Friday, May 25, 2018

Ismek and Tel Kirma

In Istanbul, there is a school that teaches traditional Turkish techniques to the public. The school is called İstanbul Metropolitan Municipality Lifelong Learning Centre (or Ismek). It's like a technical school and the training programs are provided free of charge. The purpose is to promote traditional Turkish art, keeping it alive, and giving the Turkish people the opportunity to learn a skill in order to earn a living. Techniques range from ceramics painting, marquetry, calligraphy, illuminations,... and embroidery. I found out about them when I stumbled on their website.

Unfortunately, they don't have one day or walk-in classes. But if you find yourself living in Istanbul for a very long stretch of time, it might be something interesting to check into. You do need to have a Turkish ID though. They have a catalog of student's works that they release every year (links are at the bottom of this page, be warned the pdf files are really big) and there is some pretty amazing stuff that comes out of those programs.

While walking around looking for the Mosaic museum, we stumbled on a little market organized by the district of Istanbul and Ismek. The market sells pieces made by students. One of the stalls had embroidery. Most of it was crochet, or needle lace along the edge of a scarf, but they also had some examples of Tel Kirma. I ended up buying one of the smaller works that shows one form of Tel Kirma. This will be a good study piece as the back is not covered.

This is stitched using the same type of metal plate I shared from my stash post. The main stitch used is a satin stitch. From what I've seen on Instagram, they use the sewing motion instead of a stabbing motion.

The second stitch used in this piece is a closed herringbone stitch, I think. I looked through my books and that's the closest one I can find. If you know which stitch it is, please let me know. I quite like this stitch, it makes an interesting texture.

Here is a look at the back. It's surprisingly neat, but I can't help but feel like it's a waste of metal plate especially on the satin stitch. English metal plate is expensive, so in order not to waste any of it, it's couched onto the surface so you don't see any of it at the back.

Here is a demonstration by Yoncanakis, my favorite Instagramer at the moment. She has many good videos on her account showing how to stitch with the plate and how to thread the double eyed needle (link).

But this isn't even the true form of Tel Kirma. I found the website of the magazine that I bought, Tel Kirmasi. According to their history page, and Google translate, Tel Kirma or wire breaking is when the metal plate is stitched and broken off (video). Many of these are stitched together creating a pattern. When the piece is finished, it looks like it was embroidered with bugle beads but it's much shinier. It was first seen between 1890-1900 in the district of Asma in Bartın (I'll be adding that to the list of places to visit in the future), but has since expanded to other regions of Turkey. From this many different patterns have been created and it's been used to decorate everything from clothes, linens, scarves, evening bags, lamp shades, ... 

Below is an example from Yoncanakis' account. This can be stitched on any type of fabric, including mesh which could eventually be finished into a clutch or eye glass case. Now that's an idea!

I couldn't find any books on Tel Kirma so Yoncanakis' videos will be very helpful. I would really love a proper book on the technique so I can learn more about it's history. It doesn't even have to be in English. If you know of any books, please let me know!

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Turkish Delights

We had a long weekend here in Canada, so I took the time to organize my stash and catch up on a few things that I'll blog about later. But first the stash that came back with me. I know before I left I said the trip won't be about stash enhancement, but let's just say the prices were just too good to pass up.

I was able to visit two shops: Hilalteks and Bursa Ipek. Hilalteks is located near the spice bazaar (on the European side) where there are a lot of shops selling linens, fake flowers and ribbons. From what I noticed this is the area where you go to shop when preparing for a wedding. Bursa Ipek is on the Asian side. If you take a ferry, you can easily walk to the store from there. I don't recommend taking a taxi, it's in an area that is pedestrian only. We took a taxi to get there from our hotel thinking it was far and our driver got lost. Just use Google maps.

If you only have time to visit one, got to Hilalteks. I had a really good experience the first time I visited, I ended up going back twice more. The downstairs sells ribbons, fake flowers and fabric. The good stuff is upstairs. There was a young lady there named Didem who spoke no English but she was a huge help and the main reason why I went back so many times. It's surprising how well you can communicate with someone even when you don't know the language. I showed her my Google translate trick, which she loved.

Note: Right before you get to Hilalteks, there is a shop called HIRAteks. That's not the right shop, keep going till you see the sign on the right.

Bursa Ipek needed a little more maneuvering for me to go visit and when I finally got there I didn't have a really good experience from the sales people. They made absolutely no effort at all when I tried to speak with them. I ended up leaving after 10 minutes.

Note: I'm looking at the map again, and I think I might have gone to the wrong Bursa Ipek. There is a second one called Goblen Bursa Ipek that has much more stock which was further up (see the map here). I think they might be connected in some way as they have the same website. Not sure if they would have been better than the one I visited.

I brought back quite a few magazines. Looking through them, the main embroidery techniques are (what we would call) Brazilian embroidery, stumpwork and metal thread embroidery. I bought many of them for the drawings. I got one issue on Tel Kirma as it was a technique I'm really interested in learning.

For the books, I got one cross stitch book with Ottoman motifs and an embroidery design book with Islamic quotes. The last two are more for inspiration. I love the designs on Turkish tiles and so wanted some books for reference.

Out of one of the books, we selected a design and I asked Didem to make a kit for me. The threads used is called Buket and it's a 100% rayon. This thread is similar to EdMar Co. Rayon Threads. It will be an experience stitching with it as it's very slippery. So far I've been avoiding anything rayon. Another thing I've been avoiding is Stumpwork. This piece has a few petals that will have to be stitched using Stumpwork techniques. It should be a good learning piece.

The second kit I put together, is from the Tel Kirma magazine. I'm really looking forward to learning this technique. I'd been seeing it on Instagram for months before my trip and I'm itching to try it out. There isn't any instructions in the magazine and I couldn't find any books on the technique. I did find a few resources online and the ladies on Instagram seem to be very helpful so I'm sure I can figure it out.

A little close up of the materials I'll be working with. It's some sort of metal plate. I had some 11s gilt plate on hand and it's very close to it in size. In English goldwork embroidery, metal plate is couched into place. However, in Tel Kirma you stitch with the metal plate as if it's a thread.

The needles used are different from what we're used to. The needle is completely flat and the eye of the needle is very round. They also had two types, one of which had two eyes. The two eyes help hold the plate in place, preventing it from shifting around. I was able to get three of the needle on the bottom but only two of the top one. I'll have to be very careful not to loose these.

The fabric in the magazine looks a little shiny, but the one that was recommended to me for this project is an evenweave linen fabric by Goblen. It's 35 count and the band on the side says Ugur ipek Goblen. I really liked the feel of it and ended up getting more in a light moss green color.

Hilalteks had metal threads! I was tempted to get one of each color, but ended up limiting myself to just these. I think I shocked the sales man working that day (Didem wasn't there) and he kept asking if I was buying all this. Honestly wish I got more.

In the silver, I found this very interesting metal thread that has a zig-zag in it. No idea how I'll use it but found it very interesting. I'm pretty sure I've seen it used in bead embroidery by Russian Instagramers.

I asked where these threads are from as they were really not expensive. Metal threads are usually either made in the UK (good quality and expensive) or India (less expensive, can't say about quality). I was told these are made in Turkey, which surprised me as I would never think of Turkey being a source for metal threads. Thinking back, pretty much everything I purchased is made in Turkey; linens, rayon threads, needles, magazines. It's nice to see a country that doesn't import it's embroidery supplies. This meant that the price was really good when you convert it to Canadian. I will say I didn't check the price of DMC and Anchor threads. Maybe I should have...

I saw some embroidery in musuems and shops in Istanbul, so I will share those in a post soon. I need to look through all my pictures to find them. I also brought back a small stitched piece that I found in a shop, that I will share pictures of as well.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018


I'm back just in time for TUSAL. Not much to show since I haven't done much stitching before I left.  I was busy finishing a baby gift and getting ready for my trip. All I have to share is the wool from my lamb.

I did do some stitching while I was on the plane going home. I had a seven hour flight so there was plenty of time to sit and stitch on Bramble and the Rose.

My suitcase has been unpacked and the laundry started, but I still need to unpack my new stash. I can't wait to share what I brought back with me. It will just take a few days to get organised and catch up with everything at home.


Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Gone Fishing in Turkey

Istanbul by Thea Gouverneur
I mentioned at the beginning of the year that we were thinking of going to Turkey in May. Well, not only are we going, but by the time you all read this post I should already be on my way. I will be away until May 14.

In the first week, we will be visiting Cappadocia in central Turkey and Kuşadası on the Aegean coast. The schedule in the first week will be pretty packed as we're taking a tour. The second week will be spent in Istanbul doing our own thing.

I was able to get recommendations for embroidery shops and even invitations to pass by embroidery schools from a few stitchers/teachers on Instagram who are based in Istanbul. So there will be some embroidery stops in Istanbul and I already have a list of things I will be looking out for.

However, the major focus of the trip will not be embroidery and stash enhancement (I will try very hard). We will be visiting many museums, mosques and palaces. I love Islamic illuminations and geometric art, so I will be spending a lot of time studying those. I will be taking lots of pictures. My goal is also to find some good reference books (books don't count as stash!), one of our stops is the old book bazaar.

We'll have quite a few flight changes, so I'll need something to pass the time. I will be taking Bramble and the Rose. This piece has been to quite a few places; Western and Eastern Canada, South Korea, France and now Turkey. Soon, it's going to need it's own passport. The sewing kit on top is a lovely gift from Deborah of Sweetfallenangels. It will be coming with me to help keep track of all my tools. Still trying to decide between taking a hoop or q-snaps. I'm leaning more towards a hoop this time as the q-snaps take up more space and are awkward to set up in the small space on the plane.

We will have access to Internet at the hotel and we're looking into getting roaming data, so I won't be going off grid completely. I will to try to post on my Instagram account but most likely not interact much past that. I don't want to spend my time glued to my phone ;)

Monday, April 23, 2018

The Wooly Lamb

No stitching to share with you today (I'm still waiting on the wire check), instead here is my second baby gift of the year. This is LUPO the lamb another Lalylala design.

I've always wanted to make him as the pattern for the body looked interesting. Instead of single crochet stitches, it's made up of the bobble stitch. I must admit it did take me much longer to make him than other Lalylala designs. After a while, I was over the fascination of the bobble stitch. Still, he looks adorable.

Especially those droopy ears. I was also very lucky to have found a very close match to the wool used in the model. This is from Caron Simply Soft Tweeds collection. I ended up needing two balls of the creme and one of the taupe.

I tried my hand at making pompoms for the first time. I got a Clover pompom maker to make it much easier. Don't you love Clover products? I haven't tried one yet I haven't liked.

As I mentioned already, still no sign of the wire check. Crossing my fingers it will be here either today or tomorrow. Not sure how much stitching I'll be doing as I'm getting ready for my upcoming trip, but I'm sure I would make an exception if the metals do come in :)

Friday, April 20, 2018

Japanese Landscape - Part S and T

The last two sections go around the outline of overstretched pearl purl.

First, there is a 3 ply twist of gold and copper. This thread is actually very interesting. It looks like passing threads that had been twisted together to form a cord. This one has two ply gilt and one ply copper.

You stitch it down the same way as you would a cord, by couching between the ply. This makes sure your stitching is invisible. Since I was couching with yellow thread, I also tried to make sure to stitch between the gilt ply.

Once I've couched all around, the twist is plunged the same way you would passing thread. It's a little trickier as there were three threads instead of just the one. I managed get all three plies in my large chenille needle, but the lasso method might have been the better option.

Finally, a border of #4 pearl purl is couched all around to finish it. I really liked the weight of this purl after using the smaller purls for so long. It was very refreshing.

Unlike the previous two borders that were started in the lower right corner, this one is started in the middle to make sure all the corners are nice and rounded.

I'm so happy this last border is there. It not only looks fabulous, but it also hides a multitude of sins. My line of overstretched purl was crooked in a few places but now you can't even tell.

I was on such a high after putting in that last border, I just wish I could declare this piece finished. There is still the chipwork in the lower left corner to finish. As I write this (it's Tuesday), my order is still being processed. So final pictures probably won't be posted till mid-May. That will give me time to figure out the best way to photograph it. I want to show you how glittery it is.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Japanese Landscape - Part Q and R

The next two sections are the hills in the horizon.

The hills on the left are just three lines of couched pearl purl.

The right side has a little bit more work in it, with some couching and chipwork.

This is where I wish my felt was better applied. You can see that the lines are not nice and even. Maybe I should have trimmed the felt a little at the top?

(click on the post to see the animation below)

Still looks pretty. I love the combination of copper and gold.

At this point, except for the missing wire check, the area within the border has been completed. All that's left is the frame which I will share with you tomorrow.