According to Cariadoc’s Miscellany “Sekanjabin is a period drink; it is mentioned in the Fihrist of al-Nadim, which was written in the tenth century. The only period recipe I have found for it (in the Andalusian cookbook) is called “Sekanjabin Simple” and omits the mint. It is one of a large variety of similar drinks described in that cookbook-flavored syrups intended to be diluted in either hot or cold water before drinking.”

A similar period drink is Oxymel, a mixture of honey, vinegar, and herb which was used mainly for medicinal purposes. Oxymel was used by Hippocrates (460-. 370 BC). It is referenced in Cild’s Anglo-Saxon Leech book circa 9-10ce and continues to be a popular herbal preparation in modern times.

BASIC SEKANJABIN WITH SUGAR (HONEY) and VINEGAR

Ingredients:

2 cups sugar (2 2/3 cups honey)

2 cups water

1/2 cup white vinegar (1 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar)

Mint, cleaned, washed

2 Small seedless cucumbers (kirby), washed, peeled and shredded (for the sugar based drink)

Lime rind *optional

Method: It is best to use no metal in preparing the beverage.

In a heavy bottom glass pot combine sugar and water, place on medium heat and stir with a wooden spoon till sugar or honey is dissolved. Lower the heat and let it gently boil for about 10-15 minutes.

Add vinegar and simmer for 25-30 minutes until it thickens. Taste and adjust the level of sweetness or sourness of the syrup.

In the last minute or two add a small bunch of mint to the syrup.

Remove from heat and let it cool completely. The longer you let it sit, the more the mint will infuse. Take out the mint before straining a glass container.

Serve with lots of crisp and fresh lettuce on the side. Just to remind you, sekanjabin is quite sticky!

Persian Style Sekanjabin Drink: Place a couple of tablespoons of the syrup in a glass, add some ice, water, cucumber, mix well and garnish with a small stem of mint and lime rind.

 

PEACH, GINGER, and MINT SEKANJABIN

“This syrup is based on an ancient Persian recipe, and it keeps virtually indefinitely without any special care. The original calls for strawberries, but I prefer it with peaches. Excellent for camping, and truly refreshing on a hot, hot day! And there’s no waste, you use every part of every ingredient in this stuff. After straining, remove the lemon peels and ginger and toss in a bag of sugar for a candied treat!”

Yields about 6 cups of syrup

Ingredients

4 cups white sugar

2 cups water

12 ounces fresh or frozen peaches, chopped

1 cup chopped fresh mint

1/2 cup sliced fresh ginger or more to taste

2 lemons, peeled and juiced

1 cup white balsamic vinegar (not distilled vinegar)

Directions

Bring the sugar and water to a boil over high heat. Boil until the sugar has dissolved, then stir in the peaches, mint, ginger, lemon peels, and lemon juice. Return to a boil, then reduce heat to medium and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from heat, and stir in the white balsamic vinegar.

Allow the syrup to stand overnight at room temperature, then strain out the fruits with a fine sieve. Store at room temperature in a sterile container.

To use, stir 1 part syrup into 4 to 6 parts water; serve cold with ice if desired.

 

 Cariadoc’s Miscellany, © David Friedman and Elizabeth Cook, 1988, 1990, 1992

Oxymel in Medieval Persia, by Arman Zargaran,  Mohammad M. Zarshenas, Alireza Mehdizadeh, and Abdolali Mohagheghzadeh

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The reversible Holbein stitch is a double row of running stitch worked over a consistent number of threads, often on an evenweave fabric such as linen. Use waste canvas, an iron-on grid, pattern transfer, or washable pencil for non-evenweave fabrics. Experienced stitchers who can work fine, evenly sized stitches can work the patterns freehand on other fabrics.

The design is worked in paired trips (also called passes or journeys) down the length of the design and back to the beginning.. The stitcher plans the main route and side trips before beginning to stitch. It is helpful to copy or graph the completed pattern on graph paper and plot the trips from this. When graphing the pattern, use a solid line to represent the stitches made on the first trip. These represent the stitches which show on the top (front) of the fabric. The gap space represents the thread on the bottom (back) of the fabric. Make any side trips along the main route during the first trip. These add detail and embellishment.

Use another color pencil or a dotted line to represent the stitches made on the second trip. On the second trip, fill in the gap space so that the pattern is complete on both sides of the fabric.  When planned and worked correctly, the two sides of the embroidery will often be identical. Test the trips on a piece of waste canvas using threads in contrasting colors for each pass to work out problems before starting on a piece. Make notes!

Even if you do not plan a completely reversible work, it is a good idea to plan ahead and do your work in this manner. This will enable you to work neatly and economically. When using a dark thread on a light fabric or vice versa, any threads crossing the fabric on the underside will be very visible and may destroy the lines of the design.

Designs can be worked directly on a garment or on fabric panels called slips which can be appliqued on the garment. These have the advantage of easy removal for laundering or transfer to another garment.

Stitchers unfamiliar with the technique may wish to begin on evenweave fabric with a simple design that can be completed in single paired trips (one trip out and one back). Practice the design on a large count evenweave, such as 14-count Aida. The 14-count cloth will allow you to see the stitches easily. Use a size 24 blunt end tapestry needle to avoid splitting the threads of the floss and ground cloth. Use 2 strands of cotton floss as it is easy to work with and will not tangle badly. Use short lengths (no more than 18 inches) of floss.

The main stitch used is the running stitch, one of the easiest and most versatile of all stitches. Insert the needle through the fabric from the underside and pull the thread through. Run the thread across a number of fabric threads and insert back through the fabric from the front and pull the thread through to the underside.

In order to achieve a consistent straight line on the return trip alternate inserting the need above and under the stitches in place.

Begin with a generous waste knot off to the side, so that there is a long tail to weave back into the work. Don’t work to the very end of the thread before switching to a new thread. Leave a long tail to weave back into the work. When weaving the ends in, go in the direction of the stitching. Going in the opposite direction may pull the fabric which may make a gap in the pattern. Weaving the ends in will create a thicker line.

The following simple leaf design illustrates the basic techniques used.  If you are right-handed work from left to right (work from right to left if you are left handed) so that you do not rest your needle hand on the worked design.

Figure 1 Figure 2

Figure 1                                                                           Figure 2

 

Figure 1 illustrates the floss thread coming in from a waste knot at the left away from the beginning of the design. The heavy black line ( ) represents the floss threads crossing on the top (front) of the fabric. The small squares ( ) represent the gap space where the floss threads cross the bottom (back) of the fabric. The small arrows indicate the direction of stitching.

Work the first trip around the outline of the leaf. There is one side trip in this pattern, the center rib of the leaf. When you reach the stitch at the end of the stem, make running stitches up the rib then work back down the rib, filling in the gaps. Work back around the outline of the leaf, filling in the gaps. Finish by weaving the loose ends back under the worked threads on the underside.

Change sides a few times while working a reversible piece, sometimes working on the top and sometimes on the bottom. This will help you keep the quality of your work consistent.

 

Double-running stitch, Blackwork, Red- or Greenwork, Spanish stitch, Holbein, Black-and-Gold, Queen’s stitch, Monochromatic Embroidery — whatever you call it, this is one of the earliest forms of decorative stitching. Some sources date it from the earliest European fragments of the 12th century, while others date it from 8th century Moorish designs. Still others find evidence that the ancient Greeks, Romans, and Byzantines used this stitchery form. Many believe that Blackwork is the basis of much of the folk embroidery found in Eastern Europe.

Early example of Blackwork from Egyptian garment fragments believed to have been produced between 1200 and 1400 CE are reversible bands of Arabic script and geometric, floral and animal patterns with a distinctive boxy appearance. By 1520 CE the curvilinear designs of the Italian Renaissance were influencing the geometric Arabic patterns. The first published double-running patterns appeared in Germany in 1523 CE and in 1527 CE  were referred to in print for the first time as the “Span[i]che stiche.” In 1529 CE an Italian pattern book printed punto scrito (line stitch), curvy Italian Renaissance motifs of flowers, birds, and classical designs in a boxy Arabic style. These patterns could be sued, according to the publisher, as:

“collars for gentlemen or ladies, insertions in the front of ladies’ bodices, border(s) for bed coverlets, pillow covers, borders for surplices, coif, or any other work that might take your fancy or desire.”

Although legend has it that Blackwork came to England from Spain with Katherine of Aragon in 1501 CE, the fashion was known as early as Chaucer’s time in the 14th century as evidenced in this passage from “The Mylleres Tale.”

“Whit was her smok and browdid al before;
And eek byhyade on hir coler aboute of cole-blak silk, withinne and withoute.”

In England the double-running pattern was popular by 1550 CE as the influence of the Renaissance spread. Beginning in in 1560 CE, large numbers of refugees fleeing religious persecution in the Netherlands, France, Spain, and Italy flooded into England and established schools of music, foreign language and handwork, including needlework, for girls and boys. By 1600 CE the English knew the stitch as either the Spanish stitch or the trew (true) stitch, as it was the same on both sides. By the 1620’s the stitch was no longer used on clothing, though it continued to be an essential part of a needleworker’s repertoire until the early eighteenth century.

MATERIALS

For clothing, white or off-white linen was the fabric of choice. Fine linen, called “lawn” (after Laon, France), was used for cuffs and sleeves, while Cambric or Holland was used for shirt panels. Because linen was so difficult to dye, black silk was used to produce greater contrast. Red or green threads were more rarely used. Gilt spangles or sequins and gold metal threads were also used to enhance the designs.

USES

As we have seen, Blackwork was historically for decorating clothing. Due to its versatility and durability, it was also used to decorate furnishing such as bed hangings, sheets, pillow shams, and household items. Some examples of Blackwork can be seen in the Fulda fragment, an altar panel from 1180 CE (destroyed during WWII) and in the Shepherd’s Buss panel (circa 1600 CE), housed in the Victoria and Albert Museum. The patterns are also found on Middle Eastern cartouches, carpets, and woven silks dating from 1200 CE.

Modern Blackwork uses the straight stitch with a variety of evenweave fabrics, threads, and colors to create geometric patterns with small repeating designs. Diapering (repeated geometric filling) is used to contrast between the thread and fabric colors by varying the intensity of the design.

Filling-stitch patterns of differing densities are worked in different areas of a design to achieve a shading effect and may be substituted for each other, as long as the density is of a similar value. Ranging from dark tones with a closely worked pattern to light tones where much of the fabric shows between stitch repeats, Blackwork shading adds intensity and drama to many types of needlework projects.

Today’s Blackwork is striking and versatile. Its drama and elegance enhances the simplest of blouses while its lacy appearance makes it a natural for lingerie and bed linens. The “reversible” Holbein stitch creates a design which looks the same on both sides, and is very nice for clothing, handkerchiefs, napkins, scarves, afghans, towels, and like items. However, a reversible design can be created using Blackwork techniques which is different on both sides, creating unusual and beautiful pieces, particularly for table use. Blackwork can be used to create pictures, word art, pillows, hangings, linens, samplers and just about anything suitable for other forms of embroidery.

SCA APPLICATIONS

Blackwork embroidery designs were worn by Muslims, Jews, and Christian men and women of all economic classes throughout the Islamic world, including the northern and eastern Mediterranean and Spain, Turkey, Egypt and North Africa. Garments embroidered with blessings as an expression of gratitude to God were common gifts. The patterns were also used on cartouches, carpets, and woven silks.

For clothing decoration in the SCA, Middle Eastern and Mediterranean persona can use the patterns in primary colors and black on bodices of shirts and robes, sleeves, edges of turbans, scarves, kerchiefs, sashes, and shawls. European persona before 1510 CE might lavishly use Spanish stitch in red or black thread on chemise and shirt collars, cuffs, ruffs, seams, and on coifs, kerchiefs, and shawls. The designs may incorporate Arabic script and should be geometric representations or boxy flower or animal designs. After 1530, the curvilinear designs of the Italian Renaissance may be used by German and Italian persona and by English persona after 1550. After 1620, Blackwork should not be used on clothing.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

  • http://www.skinnersisters.com (not active as of 2014)
  • “A New Modelbook for Spanish Stitch,” Kathleen Epstein, excerpted in Pieceworks Magazine, Issue and date unknown.
  • “A Short History of Blackwork for SCA Persona with Patterns Suitable for Clothing,” Jessie Jaramillo, Seasons: An Arts and Sciences Journal, 1997.
  • “Double Exposure,” Mary Hickmott, New Stitches, Issue 55, pages 30-36/
  • “Fragrance Pillows,” Rosemary Drysdale, New Stitches, Issue 10, pages 46-49.
  • A New Look at Blackwork, Mary D. Shipp, HGSystems, Inc., 1998.
  • An Introduction to Blackwork, Shoshonnah Jehanne ferch Emrys, The Compleat Anachronist, SCA, Inc. 1987.
  • Blackwork Embroidery, Elisabeth Geddes and Moyra McNeil, Dover Publications, Inc., New York, 1976.
  • Blackwork Samplers, Carolyn Meacham, Serendipity Designs, 1985.
  • Blackwork, Lesley Barnett, Search Press, 1997.
  • Blackwork, Mary Gostelow, Dover Publications, Inc., New York, 1976.
  • Blackwork, Marion Scoular, Leisure Arts, 1976.
  • Queens’ Stitchery (Counted Blackwork), Rosemary Drysdale, McCall’s Craft Book, 1983.

EMBROIDERY RESOURCES

  • A Stitcher’s Guide to Silk Thread, Kreinik Manufacturing Co., Inc. 2001
  • 100 Embroidery Stitches, Coats & Clark, Inc., 1979.

 

An SCA-oriented class written, designed and presented by Angharad verch Dafydd. First taught September, 2014. Please contact the author at angharadvdafydd@hotmail.com if you wish to copy and distribute this article.

Bone lucets from Jorvik (York, England), World of Vikings CD-ROM

Bone lucets from Jorvik (York, England), World of Vikings CD-ROM

A Lucet is also known as a snodgaffel, a chain fork, a knitting fork, and many other names. The term lucet is a French term dating from the Victorian Arts and Crafts Revival.

The oldest known terms are Slynggaffel (coil fork) and Tvinningsben (string twisting). Historically similar tools have been found in a woman’s burial in Gotland dated late 11th century and in York, or Jorvik, from the 10th century. Braid has been found in Scandinavia but not in Britain. Archaeological evidence suggest that lucet use declined after the 12th century.

The most commonly used working method is a reconstruction by archaeologists of possible techniques. The technique is similar to that used with a knitting dolly.

The decorated cord, called a passement, can be used to embellish clothing. This type of trimming embellishment has been documented throughout history and in many cultures. Nomadic tribes of the Middle East use twisted and braided cords in tent construction and to tie provisions onto camels and donkeys.

Braiding techniques such as kumihimo, finger-loop braiding or plaiting, require a finite length of thread. Lucet is a technique suited for very long cords as the braids can be created without pre-measuring threads.

Parts of a basic lucet.

Parts of a basic lucet.

Getting started is always the most difficult part of learning a new craft. Knowing the parts of the Lucet and some of the terms used will make it easier.

The prongs are also known as the Left Horn and the Right Horn. The horn to your left is always the Left Horn and the horn to your right is always the Right Horn.

The side of the Lucet facing you is always the Front of the Lucet and the side of the Lucet away from you is always the Back or Behind of the Lucet.

The thread you which you are currently working or holding is the Working Thread.

The thread around or across a horn is called a Loop.

There are three things to keep in mind for the success of this project: first, the basic process is grasping a loop and lifting it over the horn; next, be sure not to pull the stitches too tightly; and lastly, this is a learning experience and you may feel awkward and your first efforts may not be perfect. Don’t give up. Practice makes perfect.

This project uses the no-turn technique for making a single-thread cord or braid, suitable for use as cording. The no-turn technique is useful to know as many advanced Lucet cords, such as beaded cords and multi-strand cords, use this method.

The basic technique we will use to add beads will allow you to add decorative items such as charms, beads, bells, tassels, and buttons to the cord.

Class Project

Class Project

Beaded Bracelet Project: For this project you need about 3 yards of thread with 13 beads prestrung on it. Whether or not you pre-wind it onto a bobbin is your own personal choice. General Instructions: Make about an inch of cord before adding the first bead (approximately 16 left stitches and 16 right stitches). Add a bead every half-inch (approximately 8 left stitches and 8 right stitches) until there are 13 beads on the cord. Make about an inch of cord (approximately 16 left stitches and 16 right stitches) after the last bead and finish off. This will make a beaded cord about 8 inches long, suitable for use as a bracelet, bookmark, token, etc.

Getting Started – Loading the Lucet

003[1]1 – If your Lucet has a hole in the base, thread about 6 inches of the Working Thread through this hole from Front to Back and hold it there with your left hand. If your Lucet does not have a hole in the base, make a tail of the Working Thread about 6 inches long and hold it on the front of the base with your left thumb. A hole in the base of your Lucet simply aids in controlling your work. It is not necessary.

2 – If you knit or crochet, you may be familiar with wrapping the Working Thread around your fingers to control the tension. This technique can be helpful with the Lucet as well, but it is a personal choice. Hold the Working Thread in your right hand in a way that is comfortable for you.

3 – The Working Thread should be on the Front of the Lucet, with the tail hanging down at either the back or front.

004[1]

4 – Wrap the Working Thread around the Right Horn from Front to Back, bringing it back to the Front between the Horns. The Working Thread should be on the Front of the Lucet.

005[1]

5 – Wrap the Working Thread around the Left Horn from Front to Back, bringing it back to the Front between the Horns. The Working Thread should be on the Front of the Lucet. This is a basic figure eight pattern.

6 – Pull on the Working Thread and hold it taut so that it crosses in front of the Right Horn, above the first wrap (this is actually a loop but doesn’t look like one yet). It is easier to keep the tension if you catch the thread against your right palm with the pinkie and ring fingers.

006[1]

7 – With your right thumb and forefinger, catch and lift the first wrap (bottom loop) on the Right Horn over the Working Thread.

007

8 – There is now a loop on each horn and a loose knot or stitch behind the Right Horn. Holding the Working Thread between your right thumb and forefinger on the right in front of the Right Horn pull the Working Thread slightly to the right to tighten the stitch against the Right Horn.

013

9 – Still holding the Working Thread between your right thumb and forefinger, bring the Working Thread Behind and around to the Front of the Left Horn. There are now 2 loops on the Left Horn.

10 – Keep the tension on the Working Thread by holding it against your right palm with the pinkie and ring fingers.

014

11 – With your right thumb and forefinger, catch the lower loop thread in the front of the Left Horn near the center of the Lucet. Pull this thread slightly to the left of the Left Horn. The extra thread will come from the tail. Pulling the working thread like this keeps the thread loose and easy to lift. Then lift the lower loop over the upper loop and the tip of the Left Horn. Drop the loop between the horns and gently pull the Working Thread to the right until the stitch is centered between the horns.

015

12 – For the first few stitches, you may want to pull on the tail a bit until the tension is good. Be sure to leave the stitch loose, as you can tighten it later.

Now the Lucet is loaded or dressed and you are ready to begin working the cord.

Make a Stitch on the Right Horn (see step 7 and 8 above)

14 – Pull the Working Thread to the right and hold it taut so that it crosses in front of the Right Horn, above the lower loop. Keep the tension on the Working Thread by holding it against your right palm with the pinkie and ring fingers.

15 – With your right thumb and forefinger, reach under the Working Thread and catch the lower loop thread in the BACK of the Right Horn near the center of the Lucet. Gently pull this thread around to the FRONT of the Right Horn. You will see that the extra thread will come from the loop on the Left Horn.

16 – Lift this lower loop over the upper loop (or thread) and drop between the horns. Pull the Working Thread gently to the right to tighten the stitch against the Right Horn.

Steps 14, 15, and 16 will be summarized as “Make a stitch on the Right Horn.”

Make a Stitch on the Left Horn (see steps 9 through 11 above)

17 – Still holding the Working Thread between your right thumb and forefinger, bring the Working Thread Behind and around to the Front of the Left Horn. There are now 2 loops on the Left Horn. Keep the tension on the Working Thread by holding it against your right palm with the pinkie and ring fingers.

18 – With your right thumb and forefinger, catch the lower loop thread in the FRONT of the Left Horn near the center of the Lucet. Pull this thread slightly to the left of the Left Horn. The extra thread will come from the loop on the Right Horn.

19 – Lift this lower loop over the upper loop (or thread) and drop between the horns. Pull the Working Thread gently to the right to tighten the stitch toward the Right Horn. Pull on the tail a bit and center the stitch between the horns.

Steps 17, 18, and 19 will be summarized as “Make a stitch on the Left Horn.”

20 – Continue making stitches on the Right and Left Horns until the cord is the desired length. Once you have enough stitches to hold, you can pull on the completed cord to center your work.

Adding Beads along the Right Hand Edge

1 – Before starting your cord, string the beads onto your working thread, reversing the order you wish to add them. Push the beads out of the way, close to the ball.

1 – Before starting your cord, string the beads onto your working thread, reversing the order you wish to add them. Push the beads out of the way, close to the ball.

2 – Work the cord as usual until you reach the place you want a bead. Make a stitch on the Left Horn. 3 – Slide a bead up the working thread and in FRONT of the Right Horn on the upper loop. Position the bead between the knots and the Right Horn.

2 – Work the cord as usual until you reach the place you want a bead. Make a stitch on the Left Horn.
3 – Slide a bead up the working thread and in FRONT of the Right Horn on the upper loop. Position the bead between the knots and the Right Horn.

4 - Make a stitch on the Right Horn, lifting the lower loop over both the horn and the bead. The bead should move freely on the thread and not be caught against the cord, Center the knot.

4 – Make a stitch on the Right Horn, lifting the lower loop over both the horn and the bead.

 The bead should move freely on the thread and not be caught against the cord. Center the knot.

The bead should move freely on the thread and not be caught against the cord. Center the knot.

5 - Make a stitch on the Left Horn. Now slide the bead up against the knot holding it there with your left thumb.

5 – Make a stitch on the Left Horn.

Now slide the bead up against the knot holding it there with your left thumb.

Now slide the bead up against the knot holding it there with your left thumb.

6 – Still holding the bead in place, make a stitch on the Right Horn and make a second stitch on the Left Horn. Snug the bead up against the cord. Work the cord as usual until you reach the place you want another bead and work as before.

6 – Still holding the bead in place, make a stitch on the Right Horn and make a second stitch on the Left Horn.

6 – Still holding the bead in place, make a stitch on the Right Horn and make a second stitch on the Left Horn. Snug the bead up against the cord. Work the cord as usual until you reach the place you want another bead and work as before.

Snug the bead up against the cord. Work the cord as usual until you reach the place you want another bead and work as before.

7 – To Bead on the Left Hand Side, slide a bead up the working thread and BEHIND the Left Horn on the upper loop. Position the bead between the knots and the Left Horn. Make a stitch on the Left Horn as above. Slide bead to knot and hold it. Make a stitch on the Right Horn and another on the Left Horn.

Ending a No-Turn Cord

1 - Stop after completing a stitch on the Left Horn. Cut the Working Thread leaving a tail at least 6 inches long. 2 - Thread the tail down through the loop on the Right Horn.

1 – Stop after completing a stitch on the Left Horn. Cut the Working Thread leaving a tail at least 6 inches long. 2 – Thread the tail down through the loop on the Right Horn.

2 - Thread the tail down through the loop on the Right Horn. Slip the loop off the horn and pull on the thread until the loop closes.

Slip the loop off the horn and pull on the thread until the loop closes.

3 - Thread the tail down through the loop on the Left Horn. Slip the loop off the horn and pull on the thread until the loop closes.

3 – Thread the tail down through the loop on the Left Horn.

Slip the loop off the horn and pull on the thread until the loop closes.

Slip the loop off the horn and pull on the thread until the loop closes.

TIP – How much thread do I need to make X yards of cord? The exact amount depends on the stitch used and the type of cord. A general rule of thumb is 1 yard of thread will make 4 inches of cord. So to make 1 yard of cord, you will need about 9 yards of thread.

TIP – How to make a “swatch” cord. This is a way for you to determine how much thread you need for a project, using the same thread, lucet, and technique you plan to use. The advantage is that you will have a better idea because you will be basing your estimate on your method of working. To begin, measure 1 yard plus 12 inches (for tails) of the same thread you plan to use. Use the lucet and the technique you will use. Make a tail of about 6 inches. Work the cord, using the technique you plan to use, until you only have 6″ of working thread left. Measure the cord. This is the length of cord you can expect to make for each yard of thread you use. Add at least 12 to 18 inches for tails. Example, I wish to make an 18″ length of cord to use as a necklace. I make a swatch cord and find that 1 yard of my thread makes 3 inches of worked cord. 18 inches / 3 inches = 6 yards of thread. So I know I need at least 6 yards plus 18 inches of thread. I always try to round up to the next yard, so I would wind 7 yards on my bobbin. I label and save my swatch cords for future reference.

TIP – To avoid losing your place in your work, always wrap your working thread a few times around the horn you will be using for your next stitch before putting your work down.

TIP – If you lose your place in your work, look closely at the loops. The loop that has the working thread leading from it will always be the last stitch you made.

Resources:

Lucet Braiding: Variations on a Renaissance Cord by Elaine Fuller Berkley, CA : Lacis Publications, 1998.

MacGregor, Arthur 1985. Bone, Antler, Ivory and Horn: The Technology of Skeletal Materials since the Roman Period. (London: Croom Helm)

How to Lucet by Lady Lidia Lijovich of Ragusa, June 2002

The Tvinningsben or Lucet by Sandy Sempel & Steven Lowe. September 2005.

No Turn Basic Lucet Cord Tutorial by Stitch Diva Studios on YouTube (a different method)

Experimental Soup: Lucet Weaving by Archaeosoup Productions (another method resulting in an interesting chain cord and some interesting archeological musings)

Author: Angharad verch Dafydd – AoA, CPLM, CMC, GoA, CVO, CMM

(c) Jessie Jaramillo 2014

I was finally able to teach the revamped class at July Feast 2013 this past weekend to 5 students (and one drop-in asking for the handout). The students seemed mostly pleased with the class.

The “multi-media” display was running ~ a slide show on my Nook *grins* – and was, I think, a success.

I was dissatisfied with several aspects of the class as I taught it, so I’m going to make some changes to the presentation.

  1. Redesign the patterns to be clearer for the novice stitcher.
  2. Totally revamp the “Best Practices” portion, including a separate handout.
  3. Present the new stitches first before starting the project, including better drawings and a practice piece of fabric.
  4. Change the design to work over two to make it easier to see the stitches.

I didn’t get the correct information from my students to send to RUM, so if you are one of them, please send privately your

  • SCA Name
  • Mundane Name
  • RUM Student #
  • SCA Member #

Also any feedback is gratefully accepted.

 

Introduction to Assisi (Voided Work) Embroidery

Presented by Angharad verch Dafydd

Jessie Jaramillo   angharadvdafydd@hotmail.com

Class Handout

Class Overview: This is a “hands-on” class with a brief overview of Assisi embroidery in period and SCA applicability. You will learn four stitches commonly used in Assisi embroidery while working on a small period design. Do not expect this piece to be perfect. It is a learning piece. You will make mistakes. Practicing the stitches will result is smoother work.

What is Assisi Embroidery? Assisi Work or Embroidery is also known as Punto Assisi, Ricami d’Assisi, Voided Work or Embroidery, Reserva Work or Embroidery. The technique is a form of monochromatic counted thread embroidery in which the main designs are outlined in silhouette and the background is worked. It is commonly worked in one or two colors (usually red, blue or green) on a strongly contrasting fabric. This technique began to be called Assisi in the late 1800’s during the traditional arts revival. Voided Work is also seen in traditional folk embroidery from Eastern Europe and the Middle East.

Historical Overview: The earliest examples known of what is now called Assisi work date from the 13th century. There are many theories surrounding the evolution of Assisi work including a legend that St. Francis brought an example of the work back from China. The motifs were worked on fine linen cloth with the outlines and background embroidered with colored silk. These articles were used for religious purposes such as altar cloths and chasubles.

By the 16th century, Assisi embroidery had become very popular and spread into the secular community. The technique was primarily used on domestic items and furnishings such as table covers, pillows, towels, and aprons.

Themes: Early designs were simplistic outlines of birds, beasts, flowers, leaves, etc. Large scale Biblical and classical scenes were also depicted. Later designs were more geometric and abstract, or scrolling depictions of flora and fauna, or even heraldic mythological and fantastical creatures.

Materials and Stitches: Assisi Embroidery was most often done on evenly woven linen using silk or wool thread. The designs were drawn directly on the fabric with the embroiderer counting and squaring the stitches while working. The most common stitches used in historical Assisi embroidery were:

  1. Long-armed cross
  2. Italian 2-sided cross stitch
  3. Montenegrin stitch
  4. Pulled work
  5. Simple cross stitch (rare)

SCA Application: Assisi work was commonly used for ecclesiastic items until the early 16th century, so it would not be appropriate on clothing before then. Sources suggest Assisi work was used on clothing after that point but I have not found any documentation to that effect. Documentation is widely available for household and decorative items such as aprons, cushions, and bed, bath and table linens.  For non-competition purposes, it would be appropriate for cushions, table linens, pouches, and tokens or favors.

Materials for Class: 14 count Aida, DMC cotton thread (red, blue, or green), needle, hoop, handout with 3 charted designs

Stitches Used in This Class: Holbein stitch (double running stitch); Long-Armed Cross Stitch; Three-Quarter Cross Stitch; Cross Stitch

General Instructions for Working the Embroidery:

1 – Prepare your materials: Iron and edge the fabric. Place in hoop or frame if desired. Dampen and smooth threads to prevent twisting. Work with clean hands.

2 – Choose and place the design: Either draw the design directly onto the fabric or decide upon a starting point for the outline. You may use the Heart design provided for the class or choose one of your own.

3 – Outline the main motif using Holbein/double running stitches,.

4 – Fill in the background using either Long-Armed Cross Stitch or Cross Stitch. Long-Armed Cross stitch is more authentic. Stitch from the edge in toward the main motif with all stitches running in the same direction. When you reach the main motif it may be necessary to fill with Half-Cross Stitches.

5 – Optional Step: You may like to finish the project with a decorative border, using a combination of Holbein/double running stitches and filling stitches

Personalizing a Design:

Almost any counted design can be simplified for Assisi work. A simple design with few details works best. Concentrate on the main motif of the design, ignoring decorative flourishes.

1 – Using graph paper, chart just the outline of the main motif.

2 – Using a dark pencil, shade the outside of the design to get an idea of how it will look before you begin stitching and how far out you want the background to extend.

3 – Decide if you want a border and chart it on the graph paper until you are satisfied.

4 – To determine the size of a design, count the number of squares on the chart from top to bottom for the height of the design and from side to side for the width. Multiply by the number of threads you intend to stitch over. (If you do not plan to stitch over move than 1 thread or one square of Aida cloth you can skip this step.) Divide by the number of threads per inch in your fabric. This is the size of the design. Be sure to add at least 2 or 3 inches to each side for finishing. For example:

  • The Assisi Heart is 13 stitches high by 13 stitches wide. You plan to stitch over 2 threads on 28 count fabric (28 threads to the inch).

13 x2 = 26           26 / 24 = 1.1 or just over 1” so your stitched design will be just over 1” big. Add 2” to each side and you will need a piece of fabric at least 6”x6”.

  • The bunny with border is 35 x 35 stitches and you want to stitch it design over one on 14 count Aida.

35 /14 = 2.5”   With a 3” fabric border on each side, a 9” square would be a good size to use.

Portion of sampler stitched by Her Majesty Queen Ingrid of Denmark circa 1950   Fragment of Italian border

Modern Assisi Style Table Cloth  Franciscan Nun design


Resources:

Website: Jos Hendriks, Embroidery and Embroider,   http://www.stitchstitch.info/index.html

Website: Mary Corbin, Needle ‘n’ Thread, http://www.needlenthread.com/

Website: Victoria and Albert Museum, Item 502-1877, http://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O292521/border/

Berry, Robin L. (Sabrina de la Bere) “Reserva: embroidery in the background.” Filumaureum Needleworkers Guild Kingdom of the West (Summer 2002) http://wkneedle.bayrose.org/filum/filum_18_june_02.pdf

Eitel, Jean and Marie, Lynne. Renaissance Beasts

Ness, Pamela Miller, Assisi Embroidery, Dover Publications, Inc., NY 1979.

Newell, Kathryn (Kathryn Goodwyn). Stalking the Wild Assisi, http://home.comcast.net/~medievalneedle/assisi.htm

Renfro, Valerie (Genevieve de Valios). Counted Embroidery from 1000 – 1600, http://genevieve-de-valois.com/home/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/COUNTED_EMBROIDERY.pdf

Stephenson, Katherine Estep (Clare de Estepa), Voided Embroidery – Assisi Embroidery: Cross-stitch Period Style, http://insanehobby.150m.com/clare/assisiclass.html

Link to the embroideries of Queen Ingrid of Denmark http://string-or-nothing.com/tag/embroidery-2/

 Stitch Diagrams and Instructions:

Holbein 001

Cross Stitch 001  Three Quarter Cross Stitch

Long-Armed Cross Stitch 001

Assisi Heart

Assisi Bunny with Cross Stitch Border

Assisi Tudor Rose

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