Weekend Wonderfuls 5

Hi everyone

Here’s a quick update of what the Creative and Paper Arts Groups explored when they got together again on 1 March.

Button Magic

The Creative Group focussed on buttons and the interplay with different stitches and techniques to alter surfaces and create layers. It was also really interesting to see how everyone approached the geometry of button holes to shape stitch forms and embellish fabric.

Here’s Pat Bootland‘s finished sample – the use of needlelace to layer is really cool:

Button Fun by Pat Bootland

Robyn Duncan combined a felted surface, thread and buttons to create this vibrant and striking abstract textile that highlights  colour and form:

Buttons on Felted Fabric by Robyn Duncan

Debbie Argue‘s vintage piece brings together the old and the new:

Doiley with Buttons by Debbie Argue

And Annette Horvath‘s panel is seriously cute:

Annette Horvath Buttons

Suzanne Clarke uses knots to embellish and compose a set of buttons:

Buttons by Suzanne Clarke

While Dorothy Rudland’s juxtaposes colourful threads, buttons and intense stitching with a highly textured surface:

Buttons by Dorothy Rudland

For a real pop of colour have a look at Margaret Lamond‘s work:

Buttons by Margaret Lamond

and I can’t get over how Annette Dziedzic can get so many design possibilities out of  button holes:

Buttons by Annette Dziedzic

Ditto with Lili Bradley:

Buttons by Lili Bradley

Dimity Manton was working on this delicate composition – my apologies for the quality of the photo:

Three Buttons by Dimity Manton

These embellished buttons by Hilary Rowell are just the business:

Buttons by Hilary Rowell

And the needlelace on Shona Phillips‘ large button really plays well with its texture:

Buttons by Shona Phillips

Cecilia Skene:

Buttons by Cecilia Skene

and Pearl Moyseyenko had just started their pieces and I’m really looking forward to seeing the finished pieces:

Buttons by Pearl Moyseyenko

While Rosalie Wells was further along with this vivid study:

Buttons by Rosalie Wells

And Glenda Hudson was working away at this charming and intriguing piece – is it a Christmas tree?

Buttons by Glenda Hudson

Meanwhile our President Fran Novitski showed the crazy quilting block she’d finished from the previous workshop of the Creative Group:

Finished Crazy Quilt Panel by Fran Novitski

Great Tutorial

Before leaving the Creative Group and their buttons here’s a really great tutorial from Kate Davies on how to stitch a covered button.

Paper Arts Group

Unfortunately I wasn’t able to stay for their session but I can share the fantastic piece that Dorothy Rudland created from the previous workshop:

Paper and Stitched Hearts by Dorothy Rudland

Detail 1 of Paper  Stitched Hearts by Dorothy Rudland

Detail 2 of Paper and Stitched Hearts by Dorothy Rudland

and the elegant project that Patricia Flower and Suzanne Clarke had prepared for this workshop:

Project for Paper Arts Group on 1 March 2014




Italia Invita 8: Umbrian Embroidery

The first signs of autumn have arrived here in Canberra over the last week. There’s a chill in the morning air, the light’s changing from the brilliance of summer to the softer golden tones of autumn and the Gang Gang Cockatoos with their ‘squeaky door’ calls are everywhere – back from their summer sojourn in the mountains.

120px-Gang-Gang-male444                                                (Gang Gang photo from Wikipedia)

Italia Invita

There’s been so much creativity going on in the Guild that it’s been hard to find the time and opportunity to get back to writing about Italia Invita. This is the first of two new posts and then the series will be complete. This post needs to come with a warning – there’s a lot going on in Umbrian textiles so this post is a bit epic to say the least……..


As mentioned in earlier posts the region of Umbria in central Italy has a very rich textile history, especially the province of Perugia. We’ve already covered some of the textiles from this region: Orvieto lace, Punto Umbro and Ars Panicalensis. Here are some others:

Perugia & Punto Perugino

Perugia is a beautiful medieval city in Umbria. It has a famous chocolate festival and wonderful textiles – what’s not to love?! As the name suggests Punto Perugino is associated with Perugia and the history of this embroidery technique is interwoven with that of the city’s literature, art and agriculture.

It’s a counted satin stitch technique on even weave fabric. Designs can also use cutwork and eyelets, bullion knots and curl stitch. The patterns are geometric and larger scale designs can also have strong figurative elements such as birds, animals, flowers and mythological creatures. These come from the medieval art and literature of Perugia.

Most of the research on Punto Perugino has been done by the Punti d’Arte Workshop in the town of Pieve near Perugia. They had a stand at Italia Invita with wonderful examples of this embroidery style. As they’re in the process of writing a book they couldn’t allow photos but I did buy a couple of items and I can share these with you. Here’s a tiny needlebook with a simple but very characteristic motif in satin stitch:

Perugino Needlecase from Italia Invita 2013 and a closer look: Red Perugino detail on Needlecase from Italia Invita 2013 Now for a more elaborate square:

Perugino Square from Italia Invita 2013 And a closer look at a corner:

Corner Detail on Perugino Square from Italia Invita 2013

When I showed this piece to Guild members Meryl Fellows immediately spotted that the needlelace inserts are in fact the sunflower motif also used in Hardanger:

Sunflower Motif on Perugino Square from Italia Invita

Meryl is an amazingly talented stitcher across a whole range of embroidery styles and she’s been showing me how to do this motif. We just have to find some time to photograph the process and put it in the Tips and Techniques section.

As you can see from the square above the most characteristic pieces of this style of embroidery are done in a golden yellow coloured thread and materials. This dyeing tradition comes from the saffron growing industry around Perugia and the fibres are dyed using very old local recipes. Other traditional colours used are rust, red, light brown and blue. Here’s some dyed thread I bought from the Punti d’Arte stand at Italia Invita:

Saffron Dyed Thread from Italia Invita 2013

Until recently there wasn’t much detail known about the history of Perugino but then a conversation between researchers from the Punti d’Arte Workshop and a nun at the local convent of the Poor Clares led to the discovery of some historic pieces preserved by the nuns. These take the provenance of the technique back to at least the end of the 18th century.

In the Australian context I’d read some references to Punto Perugino having its origins in Sardinia but when I researched all the Italian material I couldn’t find any reference to Sardinia. This left me puzzled so I asked the representatives from the Punti d’Arte Workshop whether there was any connection between Perugino and Sardinia. They confirmed that there is no connection between this technique and Sardinia.

At the moment there’s only one book available on Perugino and this is Silvana Fontanelli’s Il Piacere del Ricamo:

Perugino book by Silvana Fontanelli It’s in Italian but the diagrams and instructions are excellent and easy to follow.

Punto Deruta

The town of Deruta in Umbria is famous for its ceramics and two lovely styles of embroidery developed there. These have medieval roots in the 13th century but like so many other Italian textiles faded and were then revitalised in the early 20th century as part of a more general arts and crafts movement.

The Deruta embroidery schools were started by nuns and two local sisters Aurelia and Luce Corcioni and their promotional efforts saw the embroideries exported worldwide. The Accademia Punto Deruta had a very popular stand at Italia Invita that showcased both embroidery techniques:

Accademia Punto Deruta Stall at Italia Invita 2013

The first style features the coloured Deruta embroideries stitched on a medium weight Umbrian linen with embroidery floss. These are typically homewares and the designs are based on a particular ceramic and are usually presented together with the ceramic. Here’s a wonderful example from Italia Invita:

Accademia Punto Deruta Ceramic Bowl and Wallhanging from Italia Invita and a closer look:

Accademia Punto Deruta 2 at Italia Invita 2013

Another characteristic of this Deruta style is the use of tassels that include a ceramic bead called a fuserole. You can see some colourful examples of these beads here on the Italian Needlework site.

The other type of Deruta embroidery is very different. It’s called Punto Deruta and is a drawn thread technique usually done on Buratto – a fine open weave netting. Here are some examples from the Accademia Punto Deruta stand:

Accademia Punto Deruta at Italia Invita 2013 Punto Deruta Wallhangings at Italia Invita 2013 This swirly tree of life really caught my eye:

Accademia Punto Deruta 3 at Italia Invita 2013 Accademia Punto Deruta 4 at Italia Invita 2013

This delicate embroidery technique deserves to be better known…..what do you think?

 Punto Assisi

Assisi work is one of the best known Italian embroidery techniques. The Accademia Punto Assisi had a large stand at Italia Invita packed with exquisite work both in the traditional Assisi counted technique and in the Punto Madama or Caterina di Medici technique – more about the latter in the next Italia Invita post.

Here’s some eye candy for you:

Accademia Punto Assisi at Italia Invita 2013 Accademia Punto Assisi 2 at Italia Invita 2013 Accademia Punto Assisi 3 from Italia Invita 2013

You can get more information on the Associazione Punto Assisi here – they have an extensive classes program.

Tuoro di Trasimeno

This is a picturesque town about 25 km NW of Perugia on the northern shore of Lake Trasimeno. It has an embroidery and lace school run by the Associazione Culturale Femminile P.Es.Co who were also at Italia Invita.

Irish Crochet Lace

The lace style that has flourished in this area is Irish Crochet Lace. It was introduced here in the early 20th century by Elena Guglielmi, the daughter of the Marchese Giacinto. She thought it was a particularly appropriate technique for the daughters of the local fishermen who were already highly skilled at weaving fishing nets.

The school she started was very active until the 1930s when it closed. There was then a break until the 1960s and 70s when the embroidery and lace traditions were revived. Here are some photos of the Associazione Culturale Femminile P.Es.Co’s stand at Italia Invita:

Tuoro sul Trasimeno at Italia Invita 2013 Tuoro sul Trasimeno 2 at Italia Invita 2013 The Association has published a book on Irish crochet lace:

libro1 and you can purchase it from their website here

Punto Umbro

The embroidery style they specialise in is Punto Umbro Antico or Punto Umbro. I’ve already written about this style in Italia Invita 5. The Trasimeno Association have also published a book on this technique:

libro2 which you can buy here.

While at Italia Invita I bought a needlebook in the Punto Umbro technique from Giusy Federici and it has now been photographed. Here are some photos:

Punto Umbro Needlecase from Italia Invita 2013 Close up of Punto Umbro Needlecase from Italia Invita 2013 Corner Detail of Punto Umbro Needlecase from Italia Invita 2013

Here’s a fine detail of the Puncetto needlace edging:

Puncetto Detail on Punto Umbro Needlecase from Italia Invita

and a close-up of the punto ricciolino on the left of the photo:

Punto Ricciolino on Punto Umbro Needlecase from Italia Invita

I bought a number of needlebooks in different styles in Italy and what fascinates me is that it’s this one in Punto Umbro that everyone responds to and wants to keep. They love the richness of the surface stitches and the tactile quality they give to the piece.

Giudetta Brozzetti Workshop in Perugia 

There are two other wonderful embroidery and textile experiences in Perugia.

One is the Giudetta Brozzetti Workshop (Museo-Laboratorio di Tessitura a Mano Giudetta Brozzetti) in the city itself. It’s located in the deconsecrated Church of San Francesco delle Donne at Via Tiberio Berardi 5/6, Perugia. This is one of the oldest Franciscan churches in Italy and dates from 1212. This workshop specialises in handwoven textiles and their work is stunning. They also offer courses in weaving, embroidery and lace making.

This Workshop was founded by Giudetta Brozzetti in 1921. She researched and collected local medieval and Renaissance designs and then got local women to weave them into products for homes and churches. There’s important women’s history here too because she allowed women to work from home so that they could earn a living while caring for their families.

The Workshop is currently run by Marta Cucchia – the fourth generation of the family. She was at Italia Invita:

Giudetta Brozzetti Workshop at Italia Invita 2013 Giudetta Brozzetti Workshop 2 at Italia Invita 2013

You can get more information on their website and Facebook page.

Hand Embroidery and Weaving Exhibition in Valtopina 

The other wonderful textile experience is the above exhibition (Mostra del Ricamo e del Tessile di Valtopina) at Valtopina in the province of Perugia. This town is located about 47 km from Perugia and the show usually takes place over 3 days at the end of August – beginning of September. What’s great about this Exhibition is that it includes classes and attracts some of the best teachers from all over Italy.

Here’s some work that the Valtopina group were showing at Italia Invita:

ABC of Valtopina School at Italia Invita 2013

The dates for 2014 aren’t yet on their website or Facebook page but if you’re interested just keep an eye out here. The only information I’ve been able to find out is that the Canadian quilter and textile artist Sandra Redford will be co-curating an exhibit with Joe Lewis at Valtopina 2014.

Punto Antico

Just to let you know I’ve added some photos of a needlebook with an Aemelia Ars needlelace insert to the Italia Invita 4 post.

Bye for now



Italia Invita 5: Punto Umbro & Puncetto Needlelace

Somehow I blinked and a whole week has gone! It’s been a busy week with school holiday classes and getting ready for Young Stitchers tomorrow but more about that in the next post.

In this post I’m going to focus on Punto Umbro embroidery and Puncetto Needlelace.

Italia Invita was held in Parma which is in central Italy in the region of Reggio Emilia.The Region of Umbria is also in Central Italy and this meant that quite a number of Umbrian Associations and embroidery schools were represented, mostly from the province of Perugia. Most people go to Perugia (the city) for its chocolate festival but for stitchers it has the bonus of an incredibly rich textile history – Punto Umbro is just one facet.

Punto Umbro – History

Punto Umbro means Umbrian stitch. This technique was developed at the turn of the last century by an American woman Romeyne Robert who married an Italian nobleman, the Marquis Ruggero Ranieri di Sorbello. They married in 1902 and went to live at the Palazzo Sorbello in Perugia. This Palazzo is now a museum and includes some exquisite examples of Punto Umbro embroidery which you can see here.

Romeyne Robert established an embroidery school on one of their estates at Villa Pischiello near Lake Trasimeno. The woman she chose to lead the school was a talented needlewoman from Florence called Carolina Amari. These two women made a great team and the school ran very successfully until 1934.

The Punto Umbro technique developed from their study of antique Arab embroideries in the collection of the Countess Edith Bronson Rucellai of Florence. They gave a new lease of life to arabic stitches that had been used in Italian, Spanish and Portuguese embroidery.

Punto Avorio

One of the most important was Punto Avorio (Ivory Stitch) which is one of the oldest needlelace stitches brought to Italy by the Arabs. It’s also found in Puncetto needlelace which we’ll talk about a bit later.

The name of this stitch is said to come from the designs and motifs on the ivory grates in the walls of the harems.

In Punto Umbro it’s used both as a surface stitch and a needlelace stitch.

You can see the surface version in this detail from a work on show at Giusy Federici’s stand at Italia Invita – it’s used in the outline of the heart:

Punto Umbro Hearts Italia Invita

The other characteristic  stitch that you can see here is punto ricciolino (little curl stitch) which is used on the curlicues in the flowers and leaves. It’s an inverse version of Palestrina stitch. If you’d like a closer look just click on the photo to enlarge it.

In the next photo you can see the use of Punto Avorio needlelace in the insertions on the tablecloth:

Lamp shade Punto Umbro Italia Invita

Characteristics of Punto Umbro Embroidery

Just as a technique like Crewel is defined by the use of certain fabrics, threads, designs and stitches (i.e. linen/twill, wool threads, Jacobean designs and certain stitches) the same is true of most Italian traditional techniques.

In the case of Punto Umbro the key features are:

  • the use of heavier and coarser linen, hemp, linen/hemp mix or cotton fabrics,
  • threads in certain colours (e.g. antique blue, copper green, red, rust, ecru etc),
  • Geometric Renaissance, Arabic & Portuguese designs,
  • insertions and edges stitched in Punto Avorio needlelace,
  • elaborate tassels and embroidered buttons,
  • and particular stitches –  the most important being satin, stem, chain, punto avorio and punto ricciolino (little curl stitch).

This embroidery has a very textured surface created by the extensive use of knotted and filled stitches. Interestingly herringbone stitch is sometimes used to fill shapes outlined in stem stitch. In the more elaborate pieces raised stem stitch is also used to great effect.

While Punto Umbro doesn’t have the elegance and refinement of Punto Antico, it’s a very attractive style of embroidery because of the elaborate surface, interesting motifs and very tactile quality.

Because of the fabrics used it’s very hard wearing and versatile for household goods such as these cushions:

Three Cushions Punto Umbro Italia Invita

Italia Invita

There were two stalls with Punto Umbro work at Italia Invita.

One was that of Giuseppa (Giusy) Federici who has written a number of books on this technique. She very generously allowed me to photograph some of the pieces she had on show. Here are some more photos from her stall:

Bird on Crown Punto Umbro Italia Invita


Green and Gold Table Runner Punto Umbro Italia Invita

And here is the cover of her book on Punto Umbro:

Giuseppa Federici Book Cover Punto Umbro o Sorbello

I’m working on a sampler of stitches from this book which also has a very good selection of patterns from easy to more advanced. While the text is in Italian the stitch illustrations are excellent.

There’s been an interesting conversation going on over time between Giusy Federici and Meri Almeida on the Avomeri blog.  They’ve been exploring the similarities and differences in the stitches  and traditions of Portuguese embroidery and Punto Umbro – most recently in a post on 28 August 2013. You can see the Sampler from Giusy’s book in Meri’s post of 7 December 2012 – the easiest way to get to this post quickly is to go to the ‘search’ box at the top right hand side of the blog header and key in ‘Giusy Federici’ then hit the return key and then go to the post.

The other stand belonged to a woman from Perugia called Genevieve Porpora. She recounted that she learnt Punto Umbro from Margherita Biancacalana, the last surviving student of the Marquess Romeyne Robert’s school.

Genevieve Porpora has also published a book on Punto Umbro with a modern twist – some of the traditional patterns are stitched in black on white.

Here’s a look at the cover:

Genevieve Porpora Book Cover

Again the text is in Italian and I’ve found that the stitch diagrams are not as detailed or helpful as those in Giusy Federici’s book. I bought this book for the patterns which include a number with birds. These can be worked either in the black or the traditional thread colours.

Puncetto Needlelace

Punto Avorio links Punto Umbro and Puncetto needlelace. This style of needlelace is used in the insertions and edgings of Punto Umbro work.

Puncetto is a knotted needlelace made using only needle and thread. You don’t use a hoop as there aren’t the same issues of maintaining tension that exist in needlelace styles based on buttonhole stitch.

It comes from the Valsesia area of the Piedmont region in Italy. The School of Puncetto Valsesiano (La Scuola di Puncetto Valsesiano) from Varallo was at Italia Invita and here are some photos of their work which they generously allowed me to photograph:

A selection of traditional doyley styles…

Puncetto in Frame Italia Invita


Round Puncetto Doyley Italia Invita

A decorative element in a table runner…

Pink and white Puncetto Rectangle Italia Invita

Colourwork inserts on a traditional costume and household items…

Costume and Orange Rectangle Puncetto Italia Invita

The School had various books for sale and I asked the women manning the stall for some advice on the best one for a beginner and they recommended the following book:

Puncetto Valsesiano Book Cover

I haven’t yet had a chance to use this book but it’s based on very extensive and detailed diagrams.

If  you’re interested in more information on either Punto Umbro or Puncetto then head to the blog Italian Needlework. If you scroll down the left hand side of the blog you’ll see the extensive list of headings.

Ciao Ciao!