Sunday, October 27, 2013

A BIG Embroidery Event!

My First (and last? – it’s expensive) EGA National Seminar, “Winner by a Stitch,” in Louisville Kentucky, October 2013.   

Don't know why the font size seems to be messed up, tiny most places, larger others.  I fooled with it and can't fix it.  Use the zoom?

Although for 25+ years I have been in several EGA chapters (Rochester, San Diego, Boston, Memphis), I have never attended a National Seminar until this year.  Seminars are held all over the U.S., but this year’s was close enough to drive to – Louisville, Kentucky.   

Louisville is a one day drive, but I stretched it to two days each way.  Must have time for ambling along the NOT interstate, at least part way, and stopping at interesting sites and……antique shops! 

Staying at the Shaker Tavern in southeast Kentucky, I knew there was good antiquing in nearby Franklin, a small city with a charming courthouse square.  After 15 minutes in Bright’s Antique World,, I knew I should have a minimum two hours to really look around, but it was getting close to darkness.  Still, in 15 minutes I managed to find some treasures! 

I was attracted by the pretty stationery box, but when I picked it up discovered it was heavy and full of nice buttons – mostly small whites, clear cut glass in several sizes, sets of enameled metal, vintage Czech glass buttons, and a little envelope of bone rings!!  Cost – $5.  Since I make jewelry with buttons, I am always on the lookout for bargain finds.  Maybe everyone is on the lookout, because lately I have seen mason jars and bags full of junk buttons in the $10 - $20 range, crazy.

It looks like a singleton button was started on one of the bone rings.  I have a wonderful book, purchased in the Macclesfield Silk Museums this summer, on making passementerie buttons, including singletons. (author and supplier)

The box is displayed here on a cute piece of feed sack fabric, also found at Bright’s, along with: antique 1910’s (Downton Abbey!) dress catalog and a mint condition Larkin Company catalog.  My sister has a little Larkin desk, so I’ll send the booklet to her.
Love the "Don't Rub Your Life Away:
The next day I drove into Louisville, for the first time!, but it was pretty easy to find my way to the hotel.  I arrived in time for the opening banquet.  The entrée was very good, and they found an extra vegetarian meal for me, which I had forgotten to request, very nice.  The ‘famous’ Derby pie was stone cold (described in the menu as delicious warm with whipped cream), and the banquet room was also frigid, temperature-wise. 

The evening’s speaker was not able to attend (her house was flooded), and the replacement spoke for 5 – 10 minutes about a charity she works for.  It is a good charity that helps struggling women.  The original speaker was going to talk about the charity, plus her husband who is a retired, very winning jockey.  I get that Louisville is all about the Derby, but thought the banquet program, after various awards were presented, would be about  e m b r o i d e r y ….or…. hats!  The banquet theme was hats, and lots of ladies wore fabulous hats (I forgot to bring one).  The table decorations were a rather inexpensive, unattractive, straw-ish hat, which could be purchased for $5, but I didn’t see any takers on the hats!

Expensive opening banquet rating: ««

My Monday and Tuesday workshop was with Sylvia Murariu, “Partridge in a Pear Tree.”  I learned how to make Romanian Point Lace, a name the teacher has given it.  Sylvia said this needle lace technique originated in Italy.  I love the portability of needle lace.  We even learned to make the small crocheted cording that the needle lace is attached to.  There was some needle felting as part of the project, onto the canvas background, but I wasn’t especially happy with mine, so I may use pre-felt, cut to shape, instead.
Sylvia, who learned lace making as a child in her native Romania, is a very good, and fun, teacher.  All the special techniques were demonstrated in regular and very large sizes, and Sylvia was willing to go over a lesson many times. 



Some of the written directions were a bit unclear as to when different parts of the design should be worked, so a lot of notes were taken.  Sylvia's many sample pieces were beautiful.

Sylvia Murariu class rating: ««« ½

Sylvia has several books, many patterns, and some supplies at
Here is a photo of her amazing lace embellished vest:

Check out this old booklet of needle laces online at:

Ellen and Harriet did studio time Monday and Tuesday, called "Stable Time" at this seminar.  Ellen is working on a pillow for her granddaughter, who loves horses.  I asked how many horses she had to complete, answer "Thousands!"  Harriet is working on a whitework piece. 
FOOD (Very Important):  We found a Mediterranean and Ethiopian restaurant, just one block from our hotel, Addis Grill,  Delicious, healthy food!  Got the Ethiopian sampler platter, mmmmm!

Harriet and I also purchased the one week Fitness Center membership, a bargain at $10.  Every day we walked the treadmills for 30 minutes or so, looking out (from the top floor of the hotel!) at the wide Ohio River below.

Wednesday was a day off.  In the morning I walked to the Nulu (how cute, like SoHo, or NoHo) neighborhood, very close to downtown.  A free trolley runs to it, but I never saw it go past (I was probably in a shop).

Joe Ley Antiques on Market Street has beautiful displays, on three floors of a historic building, of furniture, glassware, etc.  But the things I like were either thin or for display only (an odd ‘general store’ behind chicken wire had a shelf full of old talc jars, all presumably n.f.s.!).  This huge antique emporium offered merely ½ of 1 shelf of sewing related smalls.  I did purchase a sweet little pin keep.  Linens on second floor rather messy, nothing special, over priced.  Pricing scheme was interesting – at the front door you are handed a little piece of paper with the pricing codes revealed.  Everything has an ‘original’ and a ‘sale’ price, which seemed funny.
After wearing myself out trying to find goodies at Joe Ley, I walked another block to Ghyslain, where I had a delicious egg croissant sandwich, mmmm so good!  Each table at this bistro has a tray containing three kinds of exotic salts, which you can purchase in little plastic bags to take home (I did).  They also sell expensive, but very good, chocolates.

On the way back to the hotel I found, at St. Vincent de Paul Thrift Shop, a canvas tote bag, to carry my newly purchased books home.  I also found a 90+ year old candy store!  Muths has been making chocolate, taffy, caramels (Modjeskas are famous) and more since 1921.  Why, oh why did I spend $10 for 4 (delicious) chocolates at Ghyslain, when just down the street I could have bought 40 (equally delicious) chocolates at Muths, for nearly the same price?!  Of course, this did not stop me from loading up at Muths too!  CC and I now have a pretty basket of assorted chocolate and candies between us on the couch in the tv room.  We are mostly good and only eat one (1) piece per day.
Visit this website for more pictures of Muth's, including candy making:
Wednesday afternoon I took the offered artisan tour.  The Louisville Stoneware tour was really interesting!  Although it is not the style of pottery I would collect, our tour guide was excellent and the factory workers very friendly.  It was very interesting to see the process from the large pile of raw clay to the finished pieces out of the kiln. 
The glass tour was a disappointment.  We were standing above and behind the glass making floor, and a glass wall was between us and the glass blowers.  An apprentice was stationed outside, and he was very good at explaining things.  The exhibit of gallery glass was ok (inspired by children’s books, I think).  Nothing unusual calling me in the gift shop.
After the glass studio I decided to leave the bus and walk back to the hotel (not far).  I stopped at the Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory and had a fabulous tour of the factory.  It was fun to see all the steps in making a baseball bat, and how the process has been updated over the years.  They now have additional lathes which are computerized (not operating when we toured in late afternoon) that can pop out made-to-order bats for MLB players just by entering their name or code (info stored in computer).  Museum was interesting too, but did not have enough time in it.  Would like to have gone into the batting cage, wouldn’t that be fun?  Gift shop so-so, lots of stuff for kids and their Dads (and Moms), no good postcards.
Photography not allowed in the factory, but I took this picture through a window from the sidewalk:

Met Harriet for supper.  Our favorite Mediterranean placed was not open yet, so we walked over to Hillbilly Tea on First Street. 
We had the best iced tea (3 kinds) and best BLT’s (that’s biscuit, bacon, lettuce and tomato – mmmm!) while sitting at the rustic front window table, watching passersby, including a large group of suits (the last suit watched us watching and gave a wink!)
We had to rush back to the hotel to attend the TVR (Tennessee Valley Region) party.  Somehow we managed to walk down the stationary escalator to enter the party, late, in the center of the room, without our tickets.  Embarrassing.  The party was fun, short, and I won the table decoration, a bag full of embroidery threads and floss!  
SHOPPING!  EGA Seminars include a wonderful bookstore and semi-permanent vendor (Stitchville U.S.A).  Ruth Kern,, ships books to the venue, and her tables were loaded with new books and a few old classics on every topic of embroidery.  I’m afraid I am more than a little addicted to new, beautifully photographed books on too many subjects.  I did purchase several books, including Jan Messent’s "Celtic, Viking and Anglo Saxon Embroidery.Her artwork amazes me, and this book is about making books out of fabric, fiber and stitches!  Makes me think of the occasional album you find of, say, crocheted stitch samples.  Taken to a whole different level!

Also found, a new felting book by Moy Mackay,  Moy makes beautiful pictures with roving.  I don’t think I’m going to make pictures with roving, but her art is incredible, and this is a how to book. 
On Tuesday evening we had Merchandise Night, called "Tack Room" here at the Lousiville Seminar, when any person or group with something to sell can rent a table.  I think there were about 50 tables, not sure because I ended up working at one of them.  I helped a dealer set up her booth.  Ellen has lots and lots of older books and booklets (smocking, ribbon embroidery, heirloom sewing, etc.), plus supplies.  She also has a large collection of vintage and antique sewing notions, three very large boxes of vintage carded buttons, and tons more.  After helping Ellen set up, I realized she was going to be alone, so I stayed to help, which was good because her booth was mobbed as soon as the doors opened, and stayed very busy for two hours. 
I was not expecting any payment, and was very pleased to help.  But Ellen did mark the price down on a sweet set of sterling silver ribbon threaders.  I’ll put these with my small collection of silver chatelaine pieces Lulu and Carolyn have given me over the years.  Note to Sharon: I took the photo before polishing them, they look real pretty polished!
I didn’t get to shop at Merchandise night!  Oh well, probably best not to have that opportunity! 

Shopping rating: ««««

A very good exhibit of embroideries by Fiber Form members was in the great hall.  Fiber Forum is interesting.  You have to be juried in, and members are doing some pretty creative things, but still in traditional techniques such as cross-stitch and surface embroidery.  I loved “Starry Starry Night” by Jane Wheeler, the first place winner.  The embroidery stitches seem to be done under and over black netting.  “Healing Box” by Catherine Jordan was interesting, and gloves were placed next to it so you could open to look inside.  Peggy Huffine showed two really cool embroideries of her dogs, very different.  It looked like chiffon or fine netting was placed over a drawing or picture of her dogs on fabric, with surface stitching embroidered over the chiffon fabric that resembled the lines of a colored pencil drawing.  Kind of.  This description does not do justice to the original.  The eyes were wonderful!
EGA National also brought out pieces from their collection, from early costume and fragments of embroideries to contemporary works.  Also on exhibit were Group Correspondence Courses examples, and students’ pieces from the Master Craftsman program.

Exhibits rating: ««««
On Thursday and Friday Harriet and I took a class with Jane Nicholas, “Rose and Grape Hyacinth.”  I only have five or six of Jane’s many books, and it was thrilling to take a class with her.  She is the most professional, best teacher I have ever taken a class with.  Nothing is left out, steps are well organized, timing is just right for introducing a new technique or stitch just as it is needed.  Our design was teeny!  Those little butterfly wings are about 3/8” long.  The long and short stitch, oh boy, that might be my least favorite embroidery stitch.  And making them on a 3/8” wing is quite a challenge.  But I think my one wing so far completed looks pretty good.  Jane has a new book coming out soon, “Stumpwork Butterflies and Moths.”  I can’t wait to add it to my collection.
I asked Jane what might be the next book in the series (after butterflies), perhaps spiders?  But  she said she would never do spiders, nothing with eight legs!  She indicated that stick insects could be calling her.
Jane Nicholas class rating: «««««
“Certificates of Completion” kind of silly (how does the teacher know I am going to complete the project?!). 
More FOOD!  On Friday I didn’t want to go back to the Mediterranean restaurant, for the 4th time.  Got my car out of the garage, once we found it, and drove back to Nulu.  We had a delicious lunch at Ghyslain, vichyssoise and leek and potato soups, big salad, the best croissants, and I took home a key lime tart for later.  Paintings and mosaics on exhibit at Ghyslain (the waiter did not know the artist's name):
Saturday, before checking out of the hotel, we went to Nulu again to Toast, a happening eating place on Market Street.  The wait was 30 minutes, but they told us to try the bar seating.  We found two spaces two seats apart.  A nice Louisville gentleman switched seats with us.  We started a conversation with Paul, and he has a wine / bourbon shop a few store fronts away.  Of course we had to visit after our good but not fabulous breakfast at Toast (pass on the hash brown casserole), and we took home two lovely bottles of Kentucky bourbon.  Paul changes the wine tasting menu each week, with ten new wines featured.  There are also bourbon tastings, $5.

Another trip to Muths?  Well, Harriet had not been there yet!

Food ratings, Louisville:  Galt House, not even one star – banquet dinners so-so, express lunch only one “so,” and we tried Magnolia twice, with disappointing results each time (I actually asked them to take the bread pudding off my bill!).

Ghyslain, Hillbilly Tea, and Addis Grill – each get ««««!
National EGA Seminar Experience:  ««««  Teachers very good to excellent!  Shopping fun!  Exhibits very good.  EGA Volunteers and staff friendly and helpful.  (When you think that almost the entire seminar is planned and organized by volunteers, it is pretty amazing.)  Hotel staff very nice.  Hotel way too cold (it’s October, turn the ac off!).  Except when it was too hot in some of the class rooms.  Louisville has nice walkable downtown neighborhoods, a nice river park nearby.  Speed Art Museum closed for renovations, completely closed with no satellite exhibits.
Harriet is a good sport.  She doesn’t mind taking the two lane roads instead of the “Rivers of Trucks” (interstates), even though it meant taking two days instead of one to get home.  And she keeps her tablet and eye out for possible DQ stops!  We stayed overnight at the Shaker Tavern, arriving there early enough on Saturday to go over to the Museum.  I really love this small South Union Shaker Village in Auburn, Kentucky.  Only a few furnished buildings remain and are open to the public, the large Centre House building and smaller Ministry Shop, but the exhibits in these buildings are really good.  A new exhibit in one of the rooms are pieces of metal grave markers that were recently excavated.  (The person who purchased the Shaker land after the village closed, in the 1920’s, bull-dozed the Shaker cemetery and used the ground up stone to spread on his fields to enhance the soil.  He also tore down many of the buildings.)
I love the laundry room.  At least this woman got to sit down on the job for a little while!
What a cute little sewing table in the Ministry Shop building. 
In the background below is a recently renovated Shaker barn, where concerts are held for special events.  Harriet and I found this foreground marker especially interesting (there are many markers on the grounds, where buildings once stood).

 Poor Jenny.  It seems the Shakers were very good to her. 

The book store and gift shop is really good!  I found a new book (new to me) there on Shaker commercial ephemera.  I love the Shaker “fancy goods” and would like to try reproducing a little sewing basket from woven poplar, if only I could find a source for woven poplar.
The Shaker Tavern is so nice, and the rates are quite reasonable. Joanne is a wonderful  hostess and cooks up good breakfasts!  The rooms are very comfortable with simple antique furnishings.  Admission to the museum is free to guests at the Tavern. 

Joann recommended a wonderful place for dinner, Federal Grove, a few miles down the road from the Shaker Tavern, and, interestingly, identical architecture (1870’s).  That was the best meal, from salads to desert, and very generous.  They even make their own maple syrup, and describe themselves as "the southernmost maple syrup producer."  Being a New Englander, I had to try it, and it is good!
It was a fun week at my first EGA National Seminar.  Now I have to get to work on my two class projects!!
Also purchased from Ellen, a sweet advertising card for Willimantic Thread.  Whenever I see old Willimantic Thread ephemera I have to get it.  Many years ago Charlie and I made a trip to Willimantic, Connecticut, to take a tour of the town and museum.  We visited the textile and history museum,  and learned from the director that when the last of the thread mills closed the company owners, instead of donating machinery, artifacts etc. to the museum, carted everything to the dump.  She had to go scavenging in the town dump for items to display in the museum.  At the time, Willimantic was not looking very good, it seemed like a town down on its luck, like many other old New England mill towns.  I hope things are better for Willimantic now.  The museum website is very good, with a lot of information about the history of textile mills in the northeast.
 I was able to 'fix' the card with Photoshop Elements.