Archive for the 'Arraiolos' Category


Friday, June 25th, 2004

Someone emailed me about my experiences with Arraiolos kits. There’s been a wool problem with the kit I got a while back, and I really ought to chase down the company about it.

I probably should have gotten a kit from Serranofil or, even better, Rosários. I can’t tell whether they sell yarn alone - when I have time, I’ll look at the Portuguese version of the Rosários site and report back.

Gratuitous Temari Post

Saturday, December 27th, 2003

Here are some gratuitous Temari shots. I made the kiri (chysanthemum) pattern on eight divisions, done two different ways on the two sides of the obi (belt around the middle). The green thread under the embroidery is DMC variegated tatting thread.
full frontal temari obi shot


Wednesday, December 24th, 2003

Rug state: on hold with most of the medallion done

I should have been born Japanese. Not only am I hopelessly addicted to sushi, but I’m also crazy enough to make temari in my spare time. I found my old temari supply hoard and started wrapping styrofoam balls and poking pins into them again.

At first I wanted to try something seasonal and sophisticated, a snowflake ball, but the flakes required too much embroidery - I hate crewel with a passion. So I switched my already-prepared complex 10 base over to the swirl pattern. That wasn’t going well, either; the instructions were somewhat unclear and, like the flake embroidery, annoyingly imprecise. I think the result looks messy, so the purple ball is back in the temari box.

Despite my temari experience, I think I ought to back off from the fancy balls, go back to Temari 101 and make a simple kiku.

Cross-stitch Pennant

Tuesday, October 7th, 2003

Rug progress: 3 partial border outline rows
Word count: 125

This entry inaugurates my new Arraiolos category with a fun Red Sox link I found at Boston Common.


Monday, October 6th, 2003

I’ve been preparing the canvas from my Arraiolos kit - stitching up the edges and marking a grid. The graph is a bit odd in that the center of the design isn’t centered in the graph and it’s 8 squares per big block rather than 10.

I could have handled the problem by making a free cross stitch charting program in Konfabulator and recharting it properly, but instead I’m just following the weirdness as-is.

I also took all the wool from the board it came on and put it into skeins. There’s a lot of wool. The directions leave much to be desired - they show only the one horizontal stitch instead of the 4 horizontal varieties, the 4 vertical varieties, the 4 diagonals and the mitering stitch for the corners. Most of them just serve to make the back of the canvas neat, but the diagonal stitch might puzzle a beginner. Fortunately I have the elusive book.

The Golden Fiber

Wednesday, September 17th, 2003

You may ask, what is jute? (Or, alternately, Que é a juta?) Well, this entry is devoted to answering all your jute questions.

Jute is a plant from India used to make burlap, twine and a variety of other materials. Production involves fermenting the jute (retting) then separating out, drying, and sorting the fibers. See JM Jute for details and pictures.

The word jute comes from the Bengali jhuto. There are two species of jute: Corchorus ularis (Jute) and Corchorus olitorius (Jew’s mallow). You can see a picture of the jute plant at the Bangladesh Jute Research Institute. They’ve developed a cheap wool substitute, jute yarn. Jute is a big industry in India - the Jute Commissioner even has his own website.

Why jute? Evenweave jute is the base for Arraiolos rugs. In the US, you can get ten-count jute (ten threads per inch) and Persian yarn (a three-ply needlepoint wool thread - Paternayan makes the best one) to approximate the traditional Portuguese materials. Or you can order a kit from Portugal, which is how the whole jute question came up.

The oldest Arraiolos rugs were made with wool on linen, but linen has been out of style for several centuries now. It’s beyond me why Casa dos Tapetes de Arraiolos offers any wool on linen products, or which ones they might be. I have established that my kit (Seteais, the top one in this image) contains jute.

The price may seem like a lot (for Portugal), but it’s cheap compared to, say, buying painted needlepoint canvases and then wool on top of that, plus shipping. The kit is 1 1/2 feet square - not quite a rug, but big for a pillow. It takes a lot of wool to cover 2 1/4 square feet. The real appeal to me, though, is the Seteais pattern itself. Seteais is the most popular Arraiolos design and my favorite as well. It comes from the carpets of the Seteais Hotel outside Sintra, though it can also be seen in the Portuguese Embassy in Washington D.C. Normally it’s laid out in alternating squares, as in this rug. I don’t have a pattern for it.

Now that I’ve bored everyone to tears, I promise to stop rug geeking.

The Facilities

Monday, September 15th, 2003

Rumor of the day: New PowerBooks tomorrow!

I was looking for Boston blogs to add to my RSS reader and I found an incredibly useful page at Boston Online: the Wicked Good Guide to
Boston’s public restooms
. I tried to send in an update for the Copley Library facilities, which deserve at least 2 rolls, but the form script was broken so I emailed my recommendation instead.

On the Arraiolos front, I’ve put off my Persian yarn mission to the local needlework and knitting shops (eg., Woolcott in Harvard Square) because I’m in negotiations with a kit supplier over foundations. If you ever need to ask a Portuguese speaker whether the kit comes with jute or linen, the words are juta and linho.

Aniline Dyes

Sunday, September 14th, 2003

I’ve found more Arraiolos links: Santo Antonio has a nice selection of images of Arraiolos rugs and also stitch diagrams (em português). Serranofil still has kits and magazines, but I like the looks of the Casa dos Tapetes de Arraiolos kits better despite the inscrutable order form.

I’ve been thinking about aniline dyes while cross-stitching my Arraiolos-on-cotton experiment. Dyes, like so many things, are much more complicated than they seem. It used to be that you mashed up the right plants and you got a certain range of colors. Then came progress, in the form of aniline dyes.Aniline dyes have a bad reputation from the nineteenth century, when they were made from coal tar and gave garish, runny colors that faded easily. I suppose people used them then because they were new and cheaper (like Windows) than colorfast dyes. Aniline dyes have allegedly improved over time, but it’s still a scare word in the handmade rug world, where other “chemical” dyes are used - mainly “chrome” dyes using potassium bichromate, from the acidic dye category. (See the rugtime dictionary for more terms and definitions.)

To see how far we’ve come, walk into a craft shop and look at the DMC embroidery cotton colors. We can make any color we want - or rather, DMC can. I have no idea how they do it, though, so if I were trapped on a desert island I’d have to go back to pounding veggies - or worse, using aniline dyes.

It disturbs me how ill-equpped I am for life on a desert island.

By the way, the Repository has been updated with a bunch of names from TV Tome.


Sunday, September 7th, 2003

Today Veronica, her nearly-ex-roommate, and I went to CAOS, the Cambridgeport Artist’s Open Studio. (Cambridgeport seems to be the snooty name for the neighborhood between between Central Square and the river.) The art wasn’t particularly interesting except for some glass. Glass blowing is technically a craft, rather than an art form - like writing fanfic or cross-stitching. I was inspired to cross-stitch so I stocked up on Monaco evenweaves and DMC #4 tapestry cotton at Pearl.

Well, not actually cross-stitch - I prefer Hardanger and Arraiolos. I spotted the book in English about Arraiolos rugs, Portuguese Needlework Rugs, at Rodney’s Bookstore for $25. It’s out of print, so snag it while you can. I love the Arraiolos stitch, which is actually several variants of long-armed cross-stitch, because it’s all done freehand on the top of the fabric. I’ve been experimenting with other threads on other foundations than the traditional Persian wool on ten-count jute. At the moment I’m doing three or four strands of embroidery floss (over two) on 25-count evenweave.

By the way, I was geeking so much yesterday that I forgot to blog, but I did get the preference picker working with MJB’s fic. Jade is next.

Persian Rugs

Saturday, August 23rd, 2003

Word count: 202

I’m still staring at the Persian Rugs in LifeLab. I tried to find more information about them online, but I came up with nothing but the LifeLab Gallery itself and a passing reference in a newsgroup. The rules to make rugs are B234/S, which means that new squares are born (B) to squares with 2, 3 or 4 neighbors, and that old squares never survive (S). The effect is an inversion of the pattern every round, plus constant progress outward at the edges.

Since the gallery images are very early on, they don’t show the true beauty of the pattern. You can see a nicer one on the Apple download page, but I think I’ll put up a few screenshots of my experiments as well. I’ve been playing around making rectangular and odd-shaped rugs. Here’s the standard rug at 1000 generations:

[click image for a larger version or here for a popup]

I was also thinking that one of the early generations might make a nice Arraiolos rug design. It would be mostly travelling stitches, not to mention too geeky for words, but I’m tempted…