Archive for February, 2009

Yesterday I sent my erstwhile practice cloth off to Australia where it will be part of the ME-CFS Society’s traveling exhibit of art by people with ME-CFS, the works that were originally featured in the book Creative for a Second. I have no idea where or when this exhibit will appear. For you Aussies, here is the contact information for the exhibit co-ordinator:

Dan Smith
Events Co-ordinator
ME/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Society of NSW Inc.
Web http://www.me-cfs.org.au
Email events@me-cfs.org.au
Phone 02 9904 8433

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In my last post, I promised I’d get back to writing about stitching, and here I am. Without delay, here’s what I’m going to make.


This is a panel designed and taught by Jane Zimmerman. You can find out more about her chartpak for this piece here. I learned about it from my friend Megan, who is working an Elizabethan design of her own. Do go see her blog. Not only does she show her own work, she also gives us the benefit of her research. There’s lots to learn and enjoy there.

Now for the back story. (If you’re not interested, just scroll down to the line of asterisks.) When I told Megan that I had bought Jane’s chartpak and planned to work it, she asked, “Does this  mean that you’ve finished or nearly finished with physics?” Not hardly. What I’ve found is that this study and writing an essay about it is going to take many more months. It is hard going, but very compelling. I keep finding more books to read, more online sites to visit, and I have to re-read almost everything, sometimes several times. So this is a much more time-consuming project than I envisioned last October, when I thought I’d take a couple of months off from stitching to do it. Here’s a video about the books I’m working with now.

In addition to these books, I have read and returned to the library Peat’s Blackwinged Night, about creativity in nature as well as in us; and John Wheeler’s autobiographical account of his life in theoretical physics, Geons, Black Holes, and Quantum Foam. The reason why this project is taking so much time is because I want to be able to write simply and briefly about my understanding of current mainstream fundamental physics. To write simply and briefly is much harder than writing at length everything I’ve learned. To do it, I have to have a good understanding myself, so I know how I can simplify and what I can leave out, and still make a coherent argument. So far, I’ve written and printed out 23 pages, about half of which is a first draft and the rest is notes and quotes.


Now, back to stitching. Well, I just can’t go for most of the year without making anything. So I decided I’d embark on my long-delayed Elizabethan project. My plan is to create my own contemporary design using Elizabethan stitches, threads, and colors.  When I saw Jane Zimmerman’s chartpak offered, I thought that would be a good way to learn and practice the stitches. Just meet her specifications for  materials. Just follow the instructions. No brainer.  No decisions.

You may remember that I’ve been planning to work  on Elizabethan needlework for some time. Three years, in fact. I’ve collected books. These two include designs as well as stitch instructions.


This is a design I bought online.


And this is Jane Lemon’s old but wonderful book, which I’ve had for a long time. It includes Elizabethan goldwork.


I also have The Embroiderers’ Story, by Thomasina Beck, that includes a lengthy chapter with lots of illustrations, on Elizabethan needlework. I’ve borrowed books from the library on Elizabethan embroidery, too, such as George Wingfield Digby’s classic text, Elizabethan Embroidery, based on the textile collection at the Victoria and Albert Museum, where he was Keeper of Textiles.

What’s more, I’ve had Jane Zimmerman’s book, which includes instructions for the same panel, though much less detailed than the chartpak and no color.


And here’s the title page of Zimmerman’s chartpak:


It is 24 pages long and it has excellent close-up color photographs of each motif.

On Monday I went to the local needlework shop, where I had not been in five years, with Jane’s chartpak in my bag. I was just going to buy what she called for. I don’t have the stamina to spend much time shopping, comparing threads, and so on. Unfortunately, Jane doesn’t give the color numbers, just how many values of each color, so it was a good thing I had her chartpak with me. Here’s what I bought:


There is 32-count linen, Needlepoint Silk, Kreinik gold paillettes (these I already owned but I bought more), and Kreinik very fine #4 gold braid. They had to order the fine #8 gold braid and the paillettes for me.

When I bought these paillettes about ten years ago, a gram cost a couple of dollars. Now half a gram costs $4.50. Though I was shocked that Jane called for metallic thread rather than gold metal threads, I’m glad she did. I don’t want to think what the real gold for this design would cost.

I’m actually disappointed in the Needlepoint Silk. The colors are lovely, but the threads have a matte finish. I like using silk floss that is more lustrous, that catches the light. Here I show you the silk floss I’ve been using with a skein of Needlepoint Silk.


See the sheen on the ivory thread? That’s Eterna, Chinese pure silk floss. It costs $1.05 for five meters. The pink Needlepoint Silk, which is also Chinese silk floss, costs $3.80 for five meters. That’s what I get for “just following instructions.” Maybe it will look more authentic. I sure hope that I conclude when finished that it was worth it!

Although I’ve got almost every size of stretcher bars, I didn’t have 17″ ones, so I had to buy them. And, of course, once I was in the shop, I couldn’t resist adding to my stash.


I’ve wanted to try Soy Luster, the soy silk thread. That’s the colored threads. I bought white silk ribbon and white #12 Anchor pearl cotton.  I’ve never used #12 and wanted to have some to try. If I need a specific color, I’ll dye it. Same with the white ribbon.  And you can see the beads. I have lots of colored beads, so that’s why I bought white, silver, ivory, and clear crystal beads. It was great fun being in a physical, rather than virtual, shop, touching and seeing all the threads and stuff.

I have decided that having a ready-made design and full instructions should enable me to work for short periods of time on this stitching, while continuing my physics study. Since buying and stitching kits in the 1970s, I don’t think I have ever worked a given design, following all the instructions, using the materials called for. I always like doing things “my way,” and I always think of something else I’d like to try. I’m doing this because it’s an easy, though VERY expensive, way to learn the Elizabethan stitches and a “no thinking required” project I can go to my floor stand to work on when I feel like it. I don’t mean that learning the stitches will be easy (plaited braid stitch???) But when I need a break from studying, I think this will be something to do that doesn’t take much thought.

Oh, it is so good to be able to show and tell you about my doings and to share my enthusiasms with you. Such a pleasure! Showing and telling, and knowing I have such good friends out there.

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