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Saturday, October 18, 2008

The Urge to Embroider...

Well it must be getting cooler as I have a strong urge to get stitching on some embroidery project. Unfortunately/ per usual I have a coinciding increase in arthritis symptoms. Kind of a frustrating little thing. I've been thinking of ways to decrease our monthly budget by 15 to 20 dollars per week so I can toss a Y membership into the mix. I want to go and take advantage of the water fitness classes. I'm also hoping they have whirlpool and sauna at our local Y.

As for embroidery, I'm pondering what sort of project to begin. I'm very drawn to doing some kind of white work and Mountmellick embroidery is especially on my mind at the moment, more so than Hardanger which I've done the past couple of winters.

Mountmellick is an Irish folk embroidery done on a sturdy white fabric with threads that resemble cotton crochet or knitting thread. Its quite heavy and has many practical uses in the home as it is not so 'fine' as some forms of embroidery. I do have a book on the subject that I purchased when I worked at Nordic Needle back in Fargo ND. I haven't done a project yet but I am thinking I'd like to do some curtains for my bedroom--which means it would be pricey to do unless I can find a suitable fabric and thread that are very inexpensive. I guess I'm going to start looking for some sort low-cost alternative to try.

Mountmellick originated during the 1840s in Mountmellick Ireland. A Quaker lady taught it to many of the local women during the potato famine. The designs were based on nature--simple flowers, ferns, clovers and such like. They work the ladies did was sold to help support the 'distressed Irish gentlewomen'. It was something the ladies could do for employment during a very hard time.

I love the simple designs and the sturdy elegance of this form of embroidery and have great respect for its history. It seems fitting to me to perhaps explore ways to adapt this traditional embroidery to a semi-frugal form that would suit me in our day. I looked into buying the traditional materials and of course that is pricey--so I'm going to do a bit of looking around and see what I can find that will serve and is less costly. A fun project to get working on.

Mountmellick is not a counted embroidery form, like Hardanger and it has no cut work, only simple 'crewel-like' stitches and padded stitches and usually the 'lace' edging was done by knitting fringe--which is also kind of neat.

I am thinking I'd like to make some designs using pokeberry, dogwood and the birds in my garden--perhaps the Pokeberry kitty's too-- as inspiration. This won't be the first embroidery project that will reflect my Irish heritage a little bit, I've been meaning to do something that would honor my Polish ancestry as well--but I have not gotten in the mood yet. Snutki embroidery is one of the Polish forms I know of--I have some patterns for that as well but haven't done it. I may incorporate some poppies in my Mountmellick design however--that will at least give a little nod to dear family on that side of the tree. :)

Once I find suitable semi-frugal supplies, I'll probably start by working some small pieces for 'samplers' in order to get used to the stitches and perfect the designs. I'll certainly post photos as I get something accomplished. Fun for fall and winter!

1 comment:

  1. I can't wait to see your samples of embroideries you choose! I want to see hardanger...but this other type you are talking about is intreguing to me because I come the closest to Quaker beliefs in my Christian life! That would be neat to try some...I am going out on the web now to see what I find on it! Thanks, Mary!

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