Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Foxy lady (well, Baroness actually)

Photo by Gwen Kelly
I am not a counted blackwork fan. Let's just get that out of the way. Actually, I love it and lust after people's pretty work, but I am rather hamfisted,with bad eyes and counted work makes me grumpy. I never do pretty TINY regular blackwork. I am, however, willing to do the sort where I can draw things out. But I'm not really known for my blackwork, so the fact that I embroidered this still makes me laugh.

I was supposed to help the current Baroness of Gryphon's Lair with an Italian dress she wanted made for 12th Night. She changed her mind as the event got closer and decided to have someone else make her a different dress. When I saw her next, I was still standing there with my helium hand up and she asked if I'd make her a camicia. Sure, no problem. Then she asked me to do some blackwork rabbits to match a suit that was being made for her husband. She was super excited because she'd never had any blackwork done before. Hmmm. Ooooookay, sure. Blackwork.

Did I mention that this conversation happened at Solstice which gave me less than a month until 12th Night? I started working out patterns immediately. Nothing really clicked. And then I stopped and thought about Her Excellency and asked if she would mind if I substituted foxes and guitars. She's a Laurel for her music as well as for her illumination and foxes are her personal badge. She became very excited about that idea and the ideas worked better for me.

I ended up doing a very simple fox face, a guitar, and a few musical notes for the cuffs.
Since the camicia band is pretty long and I was rushed for time with the holidays all stuffed in there, I simplified it even more and did just the fox face and a repeating diamond for that.

The camicia itself is done in a hankieweight linen. Rather than doing an insertion stitch, I got lazy and just inserted some antique bobbin lace in the seams. I tried out Margo's Italian underthings pattern which I got from her Kickstarter project. It really isn't a pattern, just directions. Which is understandable since all it is is big rectangles. She credits Bella from Realm of Venus in the intro, and that is all this really is. The same stuff I've been using on all my other camicias.

I guess I could do a little review of the pattern. It is very well written as all of Margo's patterns are, but I wasn't really that impressed. Nothing new or interesting here. The camicia isn't even a pattern, as I said. The pocket pattern is nice I guess, but drawing your own is just as easy as cutting out or tracing hers. The underbodice pattern is for an odd piece that is documented very late by one painting and I don't think I'd ever have a use for it. The partlets are nice, but already available on Margo's website for free. Having a drawer pattern for someone other than myself might be useful, but they've never really struck me as something you actually need a pattern for. I am probably just a grump though. I know many people, like my sister-in-law for instance, who require a pattern to make anything. I got this pattern specifically to be able to give to people doing Italian for the first time. I think it'll be wonderful for that as it brings together information available in a variety of places. I'm glad I supported the Kickstarter though. There's been a bit of delay getting the other two patterns out,(for the dresses and zimarra)  but I'm looking forward to them..


  1. How do you fit the blackworked strips around the curved neckline of the camicia? Do you embroider a curved piece of material, or pleat and ease the material to the curve?

    1. That is the band in the last picture. It's just a straight strip. I pleated the camicia and backsmocked it so it was stable and then applied the band. Since it went on by hand it was easy to ease it around.

  2. Lovely work. You can look at doing counted work as a learning experience, right?

  3. The last major counted work I did was Marilyn Imblum's Christmas Angel counted cross-stitch pattern that I worked up for my mom on 32 count linen. The face is 1 over 1 and I almost died. http://www.tiag.com/images/designs/LL-39.gif It took me a year. Never again. I've learned all I wanna learn. I'm willing to be ignorant.