Friday, February 25, 2011

Who, What is Hortulus?

When I found the motif of the monk something rang a bell in the mists of my memory. Placed in the herbaceous border I immediately thought of a medieval apothecary and I knew in all the reading I'd done in my life that I'd read of a particular herbalist monk. At larger monasteries one monk was often assigned the duty of herbalist. It was the herbalist's duty to study the many medicinal herbs grown in the monastery. The herbalist would also be responsible for the
preparation of the various ointments and lotions that the monastery's physician would have used while tending the sick. The monk-herbalist probably had a stillroom or workshop where he could dry and store the herbs and create the various tinctures and salves that were a necessary part of daily medieval monastery life.

I couldn't remember specifics but thanks to the internet I quickly came to recall reading about Hortulus.

Hortulus was a poem written by the German monk Walafrid Strabo in the 9th century. Strabo, who lived from 808-849 AD, was the Abbot of Reichenau, an island monastery located on Lake Constance in Switzerland. Hortulus, which translates to "The Little Garden", describes Strabo's personal monastery garden. The poem contains descriptions of the many herbs that were grown in his garden along with their medicinal uses.

There is a great site where you can read more about the remarkable Strabo at Medicinal Uses of Plants in Walafrid's Hortulus

So there he was in front of me, that old herbalist monk warming himself by his fire gazing lost in thought wondering what herb was needed for that ailment he was trying to cure.

And now he's growing on my fabric as I stitch him and laugh to think that maybe it is that wood violet growing all around him in the border that is what will do the trick ;)

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Hortulus - Introduction

My first two designs were band samplers and I'll always come back to them, indeed the one after Hortulus is another band sampler, but I've also always loved woodcuts, woodblock or lino prints and I wanted to try and create a design that had the feel and look of a woodcut.

This image gave me the inspiration I was seeking. It is an old motif found in some of the compilations of vintage patterns and I loved the little wood violets and their leaves with their almost deco type form. So I 'stitched' this motif and its corner motif into the software (no small task) and began pondering what to do with them. I decided they would give me the look I was after if I shaped them into a square border. But what to fill that square?

One of the exciting things about playing with images is that you will sometimes be surprised at how a combination will suddenly suggest something else and that is what happened with this design. Putting those wood violets into a square looked rather medieval and I then knew I had to find something for the center that would carry that theme.

I found him in one of the oldest 'modelbuchs', in fact he appears in several such books and is referred to as anything from the 'monk' to 'winter'. And I loved him on sight! I stitched him into the software and fit him into the center of the wood violets with a border between in the two main colors.

Next post I'll tell you more about how he came to be called Hortulus :)

Monday, February 21, 2011

Heart Note Alley Framed!

It didn't seem like that many stitches while I was doing it! :)

I'm really pleased with this frame for Heart Note Alley, it is a 'country green' with slightly distressed edges. It is an 11"x21" size giving a little over an inch of space around the image.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Heart Note Alley - 16th and Final Band!!!

Heart Note Alley is complete with this band that is a reflection of the first band, also worked in the lighter green and purple shades.

I am amazed that this large piece measuring approximately 9"x18" on this 18 count fabric, was started on New Year's Day and took only a little over six weeks to finish.

Did it meet my expectations? Most definitely, in fact it has turned out better than I had hoped and it was a lot of fun knowing you have been along for the project. I knew there would be changes from its original charting, but nothing really major changed, I just came up with a few patterns/images I thought worked better than those I'd originally popped in. Sometimes you just need to see the actual design on the fabric to know what you want to do next.

The frame is on its way to me and I'll hopefully have a photo posted to show you what it looks like not in its pieces but its entirety.

I'm already stitching Hortulus and I look forward to introducing him to you in the next post!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Heart Note Alley 15th Band - Floral Spray

This is the motif that gave me the desire to try and design my own patterns. I came across it in one of the old Therese de Dillmont books from the 1800s and it was love at first sight. And that is what overcame my reluctance to work with software that would allow me to design something with this beautiful image.

And here it is, done! And I'm so very happy that I did persevere in wrestling with technology that was foreign to me.

I think it makes a wonderful 'anchor' for the sampler with its reflection of the second band where it is in full flower. Following the fragrant inspiration for this piece, it is, to me, sandalwood flowers. Sandalwood is such a gorgeous base note in fragrance, one of my favorites and one of my favorite fragrances is Sinfonia di Note's Fleur de Santal. Luckyscent calls it 'compelling and complicated', that must be why I love it :)

One last band to go!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Heart Note Alley's 14th and Last 'ticking' Band

I'm really getting close to finishing stitching Heart Note Alley and have mixed feelings about that. I've enjoyed each row and don't really want to see it come to an end, but I'm also ready to begin something new. I'm sure every stitcher out there knows that feeling!

This band is the last of those 'tweener' rows that are more than just fillers but are accents of shape and color that hopefully complement the larger rows with their own statements.

I have been working on other designs as you can see to the right with the Acorn Patch. What I've become quite certain of in these few months of trying my hand at designing patterns is that each one has to mean something to me or they just don't work at all. It has become my way of 'speaking' of my experiences and my tastes and while I'm sure they won't appeal to a mass market, I am hopeful that they will speak to particular people who will see more in them than shapes and colors.

Acorn patch combines one of my favorite color schemes, greens, golds and browns, with one of my favorite themes, northern woods and its seasons and the warmth that a quilt conveys.

Now I'm beginning that final large band of a floral spray in HNA and look forward to unwinding it from its stitching frame and seeing it in its entirety. Soon, God willing! :)

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Band 13

I'm happy with this rolling row of fuchsia. It is a reflection of the floral row of band 4 to give the piece the balance I'm seeking. Worked in the medium green and medium mauve shades it helps usher in the base notes of this fragrance inspired sampler.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Heart Note Alley, Band 12

The 12th band of Heart Note Alley is a basket weave pattern and I chose it to give some weight under that more airy band of iris. I used the medium and dark greens for this band to balance some similarly colored bands in the first portion of the piece.

Between being snowbound and an upcoming Superbowl weekend, I hope to get lots of stitching time and maybe be close to finishing Heart Note Alley. And like most stitchers I want to finish so I can begin the next piece. Here is a sneak peek at the next design, Hortulus -

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Heart of Heart Note Alley, Band 11

The lovely iris! I had to put my 'signature' in a band of iris since it is one of my very favorite of fragrant plants and a key ingredient in most of my favorite fragrances. I put them within a deco like border in the medium green shade to announce their presence in a particular way. They are stitched in the darkest purple, I know iris comes in many colors but whenever I smell them in the fragrances I love I 'see' purple. The date and initials are in the lighter purple.

The iris root not the flower is what is used in most fragrance. For many years it was used mainly as a fixative and is found in many classics like Shalimar though the distinctive iris note is a part of the whole in this scent unlike some of today's stars in the world of fragrance which have given the iris a featured role.

The artists in today's world of scent have created some of the loveliest of perfumes using the iris in new and beautiful ways. You can find some that accent the green aspect and others that put the deep earthy rootiness of its carrot like aroma deep in the heart of their creations. My favorite is Guerlain's beautiful Iris Ganache that like its name suggests it could be layered on with a spatula! LOL