Cushion to start – that was not the plan

There is a cushion at Hardwick Hall, detailed in Santina Levey’s “The Embroideries at Hardwick Hall“, which I have drooled over many times before (pictured here). Now that the Nordmark Kneeling Pads are finished, I thought I might make myself a cushion for use at events, and I want it to be unequivocally mine, so somehow incorporating my arms in the design.

lia_cushion_startMy thought was to use the same materials, that is to say a very coarse hemp ground cloth and wool yarn (Nm 8/2), that I used on the kneeling pads. It would be quick, easy, practical and all things wooly and warm. Instead I read the details on the cushion in the book, rummaged through my stash of linen and pulled out a cut much much finer than the hemp, and my silk floss which I acquired last summer. The red is a luscious, scrumtious, deliciously deep red, which is basically what the original has. Done with long-armed cross stitch going up and down to cover the background. Sprinkled on the background on the original is oak leaves, on my cushion there will be seeblätter and laurel leaves. I was going to put my coat of arms in the centre, on top of all those seeblätter and leaves, but again the cushion at Hardwick has only the leaves in regimental lines.

So, there will be a cushion for me to sit on, worked with crimson silk, with green leaves and white seeblätter all over it, you know, eventually.

Working with the silk I need a much smaller needle than I have been using for the wool, but I only had sharps for this size – so I had to use the little needle-sharpening stone I bought at Cudgel War two years ago. It worked just as well to take the point off the needle, which will help me keep from splitting the thread while I’m working the long-armed cross stitch.

I might also just do one in wool, on the hemp, with my arms in the middle as well. You know. Eventually.

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Performance anxiety

I think I am experiencing performance anxiety at the prospect of actually starting the coif embroidery. I’ve had the frame prepared since Friday and yet I have not started the embroidery.

True, I’ve finished one commissioned piece, added stripes to my 1575 wool gown, and it’s only Tuesday, but this afternoon I definitely could have pulled it out and set it up to start, and yet I didn’t.

I think that for Filippa’s coif I had done so much research and preparations that once I had the pattern on the fabric I could dive straight in. I also knew that if I ran out of thread at any point I could fairly easily get my hands on more. The same is not true for this project. But I should have plenty to be getting on with.

However, I haven’t tried these threads out in an embroidery, and I think I do want to test them out on a scrap before I start on the real thing. However, since the materials are so nice I don’t want to just throw away the practice piece, so I have to do a little bit of a design and decision-making and frame it up and try it out. . . So here we are with not a stitch taken. It’s a good thing I don’t have a deadline. Or maybe it’s a bad thing?

Pattern drafting done

Going from the original coif found in Patterns of Fashion 4 (page 46, coif number 50 in the book) I modified the pattern for Mary’s coif so that every other line is twice the width of the original. Actually, the original lines are 18 and 22 mm apart, and for this I am doing 25 and 50 mm alternately. Basically this is enlarging the pattern 100% but I like the effect.

For the vines in the larger lines the original has the same flower sprig repeated, and I’m replacing every other one with a peapod, because I like peadpods, and the other flowers are alternately laurel wreaths and seeblatts. Because I want to do laurel wreaths and I have to make sure I can’t give it away to someone else when it’s finished. I have seeblatts in my registered device in the SCA.

I’ve not decided which threads to use, as yet. Probably the thicker silk that I have a cone of, black, for all the outlining. I might possibly do the vines in silver thread, or I might do them in black silk. Either outline with black and fill with silver, or just do silver chain stitch.

I might do the laurels in silver thread, possibly green silk gilt twist. The seeblatts possibly in silver, possibly green silk gilt twist, possibly black silk gilt twist.

I would like to add spangles as well, but have to source them.

So there’s still plenty of decisions left.

The Big Coif Project – possibly

Tonight I started drafting up an embroidery pattern for a new coif for myself. I have silk thread, I have gilt silk thread and I have silver thread to use. However, the design I worked up isn’t really a metallic thread project – but I would be able to do it up using the black and green gilt silk I got as a birthday present a few years ago.

I have done this basic pattern before, for the coif I made Mistress Mary on her elevation to the Order of the Pelican. But for her I changed the scrolling vines inside bands to separate sprigs, and pelicans. For this version I’m putting back in the scrolling vines, and exchanging every other flower with a laurel wreath. I would also like to add spangles – unfortunately that is the only thing I do not currently have in my stash.

I could do the scrolling vines in silver thread, although the original it is based on has them in silk, and the sizing isn’t really ideal for metal thread stitches. Well, not for plaited braid stitch at least, but I could do the vines in chain stitch or ceylon stitch and it would work.

In order to start this project I would need to do a trial of the stitches, and the threads, without wasting too much of it, as it’s not going to be easy to get more.

Wardrobe troubles

So, it’s been clear that everything is all muddy again.

I’m not sure anymore which layers I should be wearing with new insight into supportive kirtles to be accurate to about 1560s 70s:

  1. A smock next to my skin, plain white to be washed frequently.
  2. Over that, a shirt? Or a corset?
  3. Over a corset a shirt?
  4. Over the shirt, a kirtle. Sleeves or no? Supportive, with boning or no?
  5. Over the kirtle a partlet?
  6. Over the kirtle a gown.
  7. Accessorier: Hats, socks, shoes, gloves, ruffs and bling.

So for those 7 layers I’m certain about 3 if you count the accessories. There’s more ponderings and research to be done.

The one thing I know I need is a new red kirtle made in silk. But the question is how I should construct it.

Just goes to show you, the more you know, the less you’re certain.