Friday, 30 April 2010

Have a lovely stitching weekend

In the 1680s Nicolas Arnout engraved a series of pictures of women and girls of quality, and just like you, these women of quality had a penchant for their stitching. What sort of head covering do you wear when you stitch, I wonder?? Have a lovely weekend whether stitching or in the garden.

A Token Of My Love - Sarah Harris 1786


This is to be the next Needleprint project for you. Now in its final production stages it will be ready for release later next week. It is such a joyful piece with its exuberant patchwork of quite extraordinary medallions, some markedly Quaker, others quite new to the repertoire, that we just had to let it jump our whole production schedule. Stitched in 1786 by Sarah Harris somewhere in England, this sampler has a wealth of historical data. It celebrates the 30th anniversary in 1790 of George III's accession to the throne. There are jovial heraldic lions - one with a unicorn, and a queen in all her regalia.Worked over a period of time, Sarah has inscribed it: 'Love for Love 1799' and 'A Token of My Love to EG 1786'. Here you can see it in its entirety. Now in the Smithsonian Institute a bequest of Mrs. Henry E. Coe, it will be ready for you to purchase and download quick as a wink in PDF and JGG formats.

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Pick a Pocket or Two - or 268!


If you are a lover of pockets as this mid 17th century young lady is, then you are in for a treat - there is a whole host of pockets from collections all around the UK for you to admire - 268 to be precise.
Just click here to see. (You will need to click page 15 where the main collection begins.)
There are plain pockets, embroidered pockets, counted cross stitch pockets, dolls' pockets, pairs of pockets and pockets all on their own!

Name That Band

And here is another band for you to name. To see all the bands so far just click here.

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Spot the Difference - Join the Dots - Pattern Duplication

This early pattern still waiting for the embroiderer's needle in the V & A Museum has been duplicated with a high degree of precision in terms of scale, direction and detail. But there are some differences between the same designs - can you spot them? We believe that patterns were pricked and pounced from a printed pattern page and one can only imagine how many pattern pages ended in tatters as a result. This might have been all well and good for domestic embroidery, but a professional drawer may have devised other strategies to conserve paper and contain costs. One such strategy was the use of the engraved plate and there are in existence 16th and 17th century patterns in the V & A Museum which have been printed onto the cloth using engraved plates. These could obviously, after an initial expensive outlay, have been used time and time again.
And there are other possibilities which exist in use to this day. While in Japan, visiting a temple in Kyoto, I had the pleasure to meet Toshio-san who wanted to show me some details which I might otherwise have overlooked. It turned out that we had a common interest - mons - or Japanese family crests. I have always loved these striking designs, so what wonderful fate it was that led me into this meeting with the last of a family line of mon painters in the traditional style. I was taken back to Toshio-san's studio which had belonged to his great-grandfather and he showed me the mons he had painted on fabric ready for making up into ceremonial kimonos. Then he painted one for me which you can see here. To do this he took down a circular pattern plate which was pierced with just a small number of holes in key positions around the perimeter. The pattern was put on the card and pounced. So, once the pattern was removed there were just a few 'locator dots' to work with, and it was Toshio-san's knowledge of how to join these dots that resulted in the design which he could replicate - along with all the other mons - as required, with exactly the same scale and composition time and time again. This mon - a butterfly - is barely an inch square. While it would be a mistake to extrapolate backwards from exisiting and foreign practices, they do give a very interesting insight into the critical factors which govern the process. I was sad to hear that Toshio-san was the last of his line - he works alone in a studio which once would have had half a dozen family workers. His son is an airline pilot.

Monday, 26 April 2010

Free Download - The Rose at the Heart of the Pomegranate

Just outside Chelmsford in the UK is the well-known New Hall School. Less well-known is that the school is a largely rebuilt palace once belonging to Henry VIII. In fact Henry, though inheriting several palaces when he ascended the throne in 1509, had in 1516 become a father for the first time. A doting father. His firstborn, Mary, born to his queen, Katherine of Aragon, was to have the most beautiful, salubrious place in which to grow. The land at New Hall was sold to him by Thomas Boleyn (a name that would come back, like the eleventh fairy, to haunt both Mary and Henry). Here Henry built his palace which he called Beaulieu. There still exists in the building to this day a testament of the swelling heart and pride which prompted Henry's generous gift. On one of the door spandrels are the arms of Katherine of Aragon - the pomegranate beneath the crown. And if you look closely at that pomegranate, you can see emerging from it a small English rose. But life, even for the seemingly most blessed, has its ups and downs and in 1533 Mary was evicted when Henry married Anne Boleyn selling the palace over her head to Lord Rochford, Anne Boleyn's brother.

So, here is a free design I have created for you to download - you can choose simply to work one small pomegranate and rose - or create a larger piece. Or you could take the pattern and use it as a repeat for knitting. You are limited only by your creativity which I know is vast! Click here for the image for your chart. If you have Jane Greenoff Cross Stitch Designer you can download an editable version of the chart by clicking here.

God Bless Elizabeth Prickett

Having just last week mentioned Elizabeth Prickett's work, it is with sadness and many thanks for all she gave to us that we say goodbye and God Bless to Elizabeth who died on Friday. Over the past thirty six years (1970-2006) she passed on her knowledge of Ruskin lace-making to more than 4,500 students and many more who learnt at a distance from her book and DVD. For those of you interested in knowing more about her and Ruskin Lace, there is a lovely article by HotHive Textiles which includes an interview with Elizabeth. Just click here to read more.

Sunday, 25 April 2010

Have You Found Your Free Boxer Sampler Chart?

I suspect from what you have been telling me that some purchasers of The Goodhart Samplers do not know that they have a free pattern for this wonderful Scottish boxer sampler in the Goodhart Collection charted by Erica Uten and taught by her at the Ackworth 2010. So, if you have a copy of the book, you also have this chart. To find your free full colour chart all you need to do is take off the book jacket which is folded double and simply open it out and look on the reverse. If you don't have a copy of the book you can purchase a copy for $90 and have it, together with its secret chart, airmailed direct to your door. Just click here for details.
What are boxers? Well, they are the strange cupids you can see in procession below the alphabet here, carrying a floral wand - and we'll leave talking about them for another night when we get round to naming that particular band!

Friday, 23 April 2010

Sampler Scarves and Driving Gloves - New From Needleprint

I had the joy a couple of weeks' ago to be up in the beautiful Scottish borders for the wedding of our niece and while there I had time to explore some of the lovely woollens crafted by local knitting manufacturers. So now I have a sample of a sampler scarf and driving gloves to show you which will be available for shipping in August. We shall be selling a limited quantity only of these items as they are truly special. They are crafted from the softest, finest 100% Scottish lambswool  - the main colour is ecru (or pale porridge as we say). Knitted in the round so that pattern goes all the way around without a wrong side or irritating seam they are 8 inches (20cm) wide and a snug 72 inches (180) long. There is an option to have them plain or with a generous hand-crafted tassel finish which incorporates all the shades of wool used in the scarf. These are just perfect for autumn gifts - or even for yourself! The cost for the scarf is £50 with tassels or £47.50 without, the driving gloves are £25. Please email me for more details.

Happy St George's Day

It always perplexes people from abroad that the patron saint of England was not English - whatever that is with our mixed bag of heritage which includes Angles, Jutes, Saxons, Africans, Normans, Celts, Gaels, Asians, Romans, Scandinavian Vikings to name but a few - but Cappodacian, from Asia Minor; in the area that is now Turkey. On this stitched map of the early 1800s you can see some of the devotion to the patron saint in the naming of St George's Channel which separates us from Ireland. More interesting is the naming of what is now the North Sea which separates us from mainland Europe as The British Ocean, whereas on many maps of this period it is called The German Ocean.

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Name That Band - Band 6

And what do you make of this band?

Ruskin Lace Courses at Coniston and Techniques of Ruskin Lace Working on DVD

Now that Elizabeth Prickett is officially retired, her link to the tradition of needle-made Ruskin Lace might have been lost if someone had not had the forethought to commit her expertise and knowledge of the craft of 36 years to DVD. And for those who cannot attend the courses in Coniston, the DVD is a wonderful resource. Instigated by John Ruskin in order to bring a little more income via women's work into the poor Lakeland farming economy, the technique of Ruskin-lace has survived since 1884 despite great changes in the world of fabric art. The DVD is professionally produced as a two disc pack of 3hrs. 55mins duration with a chapter menu and sub menu which will allow the operator to move to various stages as need. Beginning with an introduction. Followed by a breakdown of basic instruction from the blank piece of fabric through the many and varied traditional stages to the end result. With many 'tips' along the way to clarify the mystery, using very basic stitches viewed from the working position, concluding with a brief outline of the origins of Ruskin Lace. The price of the DVD is £18. For more details click here.
You can also attend Ruskin Lace courses tutored by Mrs Elizabeth Edmondson at the Ruskin Museum, Coniston, UK. There can be no more beautiful spot in the UK for attending a needlework course! The next courses are on: Weds & Thurs 2/3 June 2010 and Sat & Sun 2/3 Oct 2010. The fee for the course is £75 which includes lunch and refreshments. For further information, booking forms and accommodation details please contact Miss Vicky Slowe (Curator) Monday to Friday - Telephone number 015394 41164. For more details click here.
Mrs Pepper was one of the first proponents of Ruskin Lace-making which also included the spinning and making of the linen itself. Mrs Pepper is shown here circa 1900 at her spinning wheel wearing items of lace she had made herself.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Sotheby's Samplers * 28 April * London


There are some stunning items for sale at Sotheby's on 28 April belonging to the collection of the late Francis Egerton and Peter Maitland which include a number of samplers and stitched panels. Just click here to explore. I am particularly intrigued by this panel, the like of which I have not seen before. Like the Comedia Del'Arte waiting in the wings, it is alive with curious cast of courtly 18th century ladies, mustachioed men - and is that a Peer's bonnet and collar I spy?

The panel is stitched in two directions and has to be turned about to be fully appreciated, only on the middle ground does there appear to be a group of stitch trials that can properly be called a sampler.

This gentleman looks quite the master of the piece, though I am having difficulty deciphering what exactly he holds in his hand  - a bird?

There is so much detail to be appreciated in this woman's costume: the stomacher, lace tippets and sleeve flounces, patterned apron and shoe tips. The portrait is quite real.














And this man, who is he in the cast of characters with his flower-sprigged hat, exiting stage left?

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Name That Band

Just to remind you that we are creating a dictionary of early sampler band and spots which will be included in our next book. It would be lovely if you could help us with the naming of the bands and spots, so that we are able to refer to them in the future and we shall all know what we are describing. Names need to be descriptive and succinct. You can try as many names as you like - if the name you have suggested is chosen, then you will be acknowledged in the new book. Here is Band 5. Do you think the central flower is Honeysuckle/Woodbine? To see all the bands so far just click here. To see all the bands so far just click here.

Samplers: Un'Arte da Riscoprire * Castano Primo * 22-30 May 2010

Rediscovering the Art of Samplers is the title of an exhibition to be held at the Villa Rusconi in Castano Primo, near Milano, Italy between 22 and 30 May 2010, (14.00-18.00 Tuesday to Friday and 10.00 - 18.00 on Saturday). Organized by the stitching guild Noi di Milano, the exhibition will explore the dreams, hopes and lives of the women and their stitching. There will be an historical lecture at 17.00 on 22 May followed by refreshments. Oh to be in two places at once! If I wasn't in Gateshead, I'd be in Milan for this - maybe next time.... Do tell me what it was like, won't you?

Embroiderers' Guild North Eastern Regional Day * 22 May 2010 * 10am

I just cannot wait for this event, held at Emmanuel College, Gateshead, and a chance to see up close the works of and listen to the Orcadian quilter Sheena Norquay. You can see her work in the Quilters' Guild Collection. I have a passion for northern landscapes and landscape lore, as told by the Orcadian writer George Mackay Brown in his books - my favourite is Beside the Ocean of Time. I chose this excerpt from a quilt of Sheena's to show you for the oyster catchers who I love to watch drilling on the reefs at Robin Hood's Bay - and who, casting their saucy eyes at me, famously took me for a walk (ride?) in the midnight sun on Lofoten. I shall also be giving a talk: 'Samplers - Lives in Stitches'.

Monday, 19 April 2010

Free Chart Download - The Resht Is Paradise



Whenever I visit the V&A I stand transfixed in front of these wonderful Persian coats with their fabulous bands of embroidery. They must be models after the coat of many colours. For however long I remain, it is paradise for me. And in fact the word 'Paradise' is rooted in Persian origins - pairidaza is the old Persian word for an enclosure; a haven. Paradise gardens similar to ones on Safavid textiles are seen on English spot samplers, and these bands are not a million miles away from from the those seen on band samplers in this country. We shall be talking more of this in the forthcoming books. This type of embroidery is called 'resht' from its place of origin in Persia and is often worked in cross stitch or petit point in diagonal lines.
I thought it might make a lovely project for the centre of a cushion or pillow - or worked small, the cover of a needlecase or pincushion. The download is available for you free as a PDF - click here. For those of you with Jane Greenoff's Cross Stitch Designer, you can download an editable JGG version by clicking here.

Sale of 26 Samplers * 27 April 2010


A collection of 26 samplers (Lots 175-200) belonging to a member of the Embroiderers' Guild in Lincoln is to be auctioned on 27 April 2010 by Thos Mawer in Lincoln. Amongst them is this depiction of Lincoln Cathedral by Rebecca Unsworth completed in 1845. Estimate £300-£600.
There is also an 18th century Lincolnshire needlework sampler worked with three verses and inscribed "Frances Wood ended this sampler in the 12th year of her age December 10th 1760"; also "this sampler was wrought at Mrs Salt?? School in Alford the year of our Lord 1760 Lincolnshire. Unfortunately the photo does not do it justice. Estimate £200-£400.
Also coming up for auction - Whytes of Dublin have this stitched map of Ireland for auction on 23 April 2010. Estimate is 500-700 Euros.

Appartenant à Emile Zola?



Just been passed to me: This pair of continental embroidered and straw work pictures of saints, inscribed verso, 'Chateau de Vallery, Collection du Comte de Rochechouart, Appartenant à Emile Zola' is for auction on 29 April 2010 at Silverwoods Auctions in Clitheroe, Lancashire, UK. Estimate is £70. If these really did belong to Emile Zola, how far have they travelled and what a story they could tell!

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Tokens of Love - Free Jigsaw Download


I know Erica Uten who knitted these lovely pinballs loves jigsaws, so here is a jigsaw dedicated to her. However, sadly, this is not going to work for Mac users. Instructions: Click here next Click Open, then click the .EXE file name and click Run, when you see the jigsaw puzzle, click Play Too many pieces? Try clicking on Trays on the top tool bar to create any number of resizeable trays to sort your pieces ........ you can also click the Cheat button and watch the puzzle solve itself! The software is by David Gray designer of Jigsaws Galore - the powerful jigsaw player and creator for Windows.

Name That Band 4

And here is Band 4 for you to name. Just focus on the 2 or 3 distinguishing elements of this design to help you. You can either leave your name here or go to the special Name That Band blog to see all the bands so far.

Saturday, 17 April 2010

Jeanny 's Ackworth Cushions

I really enjoy the way you take the Needleprint projects and make them truly your own. Jeanny in the Netherlands has been making her Ackworth School samplers with a very individual slant. Not only has she personalized the patterns to make them relevant to her life, she has made them up into lovely cushions. The first comes from the Needleprint Beatrix Potter Sampler, the chart for which is now out of print, but copies do come up sometimes on eBay. For those who do not want to pay the eBay prices the chart is available as a downloadable pdf to print out - or you can also buy an editable format which comes with the software to customize your chart - and create many other items from the motifs and your own inspiration. Just click here to find out more.

I am sure many of you will recognize Mary Wigham's sampler. If you have not yet downloaded your for donation copy, you can simply click here.

Jeanny has finished her cushions so beautifully - they are lasting treasures. To visit Jeanny just click here.

What Was I Just Saying, My Dear?


On Saturdays we try to find you some interesting purchase options and today I think Barbara has taken the trophy in finding ....  FrederiqueMorrel who scour France for vintage tapestry and then recycle it into cushions, sofas and, well, .....deer. Each piece is custom made. Now that puts a whole new perspective on making simply a purse, doesn't it?

Friday, 16 April 2010

What Not To Do With A Sampler and Leeds Museum Collections On Line

Fair enough it has not been made into a floor cloth or kettle holder. It might even be argued that it makes a sweet, unique purse - but sampler lovers say, 'please, please, don't try this at home, will you?'

Hannah Wilksage's joyful bird and flower sampler of 1825 is just one of 19 samplers you can now enjoy on the Leeds Museums Collections on-line gallery. You will need to enter Sampler into the search box to see them.

And next enter Tailor into the search box to find this tailor's wall hanging of circa 1840-1860 which measures aprroximately 1.4 x 1.4 metres and looks to have been made out of recycled army jackets.

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Hats Off at Bonhams * 20/21 April 2010

There is such a feast of wonderful items being auctioned in the next few weeks that it is a hard job to keep up with it all. We haven't looked at caps for a while and I thought our friends from the Netherlands might be interested to see this 18th century Dutch child's cap

What is special about this lot 141 are the painted, stamped metal motifs amongst the floral decoration in metal threads. It may have been custom made - or it may be a pieced cut down of some other garment. Its estimate is £200 - £300



This dainty early 17th century embroidered cap trimmed with metal lace is lot 281 for auction at Knowle on 20 April 2010 with an estimate of £3,000 - 4,000.

Flowers and scrolling foliage are worked in blue, pink, yellow and green silk threads on a linen ground, with gold coloured scrolling embroidery. It is wonderful to be able to see the stitching so close-up.

For auction on 21 April In Oxford, Lot 426 is an historic Grenadier Officer's embroidered mitre cap of around 1750, as worn by a member Of H.R.H. Prince George William Frederick's (later GIIIR) 'Boy' Regiment so called because it was formed for the amusement Prince George when a boy. The cap is embroidered in predominantly silver lace with coronet of a Royal Prince over a double 'G' cypher. At the base is the white horse of Hanover worked as you can see in couched silver gilt thread. The front is stiffened with stout card and split cane, the reverse with whale bone strips. It is 26cm high with a bottom width of 22.5cm and its estimate is £4,000 - £6,000. But if the cap fits....