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Minneapolis Institue of the Arts

We were having lunch in Minneapolis at a new restaurant called the Copper Hen when we all spontaneously said “Oh! We’re just around the corner from the MIA- shall we go?”  I just love it when that happens!

So off we went and, when we got there, I went to look at embroidery and textiles, my daughter and her husband to look at a drawing exhibition and my husband to read a book about the lost mansions of Minneapolis.

I went straight up to Gallery 332 because that’s where I knew the embroidered casket was displayed. Although I’m not doing any 16th or 17 century embroidery right now, I admire the workmanship and love the whimsy of the stump work that was used to decorate these delightful boxes.


MIA Casket 500x538 Minneapolis Institue of the Arts

Embroidered Casket 1662 – Minneapolis Institute of the Arts

The casket is displayed closed so I got to enjoy the delightful figures on the outside. There are also fruit, flowers and other flora but I’m especially drawn to the figures of people.

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This lovely lady, with her patterned dress, lacy collar and curly hair seems to be requesting something which I am sure he will grant! Who could resist that sweet face?!

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The King or Lord looks charming – see those big, sparkling eyes? Is he flirting? I especially love his scepter! It looks a lot like a misshapen rolling pin and if I were that butterfly, I’d move away quickly!

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The man on the horse, above, is carrying either a fishing rod or a bent sword – I’m betting on a sword. Doesn’t his horse look gentle? And his friend in the background seems quite jolly, going along his merry way.

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This herald is so theatrical, gesturing with his hand while blowing his trumpet. Ta -da–ta-da-da-da-da-da! He announcing the entrance of the man on the horse and what a beautiful horse it is!

photo 002 Minneapolis Institue of the Arts

However, all of this is my imagination working overtime! The story depicted on the casket is, from the MIA collections information page,  as follows;

“This piece, one of the finest of its kind, tells the Old Testament story of Queen Esther, whose intelligence and diplomacy saved her people from persecution. The box was added to the institute’s collection on the occasion of Mary Ann Butterfield’s retirement, to honor her work as the museum’s textile conservator.”

I so admire the imagination and skill of whomever embroidered this piece. The faces are all so lively! The people really seem to have personalities! Someday I’d like to embroider a stump work person. Anna Scott has just finished one that I love!

Have you ever done a stump work figure? Is it difficult? Did you like how he or she looked when you were finished?


Philipa ad 2 Minneapolis Institue of the Arts


New Stitchville USA!

There isn’t much that’s more fun than going to Stitchville USA with a gift certificate! I got the rare chance to walk around, look and touch the different threads, see over 1,000 different finished projects on the walls and pour over various embroidery related accessories. Those of you who live near to any bricks and mortar embroidery shop are SO lucky!

The new Stitchville USA is in Minnetonka, a suburb of Minneapolis, Minnesota. The new store is 4200 square feet, more than double the size of the previous one.

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Being a thread junkie I was, of course, in heaven! Thousand of skeins of thread. Threads I’d used and that I consider my go to threads for much of my surface embroidery and threads I’d heard of but never seen or used, and threads I didn’t know existed. It’s all there!

photo New Stitchville USA!Since I was looking for threads for my two future canvaswork/needlepoint projects, I made a beeline for the wall of wool and silk blend threads. Actually, it’s more than a wall, the threads continue around the corner! Trio silk and wool from Switzerland (one I didn’t know about), Planet Earth Fiber (100% silk and another I’d not heard of before) Vineyard Silk, Silk and Ivory, Caron Impressions and Watercolors were among the ones I chose for these projects but there are so many more!

Stillville2 001 New Stitchville USA!This cupboard is full of pieces of wool in a huge array of colors. I didn’t get any but i may have to return! Stitchville also has the widest variety of counted thread fabrics I’ve ever seen in a shop.

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One of the highlights was finding a display of Valdini Vintage Hues threads. I’d read about Valdini threads but never seen this particular variegated thread. These colors called to me and those of you who read The Unbroken Thread regularly will know I have a weakness for fall or autumn colors.

photo2 001 New Stitchville USA!While I looked, my daughter took photos and here she’s caught me contemplating which thread to choose. I don’t know about you, but when I have the chance to see the threads my creative juices really get flowing! I call it my thread induced stupor!

photo1 0011 New Stitchville USA!

Above are the threads I finally decided on for the two canvaswork projects. You may be wondering about the lavender thread. When we got home I naturally showed my husband and son-in-law the threads. Both my daughter and her husband are graphic designers and have a wonderful eye for color. he helped me see that I needed a lavender for the reflection of the red gate in the blue water. the next day we all (yes, the guys too!) went back to Stitchville so we could find the perfect color for that reflected red in the water.

If you live within driving distance of the Twin Cities, you are very lucky indeed! if you are ever there and can find time to visit Stitchville USA it’s worth it!

Stitchville USA also offers classes and individual teaching for assistance on those tricky projects. Who knows, maybe one day I’ll be able to offer a class there and get to meet some of you!



Philipa ad 2 New Stitchville USA!

Shopping for upcoming projects

We’re going to Minneapolis to visit one of my daughters and her husband. For my birthday I received a gift certificate to Stitchville USA which is in the Minneapolis area so, of course,we’re going to visit the store. What will I be looking for?

I had such an interesting time – even sometimes enjoyable! – working up my canvaswork piece, that I decided I will do one, maybe even two, more.

3047 Hasui Snow Miyajima1 Shopping for upcoming projects
Kansau Shrine in Snow at Lake Tazawa – Hasui Kawase

The images are similar in subject matter, being of water, snow and Asian buildings and both are by Hasui. He is becoming one of my favorite artists. If you do an internet search or have a library nearby with a book of his works, you will see that his work evokes peace and quiet beauty.

image 500x375 Shopping for upcoming projects

Kansau Shrine in Snow at Lake Tazawa – Hasui Kawase

The thread I enjoyed stitching with most during my RSN Canvaswork course was Caron Impressions, a silk and wool blend. I know Stitchville USA carries Caron Threads so I’m hoping I can get some of what I need while I’m there. I also need to pick up some canvas and will be looking for a stitch fixer.

Jane, from Chilly Hollow Needlepoint Adventure recommended Vineyard silks to me earlier so I’ll be looking at those as well. The shimmer of silk on the water would be simply wonderful, wouldn’t it?

I know many of you are far more experienced than I in the technique of canvaswork or needlepoint so if you have any suggestions, please leave a comment! Or, if some new, fabulous product has come out that I don’t know about in Germany, also please let me know!

I’ll write all about my trip, including photos of their new (since I was there last) store.


Philipa ad 2 Shopping for upcoming projects