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Archive for September, 2012

These are a few of my favorite things: #19 – Embroidery Stitch Identification Guide

Bonjour, mon amis!

You may have noticed it’s been a while since I posted my last favorite thing.  Well, I think I have a good reason.  I’ve (literally) been out of the country.  England and France, respectively.  I had the honor to teach at the 2nd international Braids 2012 conference in Manchester, England.  After that I headed off to Lyon, France to indulge myself in their weaving history and culture.  Then I wrapped up my trip when my wonderful husband joined me in Paris for a week-long visit to explore the city.  Thank goodness we went just about everywhere foot!  It allowed us to work off all of our epicurious adventures.  I know I will have lots to share with you later, but let’s take a look at a new favorite thing . . . which is oddly enough, from a place in my own back yard.

My latest favorite thing to share was brought back to my attention because of the time I spent with my new friend, Claire Sparling.  I first met Claire nearly four years ago when I was teaching in Winnipeg, Manitoba.  I first knew her as the daughter of Carol James, a remarkable fiber artist when it comes to finger weaving and sprang.  To learn more about Carol and her publications, check out http://sashweaver.com/.  She’s a mover and shaker and I look forward to following her progress as she continues to wrap her arms around sprang; a rare and little known about textile technique.

Anyway, back to Claire.  Before our small group left for Lyon, France, there was a little shifting of where people would be staying and Claire and I ended up rooming together in Lyon a block away from Bellecour, the center of Lyon.  Claire and I had many adventures when it came to textiles, fashion, and food . . . where she also served as my translator.  She’s a textile artist and works with theaters, re-enactors, and other performers to design and create reproduction fashions and accessories . . . she can also coordinate one heck of an end-of-conference party!  To learn more about Claire and see images of some of her work, check out http://csparling.ca/.  While in Europe, her plans included studying embroidery in Italy . . . which leads me to the latest favorite thing I would like to share . . . the Embroidery Stitch Identification Guidehttp://dig.henryart.org/embroidery-stitches/first_level_pages/default.html

Earlier this year, while working on a project and looking around on the Internet for another resource, I stumbled upon this fabulous resource located on the website for the Henry Art Gallery.  The Henry Art Gallery is not far from where I live and is an active part of the University of Washington’s cultural landscape through its exhibitions, collections, and public programs to stimulate research and teaching.

This project is dedicated to Jacqueline Enthoven and Virginia Harvey for their inspiration and guidance.  There are hundreds of examples of embroidery stitches!  According to the website, the purpose of the Embroidery Stitch Identification Guide is as follows:

The Embroidery Stitch Identification Guide presents a standardized nomenclature and classification system for embroidery stitches based on seven structural and three usage categories. The goal is to provide consistent nomenclature for designers, ethnographers, textile historians, curators, and others who wish to identify embroidery stitches or create embroidered textiles. The project includes names for stitches previously undocumented in embroidery literature, variations of named stitches, and stitch combinations. The index cross references stitch names that deviate from this standardized nomenclature. The focus is on surface stitches, joins, edges, withdrawn element embroidery, deflected element embroidery, and cut work. Stitches used in smocking, lace, dressmaking, needle weaving, wheels, webs, and bars remain beyond the scope of this project. The group analyzed the stitches on approximately 3,500 pieces in the Henry Art Gallery Collection including items from China, India, Eastern Europe, Central Asia, the Middle East, and other embroidery traditions. The stitches found are recorded in each object’s catalog record and are searchable in the collections database.

There is an image of each stitch.  In many cases, the instructions for how to recreate the stitch are provided.  If not, the reference where the instructions for the specific stitch is provided.  What I love is the possibility for embellishing garments and accessories using leftover yarns and thread . . . or even mending a hole or covering that dreaded stain.  Below are some examples of what you will find there.

Woven Circle filling

Antwerp and Buttonhold Picot Edge

Deflected Honeycomb Filling

Couched Circle

Double Faggot Stitch

Double Back


Russian Overcast Filling

I hope people will find this resource helpful and interesting.  It really shows an enormous amount of work completed by a group that we get to benefit from.

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