Tuesday, June 25, 2013


Mermaid pattern from Sibmacher

Getting better reference pictures is always such fun. I have no idea why, but no matter how often I tell people researching things the best way to get information is to ask the museum, I always get a hole in the pit of my stomach when I make those requests. I guess I feel I'm being frivolous and wasting their time. But, an email has been sent, so we'll see.  I'd really like a better view of the balzo and the embroidery.

Right now I'm having a hard time determining if the balzo is one of the ones that looks like hair, or just highly textured, so better pictures would be nice.  I'm changing the embroidery anyway, but it would still be great from a documentation point of view to have a good look at the original.  It does sort of look like the collar has a pretty elaborate pattern, but I can't really tell as is.

I have 5 yards of 3 oz handkerchief linen ordered from fabrics-store.com for the camicia, and ordered a hank of 2/30 Gemstone silk from Halcyon Yarn for the embroidery. I decided on a purple color since there is such contrast between the pink and black of the dress and I thought it could handle the purple.  There's also an example of purple blackwork flowers with gold on a shirt in Patterns of Fashion 4.  I'd get a page reference, but my copy is still packed-- somewhere.  I've never used the Gemstone silk, but Laura Mellin uses it for her blackwork so I figured I'd give it a shot. When I did my last big blackwork project (the disasterous blackworked coif where I did everything wrong,) I tried both Gutterman silk and Rainbow Gallery's "Splendor." I wasn't really thrilled with how thin the lines were with a single strand and wanted a bit plumper look.  The Gemstone is supposed to have that. Also, because it is sold as a weaving yarn rather than an embroidery thread, it is less expensive. It is sold either in mini-cones of 250 yards for less than $9 or hanks of 1,600 yards for about $35. I bought the hank because I wasn't sure how much I'd actually need, in great part because I'm not sure if I'm settling for just the collar and cuffs or if I'm going to add spot motifs as in the portrait.  If there is some left, I can always do some fingerloop braided cords for various parts of the outfit.

I like buying supplies. I always feel like I'm making progress on something that way-- even if I'm not.

I'm still doing drafts of the embroidery patterns.  I'd like to find a few more mermaids/undines/sirens to alternate, especially if I go with spot motifs.  And yes, there is the concern that the motifs from the late modelbooks are too late for my dress dated 1531.  I'm still juggling that with the character concept issue.  Right now its a bunch of mush in my head.  You'll get an update as soon as I have a clue what I'm deciding on.


  1. Another mermaid here, from a different Sibmacher panel: http://string-or-nothing.com/2013/01/24/hippocampi-and-undine/ You'll have to piece the two halves together - I couldn't republish the MMario version, but if you download his, the restorations I've plotted in red return the design to the historical original.

    There's also a shameless mermaid in The New Carolingian Modelbook: http://string-or-nothing.com/2005/07/27/blackwork-mermaids/

    More mermaids (freehand outline, not graphed) live in Kathryn Goodwyn's "Flowers of the Needle" collection, available free here: http://www.flowersoftheneedle.com/


  2. Thank you so much Kim! I ran across the ones in Flowers on the Needle just before I saw your message. You both have published such great references. It makes it fun rather than frustrating to go looking for inspiration.