Sunday, January 29, 2012

Crafty Corner- Embroidery tells a Story

Bayeux Tapestry- King Harold is dead!


Embroidery tells a story

By sewsouk

There is much more to embroideries than may be seen at first glance. You have to look carefully to see the story they tell.

The first embroideries I saw were enormous French ones which filled almost the whole wall- you had to stand so far away to see what the pictures were that you lost the sense that they were made up of thousands of tiny stitches- they left me cold which is sad as they must have taken years of work by many, many gifted embroiderers.

Then my parents took me to Bayeux to see the embroidery of the Norman invasion of England - “The Bayeux Tapestry” and my love of embroidery began. Made from wool on linen and over 70 feet long its pictures wind round the room and show the journey from France, the fighting and even the arrow shot into King Harold’s eye . Although made a little later than the famous battle of 1066, in the 1070s, it nevertheless gives a fairly accurate portrayal of early medieval life- the soldiers’ uniforms stitched in minute detail- almost like a photo recording life at the time and what happened- a story full of interest to an historian as well as fibre artists.

Embroidery does not necessarily just tell its story through its pictures but can also do so from its colour, design , the type of yarn used and the style and types of stitches. It may tell of who made it, where they made it and who it was made for. For instance here in Morocco where I now am the embroidery from Fez is most often vibrant blue or black on white cotton fabric and is made up of tiny geometric shapes.

The style of Meknes is similar in the shapes and stitches but is usually in a number of bright colours

Embroidery from Meknes

Embroidery from Fez

and from Rabat embroidery is full of colourful flowers in satin stitch. Much embroidery shows off the skill of the craftswomen who made it. Families stitch the love and pride they have in their skills into the designs which were often traditionally made as a “wedding chest” for a much loved daughter or grand daughter and to show a bridegroom’s family of the quality skill and love of the bride’s family.

Embroideries can have hidden messages. Women stitched the names of their sweethearts or things they liked or were of interest to them into their work. Mary Queen of Scots famously stitched messages into her embroideries made during her years of captivity by Elizabeth 1 about politics, her favourites and rivals. World War 11 prisoners of war stitched hidden Morse code messages in embroideries supporting the King and insulting Hitler. These were so well hidden that the Germans even exhibited them in the prisoner of war camps!

With today’ s modern yarns it is possible to stitch secret messages into embroidery which are only revealed after dark when the messages glow in the dark

Embroidery is ever changing with new designs, stitches created and new subjects. Technology is also embraced in modern embroidery to tell a story. Here is a sequence of embroidered texts from separate conversations about love

Next time you look at an embroidery take a closer look to see the story or message behind the stitches.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Warm Me Up dinner ideas

Although the weather has been rather crazy in many parts of the United States, it's still January, and winter calls for some nice warming meal ideas. Nancy of NancyEllenStudios and DesignsStainedGlass and I have come up with some family favorites we'd like to share with you.

Crock Pot White Chicken Chili, from Betty Crocker

6 skinless chicken thighs (1 1/2 lb)
1 large onion, chopped (1 c.)
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 can (14 oz) chicken broth
1 t. ground cumin
1 t. dried oregano leaves
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. red pepper sauce
2 cans (15.5 oz each) great northern beans, rinsed
1 can (11 oz) white shoepeg corn
3 T. lime juice
2 T. chopped fresh cilantro

1. Remove excess fat from chicken. In 3 1/2-4 qt. slow cooker, mix onion, garlic, broth, cumin, oregano, salt and pepper sauce. Add chicken.
2. Cover. Cook on low setting 4-5 hr.
3. Remove chicken from slow cooker. Use 2 forks to remove bones and shred chicken into pieces. Discard bones; return chicken to slow cooker. Stir in beans, corn, lime juice and cilantro. Cover; cook on low setting 15-20 min. or until beans and corn are hot.

Yield: 8 servings

This next recipe is also a chili, but is great for those nights when you're short on time!

30 Minute Chili

1/2 lb. lean ground beef or ground turkey
1 medium onion, chopped
1 can (15.5 oz) chili beans
1 can (14.5 oz) chili ready diced tomatoes
1 t. ground cumin
chili powder to taste

1. In large pot, brown meat and onion. Drain.
2. Return meat and onions to pot. Add beans and tomatoes, 1/2 can of water, and seasonings. Bring to a boil, lower heat. Simmer 15-30 min.
3. Serve with shredded cheddar cheese and corn muffins (opt.)

Yield: 3-4 servings.
This recipe is great to double, even triple if you have a big enough pot. I've also played with adding corn, peppers, or other veggies, or replacing the ground meat with diced sausage links.

Everyone has a recipe that reminds them of home. For me, it's my mom's beef stew.

Mom's Beef Stew

2 lb. stew beef
3 T. flour
1 t. salt
2 T. vegetable oil
3-4 large potatoes, cut into pieces
1 large onion, chopped
4 carrots, cut into chunks
1 large (28 oz) can stewed or diced tomatoes
1 bay leaf
1/4 c. minute tapioca

1. In a bag, shake beef, flour, salt, and a dash of pepper. Heat oil in a dutch oven on large pot. Add beef and brown.
2. Add potatoes, onion, carrots, tomatoes and bay leaf. Mix well. Sprinkle tapioca over the top of mixture. Bring to a boil. Cover, lower heat and simmer 2 hr. or until meat is very tender.

Yield: 4-6 servings

This last recipe is a favorite in my house, making both kids and adults excited for dinner!

30 minute mini-meatloaves

3/4 lb. ground beef or turkey
1/2 t. salt
1/8 t. pepper
1 T. onion flakes or powder (if using onions salt, omit salt listed above)
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 c. (for beef) or 1 c. (for turkey) bread crumbs
1/2 c. tomato or spaghetti sauce

1. Combine all ingredients. Shape into 4 loaves. Place in a shallow baking dish. Bake at 350*F 20 min.
2. Meanwhile, in small bowl, combine the following:
1/2 c. tomato or spaghetti sauce
2 t. dried parsley flakes
1 T. brown sugar
1 t. worchestershire sauce
3. Spoon sauce over meatloaves, return to oven and bake 10 min.

Yield: 4 loaves

Stay warm and enjoy!

Posted by Robin of RobinsFlight.

Sunday, January 1, 2012


Happy 2012! Next in our series of quick and easy ideas is a recipe for Italian sausage soup, provided by Alyce of Fabric Greetings on Etsy. On a cold winter day, nothing sounds better than a bowl of tasty, hot soup! All you need for this recipe is a crock pot, and the following ingredients.


1 pound Italian sausage - (turkey sausage is preferred by Alyce)

1 small onion diced finely

1 - 6oz can tomato paste

2 TBS Italian seasoning

3 -14 or 15oz cans of chick peas - rinsed

1 - 14 or 15oz can (almost 2 cups) of white beans - rinsed

2 - 14 or 15oz cans of chicken stock

1 - 14 or 15oz can of beef stock

Remove sausage from casing and brown with the onion and seasoning, crumbling the meat as it browns. Add paste and mix into the meat. Heat to toast the paste.

Add all ingredients to crock pot and stir to mix. If needed, add more chicken stock or water.

Let cook all day on low. (It tastes even better the second day!)