Friday, March 16, 2012

Frak This

Here is a peek at the current piece I am stitching.  It's another in the Love Letters series and I hope to have it available for the Online Needlework Show mid-April. This time I'm celebrating the Fraktur style.  If you thought reading something in regular Blackletter-style script was a challenge, then you will understand that Fraktur script (a very curvy variant descended from blackletter) is even more of a challenge. Plus, the words are usually in German, frequently even archaic German.

Although you'd never want to read a novel typeset in Fraktur, the alphabet is so beautiful and elegant that it continues to be used in an ornamental fashion. You'll recognize it on everything from Gothic-looking t-shirt designs to marriage certificates.  Mathematicians may remember working with Fraktur letters alongside all those Greek characters. Here is a pangram (in German, of course,) a sentence using all of the letters in the alphabet, for you to see how lovely the text looks.  German pangrams are more challenging because they must include the letters with umlauts too. I'm including only the capital letters in the stitched piece.

The art style goes hand-in-hand with this typeface is the Pennsylvania Dutch folk art, also called Fraktur.  You can see online and in museums examples of documents lettered in Fraktur calligraphy adorned with elaborate ink and watercolor drawings.  The most common motifs are birds, hearts, and plants with crazy wild flowers. I do like crazy flowers. For something different, and I think appropriate to the style and its time period, I am stitching this one with Gentle Arts Simply Wool threads. It is such a different feel working with the wool.  You use a single strand, but it still has sooooo much body over 2 on 32, which I am attempting to show in the close-up below. I'm finding they work up better than I had expected; my hands are a rough and dry mess. Frogging is not nice (but is it ever?) and the needle is a bitch to thread, but once I get going the thread hasn't frayed or gotten thin or lost its twist on me.  There is a limited palette available, but I've been able to find colors that work.  All in all, I'm really glad I've tried it.