Wednesday, 30 November 2011

In Stitches - Unravelling Their Stories * Chester County Historical Society, USA * 2 December 2011-7 September 2012

Don’t miss this rare opportunity! Westtown School and Chester County Historical Society are providing a unique opportunity to see large portions of their needlework collections in one exhibition.
Learn how commonplace pieces become heirloom treasures. Enjoy select samplers and other embroidery made by girls from Chester County and the surrounding area 200 years ago. In Stitches is generously sponsored by William B. Parker and Westtown School. Click here for more information.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Emergency Santa



I've heard that some shops have run out of stocks of our new book. But panic not. The Emergency Santa can still get you or your friend a copy in time for Christmas. Prices to include postage are £45, €66, $90, 9000¥. Just click here to browse or buy.

Monday, 28 November 2011

Lupe's Finished Mary Wigham Sampler

Ta-Da! Another brilliant finish - this time from Lupe in Northern California. Now you know where that Thanksgiving Squirrel came from. Lupe says that she stitched her Mary Wigham on 40 count linen over two threads using Autumn Arbor from Glorianna. Lupe put in her three toy poodles and her beloved cat Lucky who was lost to kidney disease on April 18th. He used to love to stitch with her. Lupe adds that she enjoyed stitching this sampler very much - and I have to say, my joy at admiring it is probably even greater. Congratulations on your masterpiece, Lupe. What a special and touching way to remember your dear friend, Lucky.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Early Coifs in The Metropolitan Museum of Art Now On-Line

There are a number of fabulous coifs in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, of which 6 are dated around 1600.
This particular coif is dated 1600–1630 with an English provenance. It is worked on linen with silk and metal thread, spangles using satin, long-and-short, braid, buttonhole, and couching stitches. There is also an associated forehead cloth with it. It is a gift of Irwin Untermyer, 1964 and its accession Number is 64.101.1242.
Don't forget to zoom in on these items to see real up close detail.
The detailed stitching of the pomegranate on this coif is simply sumptious. Dated between 1575-1600, it is also English, worked on linen as before and is embroidered with linen and metal thread, spangles using drawn thread work, satin, chain, and needle-lace stitches. Another gift of Judge Irwin Untermyer, 1964, its accession Number is 64.101.1240.
Probably the simplest coif, this one is a great favourite of mine. It is probably German and could date from any time between 1400-1600 CE. I wish I could see more of the marking on the top of the coif. It was purchased with the Rogers Fund, 1908 and its accession Number is 08.194.1. To enjoy yourself, just click here.

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Donatella Finishes Beautiful Bertie From the Vierlande II Collection

Congratulations to Donatella from Italy who has completed a finish beautifully her Bertie from the Needleprint Vierlande II Collection. Donatella says she used DMC 844 and 815 for her piece and those colours look just lovely together. Hugs to you, too, Donatella! Thank you for sharing.


This is the second volume of the Vierlande motif library and comes with a separate eBook containing 11 additional mini-Vierlande sampler projects for you.

Friday, 25 November 2011

Quilts & Samplers At Penrith Farmers' Auction * 30 November 2011


There are some charming items for auction on 30th November at Penrith Farmers' in the Skirsgill Saleroom. Lot 130 is a George III child's cot patchwork coverlet having a polychrome satinised floral border enclosing various patchwork sample borders, centred upon a foliate motif embroidered with `May thou be blessed sweetest babe 1808`. It is un-backed and measures 98cm(l) x 84cm(w)and has an estimate of: £100 - £150.
Lot 129 is a 19th century hand-stitched appliqué patchwork coverlet worked by Sarah Kersey and has a central appliqué tree of life motif surrounded by various foliate and figural motifs within two broad borders of conforming design, the outer edge stitched with maker's name. It measures 245cm(square) and comes with an estimate of: £200 - £300.
Also worked by Sarah Kersey when aged 12 in 1831 is Lot 128 a large William IV needlework sampler worked in polychrome threads, with two religious verses, various foliate motifs and a depiction of Adam and Eve and the tree of life, also the Wesleyan Chapel, City Road, London, all within a foliate border and rosewood frame, under glass. It measures 67cm(h) x 64cm(w)and has an extimate of : £300 - £500

Lot 121 is a large, early 19th century patchwork chintz quilt, the centre panel and outer border has appliqué foliate decoration in the broderie perse technique with patterned patchwork samples, quilted in chevrons, diamonds and shell patterns. It measures 262cm x 220cm and has an estimate of : £300 - £400.
Lot 132 ia a 19th century sampler by Elizabeth Brown, dated 1892 and has a row of alphabet letters, bands of flowers, birds and religious verse, with further pictorial flower, birds and deer designs below, all within a geometric and foliate border, worked in polychrome threads , within a simple moulded frame, under glass. It maesures 46cm(h) x 34cm(w) and has an estimate of £100 - £200. For more details click here.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Thanksgiving Squirrel!

Happy Thanksgiving! I hope you have a wonderful feast day - and I you haven't forgotten these delightful squirrels that peek out of Ackworth School Quaker samplers. You will be seeing rather more of the one below in a few days' time.
Last week I spent a few days in the North visiting places around Ackworth School. And if you are planning a visit North you might like to go on an Ackworth School Squirrel Hunt, too. The first stop was the nearby charming market town of Selby which has the most amazing Norman Abbey slap bang in the middle of its high street. Go inside and you will find a wealth of decorative detail. See if you can find the rather mischievous (and, dare I say, ratty-looking?) squirrel at the top of this post on the fabulous 14th century Jesse window at the East end. He has a few friends for company!
Another place to pop into is Holy Trinity Church in York, close by the Micklegate Bar. Here there is a permanent exhibition called The Monks of Micklegate and includes facsimiles of a very early bestiary (a book of beasts depicting the Christian virtues as displayed by God's creation), which was made by the monks of Holy Trinity. The original is now in St John's College Oxford. This 800 page book has 90 coloured illustrations. One of which you can see here depicting Noah naming the animals - including our friend the squirrel. A bestiary is a book in which the real and imagined habits of animals are used to symbolise the Christian virtues. For example, bear cubs are shown being born formless and literally licked into shape by their mother after three days: this referenced Christ's time without bodily form between his death and Resurrection three days later, and the role of 'mother Church' in shaping the way people lived their lives.
These bestiaries derive from the Physiologus -  the author is believed to have been abbot of Monte Cassino A.D. 1022-1035. So the Ackworth squirrel has a very ancient tail (sic). It is interesting that moral tales based upon animals such as Aesop's Fables were still being used for teaching children at Ackworth School in the 18th and 19th centuries. For more information on the Micklegate Monks, click here. In the meantime - Happy Holiday to you all from all of us!

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Charlotte Bronte's Manuscript For Auction * Sothebys * 15 December 2011

Sotheby's London, announces the sale of an unpublished manuscript by Charlotte Brontë as part of its sale of English Literature, History, Children’s Books & Illustrations on Thursday, 15th December 2011, estimated at £200,000-300,000 : Never before seen by scholars, it is the most important Brontë manuscript to have appeared at auction in more than thirty years, and is one of only a handful of such manuscripts remaining in private hands. Set in ‘Glass Town’, the earliest fictional world that the four Brontë siblings created, and written by a fourteen-year-old Charlotte in miniature magazine format, The Young Men’s Magazine, Number 2, is dated August 1830. The childhood empires of the Brontë children’s imaginations play a significant role in our understanding and appreciation of their works, which include some of the greatest novels of the nineteenth century. The world of ‘Glass Town’, the first expression of the incredible imaginative community at Haworth parsonage in Yorkshire where the children grew up, had its origins in a gift of toy soldiers: "Papa bought Branwell some soldiers from Leeds. When Papa came home it was night and we were in bed, so the next morning Branwell came to our door with a box of soldiers. Emily and I jumped out of bed and I snatched one up and exclaimed, 'This is the Duke of Wellington! It shall be mine!'..." (Charlotte Brontë, The History of the Year, 12 March 1829). Following Charlotte's lead, each of the siblings took one soldier as their own and named them for a hero: Branwell chose Napoleon in a riposte to Charlotte's Wellington, whilst the younger sisters Emily and Anne named theirs for the explorers Edward Parry and William Ross. The children assembled a world around these characters – a ‘confederacy’ in which all four siblings had their own realm – from the material to hand: the towering cities of ‘Glass Town’ were inspired by prints of Biblical illustrations by John Martin which hung in Haworth Parsonage; the geography of their world was based on West Africa, about which they had read in the life of Mungo Park; from the Arabian Nights they took the four near-omnipotent Genii (one for each of the siblings) that hovered over the world, intervening at will; while the texture of the world and the adventures of its inhabitants drew extensively on Blackwood's Magazine, to which their father subscribed. ‘Glass Town’ wonderfully illustrates the Brontë siblings’ precocious imaginations; their father, the Rev. Patrick Brontë, recounted: “As they had few opportunities of being in learned and polished society, in their retired country situation, they formed a little society amongst themselves – with which they seem’d content and happy.” (Rev. Patrick Brontë’s letter to Mrs Gaskell, 20 June 1855). Containing more than 4,000 words painstakingly crammed on to 19 pages, each measuring approximately 35 x 61mm, the size of the manuscript reflects the miniature nature of its subject. Charlotte Brontë’s friend and fellow writer Mrs Gaskell recalls “[A]n immense amount of manuscript, in an inconceivably small space.” Its size also reflects the intimacy of the subject; this imaginary world was intensely private and the minuteness of these works ensured that they were easily hidden and could only be read without the aid of a magnifying glass by the sharp eyes of a child. The manuscript’s table of contents lists “A letter from Lord Charles Wellesley,” a vivid adventure tale; “The Midnight Song by Marquis Duoro,” a poem; “Frenchman’s Journal,” a continuation of a fictional diary series; and a mocked-up classifieds section, “Advertisements.” ‘A letter from Lord Charles Wellesley’, the first and most substantial piece in this issue of the Young Men's Magazine , is supposedly written by the son of the Duke of Wellington who was a frequent hero of the ‘Glass Town’ stories. It follows the developments of a "rather mysterious incident" that begins when he was awoken in the night and, whilst admiring the stars from his palace garden, hears a sudden shriek from a boat - but before he can intervene the girl who has been captured by the four men aboard is stabbed to death. When he leaps into the canal to avenge her, he himself is captured by the murderer. Lord Charles is taken to the capturer’s country house where he is imprisoned in a vividly-described attic: "the floor was of wet rotten wood blacker than the back of a chimney. the sides were of the same but ...partially concealed by elegant draperies of spiders web. & no vestige of furniture was to be seen not even a straw bed". Following his dramatic escape, Lord Charles is able to wreak his revenge, but his fright of conscience in so doing sends his victim into a delirium which is described in a passage of remarkable power. It is this passage that represents a precursor to one of the most famous scenes in Charlotte Brontë's later fiction – the moment in Jane Eyre (written in 1847) when Bertha, Mr Rochester's insane wife (who was, like Lord Charles, kept in the attic) seeks revenge by setting fire to the bed-curtains in her husband's chamber. In the case of Lord Charles’s victim,"...he constantly raged about the spirits of Caroline Krista & Charles Wellesley dancing before him. he said that every now & then they glided through his eyes to his brain where an immense fire was continually burning & that he felt them adding fuel to the flames that caused it to catch the curtains of the bed that would soon be reduced to ashes. at other times he said he felt them pulling his heart-strings till a sound like a death knell came from them..."
The manuscript is encased in the original, specially made protective red folder, in addition to an equally minute brown morocco slip-off case with gilt lettering on the spine. Charlotte Brontë's manuscripts were dispersed in the nineteenth century but the vast majority are now in institutional collections in the UK and USA.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Penguin Threads - Embroidered Covers for Penguin Classics by Jillian Tamaki

I just fell in love with these book covers when I saw them - which of course had me buying the books and putting my old copies in a charity (thrift) store.
They are designed and embroidered by Jillain Tamaki, an illustrator and comics artist. She grew up in Calgary, Alberta, on the Canadian Prairies and went to school at the Alberta College of Art and Design.
Jillian currently lives in Brooklyn, NY where she teaches at the School of Visual Arts and carves out a decent living making illustrations for magazines, newspapers, websites, and books. She has 2 books of personal work: Gilded Lilies (Conundrum, 2006) and Indoor Voice (D&Q, 2010).
Here you can see the working of the cover design for The Secret Garden.
Gillian says: These three book covers were embroidered by hand over the course of 2 months. Three books were a lot to pull off, but I am such a sucker for classic literature and book illustration... how could I say no?
I so know the feeling - but am so glad you didn't say no!

The Foundling Museum & The Big Give Christmas Challenge

The Foundling Museum is excited to announce its next major exhibition will be Quentin Blake's As Large as Life (12 January – 15 April 2012). Bringing one of Britain’s best-loved and most successful illustrators to the Foundling Museum, this exhibition of over sixty works will showcase Blake's recent work created for four hospitals in the UK and France and rarely seen by the general public. The exhibition will be accompanied by talks, workshops and family activities for all ages. However, The Foundling Museum needs your help to realise this exciting project! They are asking you to make an online donation via the Big Give Christmas Challenge. The Big Give will then match the donation, doubling it, for free! The Museum has been successful in the first step of the Challenge in raising £4,000 in pledges from our supporters, Now they need to raise £8,000 from online donations. To ensure funds are matched you have to make your online donation from 10:00 on Monday 5 December. Money to double donations is allocated by the Big Give on a first come, first served basis. So we ask you to be on your marks and all set to go when the Big Give launches on Monday 5 December at 10:00 (the challenge ends on Friday 9 December 2011). Even the smallest contribution can make a difference and we will acknowledge you as a supporter, by name in the Museum during the Blake exhibition. If you would like to help us raise money and make a pledge please fill in a promise card below (the promise card is also available online). Simply click on the image for a larger version and return it to the email address shown on it or post it to Foundling Museum, 40 Brunswick Square London WC1N 1AZ. You can also find out more by calling 020 7841 3600. To find out more about the project and how the money will be spent click here.

Monday, 21 November 2011

847 Fabulous Lots * The Incredible Sewing Sale at Bleasdales * 30 November 2011

I have absolutely no idea where to begin and what to show you with this sale which will be held at The Lord Leycester Hospital, Warwick - there are 847 extremely desirable objects - the breadth is staggering. The best advice I have is for you to order up the catalogue. Just click here.
Above is lot 770 - a collection of eleven hand painted Berlin wool patterns in the style of Wittich, one titled for “Mrs. Smith Embroidress and Pattern Drawer, No. 12, Western Exchange, Old Bond St.”, together with six printed designs. Estimate:
£40 - £60.
Lot 577 is a group of seven needlebooks, comprising; an example with cut and stacked paper covers, green silk lining and tie, minor losses, 11cm x 6.5cm, another with punched card covers, a Bristol card example worked in steel beads “Go On To Perfection”, a shell work example incorporating a colour print “Second Terrace, Crystal Palace”, and to the other side a gilt and blue velvet panel “A Present From The Crystal Palace”, a velvet needlebook with silver wire and other decoration, a beaded and stitched Bristol card example, and another made from the pass ticket for “The International Health Exhibition, London, 1884”, made out to “Messrs. Mordan & Co.” Estimate: £60 - £100.
LOt 532 is a group of silk winders with an estimate of £50 - £100.
Above is lot 442. Two pin stuck pincushions, one inscribed “Bless The Babe”, with fringed border, 15cm x 11cm, the other larger and inscribed “Just As The Shing? Is Bent A Trees Inclinds ?”, within a red stitched outer border and fringed, 20cm x 18cm. Estimate:£30 - £50.
Lot 180 is a very rare didactic cotton and reel glazed display case for “J. and P. Coats Limited – Sewing Cotton”, the rectangular case with gold and black advertising panels to each long side, the hinged glazed lid enclosing a display demonstrating spool making (reels) in the first series from home birch and in the second from imported birch, with sections 1 to 9 showing the processing of cotton and 10 to 20 the processing of yarn and dying, and 21 showing a range of twenty eight finished reels and related goods, complete with folding printed card “Specimen Case from J. & P. Coats Limited, Paisley”, case 36.2cm x 29.2cm x 8cm. Estimate: £200 - £400.
Lot 10 is a good painted Tunbridge ware girdle pincushion incorporating a tape measure of circular form, one side with a hand coloured print of a terrace with balconies, figures promenading in the foreground, the other side with an inset circular pincushion and a spindle wind tape measure within a red painted border, the yellow silk tape in perfect condition and ink marked in nails and emerging from the side, the sides line painted, the whole on a yellow silk ribbon loop matching to the tape, 5.5cm diameter. Estimate: £200 - £300.
Lot 750 is a sampler book, inscribed in ink to the inner cover “Mrs Gilly’s School, Norham, 1845”, seven double sided red paper pages with outer paper cover and card boards, various samples including cuffs, buttonholing, darning, alphabet and numeral sampler, with an additional folded sample inserted, initialled “J.B.”, 18cm x 23cm. Estimate: £100 - £150. Register early if you are going to bid! Good Luck! If you are interested in past catalogues, just click here.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Free Jigsaw Download - Girl With Coif

This is an image of a girl in a coif I have been carrying around for so long that it has become parted from its details - if anyone can identify it, I would be very grateful. I am indeed grateful to Inharket who has swiftly found this image for us. This detail is from Caspar Netscher's The Lace-Maker of 1662. It is oil on canvas and measures 33 x 27 cm and you can find it in the Wallace Collection in London. In fact, the Wallace Collection used to be one of my favourite lunch time haunts when I worked in London. You can send a postcard of this lacemaker (and other lovely paintings) to a friend, click here for more details from the Wallace Collection web-site.
In the meantime, I hope you enjoy your free jigsaw download this week. 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.

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Fries Scheepvaart Museum

The Fries Scheepvaart Museum located in Sneek, just south of Leeuwarden in the Netherlands also has some very interesting samplers for you to see on-line. Click here to visit for yourself.The sampler above was worked by Jeltje Jans Holtrop between 1735 and 1760. This fine linen sampler was stitched in silk using cross stitch, backstitch, star stitch and satin stitch. The large intials I H either side of Adam and Eve are for Jelje Holtrop. Jeltje married Alberts Sybrand van der Sluis.
The sampler above was worked by Jeltje and Alberts daughter, Reinskje van der Sluis.
This linen sampler has open work seams and was again embroidered in silk. Centrally placed is a large a tree of life with the year 1837 and the big letters "PP". In the top right is also the year of 1832. Along the right side are stitched the names: Lolkema, Tierks Jantie Oosstra Liekkele Likles Pitter, Lolkema, Lolkema, Pietters Hieke Pieters Lolkema, Pieter Pieters and Lolkema Books Pieters Tier kien Lolkema Pieters.
This little sampler tells us only that it was made by someone with the intials MR.
Do investigate the zoom facility to see the stitching really close-up.

Friday, 18 November 2011

Yes, The Goodhart Sampler Book Is Still Available

I was asked the other day if The Goodhart Samplers book was out of print - so just in case anyone else is wondering, I can say we still have a few copies left.
The book can be purchased during your visit to Montacute House - if you are able to do so, please do as the profit there is put to excellent use. Similarly, copies of The Goodhart Samplers are available at the V&A in London, at Winterthur and Colonial Williamsburg.
And don't forget to ask your local needlework store or guild.
You can also buy direct from Needleprint if you are unable to obtain a copy anywhere else. Just click on any of the images to browse this lovely book.
Described by readers as probably the best book of samplers, the Goodhart Samplers describe and detail all the samplers in the collection at Montacute House. Don't forget to look inside the book jacket where you will find a full charted sampler to stitch. Price includes postage.