Whitework, Cutwork, Drawn Thread, Pulled Thread and everything in between!

Over on one of the blogs I follow Love Those Hands at Home there was a recent post called A Tale of Two Towels.  It was a lovely post on the difference between two towels, both hand crafted but on the opposite ends of the spectrum.   One towel was obviously crafted by someone who was highly skilled and was the epitome of perfection and very beautiful and as such, it wasn’t hard to imagine it gracing an elegant home of someone from the upper echelons of society or indeed someone from the aristocracy itself.  The other towel was so obviously homespun, it had a rustic beauty and I imagined a young woman, wanting to own just a little of the beauty that was generally the exclusive purview of said upper echelons.  I could see her working on her towel, a little frown of concentration on her forehead,  trying to recreate what she had seen.  I imagine that she was very proud of her towel and it being kept ‘for good’ considering how little the towel has deteriorated.  I imagine she loved that towel ‘warts and all’ and as from the comments on the post we now know it’s the little quirks and imperfections that bring a beauty to it that could never be replicated in artisan crafted towels.  The towel is unique, more than likely it has a story behind it. It has been loved.  It has been passed down.  Maybe it was part of their culture.  The girls of Oryal-Bryansk region of South Russia mastered embroidery by the time they were eight years of age!  They used to embroider towels from an early age and these became part of their dowry and by the time she was married she had hundreds of towels, every day towels with just a little embroidery through to the highly ornate ceremonial towels used for marriage ceremonies, births etc*.


Vintage Reticella Embroidery

Anyway as usual I digress, the reason for the background information is that after a ‘conversation’ in the comments section, everyone preferred the more rustic towel, (everyone love’s an underdog, right?) and we really liked the pulled thread work and wanted to find out more about it and to try it for ourselves.  This is a form of needlework I’d never seen before and I think it is really beautiful.  When researching it I realised that it is a vast area within counted embroidery and there are so, so many variations,  I think numerous books would just about cover the subject, never mind a long, rambling blog post!  It seems to fall under the Whitework umbrella as it is normally done white on white so as to make the open areas the main area of interest, though modern pieces do include colour, especially subtle,  variegated colours.  It’s also referred to as Cutwork Embroidery and there seems to be two forms; Pulled Thread, were the threads are moved, under tension, by embroidery stitches, mostly buttonhole stitch to create open areas and Drawn Thread, were buttonhole stitch or Kloster blocks are embroidered and then the threads of the warp or weft are cut away leaving open areas.  There are many forms of cutwork that use one or both forms.  Hardanger uses both forms.  Another form is known as Reticella, which is a form of needlelace and it is simply stunning!  It simply blows my mind!  It looks incredibly complex.  Here in Ireland we also have our own form of cutwork needlelace called Mountmellick Lace.  There are so many more forms, some more commonly known forms such as Broderie Anglaise to the lesser known Reticella.


Hardanger Embroidery

The more I have been researching,  the more entranced I have become, and I seem to find more and more forms.  There are some exquisite examples of all of them.  Some expertly made, grand pieces, others naive and charming.  


Drawn Threadwork

I am so captivated by this, not only am I going to continue to find out more, I am going to have a go, very soon!  If you are interested in having a try as well, here are a few free patterns:
Hardanger Needlecase
Pulled Thread Sampler – a full tutorial,  not just a pattern
Drawn Thread Tutorial – Not a pattern but part of a sample (this is a great website for needlework!)

Further Reading:
Project Gutenberg – Good source for vintage needlework books, out of copyright,  I would suggest Theresé De Dillmont’s Encyclopaedia of Needlework (ensure you pick a copy with images, it is also found as a free ebook from the Kindle store, but that cooy doesn’t include images, whilst the pictures are rudimentary, they help)
LynxLace – Tutorials, patterns, information and further links, needlework tutors (in North America only, I think) and bibliography
Needlework Tios and Techniques – this is a great website, easy to navigate,  concise and informative.   Has tutorials, patterns,  equipment lists etc
Embroidery About.com – Basic information but helpful

I hope you go and have a look at these beautiful forms of needlework, maybe you already know them, maybe you already do them, if so please excuse any mistakes I have made in trying to explain it! 😉

*From The Fiery Sun, The Glorious Light, Embroidery Traditions of Southern Russia, Irina Stepanova, Piecework Magazine,  March/April 2014, The Red Issue

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Sick of being Sick

I’m sick again, I’ve got a cold, I’m sick of being sick.  I am not a happy bunny.  I am in a huff.  I am throwing the toys out of the pram.  I am going to do a square eyes and watch television and not do any crafting.

We apologise for any inconvenience caused by this temporary break in service.  Normal service shall return at the earliest opportunity.

Though I’m not so grumpy to tell you all Happy Crafting ♥

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Free Lace Scarf Knitting Pattern

Here is a link for a very pretty scarf by Sweaterbabe, I have to say it’s very pretty and I think that it would be a perfect gift knit.

Does anyone receive Classic Elite Yarn’s Web Letter?  I get it emailed to me every Tuesday and some of the patterns are beautiful!  This week’s pattern is a reworking of the ever popular Kudzu Shawl by the talented Rachel Henry in the yarn Cerro, which is a Pima Cotton and Alpaca blend.  Although I have not used this yarn, the blend sounds beautiful, I think the alpaca will soften the feel along with the look.  There are some really pretty colours, very spring/summer like, which, I don’t know about you, but after the gloom and short days of winter, I’m just itching to get a bit of colour in my stitching 😉


Oh and on a very brief personal note, I had a spinal cord stimulator put in last September for neuropathic pain and I seen my Consultant today who is extremely pleased with me, I’ve had an excellent response to the stimulator and I feel like I am walking on air 🙂

Happy Crafting Folks ♥

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The Super Bowl: A Sex Trafficker’s Playground

I was going to post a nice little link for a free knitting pattern, but this is just too important not to rebloggd. There are no words to describe how important. Do the same. Many voices are louder than one. It’s easy to get bogged down in life, but remember, the people who are trafficked don’t get breaks, me time, craft time or any time, they are worked until they are too broken and then they are thrown away. Let us not forget these people, who deserve so much more.

Forte E Bello

In just a few short days hundreds of thousands of visitors will flood to the MetLife stadium in New Jersey for Super Bowl XLVIII. Many visitors will be coming to show their pride and cheer on their favorite team, but tragically, thousands more will be coming for something entirely different. What most people don’t know is that the single biggest game of the year has also been called the single largest human trafficking event on the planet.

Just beyond the stadium lights, hidden within the shadows will be thousands of victims, women, children and even men, caught in the inhumane web of sex trafficking. For them this day will bring something much different than football, loud cheers, hot dog stands and painted beer bellies. For them it will bring pain, abuse, repeated rapes and even fear of death. The exact numbers of trafficking cases in a given year or…

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Cross Stitch Finished Object

I have my very first finished object to share with you!  Last year my Mum got her house completely renovated and an extension built and I must say it’s fabulous,  it also is going to make her life so much easier as she’s getting on in years.  My sisters and I had bought her some new things for the house, like little house warming presents and I had intended to make something handmade,  I was either going to knit or crochet a nice throw (or afghan for US readers) but I had never gotten round to it, I still am adamant to do a throw for her at some stage and would like to try a counterpane throw.  Anyway I had been organising my crafting stash and found a sweet little Home Sweet Home cross stitch kit that I’d gotten free from The World of Cross Stitching a few years back and I realised that it is a perfect little gift for her, it suits the style of house, she will love it because the baby stitched it and she will not be expecting it, so it will be a lovely surprise for her, which is just going to make her feel extra loved and that’s always a good thing. 

So I started it last week and I finished it yesterday and I’m pleased with  been a while since I last stitched but like riding a bicycle it all came flooding back and has given me the stitching bug again!  I really do need to find extra time in the day for all the crafting I plan, though I would have more time to craft if I spent less time planning what to make and more time actually making!


Excuse my photography, the photo was taken with my mobile phone’s camera 🙂

Happy crafting all!


Procrastination and German Short Rows

Hello my name is Áine and I am a crafting procrastinator.   How many of us can say say the same?  I spend an inordinate time lookjng for my next project (even though my Ravelry queue is bursting at the seams).  I get an idea into my head and run with it, but at a snail’s pace I may add! 

So what happened was I had an urge to make a fine lace shawl and I have some beautiful laceweights in my stash, two different colours of Manos Lace, Drops Garnstudio Lace, Anniken Allis’ YarnAddict BFL Dream Lace, custom dyed as part of her Lace Lovers Club (which I highly recommend) and a beautiful Fyberspates Scrumptious Lace in a deep Cadbury purple, that was given to me as a gift last Christmas as part of a gift exchange.   I decided to use my Fyberspates and after much searching,  debating and gnashing of teeth I decided to knit Paulina Popiolek’s African Queen after reading through the instructions I saw that the shawl is shaped with short rows.  Now if you have ever used Fyberspates Scrumptious you will know that it is on the finer end of laceweight with a put up of 1000m/100g.  So I was concerned, given how fine the yarn was that any wraps made, would be highly visible, not a good look for a fine shawl, I may add.  l so I went on an internet search for the best short row techniques for shawls and quite surprisingly given the amount of information out there on short rows, there’s meagre pickings on using short rows on fine shawls.  After reading said pickings I came across the German short row technique and I have to say I’m very impressed!  This is the neatest, tidiest short row technique I’ve seen!  Even the Japanese short rows look sloppy compared with this!  Here is a link to the YouTube video and you can see for yourself. 

German Short Row Tutorial on YouTube

So what do you think?  Cool or what?  What short row technique do you use, in general and for fine lace?

I have been also working on the sweetest little piece of stitching for my Mum, which is the reason I’ve been MIA.  I promise I’ll post my FO very soon.  I can’t wait to see my Mum’s reaction!  She has no idea I’m doing it, it’s not for any occasion, just a little surprise 🙂

Happy crafting folks ♥

Copyright Laws

So I had this pretty blog post ready to go to press, it was a magazine review and it had all these lovely photos and I was quite proud of it, if I do say so myself!  Then I got thinking; I was going to be using photos of a project that was contained in the magazine and I thought to myself,  that this was the designer’s work and therefore subject to copyright law, not to mention that the content of the magazine is also subject to copyright law.  So being a newbie blogger and to cover myself, I decided to do a search for magazine reviews other bloggers had done and I was happy to see that not only was the cover posted, the projects were also posted.  So I don’t know what made me search out copyright permissions on posting photographs on blogs and well, my happiness was short lived.  The bottom line is that you are not permitted to post photographs on your blog or any other website (such as Pinterest you’d be surprised to know, which I’ll talk about later) without express permission from the copyright holder.   “But it’s in the public domain” I hear you cry!  It matters not.  With the million copyright infringes that occur on a daily basis,  I thought it would have been impossible to enforce,  nope, not so, this is the blog post from author Roni  Loren, that made my happiness short lived.  To say I was shocked is the understatement of the century!  I thought, wrongly so, that any mention of designer, artist, pattern etc was a great way of exposure and free advertising,  as long as the actual pattern, book, movie etc wasn’t actually posted.  I also think that the person who sued the author above, went too far in my opinion and if I was a photographer,  designer, whatever,  I would be more than happy that my name was out there.

With regards to Pinterest the responsibility lies with me to ensure that; I have permission to use, I own or the photographs/other media is in the public domain.  I now have to decide whether to delete my account fully or to spend hours deleting pins that might infringe copyright law sigh.

So what happened to my pretty magazine review post?  I shot off an email to the magazine asking for permission to use their photos.   It took me all of 5 minutes and the post will stay in drafts until I get an answer!

Free Sweaterbabe Pattern

So I’m quite a fan of Sweaterbabe, I really like her knits,  I think the detail that she puts in, sets it apart from just your ordinary knit.  I’ve had her Flutter Sleeved Blousy Cardigan in my very long, unrealistic queue for quite some time now,  all I need is to pluck up the courage to knit it as it’s rated advanced on the Sweaterbabe website, although on Ravelry it’s given a medium hardness rating by the people who have knit it previously,  which would make me more comfortable attempting it, as by no stretch of the imagination am I an advanced knitter!  Sweaterbabe has a monthly newsletter and every month there is a free pattern contained within (there is also a paid subscription,  so make sure if you’re signing up that you’re on the right list).  This month it is the sweetest little baby hat and considering I’ve just became a Great Aunt again and a few of my friends are pregnant, I thought this was very apt and maybe helpful if you are in the middle of a baby boom, like I seem to be!

Diamond Baby Hat

You better move quick though, the free download is only available until 30/01/2014 and then the pattern is chargeable.

Mini Tip for Blocking Gloves and Mitts

One thing I adore is the magic of blocking.   I love seeing the transformation of an ugly duckling knit into a beautiful swan!  Blocking reveals the beauty of lace, evens out stitches and you can even eek out a few cms if your sleeves are too short etc.  I am a massive fan and advocate of blocking and I block absolutely everything I knit or crochet no matter what it is, what fibre it contains, how awkward it is or how many thousand pins I use!

So that brings me to today’s post, blocking gloves and mitts.  I used to pin my gloves and mitts out flat but like blocking hats flat it done the job but could have looked so much better.   So of course, true to character,  I mulled this over until I came up with a workaround.  OK, now this isn’t the invention of the century or it won’t revolutionise the knitting world and I am sure someone else has already thought of this but it is a good tip nevertheless.  Like using a plate to block berets or a balloon to block beanies there is also an ordinary household item to help you block gloves or mitts; rubber gloves!  Here’s how:

●  Prepare your knit by either soaking or steaming, whatever is applicable for your fibre
●  Use a rubber glove that fits your hands perfectly with no tightness or looseness
●  Put the rubber gloves on and wash thoroughly, otherwise your knit will smell of rubber gloves!  You can do this by just washing your hands as normal but with the rubber gloves on.  It’s up to you, whether you want to use soap or washing up liquid
●  Dry the rubber gloves, make sure at this stage that no smell has remained, re-wash if necessary
●  Put your soaked/steamed gloves or mitts on over the rubber gloves
●  Take the gloves off and blow them up to the size of your hand.  Don’t blow them up to capacity otherwise you’ll end up with the palm part too big.  Just blow them up enough that it looks natural.  Either tie them off at the bottom, twist and tape them or use clips that you get with the type of freezer bag that holds liquids, any way that you find to stop the air escaping is good.
●  Put them somewhere safe and leave to dry.

You could use water instead of the air but I would be nervous the rubber gloves would leak!  If you knit a lot of gloves/mitts, you might find it easier to make a more permanent set of blocking rubber gloves as eventually no matter what the air will escape.   You could do this by filling them with rice or sand (though they would be heavy), toy filling, old tights etc.

Hope this helps you and let me know if you have found any novel ways of blocking

Hello World

If you are reading this,  I thank you for your time.  Let me introduce myself, I am Áine, a woman from the beautiful country of Ireland.   I live in a dormer town of Dublin,  on the coast.  I am not originally from here, being born in the North of the country and moved to the ‘bright lights’ of Dublin for work, met himself,  settled down, got married and moved to the seaside.  We have a little rescue doggie called Mini aka Mini Diablo!  Mini likes to ensure that we get plenty of exercise,  not just from walks but from running around like headless chickens because she has gotten into mischief,  tried to eat something that is not a food item, her favourite being white paper tissues, which she shreds or stealing baubles from the Christmas tree! The poor girl is a tad confused, when she is being told off for said infringement she stands there, tongue lolling out and wagging her tail!  Our girl is one of a kind alright! 

So what have I planned for this blog, you may ask, well I’m going to leave that a bit loose. I am going to share my progress (or lack of) of my makes, in which ever craft happens to be vying for attention at that time.  I am an avid craft magazine reader so each month I plan to give my thoughts on an issue and talk about it’s content,  layout, technique sections and a pet hate of mine the amount of content versus the amount of adverts in each issue.  There will be small snippets about myself, my family and friends and about life in general. 
I don’t think you’ll find anything earth shattering or original in this blog.  It’s just a simple,  down to earth and occasionally ironic blog.

Lastly Happy New Year to you all and Happy Crafting  xxx

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