Wednesday, 17 June 2009
It is still an enigma how the Ackworth School sampler medallion motifs originated - they seem to have sprung fully formed without a prior period of development. And to what practical use, if any, were they put? Were they, for example, ever copied onto linens for decoration? Nothing has been found to date. When the motifs do occur elsewhere, it is always on knitted silk pinballs. So was Mary's sampler a stitched knitting pattern? The pinballs were made as mementos and also for publicizing special causes, most notably the Anti-slavery Movement which had as a symbol a kneeling slave. The kneeling slave occurs on two samplers. (There is a free download of this motif and I'll put it in the download gallery for you.) Pinballs with the words 'A Token of Love' were given to prisoners (who would often be Quakers imprisoned for not paying their tithes) as a token of God's love, to show they were not forgotten. I realised how important it would be to reconstruct the pinballs and to find out how they could be made. This was where the genius and skills of Erica Uten, a Belgian fine-stitcher, came into play. She was able, never having attempted anything like this at all in her life, to reconstruct the fine silk knitting which is made on knitting needles the size of the needle you are using to stitch Mary Wigham. She designed and knitted 12 pinballs based on the Ackworth medallions, we made them up and the whole process was recorded in her lovely book Tokens of Love. Her very special work will be featured in the September/October 2009 Piecework.
Posted by N E E D L E P R I N T at 23:31