Thursday, January 2, 2014

Center Panel Finished!

    Happy dancing - finished the center panel of the Pentecost altar cloth  in time to ring in the New Year.  Now have the 4 side panels, and a pair of chalice covers,  and the Neverending Project is done...
    A badly-lit photo of the whole piece-

  And a close-up showing some of the fillings, and a hint of the silver.

   Blessed Nativity, Happy New Year, and the joys of the season!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

I Can't Believe I Forgot To Post At Pentecost...

    You'd think I would REMEMBER, after all that work!  I finished the aer (chalice veil) just in time,  attaching the last bit of fringe and the ribbons about 6 hours before it was to be used.  Here you see it worn by our priest in the Great Entrance-

   If you've never expereienced an Orthodox Divine Liturgy, the Great Entrance is when the Gifts (the elements of Communion) are processed through the church.  When the priest returns them to the altar, the aer is removed and used in the covering and blessing of the Eucharist.
   Anyway,  here's the thing in itself -approximately 150 hours of stitching, silk, wool,and silver on round-thread linen, lined in silk, silk fringe and ribbons.

   And finally, am almost finished with the center panel of the altarcloth - 4 side panels and 2 chalice covers to go.Here's to finishing before Palm Sunday,2014!

Thursday, May 23, 2013


Working my fastest in hopes of finishing the smaller pieces by Pentecost.  Daytime is for gardening and cleaning and cooking and all that fun stuff;  way too late into the night is for stitching.  I've listened my way through several Brit-cop shows, and last night delved into "Destination Truth"- you never have to look up much for that, since you KNOW they're never going to find the creature.  Whoever invented the "go-somewhere-find-nothing-tangible" genre of "reality" is a GENIUS.

  Anyway, here's the center design of the aers (chalice veil), now for the borders!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Syncronicity? Serendipity? Something!

   This past Sunday was Palm Sunday for the Orthodox.  It is a joyful feast, the end of Lent and the beginning of Holy Week,  and the liturgical color is green.
    And so I saw Father Michael's "green" vestments for the first time -
  And here is the half-completed center section of the altar cloth-
How cool is that? Pentecost is going to be a very well-coordinated Holy Feast!

  The rest of Holy Week is a rush of services- an average Holy Week is 30+ hours in church.  Then there are 50 days until Pentecost.  There is no way in the world to finish the altar cloth in that time (next year!) but I'm thinking if I switch gears to the aers and chalice covers...

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

A Milestone - sorta

  Well, after about 125 hours of stitching (and now into my 4th British Cop series on Netflix) I have almost finished the 1st half of the center panel of the altar cloth.  Lookit -
   The ground fabric looks pink because of my work light...  I am truly pleased with how this is looking so far.
   Now on to the NEXT 125 hours.  And the 125 after that.  And the 125 after THAT....

Thursday, March 21, 2013

50 hours

  About 50 hours of stitching into the center panel of the altar cloth (this bit will finish out at 39" x 39", BTW).  This photo doesn't show the color well, but it's the best I could manage past midnight with a little yaller kitten trying to grab the camera (she likes the whirring noise it makes).

     And speaking of little yaller kittens, she posed for us on my new bandana - she must be a Deadhead at heart!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Aaaand We're Off!

     After a few days of staring in terror at nearly $300 in linen,  measured a dozen times and MADE...THAT...FIRST...CUT (I suffer from Fear of Shears.  Takes me forever to get up the courage to make- that- first- cut!)  and got the first piece basted to the scroll rods, and the center and edges of the first section (altarcloth center panel)were counted and marked.
    The Giant Skeins Of Silk are on the way (a good two weeks sooner than expected!  Thank you, Nordic Needle!) and meanwhile, I have a couple of small skeins of each thread.  Time to start the fun stuff!
    First evening, about 3 hours work -with some occasional distractions from "Wire In The Blood"-  produced the outline of the altarcloth's center cross -

   Evening two, four a total of a little more than 8 hours stitching (and another 3 episodes of Wire in the Blood!) and the center is taking shape-
  No silver added here yet,still thinking about its best use in this section - you can design til your eyeballs fall out,  the actual threads and fabric ALWAYS looks a little different than that pattern graph!
  And now for the required-by-the-internet kitty content!  Butterbean and Tortellini have been released into the general population with the rest of the Clowder, and are making themselves right at home-

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Giant,Huge, I've-Lost-My-Mind Project, or how Liadain spent the rest of her life....

    Okay, y'all.  Nothing exceeds like excess,  right?  So somehow, when it was mentioned that it would be lovely to have a beautiful new altar cloth for our beautiful old new church for the Feast of Pentecost,  Auntie Liadain lost her mind and popped up and said "Oh, I can do that, I have just the idea!"

  And you know what, I DO.  Been wanting to work something from this design for years, and could never grasp the "thread" of translating it to blackwork - until I offered to make it for the church.  I began with this -

an illustration from the 1896  l'Arte de Crietien de Egypte - Motifs de Broderie Copte",  by Therese de Dillmont (DMC).  (you can download these books in PDF at Antique Pattern Library - enjoy!).  As you can see, this is a pattern for a needleweaving/pattern-darning technique.   Took some fiddling and experimentation to see exactly how to translate this into the squares of counted blackwork, but once I got a grip on the center section and one of the leaves, I had it and we were off to the races.

         My first "translation" was pretty literal (except the bunny.  The bunny wasn't quite the thing.)

The PDF chart for this can be downloaded on the Free Stuff page at Practical Blackwork -
Pentecost One chart  (scroll down to"freebies from the management)
  As you can see, it's pretty close to the original,with the addition of center and border crosses.

    Of course Auntie Liadain can never leave well enough alone. Looking at other illustrations in the book,I saw other elements I liked, and I worked them into a larger version.

The chart for this can ALSO be downloaded at Practical Blackwork - Pentecost Two Chart (again, scroll down!)

    This is looking pretty good, right?  So I enbiggened it to fit the size of the altar (39" square) which translated to 1 stitch on the chart = 3 stitches on fabric.   This would call for really REALLY wide evenweave linen.  The widest and best I found was25-count round yard linen  from Hedgehog Handworks, which is beautiful beautiful touchy-feely sumptuous stuff (and ON SALE through February, y'all!).

          This made really big empty spaces, of course, which called for fillings,and then I rethought the drape of the shape-  Eastern Orthodox churches have lots of candles, and censors full of burning coals, and all sorts of stuff going on.  A closer fit would be better,and so I "uncornered" the design-

  (Sorry, kids, no chart for THIS one!)   - and Behold,  I decided I had designed this design about as designedly as it could get, and I backed slowly away from the pencils.  Until, ofcourse, I remembered there were more pieces needed -

  the aers- (never sure exactly how to spell that,
but it's a piece used in the Great Entrance/
 preparation of the Eucharist)


              and the chalice covers (need 2 of these).
               Okay.  NOW I am done designing.          

    Pentecost is also the Festival of First Fruits, and green is the color.  I won't bore you with the details of choosing the right threads for this project - let's just say that I now have a HUGE stash of assorted green silks, cottons, and linen threads! - but I finally decided on materials from the Caron Collection - for all outlines, "Impressions" (50/50 silk/wool) in emerald variegated,  for fillings "Waterlilies" (stranded silk) also in emerald variegated.  There will be silver threads for accent, and most likely some sort of silver trim/ fringe/galloon/something to finish the whole thing off -here's very bad shot of the color test that decided the issue-
   Hoping my progress pictures will show the color better, but the variegated threads add a great deal of depth without my poor old brain having to choose a shade of green for every single leaf.
   And there you have it, the rest of the story of what I've been doing these last few months.  Next up will be Getting Brave Enough To Cut The Linen!