Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Punto Antico 20th Anniversary and a new book

The Associazione Il Punto Antico is celebrating their 20th anniversary this year and commemorate it with a new book (in English and Italian!) of projects on this lovely needlework technique.

From the introduction:
Twenty years of passion: 1995-2015. In this book you will find the latest work and designs, some simple, others more complex, with in-depth explanations for their realization and all the designs charted. The embroidery is coloured and the worked articles are cheerful, adapted for young houses, a little informal... You will also find some photos from our early exhibitions, a testimony of the route which we took.
Twenty years of research, of study, of elaboration and the teaching of Italian Openwork are an important goal, at which I never thought to arrive. It is thanks to my students, to their affection, and to their friendship that these years have flown by and I would like, on this occasion, to embrace everyone.
---Bruna Gubbini

The book proposes 11 projects: a lampshade, table sets, curtains, runners, a cushion, towels; there are 16 different embroidery stitches described; lots of large colour photos to show off this latest batch of tasteful, very modern designs.

It has been interesting to see the evolution of Signora Gubbini's interpretations of this technique over the years and I must confess that I have all of her books. I find her immensely good at colour combinations and designs which are tasteful and refined while at the same time modern and cheerful. And while I personally love traditional designs and works, I can seriously consider Signora Gubbini's latest designs for gifts for the younger people in my life. That way I can have the best of both worlds: the joy of stitching the project and then that of delighting a friend or family member with a tasteful gift.

The English translation is done by Patricia Girolami, a British embroiderer who now lives in Italy for some years who is well acquainted with this needlework.

These designs are not traditional Punto Antico patterns in the historical sense and they use many stitches from other embroidery techniques not necessarily associated traditionally with Punto Antico so if you are looking to approach this technique from a strictly traditional point of view, I suggest you start with their first book.

You can purchase this or any of the many other books that the Associazione Il Punto Antico has produced through their website: http://www.edizionipuntoantico.com/

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Knots and Tassels and Maria Rita Faleri

The other day a beautiful photo meant for someone else came across my newsfeed which sparked a revisit for me to the Turk's Head Knot and tassels. For me its not the bright and shiny things that distract me, its the textile textural things... and Deruta beads...

Exceptional isn't it? It's creator is Maria Rita Faleri and she lives in Fermo in the Marche region of Italy which is located near the eastern coastline, pretty much in the middle of Italy: a little north of Rome, a little south of Florence.

Now, I knew a little bit about her and we've corresponded a couple of times about other things over the years and I told you about her wonderful Tassel book here. We started chatting about the tassel above and then another...

and another...

I mentioned that I had abandoned the Turk's Head knot which is what those little knots are and she helped me discover where I had gone wrong. I love the internet. She was nearly 9000 kilometres away and 9 hours ahead in time difference but within a few quick comments of a chat, she had made the lightbulb go on in my head.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with the instructions in her book, it was me that missed an important step. Looking at them now, they make perfect sense.

We started to chat about other things. Maria Rita is part of a cultural association in Fermo called Il Filo Che Conta (a little play on words: the thread that counts) where she teaches (among other techniques) Catherine de' Medici embroidery and knotted tassels. She edited the book on Catherine de' Medici embroidery that you'll find when you follow this link. She also wrote a book on marking stitches called Punti di Marca a few years ago.

Maria Rita told me that she will have a booth at the Abilmente trade show in Vicenza, Italy this October. It's one of the fairs that I'd love to go to one day, I really need to plan to be in Italy one autumn. Her booth is under her association's name: Il Filo Che Conta and you can find it in the Embroidery Salon area. She will have her books and materials for Catherine de' Medici embroidery, Bobbin Lacemaking and of course Tassels! Maria Rita will be there for demonstrations and she has made new kits for the three tassels you see above plus this one:

And also this adorable little bunch of grapes:

Inside the kits are the instructions, needle and threads plus two sizes of tiny wooden sticks which help in the execution of the knots. I want them all! Maria Rita tells me that this fair Abilmente is the only one she exhibits at and what she earns during the show helps keep her cultural association afloat.

Here is a report from a previous Abilmente show in 2012 where you can see some of Maria Rita's beautiful tassels displayed absolutely marvellously:

Photo copyright Gabriela Trionfi of Hobbydonna.it

If you are in Italy and go to Abilmente, please leave a comment below and tell us how it was. Drop by the Il Filo Che Conta booth and say hello to Maria Rita for me...

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Reproduction research - Tassel

For a few years I have been looking on and off for some idea of what kind of knots make up the tassels on my vintage Punto Umbro cushion that I talked about here.

The tassel is made up of a needle lace covered head with 20 little knots covering the top part and five legs which each have 18 of the same little knots on them.

I've been to thread stores in Italy and asked lots of people. Everyone who had an idea, I tried out with no real success. Always close but not exact.

Recently while looking up something else (as usually happens with research) I stumbled across a photo of something pretty close to my tassel in Rosalba Pepi & Maria Rita Faleri's lovely book on Tassels. Who knows why I didn't notice it before.

Anyway, I started looking seriously through knot books and online.

I made a few different types of knots in paracord first...

Then a few in cotone povero cotton yarn...

I like the Turk's Head knot but it was a bit too round and I also liked the Monkey Fist Knot but it didn't have enough facets.

This is a close up of the head of my tassel with all it's little knots:

Then I thought: am I making this too complicated? This tassel was made near the beginning of the 20th century - what was available to embroiderers then? There is one knot explained in the DMC Encyclopedia (scroll down to the bottom) and one in the Italian Book of Women's Work which I showed you here. I tried them both. They were the closest yet to mine.

Still, they took me some time to work and the thought of taking an hour to make each knot when I had 92 to make motivated me to investigate YouTube, now that I had the name "Chinese Knot" at least to reference. Well, I lost a few days watching YouTube videos but I finally settled on Suzen Millodot's Double Chinese Button Knot tied on a single cord because it's pretty close and because it's relatively easy. I won't know for sure until I get better at making the knot.

I added the French knots as picots in the four corners of the bottom like the ones on my tassel and I'd say that with some practise, I could be happy with these.

Here's a bottom view for comparison:

Double Chinese Button Knot

Now, I really liked the Monkey Fist knot with picots too but that will be for a tassel not related to this one. I show you a photo of a single and then a group of four knotted together just in case you might like to make some for yourself!

Monkey Fist Knot with French Knot picots

Four Monkey Fist Knots with Picots tied together.

If you know what knot it really is on my tassel, will you leave a comment below and let me know?