Friday, June 16, 2017

Remember Me

I just couldn't stand it.  My hands were itching to begin another piece...all day long yesterday and the day before I stewed about it.  Today, though, I awakened with renewed fervor...and know the bones of what I will be working on...

The Crow in flight.  My drawing is sketchy :) but the stitching will be more detailed.  Mostly stitched in that deep black...but with shades of deep blue, the way you see a Crow's feathers in the light.  I may use silk thread for the black, as it has a sheen to it...

The blue reminds me of this early, early morning sky, a Waning Moon peeping through the branches of the Three Sisters...I often awaken before the light of day.  I see things that would otherwise be missed!

I'd like to incorporate outstretched arms at the bottom of the piece...but my vision often does not line up with reality.  We'll see.  Whose outstretched arms do you think they would be?

Update:  So I've whip-stitched the edges so that the linen does not unravel.  I think I will be making this design into a small pillow, primitively stitched around the edges with my own drop spindle handspun linen thread, and stuffed with fresh straw.  Would Remember have done it that way?

Just like I did with the rabbit on the Tombstone tympanum, I traced my Crow design directly onto the linen.  Can you see his spirit there?  I almost feel as though this is cheating...that it should be done freehand, but that is very difficult to do for me, having learned that lesson from stitching the Black Rabbit that way on Goody Prymm's sampler.  All turned out well, but had it not, well, that would've been a lot of ripping out and a loss of black silk thread, and perhaps even destroying the linen in the process!  Some of you might recall GP's sampler, earlier on in the Goody Prymm series...

A note on the linen for this new piece.  It is 35-count "Anne Boleyn" from The Primitive Hare.  It makes a beautiful ground, especially for black thread.  I have stitched a blackwork piece using this linen, as well as the Besom Hanger that I designed.  One I sold and the other I gave away.  I will keep this one for my Goody Prymm pieces collection.  See how nicely the Crow stands out against that linen.  Can't wait to add the blue accents!

Update:  This  morning...a little "storm stitching," as it rains and thunders!  Lovely way to pass a summer morning...Why, you must be thinking, "How slow she is with her stitching!"  Yup. Slow and quiet and easy does it this morning...gotta fill in all those spots.  Don't know why but, when I was at University, I had no problem sitting still through three-hour lectures.  But when I embroider, I must get up and move quite often, else I get too "antsy."  Notice, too, that I'm using an embroidery hoop now.  Although I really enjoy just holding the linen in my hands unadorned with a hoop, here you can see how important using one is.  For one, the linen was beginning to pucker, this being a satin stitch fill-in.  Also, by stretching the linen more tautly, the gaps reveal themselves...gaps that will need to be filled in.  The hoop (now vintage), btw, was my mother's, made of a different wood...rather pretty, and always nice to use something of hers.

Update:  The gaps are being filled that I've gotten some obligations out of the way, I can really set about finishing this piece, which must be done for next week...can you imagine why?

I added some purple silk accents (not blue, as in the story Remember strokes his "black-purple feathers").  The accents really aren't so pronounced as they appear in this picture (though I wish I had used only one thread for the accents, as opposed to two)...but it does look as though I need to do some touch-ups, especially on the tail feathers.  After those reparations, on to the lettering!  What will it say?  "Remember me."

Update:  I've begun the lettering, poring over these two iconic books (you veteran stitchers know what I'm talking about)...

...and decided to go with the same lettering as I used in Remember's sampler.  Those of you who have been Goody Prymm followers from the beginning will recognize it.  Although Remember could read, she could not write (as was common for many during this time), so Goody Prymm taught her her letters through stitching a sampler!  I think it will be Remember's signature from now on.  Yes, that's little Smoke atop the e and the m.  :)

Update:  This morning I've been drop spindling flax, which I intend to use to sew the little pillow together.  I must admit I had to review the process, as it has been a while since I've spindle spun flax. Ah, yes!  It must be spun counterclockwise.  Why?  Supposedly because that's the way the plant grows toward the sun.  Also, spinning "z twist" makes the bast fibers adhere to one another more strongly.  The first photo is of the flax strick (or part of it) that I used.  I was told that it is antique, found hanging in a barn in Kentucky, according to the Smoky Mountain Spinnery shop owner where I purchased it.  Charming idea, certainly.  The second photo is my flax water container.  It's a tiny gourd that has been hollowed out and wrapped in handspun flax, which can be hung on the spinning wheel, if that's what is being used to spin.  I just set it on a nearby table.  The old spinners of days past would use their spit.  I prefer the water.  :). The wet also helps the fibers to adhere.  Wool (as opposed to flax) is a protein fiber and has its own interlocking properties and so does not need moisture.  The third picture is my spinning caught in action.  Just look at me go, lol!  Dance, little spindle, dance!

This last picture is what I've spun, a nice little "cop" there on my spindle (now you know why, in fairy tales, the maiden is "flaxen-haired").  I may need to spin more.  I will let it rest on my spindle for a day or so and then see if it is usable to sew my pillow together.  As in all things, my spinning got better after a little while, although earlier some of the linen thread was quite thin and uneven.  Threading it through the linen and backing will determine its "staying" power.  We shall see!!

Update:  Today I prepared the two sides of the pillow, the back side a rough, dare I say, "cheap," linen, which I soaked in a brief dye bath of black walnut to soften the starkness of color and the linen itself.  Then I stitched the three sides, outer sides out, so that the flax thread would be seen.  I stitched a very primitive stitch, almost Indian-like, although that is just my personal impression and certainly not based on any historical understanding.

It went quite well, though I must admit there were a few "breaks" in the flax thread which I had to mend.  And.  Get this.  I did end up using my saliva as I stitched because it helped to keep the thread together and move smoothly through the materials. I just licked my fingers and gently twisted the thread on my needle all the way down to the knot.  Why didn't I use a water pot?  It was much more efficient and effective to stop and twist the thread periodically while wetting it myself.  No worries.  This little pillow is mine anyway...not to be sold, lol!  But I truly understand the old ways now.  I get it.

Today I stuffed the little pillow with fresh straw and sewed it up!

The final product....

© 2017 Nancy Duncan


  1. Your bird will be stunning on that beautiful linen!

    1. Hi, Darlene! I hope so! It really looks much better in person than there in the pic, though the picture is helpful in pointing out the deficiencies. I'm considering the lettering...late 1600s, yet Remember is like Goody Prymm in many ways, one being she will exhibit awareness beyond her years. So perhaps into the 1700s...