Sunday, April 18, 2010

Embroidery Sampler Class

As Festival 2010 approached I was dismayed by the A&S class lists. Not one on embroidery!!! NOT ONE! How was I supposed to learn some new and crazy thing that would take over my life?
After a little bit of hyperventilating I decided it was up to me to remedy this. Everyone who has not given embroidery a go tends to be quite scared of it but I don't think its so scary to do it. To do it well... sure, that's real hard but to do a decent job all you need is time and persistence. That's all!
After the 'Cushions of Dooooooom' I was feeling confident that people could and should learn to embroider at least something. I was also feeling inadequate in my stitch repetoire... it is never big enough! So I started looking into different stitches and developed a quick class aimed at giving a brief backgound of four stitches and then teaching them how to do the basics.
I test run the class at A&S in Polit and was terrified of the teaching part at first but it was a good idea... it showed me what i needed to do to make the Festival class run as smoothly as possible. The stitches I decided on were 14th Century Klosterstich, 16th Century Pekinese stitch, 11th Century Bayeux stitch (laid and couched) and 16th Century detached buttonhole stitch. This meant I had to learn two stitches i had never done before, and two that i had dabbled in a little bit.
So here we have my two test-run embroideries - my first ever klosterstich piece (the rose, taken from a 14th c German tapestry) and my second ever Bayeux piece (the pretty horsey from the first panel of the Bayeux Tapestry). Both are wool embroidered onto linen.

The design for the sampler on which to practise the stitches was designed using pics from extant items that I stumbled across during my look into the four stitches.
The square ended up being 12cm x 12cm in size, which turned out to be ample. We, of course, did not get through even a significant amount of the embroidery in this design in the class but the intention was to give them some 'homework' to practise :)
To Festival I took 10 kits to do the embroidery - all wool on a cotton base - with the design already drawn out. Gosh that is a tedious process btw :P Thankfully I guessed right and ten people showed up to participate. Convenience! Now I am looking at teaching the class to the College of St Aldhelms at the request of the vivaceous seneschal Adelle and there may be crazy-ish plans for future classes on different stitches.
Moral of the story - anyone can learn to embroider. And saying 'I can't sew' is a load of hogswash. Anyone can do it!

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