Monday, 30 November 2009

Stitch an Ornament for the Christmas Tree at Ackworth School

It comes as a surprise to many that Quakers have a fondness for Christmas Trees. This year I shall miss the big tree in the old hall at Ackworth - and all the Friends of Ackworth School Quaker Samplers from around the world who gathered there in December 2006 and 2008. The stitched archive at Ackworth School is not static - recently we have added the entries from the Quaker Post Competition. And now here is a chance for a stitched item by you to have a place in that archive - and to hang on the Ackworth School Tree. Simply stitch one of Steve Rousseau's Ornaments, stitch your name and date on the reverse and then email me for sending in details when you are ready. For this week's free pdf download of ornaments just click here. If you feel like tackling a larger project, you can also download Steve Rousseau's Quaker Cushion .

Saturday, 28 November 2009

Veronique's Mary Wigham, Squirrel and Dove and...


Véronique has truly made the Mary Wigham sampler her own, not only in her choice of palette, but also by subtle changes to the design itself. Here the squirrel appears a little less ratty, and the dove above a little less tortoisey! A graceful swan glides amongst the medallions which are dusted with initials and little spots of Véronique's own invention. I hope the next time you pick up a charted pattern, you will now feel more confident to add one or two changes of your own. Think of it a little like cooking - we use recipe books some days and then when we are happy with the general basics we experiment, substituting new ingredients for those in the book. OK, they don't always work as we expected, but usually no-one dies and we have learnt something valuable which will enhance our skills and taste. Brava Véronique!

Colonial Williamsburg Samplers now On-Line

Thank you to Mary Woods who yesterday sent me this lovely ePostcard of stitching hands from Colonial Williamsburg to tell me that the Foundation had now put their collection of 22 samplers on line. The collection includes the 1799 Ackworth School medallion sampler worked by Jane Stead To see them click here. Type: Sampler into the search box.

Friday, 27 November 2009

Eid al-Adha - Abraham's Sacrifice


George who has been overseeing the linens and threads we sent out to Beit Sahour sent me an email yesterday wishing us a Happy Eid al-Adha. I would like to say that I could have told you exactly what that meant without first consulting Wikipedia...but to my shame I can't. Eid al-Aida is the festival commemorating Abraham's release from the sacrifice of his son Isaac. It is certainly a time for joy to be told by God that no sacrifice of sons or daughters is necessary, simply obedience to God's laws and justice towards fellow humans. Abraham's sacrifice is a perennial subject on samplers and stitched pictures of the 17th century. Here are two examples for you to see. This first above comes from probably the finest collection of stitched samplers and pictures in the world - The Micheal and Elizabeth Feller Collection featured in the Perpetually Engaging Diary and shortly to be released Needlework Treasures by Mary M Brooks. I love the naive quality of the stitched narrative in this fine 17th century picture in which the protagonists, Abraham and the Angel, have speech bubbles - the words in the Angel's speech bubble - ABRAHAM ABRAHAM are flipped to MAHARBA MAHARBA to indicate they are coming from a different direction and are being heard.



This second is from the marvellous Dutch Verheggen Penders Collection (obtainable on CD-Rom). It was stitched by Mari Pieters in 1682 and Mari has stitched that she was 78 years old when she completed it. Whatever you do, don't give away your stash yet!

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Thanksgiving Day - Power of Hands

Happy Holiday! It is good to be amongst family at home on this special day. If some of you are missing company today, I am here all day. Just click on the angel to email me and I will be there with you for a chatter about what you will. I am aware there are many people in floods of Cumbria - almost our second home - who will not have cosy homes this holiday season, and others too around the world, some still suffering the after-effects of the Boxing Day Tsunami of 2004. A foundation - The Power of Hands - has been set up to help Tsumai survivors. The vision of Power of Hands Foundation is to provide impoverished female craft workers, with facilities and training, to help them out of the poverty and to become self sufficient. At the same time, dying traditional crafts and skills will be preserved for generations to come. If you are able to buy some of their crafts, that would be helpful. I saw some examples in a museum shop while travelling last week and they are lovely and not expensive.
"And be as the needle which enters not to stay but to make way for a thread of uniting love." Thomas Combert 1676.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Stitches of a 1,000 Women -- Sennin-bari

Saho Nogi, Editor of Needleprint Nihon, has written the following blog for us:
When I was a child, my mother showed me a Sennin-bari and told me the story of the women who made the knots. I have always remembered it - and what it stands for.
Sennin-bari is needlework which once existed in Japanese war history. Based upon the Shinto beliefs of Imperial Japan, it originates back to the Sino-Japanese War (1894-1895); becoming most popular during the Second World War. Sennin-bari is a piece of cloth, commonly measuring about 15.24cm (6 in) wide, and 79-91 cm (31-36 in) long, covered with french knots stitched by a thousand women. They were usually worn as belts or sashes and considered to confer courage, good luck and immunity from injury (bullets).
Only women were allowed to make them, and one woman could sew only one knot, except for women born in the year of the Tiger of the Chinese zodiac, who could sew 12 knots or a number up to her age. Tigers were considered good luck, since there is an ancient saying that tigers can roam away a thousand miles and return safely home. It was common for the mother, sister, female relative or sweethearts of the soldier to stand in the streets or in the markets to ask the passers-by to sew a knot, which they did willingly. Even little girls in elementary school participated. Sometimes it was mass-produced by women's patriotic organizations to send overseas. The Sennin-bari could be of any material, commonly cotton, sometimes silk. The knots were sewn with cotton threads, silk threads or even 'No. 25' embroidery threads. Red knots on white cloth were most popular, since this combination represents 'good luck'. Yellow and blue were the next most popular. The knots could be placed at random, or in rows, or layed out in a pattern of letters or figures. Again, the tiger pattern was the most popular. In addition to the thousand knots, women's hair, or coins were sewn for added protection. Some Sennin-bari were made into vests or caps.
The message of the Sennin-bari, made by the women at home wishing safety for their loved ones, was actually a paradox, It contradicted the common belief imposed by the Imperial Japanese Government, which considered it the utmost honor and duty to 'die for the country' and a shame to come home alive. Since the Sennin-bari which now exist were mostly brought back by the soldiers who survived, the Sennin-bari sometimes hold bitter and tragic memories, both for those who made or wore them.
In writing this article I referred to the book "Sennin-bari" by Ms. Namiko Mori, a woman who has made it her life work to research the Sennin-bari all over the country and overseas (mostly in Southeast Asia). It said that in many cases, people were willing to give her the Sennin-bari but were reluctant to talk to her about it. The accounts which are included in the book are poignant and heart-wrenching, if not tragic. In all cases they cry out the message that such tragedies of war should never be repeated.

The Sennin-bari in the photo above is provided by the courtesy of Kosuzume-san.
Please refer to her article. It belonged to her uncle who went to war, and was recently handed down to her along with his 'will' to the family. The knots form the characters for a common slogan, 'bu-un cho-kyu' meaning 'eternal good luck in the war'.


The picture of the leaflet left is of the exhibit in Fukuoka, held last year. The letters on the Sennin-bari also say 'bu-un cho-kyu'.
The English Wikipedia gives a good detailed account of the Sennin-bari.


By Saho Nogi

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Free Tristan Quilt Lecture and Boutis Class * 5 December 2009 * V&A London *


It always amuses me that it is often someone in another country that points out the interesting events happening in one's own. We have Paule Motton in France to thank for this post and also gaining permission to show unpublished images of a fabulous treasure.


Paule writes: Provençal boutis is a most fascinating technique of quilting that allows a beautiful interplay of light over its surface, so it should come as no surprise that it was developed under the sun of Languedoc and Provence, in the south of France. One of the oldest pieces we know was made at the end of the 14th century, probably in Sicily. It is a huge work (122" x 106"), probably made for a bed covering, depicting in fourteen scenes the story of Tristan and Yseult, with Italian captions. Two parts of the work can be seen in Florence, Italy, one in a private collection, the other in the Bargello Museum, but the main part is in the collections of the V&A Museum, in London.


This could have been the end of the story, if not for the impulse that joins together a group of French stitchers in Calvisson, Gard. Their association - called Les Cordelles, Boutis en Vaunage - works with the House of Boutis, a small museum created and run by Francine Nicolle. In 2006, they decided to start the big challenge of recreating a full-size replica ot the Tristan Quilt, and now, three years and 6,000 work-hours later, they have completed their mission and will show the recreated Tristan Quilt in the V&A between 3-6 December.

On Saturday 5 December there will be a special study day. From 11.00 - 13.00 and 14.00 - 16.00 in the Art Studio in the Sackler Centre there will be hands on experience of the boutis technique and at 13.00 and 16.00 Francine Nicolle will be comparing the original and contemporary versions of the quilt in Room 9 of the Medieval and Renaissance galleries. You can just turn up to these events - there is no need to book.


Thanks to Francine Nicolle and Gerard Verhoest, we have the privilege to show you unpublished pictures of this work.

By Paule Motton

Sleon une édtue

I have just been speaking to Matt Davies at the Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit in Cambridge about your comments - particularly those of you who have English as a second language. For those English speakers with a second European language here is some more fun for you:
Sgeun un etsduio de una uivenrsdiad ignlsea, no ipmotra el odren en el que las ltears etsan ersciats, la uicna csoa ipormtnate es que la pmrirea y la utlima ltera esten ecsritas en la psiocion cocrrtea. El rsteo peuden estar ttaolmntee mal y aun pordas lerelo sin pobrleams. Etso es pquore no lemeos cada ltera por si msima preo la paalbra es un tdoo.
Sleon une édtue de l'Uvinertisé de Cmabrigde, l'odrre des ltteers dnas un mtos n'a pas d'ipmrotncae, la suele coshe ipmrotnate est que la pmeirère et la drenèire soit à la bnnoe pclae. Le rsete peut êrte dnas un dsérorde ttoal et vuos puoevz tujoruos lrie snas porlblème. C'est prace que le creaveu hmauin ne lit pas chuaqe ltetre elle-mmêe, mias le mot cmome un tuot.
Vlgones een oznrdeeok op een Eglnese uvinretsiet mkaat het neit uit in wlkee vloogdre de ltteers in een wrood saatn, het einge wat blegnaijrk is is dat de eretse en de ltaatse ltteer op de jiutse patals saatn. De rset van de ltteers mgoen wllikueirg gpletaast wdoren en je knut vrelvogens gwoeon lzeen wat er saatt. Dit kmot odmat we neit ekle ltteer op zcih lzeen maar het wrood als gheeel.

Monday, 23 November 2009

Steve Rousseau's Fabulous Holiday Ornaments - Free Download

For those of who you thought that Steve Rousseau's Quaker Cushion might be a bit of a stretch, here is a wonderful variation for you. Steve's Holiday present is not one, not two, not ten, but 27 ornament designs taken from his fabulous cushion! All free for you to download right here, right now. Starting today is the first download of 9 - click here for your pdf. But you have to promise - no sneaking off under the table after the holiday turkey and cranberries to start your stitching, you must eat all your dessert first!

Tokens of Love Needleprint Gift Shop

You might just have noticed that we have been having a spruce up here - it is that time of year, isn't it? Still lots more to do, but we are working on it this week. One thing you keep telling me is that you have trouble finding charts and cards and books on the blog when you need them. Many of you live out of the reach of needlework shops which compounds your difficulties. So we have started to set up a Needleprint Gift Shop where our items are set out in a more tidy fashion. We have included cards and 'twobies' so when you buy you can also indulge a friend. Just click on the picture here to take a look. Do buy from your local needlework store whenever you can. If you are looking for a needlework shop close to you, email me by clicking on the flying angel.

Waht is Gestalt?

I must have mentioned Gestalt in a posting because I had an email today asking me what it meant. In German it means: form, but it also has a connotation of wholeness and completeness. Take for example when we look at a table: we don't need to count the number of legs and the angles and planes of wood (or whatever the table is made of) we grasp it quickly as a whole and confidently label it 'table'. The idea of Gestalt is the foundation of many design principles - we are comfortable if, without a long analysis, we can grasp wholeness or completedness in a design. If, however, that completeness is not quite there, we feel jarred or shocked without necessarily understanding why. As any proof-reader knows, Gestalt is the bane of one's life! Here is a little Gestalt test for you, which you may like to try on your friends around the party table this week.

Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be at the rghit pclae. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe.

(If there are any readers who do not have English as their first language it would be an interesting experiment to hear if you can make sense of it also.)

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Jacqueline Hélin's Mary Wigham is Framed

Another wonderful Mary Wigham adventure is safely home and framed beautifully. This time by Jacqueline Hélin in France. (You can see more images of her sampler on her blog.) When Carol Humphrey and I first studied the Ackworth School samplers around 5 years ago now, we hazarded guesses about how long they would have taken to complete, given that they were stitched in the girls' spare moments. So all your Mary Wigham's have contributed to understanding just what degree of time commitment might have been involved. We must factor in to some extent that the new samplers have been worked from an existing chart and in all probability there would not have been a chart for the original. But on the other hand, many of you have created stitched variations, the design of which is also time-consuming. You might like to consider what other factors would have affected the elapsed time taken, such as available daylight and candlelight. How comfortable would you have felt stitching by candlelight? Have you ever stitched by candlelight? It would be very interesting to hear your experiences.

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Jeanny Cobben's Dutch Mary Wigham

Each time I display a completed Mary Wigham here, it is with a great sense humility and privilege. I am so totally surrounded by wonderful talents that had I just a smidgen myself, I would believe myself blessed. Yet I am so privileged to be able to delight in all the wonderful talents of others. And here is another special talent to share with you, this time that of Jeanny Cobben. Jeanny has taken Mary Wigham's chart and recreated it in such a rich and gorgeous palette. This is not Jeanny's first large sampler, she has stitched many, many samplers and is a teacher of
Hardanger as well as sampler making. Do make yourself a cup of tea or coffee, sit down and admire her work - just click here. You will be delighted, I promise.

Wishing Paule Well for Monday.

Needleprint Society is an association of friends around the world with a common aim - to make wonderful needlework more accessible to everyone, to preserve it as an inspiration to future generations, and to encourage those who have yet to try, to pick up a needle and experience the joy of needlework for themselves. Without those friends, much of Needleprint's work would simply be impossible. Tonight I'd like to put a little spotlight on Paule Motton who not only does a wonderful job of running Needleprint France, but is a source of great inspiration to me and many others. Paule has cataracts on both eyes and glaucoma. On Monday she is going into hospital for the first of her operations to remove the cataracts. We are all stitchers and know just how precious our eyes are to us, and to have any eye problems at all is great worry. Perhaps we can take a moment on Monday to think of Paule and wish her well for a successful operation and renewal of vision.

Friday, 20 November 2009

The way we stitched in the 30s from the London School of Fashion Archive

The London School of Fashion has a fascinating archive of its history and students and I was surprised to see that the syllabus taught appeared not to be exclusively couture and fashion drawing. In the background of this student's display of stitching are some very samplery-looking items. The cushion which has pride of place reminds me of similar in my grandmother's house - possibly worked by my aunt and mother when girls - reflecting an enduring love affair with crinoline ladies which seemed to appear everywhere - from nightdress cases to firescreens and toffee tins to Royal Doulton 'Ladies'. How much they owe to the vogue for Regency Period films of 30's, I can only guess - and then there was the crinoline film to end all crinoline films - Gone with the Wind. The student's gymslip seems a world away from the crinoline. How we longed to be out of them when we were at school! The good thing was that we only had to wear them for the first two years of senior school before graduating to skirts; the bad thing was because they were only to be worn for just two years we had to make do in the second year with the very same gymslip, even though we had grown rather in the chest department and all those nice box pleats, instead of falling neatly in line, began to puff out like the ruff of a mating grebe.

The second picture is a girl working with a tambour needle (I think this looks late 40s or even early 50s) and again the designs of colourful, dancing Europeans in folk costume were so popular on aprons, dirndl skirts and sundresses at that time.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

A Pocketful of Pockets

This pretty pair of stitched pockets worked by or for Mary Davis in the early to mid 1800s is in Carmarthenshire County Museum and if you are a lover of pockets as I am you will have a delight in store when you explore more examples on the VADS database. There are three pages - 34, 35, 36 to see. Just click here to start on page 34.

Perpetually Engaging Diary Now Available Worldwide Post Free

Although we have copies of the diary out in stores from Canada to Australia there are many requests from those of you in parts of the world without needlework stores and who cannot obtain copies. If you cannot get hold of a copy, you can now buy here. (If you are in doubt whether there is a stockist near you - just email me and I will pass you on to a store if there is one in your country - it is important to support needlework stores.) Just click here for one copy or on the header bar above if you would like two copies or a Special Diary and Ackworth School Memory Book package.

I had the loveliest experience the last time I stayed with Elizabeth Feller - she was stitching one of the projects in the Perpetually Engaging Diary for her grandson as a present!

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

A Path Shared with Friends

There are always up and down days and even on the bleakest day it is good to know that one never treads a path alone. Friends are many and once you start to count their names you see they are as numberless as stars. I don't really like to talk about my family in public, because they are due their private lives. But many of you will have admired already the work of my husband, Richard, Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society, whose images you see in the Needleprint books. Here is one of his images, perhaps more typical for him than his studies of samplers and needlework. Some of you may recognise it as Top Withins, the legendary location of Wuthering Heights. It lies on one of our favourite walks across the moorlands of our home county. It is always special to roam there together across the wide horizons, whether in sunshine or, as here, in rain, to get a sense of our perspective and priorities in life. It is a great yet humbling strength.

Para mí sólo recorrer los caminos que tienen corazón,
cualquier camino que tenga corazón.
Por ahí yo recorro,
y la única prueba que vale es atravesar todo su largo.
Y por ahí yo recorro mirando,
mirando,
sin aliento.
(For me there is only the walking along paths that have heart, any path that has heart, and there I travel, and the only thing that matters is that I traverse its full length. And as I go, I marvel, breathless with wonder.)

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Inlaid Patchwork Exhibition * Austrian Folk Art Museum Vienna * Until 14 March 2010


Cloth Intarsia or Mosaics are special forms of inlaid patchwork employing fulled, non-fraying wool offcuts abutted (not seamed) which are joined by almost invisible, tiny stitches on the reverse. They possess distinct, bold and well-designed iconography often taken from printed religious sources. Some items are dated as early as the 14th and 15th centuries and their production was widespread, from Persia and the Ottoman Empire in the East to Wales and Great Britain in the West, and as far north as Sweden and Finland. Often made by craftsmen tailors, there is even a sub-branch composed entirely of military epaulettes.

An exhibition of many beautiful examples can be seen at the
Volkskundmuseum in Vienna until 14th March 2010.


Monday, 16 November 2009

Steve Rousseau's Fabulous Quaker Cushion - Free Download

We are enormously fortunate to be the recipients of the talents and energy of gifted textile artist and designer Steve Rousseau from Montreal. (Some of you may already know Steve for his dedicated conversion of Needleprint charts and the Needleprint Ackworth School Pattern Book for MacStitch users from which he has culled these motifs with full agreement.) He has given us one of his designs based upon the Quaker motifs for you to work as a cushion 254 stitches wide by 257 stitches tall and he is giving it to you as a free download. Just click here to download the PDF.
You are a kind heart, Steve Rousseau, and so say all of us!
PS Look out next week for a very special Holiday present from Steve.


Power Blackouts

We live in deepest country where even squirrels can gnaw through power cables and put dinner back by a couple of hours. Saturday and Sunday were blustery to say the least, so it is no surprise that our power has been up and down like a yoyo. Please forgive any slowness in returning your emails. But we have something really exciting happening tonight.....mmmm wonder what will that be...?

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Simply Mary Wigham Simply French

I had to look more than once at this astonishing variation of Mary Wigham's sampler. Sandra B from France has seen right through to the excellent bones of the design and made a feature of them by pruning out some of the smaller motifs and setting a simple graphic alphabet in place of the clustered initials. Is there no end to this wonderful creativity of yours?

Saturday, 14 November 2009

¡ Enhorabuena !


Lovely to hear from Mayté Bermúdez-García, Head Girl for Spanish speaking SALers, who has just finished her Mary Wigham. She says: I'm very happy to send you the picture of my finished Mary Wigham Sampler. I used linen 40ct in color flax and silk threads from Splendor, was done 1x2. The final stitched piece is 15" h x 15 1/4 w.

And here you can admire Mayté's disciplined stitching from the reverse.


These last pictures are the sampler stitched by Anna Bustins from Spain. She has used linen Cashel and threads from DMC and Crescent Colours.
¡Viva, Viva Mary Wigham!

Friday, 13 November 2009

The Ebenseer Art of Rudolf Lippek

This replica sampler was diligently stitched by Rudolf Lippek so that not only the front of the sampler was replicated, but the reverse also.

Gisela Creutzberg writes: Over 10 years Rudolf visited sampler collections and, with permission, made copies of over 50. He had no textile background. He was an engineer and his work was to document the location of water and gas pipelines in his town. He had to be very exact. In his leisure time he liked photography. It was through his wife's learning to make bobbin lace that he became involved with textiles. He also learned to make bobbin lace and soon was better than her because of his technical knowledge and approach. Through bobbin lace he came to costumes with embroidery and so, eventually, to samplers. As he was an exact man it was not enough for him only to embroider a beautiful sampler. He visited Museums and private collections to learn as much as possible about the samplers, the embroiderers and their time. In the years from 1987 to 1997 he embroidered about 58 different samplers. Most he was allowed to photograph and afterwards he counted a pattern and embroidered the sampler. Nearly all reverses are stitched in what in Germany is called 'Ebenseer Art'. Ebensee is a small village near Bad Ischl in Austria. In 1887 Marie Spanitz founded a 'private Erwerbsschule' in Bad Ischl - somewhat similar to a boarding school. The girls in this school (aged 10 years and older) could or must embroider to earn money. Only very good embroideries were saleable and they needed to have these perfected reverse sides. This is how this technique came to be known as Ebenseer Art. Another advantage of this technique is that is uses least thread. Rudolf was still stitching in hospital in 1997 when he died.

Thank you for this post, Gisela, how we would all have loved to have met your friend!

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Model Scholars


We owe to someone who was busily wasting their time this model of a charity school for girls. Created around 1830 and designed to sit under dome, this little group reveals something about the organization of a typical school. The small number of girls may have something to do with the fact that space beneath the dome was limited, but records suggest that charity schools were small, often with no more that 10-15 girls. The girls are are clothed uniformly and much in evidence are their caps, bibs and tuckers and in this respect closely resemble known charity scholars seen in paintings of the time. They are sat on a wooden settle around their teacher as opposed to the more formal arrangement of being seated at desks in front of the teacher. It would have been the custom for girls to prepare their work individually for later presentation at the teacher's table at a given time. Are the girls in front of the teacher presenting their lesson, while those behind, with books on their laps still preparing theirs? It would appear that apart from hearing lessons, the teacher's other occupation is stitching - there is a needlework bag and two thread winders on the desk. Some girls are standing......but what is interesting is the child to the teacher's left who is either playing with a doll, or more likely (since they are all dolls!) tending the teacher's child, since this doll wears no uniform.




Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Knit Cosy Quaker Mittens - and a Sweater Too!


A few weeks ago when I shared a free download of knitted muffatees from Swaledale Museum, I asked if anyone could come up with a Quaker version. Cynthia Wasner from Oregon has done more than that. Not muffatees, but the delightful mittens you see here. And that is not all!

Cynthia has also designed this wonderful Quaker themeed sweater and I'm told patterns for both will be available in about a week's time from
Norsk Needlework

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Symbolism of Serpent or Snake

The portraits and dresses of Queen Elizabeth I are a maze of symbolism and symbolic motifs, many of which would lead us a merry dance into blind alleys. The important thing is that they do demonstrate that symbolism was all important, and that embroidery employed a silent language which, like ancient oracles, could be interpreted with a certain amount of intended ambiguity. We have looked before at the serpent which can signify wisdom on one hand or deception on the other. In the Rainbow portrait by Isaac Oliver of 1600, there is no doubt at all that we are intended to see the serpent on Elizabeth's sleeve. It could be a symbol of wisdom..... or it could be her birth sign. Elizabeth was born on 7 September 1533 which makes her, like me, a Virgo. Recent historical research has sought to part the curtains on Princess Elizabeth's early bedroom life and it appears that claims to her virginity are in serious doubt.

In this earlier Hardwick portrait commissioned by Bess of Hardwick in 1599 of Nicholas Hilliard (Bess is also said to have embroidered this skirt), serpents are again to be seen. Perhaps there were rumours and innuendos about her purported virginity in her own life time, and perhaps this is her response - a queen born under the sign of Virgo is a Virgin queen! The serpent is the symbol of Virgo in Chinese astrology...as her astrologer, Dr John Dee, who cast her charts would, no doubt, have told her.

Monday, 9 November 2009

Clox on Sox - Christmas Infinity Download


I made a resolution this year that I would be better prepared for Christmas. I don't know if November is too late to start, but it is better than January. Over the year I have been squirrelling away special little delights to give as gifts, so I am not starting from square one, which is a great boost. A couple of weekends ago, while looking through some 16th century pattern books, I found some lovely patterns for stocking clocks, and I thought what could be a better decoration for Christmas Stockings than some pretty Renaissance clocks? It took me a weekend to make these in between other work, so if you are looking for inspiration for a gift exchange, then here you are. I have made up some scrolls of linen and thread to go with little patterns I have designed, and there are punch spices, little tubes of gold needles, and then all it will need is a walnut or almond for the toe! If you would like an Infinity PDF and JGG download to make your own for $8, just click here.
(You might not be able to see on your screen, but the pattern comes with sock outlines for the clock designs.) There is an on line German museum dedicated to hosiery:
click here to visit.

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Viji's Finished Mary Wigham Takes a Tour and Meets Gandhi




You may remember Viji from Chennai in India who is was stitching her Mary Wigham on blue Aida - well she has finished. Congratulations Viji!

She tells us: 'At last, I completed the Mary Wigham Sampler. I am attaching photographs of Mary Wigham's in front of the Gandhi Monument on the beach at Pondicherry, a few photographs of Mary in Mahabalipuram (a sculpture city). It is also called a Mamallapuram. The Five Rathas are known as Pandava Rathas also. The Lion and Elephant in front of these caves are sculpted wonders as they are carved out of a single stone. Victor was able to take phtographs of Mary's Sampler in front of these lovely places. I enjoyed stitching Mary's Sampler so much. I have no words to thank you for bringing Mary close to people like me who stay so far and would never had an opportunity to know about her but for your efforts.'

It is lovely to share your Mary Wigham, Viji, and your stitching companionship. I am so impressed by your husband's placing something beneath your sampler to keep it clean while taking his pictures - that is really thoughtful.

Saturday, 7 November 2009

Sources for Tulips

I have a great love for the tulips which figure at the top of this Goodhart sampler (G82). They led me to another sampler in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge (T15-1952) and allowed me to posit an identity, Mary Basham, for the maker of the Goodhart sampler. It is always a wonderful moment, as some you may have experienced for yourselves, when some seemingly small clue allows you to 'return' a sampler or other artifact to its maker. There are a number of sources for the tulip on Mary's sampler stitched in 1778, but there is something about this one of 1730 - the subscribers' page from Robert Furber's Twelve Months of Flowers - which caught my eye. Possibly it is simply a deception of the tulips' placement at the top corners of a border framing a rectangular centrepiece, for no other florals are matched. Robert Furber was 'Gardiner' at Kensington and the illustrations in his catalogue were painted by Antwerp artist Pieter Casteels, and be inspiration to the Dutch-born still-life paintings Jacob van Huysums.