Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Donut Heads of the Caribbean

A quick survey of antique Dutch samplers will make it clear that Dutch stitchers were very fond of the little ringlet element (a backstitched circle with a square in it, all neatly fitting into a 3 by 3 stitch area). They used it to make very decorative alphabets by plastering a series of them on all sides the letters (the Friesian sampler stitchers raised this technique to a national art form). They used ringlets to make various geometric designs. Here is a lovely example of a Dutch sampler using ringlets in various ways. (BTW, this wonderful sampler is by Diane Jourdan of Sampler Cove and is available in this month's Gift of Stitching magazine - well worth subscribing to.)

The Dutch also used these little donuts as HEADS. Although donut-headed people are sometimes shown as farmers, windmill-tenders, and what not, the most common occupation for a donut-head was the sailer. I do not know why.

Every Dutch sampler needs at least one ship, so here she is, complete with seven donut-heads. During the design phase, I was unsure what tragedy was to befall my ship - iceberg? sandbar? capsized? pirates (try making a jolly roger that small! And eye-patches over what - the donut hole?) As you can see, my question was answered when one of the poor donut-heads fell overboard. Eyewitness reports vary as to whether the cause was too much rum or clumsy heroism as the mate attempted to get the doggy down from the rigging.

BTW, boys, your anchor has gotten aweigh.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The Beast Has Been Loosed

Welcome to what I hope will become an entertaining stitching diversion. Many of you are familiar with the rich history of Dutch samplers and their many symbolic motifs. One of the more famous of these is by Permin and is called Dutch Beauty. The sampler I am creating aims to have a little fun with wordplay, imagery, and basic silliness, all drawing from the wonderful style and sensibility of the traditional Dutch samplers. It seemed only fitting to title this project the Dutch Beast.

Each of the main motifs in this sampler has been designed to look like an authentic Dutch motif until you look a bit closer or start thinking, "What on earth?" The jokes are sometimes subtle enough that only a sampler afficianado will pick up on them without a hint. I apologize to and offer thanks to the Dutch.
Official-like Notice: It will never be my intent to offend - I promise not to deliberately toy with any obvious Christian symbols (crosses, churches, etc) but please recognize that so many traditional symbols have some biblical basis or parallels that I would be left with but a windmill and a dog if I let those alone also.

Let me introduce the first motif "Mark and Dave" and explain how this all got started:

So many samplers have a motif for Joshua and Caleb, the grape bearers. They were sent into Canaan to see what bounties were there and bring them back. The motif shows the two men carrying back such a large bundle of grapes that it boggled the eyes.

I love this motif and have in my stash pile a lovely sampler designed by Gigi (in red above). I live in a big wine growing area (the mid-Columbia Valley in Washington state), so the motif seemed particularly appropriate. I was wondering, if Joshua and Caleb were sent in today what they would find.

My answer came soon when my husband read from the newspaper that fishermen were all in a frenzy to catch the world record walleye - right in this region. Scientists predicted based on records, that it would be a beauty. Our friends Mark and Dave took my husband and headed down for the river, hoping to land Walter.
Did you ever see a postcard like this? I saw one once with two guys carrying a trout that big. I couldn't find it now so you'll have to settle for the giant rabbit and your imagination.
Well, once my mind starts on something it has to play out its course. I started looking at other Dutch motifs and couldn't help myself. Tune in soon to see the next travesty.
BTW, major thanks to Vikki Clayton for feeding this beast silk, and Pat at Lakeside Linens for providing the playground.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Floss Toss - A Dutch Treat

I received a lovely packet of linen on Friday from Pat at Lakeside Linens. The three big contenders for the project were Navy Bean, Maritime White, and Lentil - all in the Vintage variety. I love them all, but think the Vintage Navy Bean will be the one.

Now for some beautiful silks, hand-dyed by the one and only Vikki Clayton. You can see the first round draft picks in the photo.

The list includes (I tried for left to right order):
  • Umbrage 3471
  • Owl
  • Brown Ale
  • Haywains 4131
  • Haywains 4129
  • Pachyderm
  • Pewter
  • Ebony
  • Steel Wool
  • Half Verdigris
  • Pine
  • Rock Pile
  • Pecan
  • Brown Berry
  • Fish Pepper 4429
  • Rum Scullion 4337

Now, you may ask, what are we going to be making... You'll have to wait just a little longer to see.