Archive for category Arelate Studio

Squirrel by Arelate Studio

Copyright Nancy Spies, Arelate Studio, 2009.

Inspired by Mary: Squirrel by Arelate Studio

Squirrel by Arelate Studio

Chart: This Arelate Studio chart is printed on the inside of a double-sided, folded A3 cardboard sheet. The design is whole cross stitch only, with large swathes of single colour stitching. The symbols are printed small and pale, so if you have any eyesight issues, I would strongly recommend making a working copy and enlarging the pattern.

Stitches: Pattern uses whole cross stitches only thus making it ideal to be stitched over one or as a canvas work project.

Materials: DMC stranded cotton or Soie d’Alger silks. Stitched on 18ct “White” Aida.

Designer’s Notes: Mary, Queen of Scots, was kept captive by her cousin Elizabeth I, for almost twenty years before she was beheaded in 1587. During that time, Mary produced hundreds of stitcheries, many of which were cross-stitched designs from natural history books, particularly Conrad Gesner’s book of 1560. Our line of “Inspired by Mary” cross stitch designs incorporates several of the main elements from Mary’s stitcheries: the cruciform outline (a modified Alisée Pattée cross), the central animal, the banner with label, smaller motifs in the four corners of the square, and the cipher or monogram.

We found a great number of the motifs used by Mary in the natural history books of Ulisse Aldrovandi (1522-1605), copies of which we found in the Eisenhower Library of John Hopkins University in Baltimore. We have tried to keep the color palate as close to Elizabethan colors as possible.

Why I was attracted to this design: I love the animal designs in the “Inspired by Mary” range by Arelate Studio. These are so different from their usual designs, yet the designs are so in keeping with those of the time period. The blockiness of the designs, the garishness of the colours, these elements look so out-of-place to our modern eye, but these were one of the ways it was done in Elizabethan times.  I love it!

So why haven’t I stitched it? This was model-stitched on White Aida, in DMC thread with the whole background stitched in DMC 3685 Dark Mauve.  I have plans of simply stitching the main elements and border on a Mulberry-coloured linen in the alternate Soie d’Alger silk threads.  However there are 21 different floss colours on this design, that’s a lot of new silk threads (I have no Soie d’Alger in my stash at all) to buy!

Four of the five Inspired by Mary charts appear to have the same main background colour.  I’ve been tossing up whether to obtain one large piece of mulberry linen and stitch all four Cat, Dog, Squirrel and Rabbit on the same fabric in a block pattern.  However, the latest design, Drake, being on a royal blue background has thrown out the symmetry of the “all on the one piece of fabric” idea.

Where can you buy it? Arelate Studio no longer sells direct to the public, but she does have an official distributor, otherwise your LNS or ONS can still specially order it in for you. You should pay around $9.95 (US) for this design.

Discussion questions: Do you like historical charts to be in the style and colours of their time, or would you prefer them to be updated to our modern sensibilities?

Status:
5 June 2012: Going with my Soie d’Alger on Mulberry linen idea as soon as I can afford to kit it up :)

 

Medieval Mermaid by Arelate Studio

Copyright Nancy Spies, Arelate Studio, 2004.

Medieval Mermaid by Arelate Studio

Today’s selection was chosen by my five-year old nephew :)

Chart: This Arelate Studio chart is printed on the inside of a double-sided, folded A3 cardboard sheet. The design is whole cross stitch only, with large swathes of single colour stitching. However, the chart is printed so small that it is difficult to determine which symbol is used where.  This is a chart to read in good light only; I would strongly recommend making an enlarged working copy. Unfortunately permission to make a working copy is not listed on the chart.

Stitches: Pattern uses whole cross stitches only.

Materials: DMC stranded cotton. Stitched on 18ct “White” Aida.

Designer’s Notes: The ship is adapted from an 11th-14th Century pick-up double cloth from Krykås Church, Jämtland, Sweden. The mermaid is adapted from a 14th Century manuscript illustration. The fish are adapted from a 14th century painting, the Retable of St. Christopher.

Why I was attracted to this design: Like the designer, I was also a member of the Society for Creative Anachronism. I actually conversed with Nancy a few times on different forums about historical clothing, textiles and embroidery before she started into Arelate Studio and I left the SCA. This feeds completely into my love of the historic. Nancy even lists the exact source for each of the main elements in all of her charts.

So why haven’t I stitched it? I love medieval woodcuts and textiles and fibres and dyes. And I love the designs Nancy puts together here. What I don’t like is her use of DMC threads and white Aida fabric. Bright white fabric, the blue-white we see today is not the type of white we would have seen in medieval times. I would “feel better” stitching this on a warm-hued, ever-so-slightly off-white linen. It “feels” a more authentic fabric to me. Similarly a flat uniformly coloured thread was what dyed aimed for, but rarely achieved. Again I would “feel happier” substituting some of the subtle hand dyed threads such as Gentle Arts or Weeks in place of the uniform DMC.

And again as soon as I plan to do these kinds of changes, the pattern ends up back in my stash, the plans completely unrealised. I’m learning habits about myself writing this blog.

Where can you buy it? Arelate Studio no longer sells direct to the public, but she does have an official distributor, otherwise your LNS or ONS can still specially order it in for you. You should pay around $9.95 (US) for this design.

Discussion questions: DMC on White Aida feels too sterile to me for a piece that has such historical motifs. Yet this design does not claim to be historic or “authentic” in any way.  Arelate Studio has taken historical elements and used them in a modern medium, why shouldn’t she use modern-looking materials? In fact, uniform white fabric and uniform thread colour were what historical embroiders wished they could have used.

Is this my perception of “it looks like it should be old therefore it should be imperfect”? Why does it niggle at me? Does it niggle at anyone else? Is there anything similar that niggles at you?

Status:
7 Apr 2012: Haven’t gotten off my duff to work out thread and fabric choices.  Suggestions gratefully received!