I have been taking a closer look at a shawl I keep for draughty winter days when writing. It has been my companion so long, I regret to say I hardly notice it except when people visit and want to take it home with them.
Perhaps someone can tell me if this shawl has been woven or pattern-darned. It looks very fine to me and I would like to think it has been worked by hand, but it appears too new not to have been woven. Corner motifs are certainly hand embroidered and the end and side borders have ben applied using hand stitching also.
Charles Dickens in Household Words describes the working of shawls: In a light, upper room, women and girls are at work, sitting on low stools, each with a shawl stretched tightly over her knees. Some of these are darning, with the utmost nicety, any cracks, thin places, or 'faults' in the fabric; darning each in its exact colour. (Nicety here means exactitude.) Given the posture and position of shawl of the Little Shawl Maker, I wonder if she might be working on the shawl fringe rather than darning it. Below is another quote taken from The Repository of 28 July 1858: