"It takes ages to finish a quilt you're not working on!"

Thursday, August 23, 2007

The tablecloths on my dining and kitchen tables this week.

These photos do not do this cloth justice. I saw it in an antique shop about two years ago, and it had a price of $120. I asked the shop owner if he would come down from that, as it really was far too high by any standards, but he said no, and started to tell me how much work was in it. I soon let him know I had another hundred cloths of equal quality, and I'd never paid that much for any of them! A year later, we drove past the shop and saw it was closing down. So I went in to see if this cloth was still there. It was, and the price was the same. I spoke to the same man (don't know if he recognised me), and asked how much it would be now that he was closing down, and he thought for a minute and said $80. I didn't argue; it is the most expensive one in my collection, but I had to have it! The cloth on the kitchen table below is almost a match for the larger one on the dining table. They are the only two cloths in my collection which have Fuschias embroidered on them.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

My mail box was full today!

As well as the items below, I received two aprons and two books about aprons. But you will have to go here to see those. Here is a lovely surprise from the U.S.A.! I had sent Judy a cross stitch kit that was given to me ages ago, and I knew I would never work it, so knowing Judy liked the designer, I sent it to her. When she asked what I would like in return, I asked if she would send me this chart for "The BookShelf" when she had finished stitching it. (Visit her blog to see the finished product - stunning!) Not only did she send the chart, she sent all the required floss as well! Not only that, but she threw in another chart pictured here. I've already emailed her, but thank you again, Judy! By the way, she has the two cutest cats you've ever seen in Blogland...go see! This is a cute old fashioned peg (clothespin for the Americans) bag. I have several of these, and actually use one of them to keep my pegs in!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Stitching on gingham.

I had a lovely email recently from Laurie Latour in Florida, USA. She has a website dedicated to making young American girls good homemakers (we could do with something like that here...) She had written to me after viewing the gingham aprons on my apron blog. Her website has a fascinating write up about stitching on gingham in general. You can see it here.

Two new additions to the Collection.

In today's mail I received two packages - both of them eBay auction wins. One was a fabulous supper cloth featuring a peacock in each corner. You will find pictures of that here. The other was a three piece duchess set. Some people think the Semco 'novelty' themed doilies are just old trivia not worth collecting, but I see them as representing a certain era of needlecraft in Australia. Half a century ago, nearly all schoolgirls stitched one or more of these items which were targeted at a young age group, obviously to create interest in embroidery in young girls.
Going by the faultless stitching on this closeup, I doubt if it was done by a learning schoolgirl! Very pretty, don't you agree?

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Framing the professional way.

Remember the Victorian perf. paper sampler I won on eBay in England? I took it to the Embroiderer's Guild last Tuesday and the members I showed it to were duly impressed. The volunteer I work with on Tuesdays is a very knowledgable lady when it comes to anything to do with embroidery of most kinds. "W" has been a Guild member for many years, and one of her duties is handling the commissions that come in from the public. I asked her advice about framing my sampler, and she gave me detailed instructions on getting it ready for the framer. Here is what I did tonight: Obtain a piece of acid free board from a friendly picture framer (Leo Scott in Eltham does all my framing jobs and was happy to give me this offcut).
Place a piece of soft white cloth such as flannelette across the board where the sampler will sit. A piece of linen is now laid over the white cloth, brought around to the back of the board, and laced tightly.
Sampler sitting on top waiting to be secured to the base. This is going to be a delicate operation. W. advised me to attach it with crochet cotton, stitching it about 5 cm apart. (Ordinary cotton might cut through the paper.) I am going to have to use a curved needle I think, otherwise I risk tearing the paper as I lift it to take a needle through.

In the mood for framing...

It has been a busy productive weekend for me. Do you ever suddenly decide to do something that has been hanging around for years in the too-hard basket? That is what I did on Friday night. I'd made up my mind to get the perforated paper sampler ready during the weekend, and I started thinking about the other unframed projects I had lying around. All of a sudden, there I was, surrounded by second hand frames, masking tape, etc. and getting these projects finished off for once and for all! I stitched this for our 25th wedding anniversary 4 years ago, and had it on display under glass on our coffee table for the year. Then I took it out and stuffed it in a drawer...anniversary over, don't need to show that now! Tch, tch, said Ken's Mum. Why don't you frame it? I finally found a frame that the heart shaped aida fitted into, but it looked lost on a white background, so I tried some different background papers and decided on this blue gingham wrapping paper. Just to finish it off, I put a piece of crocheted lace down each side. I know, I'm such a cheapskate! Wrapping paper, frames from op-shops...well this framing business is expensive! Anyway, I think Ken is pleased to see the anniversary sampler on the wall with my other stuff.
This picture of Gouldian Finches is the only long stitch I have ever done. I'm not a fan of long stitch, but Ken was breeding the finches at the time, so I thought it would be nice to have. I was torn between filling in the white background and leaving it, and I posted the question here on my blog a year or so ago. Most people suggested leaving it, so I did. The frame is one that is designed for these particular long stitch pictures, and they don't supply glass in the kit. One day I might have it reframed, or see if I can slip a thin piece of glass in there. I don't like leaving embroidered pictures uncovered.
This item was a Christmas Round robin cross stitch project, and I was reframing it because I wanted the original frame for something else. It was the first one I did on Friday night. Unfortunately, when I had everything lined up, I put it face down on the floor (carpet), pressed the masking tape down on the back, and heard an ominous crack. When I turned it face up, the glass had cracked right across the picture...dammit!!! Well, I learnt a lesson, didn't I. Don't put things face down on the floor and don't press so hard on them!

Close ups of Barb's exchange goodies.

I have now finished washing and ironing all the goodies that Barb sent over last week. I'd posted a pic of them in bulk, but thought it was worthwhile to show them close up as well. This is a simple cross stitched napkin, which I may use to line a breadbasket or similar.
Three in a set of six sweet napkins. They will look so cute at my next afternoon tea!
One end of a table runner. How lucky was Barb to find something with a Southern Belle on it!
This handkerchief has the tiniest, most perfect stitching on it. I tried not to include handkies in my collection when I first started, but when this kind of work kept presenting itself, I just had to have some!
This little green mat or doiley was possible produced in Asia, but that doesn't detract from the perfect stitching. Chinese, Japanese and Vietnamese embroiderers produce beautiful work.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Embellishing Chief UFO.

At the Quilt and Cross Stitch exhibition I wrote about a few days ago, among Jenny's beautiful cross stitch pictures were two American Indians. Not the same as mine (I think hers were from the Fox Collection), and I noticed she had embellished them with beads and some silver icons. When I asked her about those, she explained that the silver bits were in the kit, but she had added some turquoise beads. It really enhanced her work, and I told her about my Indian chief. She invited me to bring it in to show her, so I did, and she made some suggestions. I also showed one of the Guild members on Tuesday, and she also gave me some advice.
So, I am planning to add turquoise beads to the areas where the cross stitch indicates turquoise beading on the regalia. There is a white strip dangling from his ear, which is plain white cross stitch with a vertical row in the middle, completely unstitched. I have tried stitching silver metallic thread there and it didn't look right. Jenny suggested more turquoise beads, and W. at the Guild suggested coral or terracotta beads, as there are small lengths of that colour at the end of that white section. Anyone reading this who is interested, please go back a couple of posts here, click on Chief UFO to enlarge the picture, and have a look. I am always pleased to hear what people suggest.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

All my Christmases came at once today!!

Well, that's what it felt like! An ENORMOUS package from Barb (Woof Nanny) in California, and a smaller one also from the USA (eBay auction win). The eBay parcel is a pair of pillowcases with peacocks, so you can go here and see them.
Barb does clever things with men's ties, so I rounded up a dozen or so Aussie ties from local opshops and sent them off for her to play with. In exchange, she scoured her opshops, and this is what she found: Completed cushion cover worked in wool. Printed on the side it says Avon Products. Did Avon sell stitching kits at some time? Completed tapestry square, probably meant for a footstool or chair. Jacobean-style crewel embroidered cushion cover.
Two table runners, appliqued guest towel, several doilies, set of six napkins, a handkerchief, two pack of Aunt Martha iron on transfers (Southern Belles!) and a magazine article about collecting vintage linen.
I happened to have all this with me when I popped in to visit Ken's Mum this afternoon. When I explained that this was in exchange for men's old ties, she said "I have Ken's father's ties still here. Do you think Barb would like them?" Barb, they will be on their way to you next week!

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Plans for a Vintage Linen Exhibition.

People often tell me I should mount an exhibition of my linen collection, and my response has been "I'd love to, but I don't know where to start!". This weekend in Eltham, two ladies put on a display of quilts and cross stitch in a local community hall. I heard about it on a community radio announcement on Saturday morning, while Ken and I were driving to the shopping centre. I pricked up my ears as soon as I heard the words quilting and cross stitch display, and when they gave the address, I couldn't wait to get back home and go there! It was only about a mile from our place.
There was a $3 entry fee, and the girl at the front desk invited me to buy raffle tickets for $1, and as I had a $5 bill in my purse, I bought two. Signs around the entrance stated the proceeds from the show were being donated to the Motor Neurone Disease Association. On the front desk were brochures about the Association, and a sheet of paper with information about the exhibition. The two women (Jenny and Rosalee) who put it together, did it to raise funds because their mother died of the disease.
Their exhibition was well worth the $3 entry fee. There were about 20 quilts, all of which had been made by Rosalee for friends and relations. Interspersed with the quilts were about the same number of framed cross stitched pictures, which had been stitched by Jenny. Jenny told me later it had taken months to round up all their work from the people it had been given to, but once they knew why they were being asked to part temporarily with their gifts, they didn't hesitate to hand over!
Now you've read the explanation, you will understand what I am about to propose. This little local exhibition attracted a large number of people on both Saturday and Sunday. I didn't ask how much money was taken, but I suspect it would have been more than enough to pay for the hire of the hall for the weekend, insurance, cartage of display frames etc. and plenty left over for the Motor Neurone Association. I spoke to Jenny at length, telling her about my collection and how I'd often thought about displaying it. She was very encouraging, and gave me lots of hints on how to go about it. One aspect I had not thought of was doing a show to raise funds for a charity. She said as well as benefitting the charity, councils tended to be in favour of renting their halls at a more reasonable rate, and advertising was often free.
So! All my blogging friends around Melbourne who have been urging me to do something about an exhibition - here is our chance! Some of you have offered to help out if I got around to doing something, so if you are reading this and still wish to be involved, I would love to have all hands on deck. I'm not going to name people here - that is unnecessary - you will know who you are, and if you have changed your mind since then, that is perfectly okay. But if you are interested, just post a comment here, or email me direct - whatever suits you.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Peacocks and Indians.

In today's mail I received another eBay win from the U.S. - a tea/hand towel with a stunning peacock embroidered on it. Go here for a look if you are interested.
I've had a lovely day today. I had one job this morning, after which I did my weekly fresh food shopping, and came home to enjoy a brief lunch. I spent the afternoon stitching on my Indian Chief, while listening to some of my rarely played classical music CDs and tapes: Strauss, Chopin, Beethoven, Bach...all that lovely stuff. I say rarely played not because I don't want to listen to it - I just never seem to get the house to myself to play what I like for four hours! Chief UFO got a fair work-out, not that you can see much from this photo unless you want to jump back a month and compare it to the one I took on June 30th.
Late this afternoon, Helen rang the doorbell to announce her arrival with the new Harry Potter book. She had promised to lend it to several other people, but knowing how fast I read, she generously gave me first go. Thank you, dear friend - I've read about 60 pages tonight, and it will be back in your hands by Sunday night!