Certificate decisions

Last week I wrote about a significant set of four RSN Stitch Guides and ideas for the Canvaswork module of the RSN Certificate and this means, doesn’t it, surely it must, that I’ve decided to do The Whole Thing after all. As you may remember I set out on this course with the clear intention of doing the Jacobean and Goldwork modules, and then stopping. Several people (including tutors, my very supportive husband and a fellow student) have since encouraged me to do the whole Certificate, and I’ve been keeping this in the back of my mind throughout the first module. The ideas are there – my canvas scribbles and pictures-for-inspiration are fairly obvious indications of that. And yet.

Various ideas for the Canvaswork module

Having stitched for quite a few hours now using the trestle-and-slate-frame combination, I think I can confidently say it is simply not my cup of tea. I find the stitching position uncomfortable and the nearly horizontal orientation of the frame (even after putting the rear of the trestles up another notch to give it extra tilt) puts a strain on my eyes – with my ordinary glasses I can see the further end of the embroidery, but I can’t see the details nearby, while with my stitching glasses I can’t see far enough without things going blurry. When stitching the tree trunk, which covers quite a bit of the height of the design, neither of my glasses allowed me to work an entire row of chain stitch in focus while keeping a comfortable (and healthy!) posture.

The trestles at maximum tilt

But the slate frame is obligatory when doing the Certificate (and the other “big” RSN courses like the Diploma and the Future Tutor programme), and I don’t think it is negotiable. Not for the Canvaswork and Goldwork modules, with A5-sized projects, and not even for the Silk Shading module, where the brief specifies that “overall the piece should be no bigger than 8×8 centimeters (3in x 3in)”. Leaving aside for the moment that 3 inches is even less than 8 centimetres, does this really need a slate frame, even my “small” 18-inch one? I fear that it probably does if it’s part of the Certificate, and that no amount of coin-bouncing off my laced Millennium frame will convince them otherwise. But just possibly the Bling SAL Tree may sneak into my frame bag, come to my February class and show off its drum-taut tension, and then who knows?

Laced Millennium frame

PS Depending on the outcome, would anyone be interested in taking over a hardly-used slate frame in a year or so? With trestles?

8 comments on “Certificate decisions

  1. Hi
    I am also doing the Certificate and (very) slowly working my way through the Jacobean module. I use a sit/ kneel chair when Iโ€™m using the trestles and I find it very helpful in taking all the strain off my spine and the muscles in my back. It means that I can sit well inside the trestles and lean rather than bend. I wear varifocal specs but I have a bifocal pair with the close and medium distance prescription and these are excellent for stitching ( also for using a computer). But I also like to use a clip on magnifier. You are a much more experienced stitcher than me and have probably already tried all this but I thought it would be worth mentioning.

  2. All suggestions are very welcome, and no I’d not thought of a sit/kneel chair before. It sounds interesting, and the only difficulty I can think of is that my trestles are A-frames, and my slate frame the narrower 18″ one, so that there isn’t much room to get between them (I use a stool). But it may be worth a try, thank you.
    With my optician I did look into varifocals and they turned out not to be a good option for me, but generally I manage very well with my extra-strength reading glasses. Do you have the bifocals exclusively for stitching? I’m getting rather a collection of glasses!

  3. I can see there might be a width problem with the chair. When I moved to varifocals I asked for reading glasses as well but they werenโ€™t as useful as Iโ€™d hoped so the optician suggested these. I get on well with varificals but the bi focal give me a bit more space to look through and everything is clearer. No good if you want to knit or sew and watch TV at the same time though. I have been known to pop a pair of ordinary magnifiers over the top if Iโ€™m using a hoop but the clip on magnifier is better on the trestle set up. Also less danger of opening the door to the postman and looking a complete idiot?

  4. It seems to me, and I’m no expert, that your Millennium frame operates exactly like a slate frame, especially as you can control the tension and “dress” the sides. The only difference is that it sits on a different sort of base. I admire the RSN, but what is gained by dealing with an 8x8cm piece on a slate frame and trestles? I suspect you’ll get no change from your tutors, the rules being rules whether sensible or not, and it is definitely possible to be too precious about what is “right”. Having examined many folios from the EG, I’m pretty sure that the examples weren’t done to RSN standards of set up, and yet… and yet…
    Having said all that, I can certainly understand why a slate frame and trestles might make a large project more manageable. (Being able to see it is, well, obviously important!) And I like the idea of a sit/kneel chair.

  5. The only downside to “dressing” the Millennium frame is that its side bars are not uniform, as the stretching mechanism operates with a wooden screw inside a wooden cylinder; so it takes a bit more fiddling to get the lacing thread to sit around them evenly, and tightening is also a little more of a job, but not discouragingly so.

    I will bounce the idea off the tutor, I think, but I’m also looking at a smaller slate frame; the RSN only offer the choice of an 18″ or a 24″ (and for this A4 sized module I think the 18″ was probably the smallest feasible option) but there are smaller ones out there, and crucially they have shorter side bars the smaller they get so they don’t stick out so much! It’s another expense, but if the RSN insist on a slate frame I think it may be worth it (especially if I can pass on my present frame and trestles to someone else). It’s either that or not completing the Certificate, I’m afraid ๐Ÿ™

  6. I agree that if a slate frame is the only option, then you have to go with it, if you have decided to complete the entire Certificate — and you have, haven’t you? ? Shorter side bars sound good, and all this learning will feed into your business, and therefore the pleasure of all Mabel supporters out there. As someone with a vested interest, all I can say is you go girl!

  7. DH seems to have decided it for me… ๐Ÿ™‚ – but yes, if at all possible I would like to complete the programme, although whether I will manage within the requisite four years is anybody’s guess. Still, a tutor and a long-term Certificate/Diploma students have assured me that that rule at least is not necessarily applied absolutely.

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