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Elmsley Rose

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Elmsley Rose

28 February 2009

Another Gilt Sylke Twist Project and lots of Plimouth-y things

An Embroidered Pin Cushion in late 16thC style by Genevieve d'Aquitaine, Baroness of the Court of Atlantia, Mistress of the Order of the Pelican

described at

She used Isabella, Redde, Carnacion, Purple, Indico Blewe, Graie Blewe, Bisse and Black

This lady has also made notes on the individual motifs used on the Plimouth Jacket, including the colours of GST and silk perle, and the stitches used for each one :

Her LiveJournal "PinkLeader's Pontifications" talks extensively about her participation in the Plimouth Project.

I found a photo of a detached butterfly wing that she made, which I'm quite excited about, since we haven't seen these on the Plimouth site (although this is her original piece, not part of the Jacket)

and the talk of silk "heathering" - combination of colours into one thread, at is most interesting.

I do know of an article that could be relevant here "MakingPerleCoton" -

When I've used two colours in my sampler, I've just used two differently coloured threads in my needle!

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25 February 2009

Special Silk Threads

I recently discovered a couple of shops on Etsy. (I’ve never shopped there before).
The first is slowCOLOR.
Enjoy these amazing colors of antiquity, natural dyed fibers just as they always were before synthetic dyes were developed in the 1800s. Blues from indigo, purples from logwood, greens from indigo blues over dyed with osage orange, brilliant reds from the coccineal beetles gathered from South American cacti, and many more. The exotic natural dyes and dyeing methods we use result in brilliant and long lasting colors. Over the years colors may gently soften, but will stay true to hue and never become sad and gray. Just like your favorite blue jeans.”
As a reminder,
“Filament or reeled silk is the high-end product, reeled off the cocoon in one long continuous strand.
Spun silk, which is what most embroidery silk is, is a lower-end product made by spinning the shorter fibers left over after the cream of the silk has been reeled off the cocoon.
Silk fibers of this type are spun much as one would spin cotton, wool, or other fibers.
The basic rule for purchased silk is that it’s usually a spun silk unless the label includes one of the special terms for a type of reeled/filament silk.
Reeled silk is peeled off the silk cocoon in a long continuous paired filament; several such paired filaments are grouped together during the reeling, and the resulting string is very fine, extremely strong, and (once degummed) very lustrous……
Period embroideries reveal that a variety of silk types were used, with the untwisted plat[te] and tram being common on the more high-quality embroideries and spun silks on the lower-quality ones. So spun silk is period too, it’s just not as likely to appear on the really good embroideries”
slowCOLOR sells spun silk – 80 yards for $US3.50.
Edit : On clarification, Carol said
Thanks for the description of the spun and filament silk. Based on this description, my silk is filament and holds together with no twist to speak of, and was described by my supplier as "hand-reeled". You can give me your opinion after you get your hands on it."
The colours are just magnificent – that’s what has really attracted me to this store.
The silk does have slubs in it.
I got the True Blue Indigo
and my very favourite, Irish Setter
They are meant for the silk for the bird that is right in the middle of my sampler :
although whether I use mainly Indigo or Setter ….ooo, I just can’t decide. It’ll be awhile before I get to the bird anyway.
I’ll certainly write about the thread when I embroider/couch with it.
Another Etsy shop that looks interesting is beckandcallgirl
Carol, from slowCOLOR also pointed me to the Aurora Silk website.
Natural dyes are dyestuffs made from plants, minerals, and in the case of cochineal, an insect. Here is our selection of the most colour-fast natural dyes available. Cheryl Kolander, who IS Aurora Silk, is the senior Natural Dyer in the world today. 39 years of professional, daily experience with these dyes has taught her the best: “And I only use the best, because my life as an artist is too precious to use anything but the best!”
The dyestuffs below are the “Major Dyes of Commerce”, dyes that have been used by silk and textile artists for thousands of years. They are precious commodities and are increasingly rare. Cheryl is constantly looking for new sources for these dyes, and encouraging increased production of the finest grades of these quality dyes.”
Aurora Silk sells Ahisma Peace Silk, Filament Silk and Spun Silk in 120 naturally dyed colours.
I’ll leave you to explore the site – lots of tutorials and FAQS on silk, yarn and dyes.
While I’m on the subject of special threads, I found this photo of a Gilt Sylke Twist piece.
Lady Bryn Millar detached buttonholed (is that a verb?) all the colours that were available at the time together. (3 more have come out since – another green, black and brown, I think)
I think this piece shows the colours so much better than the pictures of the spools on-line. And such a clever idea!

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23 February 2009

Detached Buttonhole Stitch vs Brussels Stitch

In a couple of books I have where I’d expect Detached Buttonhole Stitch to be used, Brussels Stitch is used instead for the same purposes.
These include :
  • The Barbara and Roy Hirst Raised Embroidery/Stumpwork books
  • Elizabethan Needlework Accessories by Sheila Marshall
I wrote to the Historical Needleworkers List and asked why this may be.
The answers (quoted with permission) were :
“I have always thought that the Brussels (Bruxelles) Stitch, the Detached Buttonhole Stitch, and the Venetian Cloth stitch were basically the same stitch, just invented or used in different situations.
Getting from one row to the next is different in Brussels stitch than Detached Buttonhole, because one is doing different things. But my understanding is that the stitches are basically the same stitch.
I would expect that one would identify the stitch as one or the other based on where one had first encountered it. 
That is, if one did needlelace before coming to Elizabethan raised work, one would continue to call that stitch a Brussels stitch.  So I don't think it strange at all that Sheila Marshall's book identifies it as Brussels Stitch - I bet she has done needlelace.
I suspect that the same stitches have been reinvented many times, for many situations, and that is how stitches get multiple names.”
- Baroness Eowyn Amberdrake
Another answer I got was
“Brussels stitch is a needle lace stitch. The method of working is similar to button hole stitch except in Brussels it is upside down. Instead of the needle coming out at the top through a loop, it comes out the bottom through a loop and those loops are built upon in successive rows in pattern.”
- JoEllen/HighlyUnlikely (that’s her net name, not a comment)
Brussel Stitch also comes Corded (with a Return thread), Double and Treble (ref New Designs in Raised Embroidery, Hirst)
(the second image being Detached Buttonhole Stitch, from Jane Nicholas’ Complete Book of Stumpwork Embroidery”.
The first image is from New Designs in Raised Embroidery by the Hirsts.
Note that with the Brussels Stitch, the thread is wrapped around the outline, rather than the outline being pierced through the ground as is done with Detached Buttonhole Stitch.

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22 February 2009

Primrose Variations
shows various primroses, which “have been around since Elizabethan times”.
Using an orange centre with my yellow primrose is inspired by what they call in their catalogue the “You and Me Yellow Primrose”
Normally, primroses were embroidered in yellow. This image is from from the Victoria & Albert Museum's Textile Collection: Embroidery in Britain from 1200 to 1759 (King and Levey) Figure 36
but I’ve found some embroidered variations.
This is another type of primula vulgaris (also from King and Levey):
and this one – yellow edged with red (also shown in the catalogue above as a hose-in-hose type). There looks to be gold braid (plaited braid stitch?) outlining the pods.
This image is from book The Embroidery at the Burrell Collection, Liz Burrell, page 106
(Sorry it’s not clearer – the original image is tiny)
So they can vary in colour – from purple to pink to blue to yellow – but that calyx pod is a dead give away that it’s a primrose.
One thing that crossed my mind was “I hope I’ve got the proportion of the calyx to the flower correct”. I found this nice diagram at
from the book "An Illustrated Flora Of The Northern United States, Canada And The British Possessions Vol2", by Nathaniel Lord Britton, Addison Brown.


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20 February 2009

Primroses in the 16th and 17th Centuries and in my Historical Sampler

I have 3 primroses to embroider.
What primroses are relevant to the 16th/17th C?
Turning to my trusty Elizabethan Flowers site
I get :
Primula auricula
Auricula brown; pink; white; yellow; red; purple
Florilegium/1612, Emanual Sweerts/Amsterdam & Frankfurt

Primula elatior
Checklist of English native plant species, Dr. Chris Preston/England

Primula farinosa
Bird's-eye Primrose
Checklist of English native plant species, Dr. Chris Preston/England

Primula polyantha
yellow, double form
Florilegium/1612, Emanual Sweerts/Amsterdam & Frankfurt

Primula species?
Rariorum plantarum historia (illus. with woodcuts)/1601
Carolus Clusius/Netherlands

Primula veris
Florilegium/1612, Emanual Sweerts/Amsterdam & Frankfurt

Primula veris
Checklist of English native plant species, Dr. Chris Preston/England

Primula vulgaris
English Primrose
Unicorn Tapestries/ca1500, Unknown/Brussels?

Primula vulgaris
Checklist of English native plant species, Dr. Chris Preston/England

What do these primroses look like in real life?
Here is a picture from the back flap “The Medieval Flower Book” by Celia Fisher, of an Oxslip Primrose (beloved for it’s narcotic properties).
It has red freckles on it’s petals, unlike other primroses, but the basic structure is the same.
The Elizabethans seemed to always show the pod or calyx just below the flower rather than just the frontal view of the flower.
Uncut “slip” of a primrose, silk embroidered in tent stitch on a fine linen ground, c. 1590
This is a picture of a primrose from “Exploring Elizabethan Embroidery” by Dorothy Clarke (the cover)
All the primroses I’ve seen in Elizabethan embroidery seem to be Primrose Vulgaris (the English Primrose) with bright yellow petals.
Primrose I :
I found some thin yellow perle in my embroidery box – I don’t know where it came from.
I used this with some Jap Thread No. 1 threaded into the same needle to do double detached buttonhole petals. I used the Jap to give some sparkle, since it’s next to the Burden Stitch leaf, which is very sparkly indeed.
This is the first time I’ve used perle for Detached Buttonhole. It certainly gives a different texture to DMC/YLI! Much thicker and woolier.
I padded the pod with two layers of green felt and outlined it in chain stitch in a light leaf green, as shown in the Exploring Elizabethan picture.
I am currently chain stitched the pod itself in dark green Gilt Sylke Twist. With the very small stitches I’m using, the Sylke Twist is building into a solid mass of green glitter – rather like a beetle’s wing.
I then need to put a light leaf green chain stitch down the middle (this is one of the veins on the pod, of which there are several in the real flower, but only one of which ever seems to be shown).
I plan to put in an orange spiderweb for the centre. The real flower has um, little ‘feelers’ which I could do in wire. I haven’t seen this done – the centre is done flat.

In other news, some more Lurex arrived in the mail a couple of days ago and I’ve used nearly another yard to complete the braid as far as I can do it without impinging into ‘unexplored territory’.

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A Collection of Samplers

I found this at
I wish I’d recorded the home address, because 4.pb seems to be some low class commentary blog, and I couldn’t find any such thing as an embroidery sampler when I went back and searched.
Anyway, (and I also have no date on this, subsequently) this image does show beautifully the blending of Elizabethan style colours
Edit : ZabaCorporation was kind enough to point out the origin of the image. It is from the "History of Embroidery" blog at
The "Samplers" entry shows many Excellent images of samplers from the 17th and 18C centuries - and they are clickable upon to become lovely and large as well.

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16 February 2009

Couched Leaf in Burden Stitch

Alternative Title for the Post – "How to Get a Lot of Practise Plunging Threads".
This is based on an idea from Goldwork A-Z by Country Bumpkin. – Filling Patterns, Burden Stitch Method One, pages 72 to 73, Shading Method 2.
brickstitch_leaf (Figure 10)
I used a thick Jap thread as the thread to be couched, and a full thread of Madeira stranded metallic thread colour 4012 (silver).
I did experiment with a single strand, and a double strand but decided to use the full thread. (A-Z actually recommend using silk, which is the more normal thread used in couching)
This means that the diameter of the Jap and the Madeira are approximately the same.
The effect is gives is rather like I’ve done chipwork because of the silver on top of the gold.

I placed the laid threads further apart as I reached the apex of the leaf, for textural interest.
Having to plunge both ends of each laid thread wasn’t hard, but it was a bit fiddly and boring. That’s the thing about much of goldwork – it isn’t necessarily as fun to do as surface embroidery, but the results are worth it.
If I did it again I’d use a more tightly wound thread than the Madeira – there was a lot of tugging and petting necessary to get all of the strands sitting neatly over the laid thread and over into the ground.
I gave the leaf a vein in Super Purl Pearl, and outlined it in No. 1 Pearl Purl – which helped bring out the gold.
I like it.

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12 February 2009

Pretty Braids and Trims from Hardwick Hall
Silver purl and sequin flowers on black velvet braid.
(yes, ok, I was wandering the Net)
From “the Hardwick Hall Collection- an inspirational selection of braids and trims reproduced & drawing inspiration from 16th century braidwork. “
- a pretty idea for a border (with your own modifications to make it your own, of course) or maybe someone can afford 20 English pounds and lash out it and buy it! It is for 4 metres.

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Beautiful Goldwork Sampler
Isn’t that flower just gorgeous? (and the rest)
The lady (called Jane) has a home page showing other work at

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A Little bit of Gold Vine

A friend with a camera phone was here today – so here’s a photo showing some gold vine.
The sides are chopped off – but you get the general idea. It also looks a bit disproportionate - we must have been holding the frame at a funny angle.
On the lower left, there is only one line of Heavy Chain stitch - I've gone through 20 yards of Lurex now and waiting for more!

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10 February 2009

A Little Vine

It's taken me 1 yard of Lurex to do this much vine :

Edit : Not 1 yard - 10 yards! (I just looked at the packet)

I remember asking people how much gold thread I'd need for my vine approximately, and the answer got was "a lot". I didn't realize how much tho. A big lot! Thankfully Lurex is inexpensive.

doing two lines of Heavy Chain stitch to form the vine. Each stitch is across two threads.

(Note this is a pretty old photo of the sampler. My camera is definitely dead)

... another order to Tanya Berlin needed!

I won't go right up to where the completed part is - I don't want subsequent threads catching.

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4 February 2009

Seeing details of Gloves

One thing that has always driven me nuts is that I’ll see an image of some extant gloves, but not be able to see much detail in the working of the cuffs except in a few cases.
I found a site yesterday that shows lots and lots of detail shots of lots of gloves – from The Worshipful Company of Glovers of London

“The Spence and Harborow Collections

In 1959 the late Robert Spence presented his magnificent collection of historical gloves to the Company and we record our gratitude for his generosity. This Collection covers the period from the late 16th Century until the middle of the 19th Century, but its richest exhibits fall within the period of c.1590 and 1680. “
There are a couple of other collections there – Coronation Gloves of the 20th C, and gloves dated 1800-200.
Of course, my  heart lies with the Spence Collection.
Here is a single detail shot from the site – showing a pearl cornflower, similiar to the one I showed a black and white image of (different object – that was a coif) in my last post. (so I thought it a good one to put up here).
Have fun!

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2 February 2009

Webb, Mary - "Embroidery Stitches

I found this book in Google Books as a limited preview as I was wandering the Net. There's quite a lot there for a limited preview.,M1

Some of the medium and hard filling stitches look like they'd be great fun for use in goldwork.

I also saw examples of Shaded Buttonhole Stitch and Stem Stitch Shading, which I've never seen before.

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