Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Time for some liturgical embroidery

My mind is running a mile a minute with thoughts of silk threads of various weights and twisted or multiple strands, metallic threads, blending filaments, tiny silk ribbon, satin stitch, split stitch, other types of filling stitches, applique approaches, ground fabric types and weights, and so on.

I'm working with a designer on a priest's stole for the statewide level of the Daughters of the King, an organization of women in the Episcopal church dedicated to prayer, service, and evangelism, with the emphasis on prayer. The stole will be used by our chaplain at statewide DoK assemblies, Quiet Days and other retreats, and our annual All Saints Day Eucharist service. It will also be available for admission services (into the order) and for our funerals.

The designer will create the stole in a "crazy quilt" style, using a wide variety of gorgeous fabrics -- silks, silk velvets, linen, perhaps a bit of very old cloth of silver, and some others. The ends of the stole will be a very deep, rich blue and the colors will lighten going up the stole through medium blues to pale blues and finally creams and whites.

My part is to embroider a 3 1/2 inch version of our order's cross (a modified Greek fleury cross; see the DoK Web site) in grays and silvers, and applique it to the lower part of one side of the stole, and then to embroider a small version of the cross on the stole where it passes in back of the priest's neck.

I'm excited! and nervous! and excited! The first task is to explore and then decide how to attach the large cross to the stole. Invisible applique? Normal applique, with the edges covered by satin stitch or by something simpler? That will dictate the weight of the ground fabric. That in turn will help me decide what to use to fill this rather substantial, plain cross area. We won't include the wording, but I do want to represent the bars across the ends of the arms before they separate into three parts.

I'm certainly doing some small test pieces first, probably of the end of the cross's arm, the center of the cross, and a trial or two of attaching it to something similar to the stole.

This is quite a switch from the small counted cross stitch pieces I've been working on, especially the rustic sorts of things. Yet I've always wanted to do liturgical embroidery, especially altar linens. I never thought I'd have the opportunity to contribute to a stole, but here I am. Everything I've ever learned, enjoyed doing, and read about is dancing around in my brain, overjoyed to have their drawers and cupboards opened and rifled through. Time to pull out my old favorite resources.

One of the first books I pulled out was my copy of the recent reissue by DMC of Therese de Dillmont's Encyclopedia of Needlework. Go back a hundred years to see some great diagrams of serious needlework!

Hmmm! Hmmm! Oh boy!

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