several that they didn’t have.

For anyone visiting Atlanta, we highly recommend that you visit Labors of Love! The shop is spacious and airy and the walls are lined with full ranges of many threads not always found in smaller shops. You want Dinky Dyes? How about those Threadworx overdyed Kreinik braids we had trouble finding for Autumn Kaleidoscope? They had them both…Burmilana? Bella Lusso? Yes and yes again. And Mark and Charlesy were knowledgeable about all the threads and very helpful. They even recommended someplace for lunch…but when we got there we couldn’t find parking so we headed over to the second shop on our list…

Nimble Needle is a smaller shop, but also carries a large thread inventory and walls full of painted canvases. We found a couple of the thread colors we hadn’t found at the first shop and I succumbed to an ornament canvas from the trunk show currently on offer. But frankly I was a little shopped out and didn’t spend as much time absorbing the surroundings as I might have otherwise. But this would also be a great destination for you if you visit Atlanta!

We ended up having lunch at an unassuming-looking barbecue place just a few shops down from Nimble Needle, and it was wonderful.

Both shops have off-street parking, always nice in urban settings.

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!

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)!