the West Kingdom Needlework Guild

Inter-Kingdom Intensive Needlework Symposium

Report from IKINS

September 2008

Reviews of the first Inter-Kingdom Intensive Needlework Symposium (IKINS) in September have ranged from “fabulous” to “fantastic!” The display of past needlework projects was inspirational; the classes were taught by talented, enthusiastic teachers and were packed with information; and everyone appreciated the chance to connect with old friends and make new ones.

This was a joint effort by the West Kingdom Needleworkers Guild and the Caid School of Needlework, and has been more than a year in the planning. Mistress Eowyn Amberdrake and Dame Richenda Coffin of Caid and Mistress Isela di Bari of the West headed up the planning committee (with lots of help!) and happily hosted 32 eager needleworkers.

The symposium was run as a special “track” along with the fall session of Collegium Caidis, so symposium participants and their families could also take regular Collegium classes if they wished. The symposium classes were designed to be intensive (as the title says!) 2- to 4-hour sessions, and to cover material in depth, going beyond the brief introductory classes more often taught.

The weekend began with optional field trips on Friday to needlework suppliers Hedgehog Handworks and Needlepoints West and to the Getty Museum. Saturday, 4-hour classes were offered on Elizabethan Sweetbags In Depth (taught by Eowyn) and Opus Anglicanum (by Richenda). Sunday morning there was a choice between Elizabethan Raised Work (Sabrina de la Bere) or Traditional Padded Goldwork (Countess Albra), and in the afternoon was a 2-hour class on Or Nué (THL Teleri ap Gwynedd). It was a feast of gold thread for the eyes all around!

The Sweetbags class began with the technique for Plaited Braid Stitch, and then as people practiced their stitching, an overview of historical sweetbags and handouts to help students design a sweetbag in Elizabethan style from the elements provided. Eowyn reviewed the stitches and materials used, the elements of the designs, and notes on color usage. Her own prizewinning sweetbag (featured in Filum Aureum #33) was Exhibit A!

The class project for Richenda’s Opus Anglicanum class was a small medallion taken from an illuminated initial “Q”, with a split stitched face and letter in silk and a background in gold underside couching. This was worked on linen and can later be mounted on velvet for the cover of a needlebook. Richenda’s comment on Opus was “If it doesn’t glitter, it isn’t done!” Richenda’s Opus Anglicanum bag was featured on the cover of the Fall 2008 Tournaments Illuminated.

Sabrina’s Elizabethan Raised Work class surveyed the motifs and techniques of Elizabethan polychrome embroideries done with raised stitches: detached buttonhole, trellis stitch and hollie point. Class members made a sampler of stitches and variations for future reference.

The Traditional Padded Goldwork class was oriented toward making an embellished book cover using gold bullion techniques, including padded satin stitch, simple couching and basketweave couching. Lengths of bullion (coiled gold wire) can be couched over felt padding, over cords or directly onto the fabric surface. Countess Albra Katrine Isabel du Serpent described her class as “only a start,” and confesses that metal thread embroidery is her “lifetime addiction!”

Or nué (“shaded gold”) is a technique in which colored silks are used to couch gold thread, creating fine shadings of color with gold glittering through. It is labor-intensive, since every inch of the embroidery is covered, first with gold and then with color. But Teleri says that by the end of the class, everyone had a basic knowledge of the development of the shading process, and a good start on a small square of their own work.

Many stitchers who attended especi-ally enjoyed the cameraderie — “sharing one’s own particular brand of craziness” as one put it —- with others who get excited about the same things. There was also time between and after classes for people to continue to work on their class projects. There have been lots of comments on the effort and passion put into the teaching, on the huge amount that was learned and accomplished over one weekend, and Countess Albra was not the only one to comment that she has been “fired up and inspired!”

Left - Glove by Francesca von Hesse, from the IKINS exhibit

 

Below - Opus Anglicanum by Isela di Bari, from the IKINS exhibit

As ever, the event could not have happened without the willing participation and hard work of many. The staff of Collegium Caidis, including registrar Baron Hrorek Halfdane of Falconwood, Collegium Chancellor Baroness Finella Harper and co-autocrat Sir Gareth Nicodemus Somerset, were enthusiastic and supportive. Baroness Angelina Nicolette de Beaumont took charge of the needlework exhibit, Lady Peregrine Rose Falconer the arrangements for box lunches and Saturday dinner, and Baroness Eowyn the field trips.

People came away from the symposium with “goodies” as well! Of course there were opportunities to spend money on the field trips, and Joady of Hedgehog Handworks (Baroness Xena Baxter Wynthorp) had lovely large project bags and hedgehog waxes for all attendees. The organizing committee also prepared “goody bags” for all attendees that included handmade needles suitable for goldwork made by Richenda, molded beeswax cakes by Eowyn, a pewter “sweetbag” pilgrim badge made by Mistress Medb Renata based on a historical example, and a small bag to put them all in made by Lady Felice Filadoro. Everyone had a calligraphed name badge as well.

Teachers were thanked with more gifts: honey from Isela’s husband Dietrich, a napkin with the IKINS logo embroidered by West Kingdom Guild Minister Felicia Amondesham, and a slumped glass bead from Mistress Thea Northernridge.

The next IKINS is already being planned, and WE will be the hosts! The 2nd Symposium will be held alongside West Kingdom Fall Collegium on Saturday, October 24th, 2009.

Anyone interested is welcome to join the IKINS mailing list at Yahoo!Groups. This will be the central place where all symposium information will be posted. Anyone interested in teaching, attending, or helping with IKINS is strongly encouraged to join this group. The group address is: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/IKINS/

Group members agreed that Sabrina de la Bere had the last, best word. “Next year, bring the projects you have started and done in this intervening time. Let us all see the flowering of embroidery in this our new Middle Ages!”

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