Thursday 30 April 2009

The Great Book of Thomas Trevelyon 1616

A facsimile copy of Thomas Trevelyon's Great Book exists as a two volume cased set. It costs an arm and a leg and weighs rather more. It is a wonderful source book for Jacobean costume and designs, and was referred to by Dorothy Bromiley Phelan in The Goodhart Samplers. If you were thinking of buying a copy, you might like to know that about a fifth or a sixth of the book constitutes what we would term patterns, the remainder of the images relate to saints, kings and queens, and books of days. It is fabulous but such a shame that the price of this book has been pitched so very high as to make it virtually inaccessible to people who could really benefit from the contents. I know museums everywhere need income, but this price seems self-defeating. There must be a reason: perhaps someone can explain.

Wednesday 29 April 2009

Rosie Bussard designs - free chart

I first met Rosie in France about 5 years ago - she is the type of person you can't fail to miss in the street - she was wearing red polka-dot shoes and zipped round Saintes Maries de la Mer in the Camargue on her yellow Vespa. She likes colour and speed and talking - so perhaps you might think we were not well-suited as friends - but yes, we got along great. I knew she was passionate about stitching, but it wasn't until recently when I bumped into her again, that I realised she created designs also. I said she should do something with them, and now she has. Have a look at Rosie's blog and see what you think. She has given me permission to offer you one of her charts as a free download if I tell you to visit her blog. Good Luck to you, Rosie Bussard!

Tuesday 28 April 2009

The Needleprint Bellflower

The bellflower appears on a number of Ackworth samplers and was adopted as the Needleprint Marque in 2005 when we published Quaker School Girl Samplers from Ackworth. The bellflower appears on a number of other Quaker samplers also, notably those worked at Westtown. This bellflower is called the Harebell in England, but over the border in Scotland it is called the Bluebell and there is a famous patriotic Scottish ballad, 'The Bluebells of Scotland', which celebrates a highland soldier gone to fight abroad.
The Scottish Bluebell then (as we should call the bellflower) is also sometimes known as Lady's Thimble or Fairy's Thimble - how lovely is that to think on while we stitch?

Monday 27 April 2009

A purse belonging to Mary, Queen of Scots

Two poignant pieces from Kelvingrove Museum, Glasgow - a purse and a ring belonging to Mary, Queen of Scots.
If you are in Glasgow and visiting the wonderful stitched articles in the Burrell Collection, don't forget to pop into Kelvingrove Museum also and see some of the interesting textiles on display there. I was treated to an outdoor pipe and drum rehearsal in Kelvingrove Park with some joyful, impromptu highland dancing by small children passing by, and, later in the afternoon, to a rendition of traditional Scottish songs by a male voice choir in the museum itself. Kelvingrove is certainly a museum that is doing great things!


I am grateful to Jacqueline Korteland Boller for recommending a very useful website with its discussion on the wearing of coifs. The article points out the difficulty of wearing a coif without a second piece - a forehead cloth. A further difficulty is raised, since no two-piece coifs were known at the time of writing the article. So I am very excited that one of the coifs Mary will be discussing in the new book does, in fact, have two pieces - a headpiece and a forehead cloth! I can't wait to show you more..

Sunday 26 April 2009

Blackwork head covering from a Dutch painting of 1697

I was very taken by the resemblance in design of this blackwork head covering of 1697 to the earlier English blackwork coifs and gentleman's night cap which will appear in our next book by Mary Brooks. Were these Dutch head coverings inspired by the English - or vice versa? What do you think?

Saturday 25 April 2009

Hello! Queen Margrethe II of Denmark

There is a wonderful article on Queen Margrethe II of Denmark and her stitching in the latest edition of Hello! magazine. Queen Margarethe is a patron of the Danish Handcraft Guild in Denmark - Haandarbejdets Fremme - and in 2004 published a diary which included her designs for counted cross stitch. An inspiration to us all Your Majesty!

Friday 24 April 2009

A new book in the pipeline - and a free chart download

Sometime ago, while working on The Goodhart Samplers book, when I was researching the Mary Postle sampler, I found a number of samplers with similar format and characteristics. Looking through our large archive of museum images I began to see what looked like other exemplars, though the format was somewhat different. When I was able to trace some of the girls, it appeared they all came from in and around Norwich and all were aged about 14 when they stitched their samplers. Then fate stepped in, and I learnt that a researcher in the USA had found similarities amongst a set of samplers on the other side of the pond. She, too, had in fact arrived earlier than me at the same conclusion - that there was a 'Norwich School' of samplers. Just like Edwina Ehrman who researched the Judith Hayle samplers and found an Ipswich school of samplers, sampler makers and teachers, Joanne Lukacher is now writing a book about the Norwich girls which will be published next year. It is so thrilling!
Markers for the Norwich samplers include facing stags, a foreleg raised on a stepped mound. Octagonal cartouches, lions with raised tails, distinctive conifers and scattered birds are among other markers. All samplers exhibit beautiful crewel work floral displays. If you see a sampler with any of these markers, we would love to hear from you. And here is your opportunity to download a charted fragment from one of the Norwich School samplers, to stitch your own version.

Notes for the Bankfield Museum Exhibition

The notes for the Bankfield Museum ehibition are ready for you to download here. The next exhibition at the Bankfield Museum will be Chinese Miao embroidery from 9th May to 5th July.

All downloads on this blog are copyright free and can be shared freely with friends, customers and reproduced in Guild magazines etc. Kindly acknowledge the Needleprint blog as your source.

Thursday 23 April 2009

Free chart download - all stitched up

Here, at last! I have managed to stitch up the Marker Tree of Life for you to see. There will be another new chart for you to download in a day or two.

Coffee and Samplers at Chesters

Here is one of my favourite halts for morning coffee and magazines, or lunch, or afternoon cream tea, or just to browse for lovely ideas - a Gustavian eating place with a gift shop......and SAMPLERS! They are red and white and European. My dear friend Ellen Chester would feel very much at home here, particularly since it bears her name. You can find Chesters at Skelwith Bridge near Ambleside in the English Lake District. Those cake stands in the picture are very enviable.....

Wednesday 22 April 2009

Whitehaven Pottery Darning Eggs

I have been looking at a collection of these eggs today which are extremely special - made in the mid nineteenth century in Whitehaven, a port on the north west coast of England. They are valued at between £600 - £1,000 each. Now I know what to ask the Easter Bunny for next year! US visitors might also be interested to know that Whitehaven is the location of the last attempt to invade English soil - by John Paul Jones in 1778 - I wonder if that fracas is what caused the death of George Washington's grandmother who is buried in the town at St Nicholas.

Spotlight on Bankfield Museum - pdf download

Here is the first of our Spotlight on a Museum series of .pdf downloads. This is copyright free and you are welcome to share it with friends. There will be a .pdf download about the exhibition tomorow.

Tuesday 21 April 2009

Samplers from Top to Bottom - or Bottom to Top - or?


Whenever I look at early spot or band samplers with people they always ask me whether I think the sampler was stitched from the top downwards or the bottom upwards. A very interesting question! I know some stitchers who always stitch from the bottom upwards and because their work is on a roller, the stitched section is rolled safely away as the work progresses. Many stitching from a pattern will naturally read their pattern from top to bottom like any other printed material and so they will stitch from top to bottom, again rolling as they go. Looking at some of the early samplers it appears the stitcher worked from both ends towards the middle. And here lies a key to a practical problem. When working with a simple fixed frame without rollers, one can only stitch as far as one can comfortably reach - about half the length of a 'long' sampler. Is this why the work is turned? And so, for the sake of interest, I would like to add another possibility to the debate - sometimes the work stitched from side to side? This would mean that a horizontal band as it appears on the sampler was stitched in a vertical direction. Look at these old illustrations - particulary the black and white line drawing which shows a young girl evidently stitching bands but in a vertical direction. Or, the work was stitched from top to bottom or bottom to top but the frame was held sideways as in the third illustration. I would love to hear what you think.

Monday 20 April 2009

The Stitched Picture from the Bankfield Museum

Some of you were so intrigued by the little vignette of the stitched picture showing a handsome couple with a page in what appears to be a room interior complete with pictures on the wall, that I thought you might like to see it all, together with some more vignettes showing a spinner in front of their cottage from the top left hand side and a mother with three children playing near a pergola from the bottom right hand side. (These images were taken with the consent of the museum to promote their exhibition.)

Sunday 19 April 2009

Sampler Motifs - The Mermaid

Mermaids figure frequently on early samplers. Some say that with their mirror and comb they symbolize vanity. Others would say that in the early 17th century, during the discovery and expansion of maritime trading routes (and until very recently), mermaids were believed to exist and were as exotic as camels, giraffes and elephants which also appear on early needlework. As you can see, mermaids are not confined to stitched works, this mermaid is part of an elaborate plaster ceiling made in 1667, and decorated a house in the West Riding of Yorkshire. It can now be seen in the Bankfield Museum, Halifax.

Saturday 18 April 2009

Huswif - Bankfield Museum, Halifax

This pretty 18th century huswif was probably an import from the East India Company. It is beaded and has reflective foil decorations as well as a mirror. The 'tail' is a padded velvet pincushion.

Stitches in Time - Bankfield Museum, Halifax, West Yorkshire

This exhibition is unmissable!
There are 30 wonderful exhibits of 17th century slips, rococo stitch fragments, a huswif with a mirror, a pocket book, shoes, early embroidered apron, gentleman's embroidered jacket, pockets and a wonderful stitched picture. Here are just two images shown to you with the museum's consent - one of the slips and the other a detail of a stitched picture. More to follow. There will also be a download description of the museum and this exhibition in the coming days.

Wednesday 15 April 2009

Sampler Exhibitions in Belgium

4th April to 5th July 2009 - Samplers, Darners and Pronkrollenen from Kontich Museum with a lecture by the expert (and our good friend) Hilde Schollen on 24th April 2009 from 3pm to 5pm.

19th September to 29th November 2009 - Samplers in their Historical Context from the Fashion Museum in Antwerp with a lecture by Frieda Sorber on 23rd October 2009 from 3pm - 5pm.

For more information contact: Maagdenhuismuseum van OCMW Antwerpen, Lange Gasthuisstraat 33 2000 ANTWERPEN tel. 03 223 56 20 - fax 03 223 53 31

Band of Stitchers from Freiberg 1921

This is a wonderful old photograph of a group of stitchers showing their work in a village near Freiberg, Germany on 28th April 1921. Just visible on the table in their midst is a placard which reads: Trennen ist unser Los, Weidernahen unsere Hoffnung. 88 years later this is a motto for our times: Separation is our lot, banding together our hope. If there is anyone in Germany who recognizes a relative here, just email me and I shall be delighted to send you the photo. I have just noticed that from one of the windows behind, gazing wistfully on this scene, is a man...

Tuesday 14 April 2009

Out of Print Ann Trump - available from Japan!

Baby Cinnamon in Japan has copies of the out of print Ann Trump sampler chart.

Saturday 11 April 2009

Marken Tree of Life - Free download

The Isle of Marken was once an island in the Zuider Zee, reputed for its fishing. The islanders had their own way of dress which did not include a coat - and so the people of Marken always called strangers 'coats'. Marken is now a tourist destination, not far from Amsterdam and you can visit the museum and see inside one or two of the old homes. Because the homes were small, the Marker women would finish their cleaning early and so have time left for knitting and stitching. Perhaps there is a lesson there for stitchers! The Marker stitched designs are very distinctive and many derive from very early Venetian patterns. This Tree of Life is found on many Marker Samplers and I hope you will enjoy stitching it - I hope I shall still find time to stitch while the family is here! Perhaps when you have enjoyed this sampler you might like to try the wonderful Sampler of Motifs from Marken by Margreet Beemsterboer.

Amager - free download stitched up

I thought you might like to see what the little Amager design looks like stitched up. I used a space-dyed cotton thread from a little nest of long-forgotten left-overs, so I don't have a brand or shade number for you. But any thread which is a favourite of yours would work nicely. For the Amager Panel 1799 we used Blue Murder from Amy Mitten's Fibers to Dye For range.
It is a lovely time for grape-hyacinths at the moment, the dell here is a delightful carpet of them interspersed with pale cream primroses, scattered with forget-me-nots.

A Gift for Children and Grandchildren at Easter

I don't know about you, but I am expecting the arrival of my tribe very soon for the Easter holiday. So, I have been busy thinking up ways to keep the littleys amused and happy. When I was small I loved Join the Dots, so here is a stitched version for your young visitors. The little project is based upon the ditzy motifs on page 61 of The Goodhart Samplers. Simply print the A5 picture on to card. Then make holes where the orange dots are with a bodkin, going from the front to the reverse. (You can do this, or older children can do it for themselves.) Next thread up a needle with coloured thread or wool and show how they can use either back stitch or running stitch to to join up the dots to make an Easter Parade of chicks from the 1650s.

My best wishes to you and yours for a peaceful Easter Holiday.

Tuesday 7 April 2009

Newbury Embroiderers' Guild

Last night I had the pleasure of being invited to talk about samplers to Newbury Embroiderers' Guild. What delighted me more was to learn about their project in Newbury Hospital working on a series of stitched panels for the hospital in collaboration with patients. I can't wait to see more of this project in action. Guild members have also made stitched sampler books of stitches for friends in Malawi who are learning to stitch. No-one could ever say that this guild should get out more!

Sunday 5 April 2009

Replica Sampler or Counterfeit Sampler?

Is the stitching of replica samplers an intention to deceive? This is an important issue which has been around for a number of years and was tabled for discussion at Ackworth2008. The concerns expressed were that replica samplers would distort and complicate the market for samplers in the future and, perhaps more seriously, distort the historical record - particularly in the case where an 'historic sampler' was credited with the name of a real person in the past who may or may not have stitched a sampler of her own. I am fortunate to the extent that I sometimes spend up to a day forensically examining a single sampler in very close-up detail. Since the object of this blog is to share with you what my eyes see, then click here to see what I see when I look at an Ackworth sampler. (Remember to click on the Loupe button.) Then take a magnifying glass and examine the work you are stitching at the moment and tell me what differences you can see.

This is an important topic and since I am dashing to leave this morning, I shall come back to it as a fuller article for download in a week's time.

Saturday 4 April 2009

Amager Chart - Free Download

I am getting ready again to take another 1,000 images for your next book, but maybe you will be busy stitching the new free download of Needleprint Amager motifs. Please feel free to download this chart and share it with friends, customers and classes.
I am totally bewitched by these lovely designs which look stunning stitched in indigo or rose space-dyed threads. If you love this as much as I do, then you might like to stitch a few more examples from our Needleprint Amager 1799 Panel which also has 6 lovley Greetings Cards projects and tells you of the unique history of the Amager community in Denmark. This chart is available from your needlework store, or in the UK from The Sampler Guild.

Friday 3 April 2009

Bridegroom's Heart - free download stitched up

Just to show you that occasionally I do manage to squeeze in some stitching. This is what last week's free download chart looks like stitched in Gentle Arts - Simply Shaker - Pomegranate. The important thing is not to work the crosses too small or dense - you need to see the threads of the cross at the corners for the right effect. Now who shall I matchmake for this week?

I bet yours look better than mine - go on - show me.....

Thursday 2 April 2009

Early English Needlework Maidstone Museum August 27th

A new date for your diary. Mary Brooks will be talking on Early English Embroidery at Maidstone Museum on 27 August 2009. There will be a display of the lovely early English Needlework from the museum's collection. Following the talk there will be a hands-on session on detached buttonhole suitable for all skill levels. Telephone to reserve a place: 01622 602838.

Wednesday 1 April 2009

Skeins of silk - a reward for plain stitching at Ackworth?

Maaike Weening-Koornstra of the Netherlands has the following interesting details to share with us:
"During my stitching I was thinking about the Tokens of Love article I just printed a few hours ago and thought about the pretty color of silk the girls got to stitch their own samplers. Is it possible that they received a skein of silk for the good work they did with mending the boys clothes and all other linen jobs they had to do? In the past, in the Netherlands, young girls had to knit a couple of rows each day in order to get socks knitted in a certain time. Mums could spice up the work by putting a small lucifer box with a coin in the wool, which they could only reach while stitching more then the required amounts of rows every day. Being a mum I can imagine something like this could have happened, teachers could have done the same. You know, receiving a skein of silk and using it, makes stitching more attractive than if it was only done because it had to be done. Things that just have to be done can loose attraction, perhaps it was a way to keep the attention to the stitching in order to keep the work done as good as possible.

Good luck investigation, I'm curious of the results!"

There is also a lovely story told by Elizabeth Grant in her diary (Memoirs of a Highland Lady) that when young she had to stitch child bed linen when her mother was expecting a baby. As a reward she asked if she might stitch a sampler and was granted her request.

Exhibition of Darning Samplers

Talking of darning samplers, Erna Hiscock and John Shepherd will be holding a Darning Sampler Exhibition on Saturday and Sunday 12 -13 September, 2009. Most of the samplers on display will be for sale, some will be from private collections, some will be local and others will be very interesting. Erna is providing nibbles and a glass of wine and there will be a catalogue available. More info from Erna Hiscock. All profits from this event will go to the Pilgrim's Hospice, Ashford Kent. Thank you to Linda Hadden at The Sampler Guild for this information.

Darning Samplers or Weaving Samplers?

Yesterday, Marjie Thompson that excellent historical weaver and author of Forgotten Pennsylvania Textiles of the 18th And 19th Centuries dropped by to say some nice things about this blog. I haven't spoken to Marjie since Ackworth2008 when we had a very lively discussion about whether the Ackworth School Darning samplers were instruction in darning or weaving.

I come from the Manningham Mills area of Leeds-Bradford textile belt. The building you see here is across the road from where I went to school and at lunchtime in the school holidays I used to join my mother in the mill canteen. In this area, when I was young, around 90% of the population were employed in weaving mills or ancillary trades. I remember that when I was young, my older sisters would bring home homework involving drawing weaving diagrams which always fascinated me. (These mills which were built on the model of Italian palaces to last for milennia are now heritage sites and apartment blocks.) My question is: Did the Ackworth girls learn weaving through this needlework exercise? Here is your chance to play with the magic loupe again and look in close-up at a detail of Mary Peacock's darning sampler. Remember you need to click the button marked 'Loupe' to see detail and 'Return' to come back to the blog. Darning exercise? Weaving exercise? What do you think?