Friday, 28 January 2011

Books & My Other Loves

(Before I can continue with the Plaited Braid Stitch discussion, I’m waiting on a couple of books.)

Gardening with Silk & Gold

Not sure if I mentioned this book before?  It was in the County Town library.  A gem to be sure.  Great pictures – not high def but very crisp, loads of information on textile techniques & history.  Really good section on Elizabethan pattern books.


General Update

The Ring

Since the experiments with  florists wire, I’ve decided I’m going to make the Ring out of very fine silver pearl purl.  The ring falls into the category of ‘Memory Jewellery’.  Memory rings are a very old tradition in England dating from Medieval times right up to the advent of the photograph.   

The Bag

The bag (not forgotten but a tad neglected) needs to be made on 35ct linen, so my next step was to see if I could successfully work ‘Ground Stitch’ with Smooth Passing No.4 silver thread over it.  So far, not so good.  

So, I began my journey with the blue flower (if you recall) being the easiest motif, then out of a growing sense of anxiety, I next dived into the most difficult, being the acorn.  Since working that out, I learned just how old the embroidery techniques were that were being used by the Elizabethans.  The gold acorn proved to me, that apart from anything else, the Vikings  knew that the best way to control Ceylon stitch, is to stitch it upside-down, whether tubular or flat.  

Bag Tassels

The ‘Sweet Bags’ book has further confirmed another really old Saxon/Viking technique was used on the tassels of these purses, known as SOUMAK WEAVING or brocading.

This is a very exciting fact and totally fits in with my further reading.  Soumak is Near Eastern in origin and apart from proving once again how far the Vikings travelled to trade their goods, it also illustrates how clever they  were at copying these cool items.  Soumak is mainly used for carpets and small durable saddle bags, the Vikings however made theirs into wall hangings (Oseberg).  Its so interesting to note another direct link the Elizabethans had with much earlier Medieval culture. 

To my mind, Soumak weaving  is one of those developments that bridges the gap between weaving and embroidery.  Added to which its basic components consist of  a series of needle-woven KNOTS  that form and enclose the weft of the fabric.  Some of those knots were made into PLAITS……

Plaited Braid Stitch 3-D Braid

A reader very kindly contributed some of her expert knowledge on the comments section on my last post and pointed out to me that the PBS braid looks like a Lucet braid.

I’ve since had the chance to quickly whip up some Lucet braid, after reading the relevant section in my new book: ‘Celtic, Saxon & Viking Embroidery’ by Jan Messent.  (Soon to be discussed)

Almost Identical to Lucet Braid

Gina was  right, Lucet braid looks and behaves exactly like the PBS braid AND furthermore when I unravelled it and compared it to the photographs of the PBS braid, they were so similar I got goose-bumps. 

However, there is ONE subtle, but significant difference concealed within the inner workings which I hope to discuss next time as I continue along the labyrinthine path of wondering and exploring how and where PBS came from??

Further reading on Lucet Braids can be found at the Soper Lane website, here 

Remember, Jacqui Carey says in her book:

“Plaited Braid Stitch looks to me like a 4-Ridge, twill braid”.

(I think I mistakenly left out the “ridge” part when I originally quoted this - apologies.  Or maybe I did the first time but not the second?  Who knows, I just want to make it perfectly clear this time tho’.)


Filler Post Due to General Unspecified Exhaustion

You could say its that time of year but I fear I am in the grip of an all-consuming bout of book-buying-binges.  The snow has melted, the roads are clear and I am doing exactly as my mother used to do during the annual John Lewis crockery sales – I am bringing home my latest acquisitions and secreting them around the house away from the auspices of DH…

So far, the only one that is aware of this ‘strange’ clandestine  behaviour is D.Dog


aka Little Mr Big, Tarzan, He-Man & Him.  This dog may be small but let me tell you, he doesn’t miss a thing!

The other person that suspects I may soon have to admit to my ‘little problem’, is DD…


Taken whilst punting during Fresher's Week…(to J: xxx)

So, guiltily I am creating ever-more adventurous concoctions on my trusty 9-year old stove…

My cooker

Well, you know what, I must have been a little too enthusiastic  recently, because in so doing the handle of trusty oven door fell off and on a separate occasion I burnt my hand in two places.  (Hand & handle are now fine, Thankfully – Cooker, as you can see is spotlessly clean, but you know I can’t help thinking that if my dear mother were to visit, I’m sure she would say she could still see some dirt…) 

All of this to please the other HIM in my life…

Me & DH

(Mobile phone shot taken of us in Brighton 2 years ago – have I told you how much we love Brighton ?? – lol – its Cinemas, Museums, Flea Markets, fabric shops, memorabilia, retro chic, amazing art library, galleries, more shops, PLUS last year we saw a genuine Saxon warrior’s sword on sale in The Lanes – replete with  rusty jagged edge – for a mere £12,000 ! – personally I would prefer a solid gold warrior’s Torc, like the ones I saw recently at the Ashmole’.)

(By the way, on the topic of the Ashmolean Museum, I have since found out that they too permit photography of their exhibits, unless where expressly stated otherwise.) 

…And where do all these sweaty books end up?….. well, let me tell you, I’m finding out that, unlike the house, my little unassuming (rather chilly) shed  does have expanding walls.  This is consoling when one considers the dangers of a possible relapse !!  The English are very fond of their sheds and I am no exception. 


Sheds of course are the place to store anniversary presents, such as this small cordless hedge trimmer by Bosch that I thought I would only need occasionally but in fact now use all the time. 


- if you haven’t already got one, don’t waste anymore time.  I thought it would only be suited to smaller bushes, but let me tell you this thing makes mincemeat of everything except wooden flagpoles – lol !!!  Seriously, I would never be without it.  (Secretly I wanted a chainsaw but DH put me off).  The maximum width of the branches it will cut is not specified but it has an anti-blocking system “which ensures continuous cutting”.

Take heed, anything that reduces RSI of the thumb joint is a good idea and this little darling certainly does.  I had another one before that  was a whopping 1 1/2 ft and naturally unwieldy, hence I never used it.  This one is really dinky by comparison and you can replace the blades.  Always wear gloves and read the manufacturer’s safety instructions – then get to work!

oh and these…


To think it took me a month to get this item out of its box and now I consider it indispensible… This is my beloved cordless secateurs, fantastic for mincing up all the thicker detritus from a good afternoon’s pruning.  The maximum cutting width is 14mm !  (Not the same for dead Rose wood tho’)  Again, always wear gloves, keep your other hand well out of the way and read the manufacturers instructions. 

Oven Handles

Believe it or not oven handles are not that difficult to tighten up and that’s what you have to do before they completely fall off.  Twood appear all oven door handles have hidden screws.  To access them you need to take the oven door off its hinges first by carefully resting it on a blanket on the floor.     

To do that you first need to release the weird hinges.  These hinges have special safety catches.  Here’s a picture of the safety catch lifted out of position. 


Cooker booklets don’t tell you how to do this and I’ve seen plenty of people practically bolt their loose handles back on.   Fear not  - where there’s a will, there’s a way!  

Warning: Only attempt this after obtaining advice from the manufacturer of your specific cooker.  Oven doors with glass in them (like this one) need special care but can still be done. 

Oh, and here’s my latest ‘handbag’ essential: it’s a great 4-in-1 tool by Rolson, double sided and double-barrelled.  I don’t know why I didn’t buy this a long time ago?  Looks like a pen and means you’re ALWAYS ready!


While DH sinks his teeth into the results of Chapter 15 of my ‘Cooking to Ease Your Conscience’ book, I, meanwhile am on a diet that has helped me to lose 1 stone in 6 months simply by eliminating  one item from the menu –clue: it’s not chocolate !!!


So, um, all this leads me to show you my Latest Acquisition….

Textile Style 01

Textile Style 02

Gorgeous book – 70% off R.R.P, 2010 reprint !!!

And, erm, while I was walking back to catch my train, I passed this very good (had-to-have) machine embroidered silk cushion, with its price  also brutally slashed.  Not bad computerised embroidery really, they almost got it right, except for the flower on the left where the design hasn’t considered foreshortening very well…great leaves tho…


(Silk cushion purchased at HomeSense: “Unique finds.  Irresistible prices”…)

cya !



  1. Wow, one of those meandering blogs!

    Did I spot Magdelen Bridge behind the punts? Hence the Ashmole trip :-)

    Embroidery, power tools, handbag accessories :-) Cool!

  2. Hey Madame Poirot!

    What can I say - well spotted!

    Yeah, well, the thing to note about PBS on this one is that for the first time I'm very tentatively putting forward the notion that in my personal view, PBS is actually a Knot, rather than a stitch...