Friday 31 July 2009

First Mary Wigham from Quebec by Sophie

Sophie says she was proud to have contibuted to move a mountain. Thank you Sophie. And thank you to everyone who by coming together in this stitch along magnified the contributions of everyone else and created such a wonderful event with a fantastic outcome - let's hope everyone feels proud, and will feel proud for years to come remembering what was achieved these last few weeks. The next time you are dusting or washing-up or pulling weeds, stop for a moment and smile....moving mountains is what you do.

Museon Arlaten in Arles to close until 2013

Hot news from Paule Motton at Needleprint France. A little earlier this year we posted about the lovely museum in Arles - the Museon Arlatan. If you have not already visited, then you need to get your wings on - the Museum will close on 25th October 2009 and it is not expected to reopen until 2013. The museum is being closed for major refurbishment. Paule says some of the exhibits are already being moved out in preparation for the works.

Thursday 30 July 2009

Mary Wigham Completed in Japan by Cat-san

Here is news of the first Mary Wigham we know of to be completed in Japan by Cat-san. The fabric she has chosen is Wichelt 32ct Lambswool and her thread is Weeks Dye Works, 2104, Deep Sea.

It is never easy to capture the quality of a large cloth, simply because one has to be so far back from it to get it all in the frame. For me the draped cloth in the peaceful woodland scene captures it all. Cat-san says she plans to back her sampler with indigo-dyed fabric - the thought of which knocks me side-ways - it will be stunning!

She has added one special touch which is dear to my heart - can you see from the little photo with her cat that she has added the bellflower motif (1 over 1)?
Now - what is in a name? Cat-san makes the little cat mascots herself which she sells as souvenirs.

Indigo Dyed Cloth from Mashiko, Japan

Two years ago it was my delight to visit the traditional dye workshop in Mashiko, out in the country not far from Tokyo. I found the workshop quite by chance, since I had gone to Mashiko with the intention of visiting the workshop of Shoji Hamada, teacher of Bernard Leach who has always been a guiding light for me in terms of craftmanship. The workshop is almost alfresco, having only a simple thatched canopy.

Here are rows of indigo dyeing pits. The indigo plant is fermented in the pits and matured until it is ready to take the fabrics for dyeing. And I always have to ask myself - just how did they discover that? And how did people find out the properties of aluminium silicate in mordanting, or yeast in bread?
After seeing the wonderful shades of indigo and knowing the baggage allowance I had, it was a tricky decision whether to go home with my husband or trade him in for extra baggage the end I settled for some small glass mats with as many different patterns as I could find. I know where my heart lies, but my love for indigo was truly born on that visit.

Why oh Y - Sampler Mysteries for you to solve

Vivien Caughley, a sampler researcher in New Zealand, has come up against this puzzler. Why are the ys reversed? Has anyone seen similar on full 26 character sampler alphabets? Can anyone help Vivien?

Calling Sue who left a comment

I am afraid I don't have your email to contact you - please could you send me an email by clicking on the flying angel on the right hand side bar, then I can answer your query for you.

Historic Costumes and Furnishings at Tatton Hall until 16 August

As part of the 3 Shires Festival, there is a textile exhibition at the Mansion at Tatton Park in Cheshire. Click here for more details. The Mansion is a remodelling of an earlier house, and was built on classical lines between 1780-1813. However, walk around and you will find that Tatton Park, seat of the Egerton family since 1598 when it was purchased by Sir Thomas, Lord Chancellor of England, echoes still with its 15th and 16th century history. The old hall still exists with its ghosts, as do the humps and hollows which once were the house foundations and roads of the disappeared village of Tatton. Often entire villages were removed from land when 'emparkment' took place during the 18th century - the landscaping of grounds along classical lines which frowned upon the vista of dilapidated rural dwellings. Here you can see the embroidered Red Lion Rampant of the Egerton family. Plan a weekend in Cheshire then you can also visit the nearby Silk Museum at Macclesfield and the award winning Wedgwood Museum. And don't forget - take your stitching with you!

Wednesday 29 July 2009

Mary Wigham Scales the Heights

This is Extreme Stitching! Annie has taken her Mary Wigham right to the Top of Europe - the summit of the Jungfrau. What a pinnacle of achievement! I don't suppose many samplers have been up a mountain - my guess is less than 2. Annie says she managed to get some stitching in while travelling on steamers and trains, and now home has been admiring everyone else's samplers. She says that each is perfect in their own way. I couldn't agree more. I hope Annie will tuck these images of Mary on the Jungfrau into an envelope and stick them to the back of her framed, finished Mary Wigham, so that those looking in the future can see what a truly memorable occasion this has been.

In Female Worth this post could save you $230

In Female Worth & Elegance: Sampler & Needlework Students & Teachers in Portsmouth, New Hampshire is the title of a 155 page book on samplers produced in 1996 by Portsmouth (USA) Historical Society which has been out of print for sometime and copies are currently being advertised on Amazon and Abebooks for around $250.
The excellent news for us is that not only has this book been reprinted, priced $20, but there is also a wonderful exhibition to visit. Stitches in Time: Portsmouth Samplers 1760-1840 includes 33 samplers from the Portsmouth Historical Society's collection and the collection of Jean Sawtelle, thanks to a generous bequest from their Trustee, the late Merrilee Possner. The sampler you can see here was worked by Sarah Emily Currier in 1840 and is the Society's most elaborate and latest.
There will be Gallery Talks on Aug 29, Sep 26, Oct 31. And not only are there Gallery Talks to enjoy - but iced tea and cookies will be served also. And not only all that - you are invited to join with your needlecraft in the garden for Stitchery Wednesdays. (You know how I am always going on about taking your stitching to a museum......)
For more details about the exhibition click here. To obtain a copy of the book just click here .

Editable Quaker Motifs and Samplers in MAC compatible format

Grateful thanks to everyone who took time to give their help and advice on this issue. We are now going ahead and producing Quaker Motif Sets and Samplers using MacStich and they will be available to you shortly.

Tuesday 28 July 2009

A Very Special Thank You from The Bursar of Ackworth School

It is too exciting! I cannot save this news. I have just this moment had an email from the Bursar of Ackworth School:

Dear Jacqueline,
A staggering £3395 so far; the school is very grateful to everyone who has taken part and donated.
Best regards,


My goodness - we did it! We have just done something wonderful - together. Please take a moment to smile and think about what you have achieved!

The First Mary Wigham - Signed and Sealed!

Is this the first Mary Wigham completed? Christine says: This morning, I wake up very soon, because I wanted to stitch. The day will be sunny and I want to go to walk along the sea, but, before, I have to stitch the last part of the SAL! After some hours, here is the result. I have added the date and my name. It was a great pleasure for me to stitch this chart and, I really thank you for this. I'll continue to visit Needleprint but in French. This'll be more easy for me. It's a very good idea to translate it in French.
Paule will be pleased to hear that you will now be reading Needleprint in French, but we also look forward to seeing more of your work here in the future. It 's been a pleasure to have you stitching along with us, Christine.
Can you see that Christine's sampler measures 25 centimetres across - about 10 inches?

Hand and Lock - Visit on 10th August 2009

In 1767 Goldlacemen called Hand, originally Huguenot refugees from Flanders, added embroidery to their range of laces, cords, and braids. Their skills came from the entourage of Catherine de Medicis, when she married into the French court in the 16th century. They learnt the ancient Italian secrets of gold lace and made them their own. In 2001 Hand merged with S Lock Ltd who had spent 45 years working with couturiers, Christian Dior, Norman Hartnell, and Hardy Amies. A Royal Warrant was awarded. Royal commissions have included gowns for the Queen, the Queen Mother, and Princess Anne’s wedding ensemble. Princess Diana added a new glamour with her love of richly embroidered clothes. Hand and Lock have an Embroidery School with open classes - for more details click here. There will be a Needleprint visit to the Hand and Lock Atelier in central London on 10th August.

The last instalment of Mary Wigham

Well here we are! Some of us are just about to finish, many of us are part way through, and new friends like Patricia are just embarking. The files will remain until the end of the year for downloads and we'll continue to show your work in progress. You have sent so many beautiful images that I haven't wanted to spoil the surprises by loading them all at once in the gallery. It will be lovely to spend some time focusing on the motifs and their use in small projects, again you have lots of ideas and one new project will be a stitched version of the basket we are making at present. And then there are Mary Stickney's bookmarks.....maybe we'll be able to show them later this week. And the stories of the Beatrix Potter and the Beatrix Potter Companion which I can't wait to share with you...
But I suppose what you want to hear more than anything else is how much the donations over the weeks have totalled. Later this week, when the school have had chance to add everything up, I'll report back to you. Thank you for all you have done and are doing - I feel you have moved a mountain! Click here for Part 9 and your last instalment of the Mary Wigham sampler.

Monday 27 July 2009

Bonjour France! Hajimemashite Nihon!

Needleprint is so honoured to have the many Japanese and French readers we have each day, and while we have no wish at all to say goodbye, we thought it would be really nice for native Japanese and French speakers to be able to relax, and enjoy their own language Needleprint blogs which will follow the feeds you see here. It is good news for everyone, since we shall enjoy your feeds to this blog from expert translators Paule who is Editor-in-Chief in France and Saho who is Editor-in-Chief in Japan. Now we really are beginning to open up more of the wonderful world of needlework for you to share. We asked you for French and Japanese translations of Opening up the World of Needlework for You and Paule and Saho will announce the prize-winners on Needleprint France and Needleprint Nihon (I think there is more than one for each country!) So click on the blog banner to join your own language Needleprint blog or click here for Needleprint France ( or here for Needleprint Nihon ( And maybe we can switch on the old music box for a chorus of You Me and Us - altogether now!

Sunday 26 July 2009

Basket Project - Part 2

Since Luned in Anglesey has sent me a picture of her completed Part 1 of the basket project, I suspect you are all ready for Part 2 now. Simply print (on card or stiff paper), cut out and edge these images the same as you did for Part 1. then send me a picture so I know you are ready for the next stage.Just click here for your download.

Editable files on MACs - help please

I'm afraid the Cross Stitcher designer programs don't work on MACs. If anyone knows of an inexpensive cross stitch designer program that will run on MAC perhaps you could let me know please, I so don't want MAC users to lose out.

What are Editable Formats for Needleprint charts?

We have been listening carefully to Needleprint chart users for a number of years. Our charts are printed very responsibly using card from recycled products and environmentally safe inks. You told us you would like to keep your lovely charts pristine and have working copies. With downloadable files, you can print pages as many times as you want from your own computer. Spilled coffee is no longer a disaster. You can work directly from your computer screen, enlarging the working image to a size comfortable for you. I have had emails from stitchers with limited vision and they say this is marvellous for them.
Now, we have advanced further by also releasing editable formats for you. Having watched how you were customizing your Mary Wigham samplers, I thought it would make life a whole lot more exciting for you, if you could take a chart and, on your own computer, try out different colour combinations, change motifs, include different initials etc to make the sampler your very own - and see how it looked before committing to the purchase of threads and fabric. Not only that, but you can take motifs you like and create totally new designs for yourself, for new samplers or smalls. The use of individual motifs in your own design creations are copyright free - all we ask is that you don't copy for sale existing Museum samplers.
You can now buy the entire library of Ackworth School motifs in editable format.
BUT - To read or make use of these files you must have a copy of either Jane Greenhoff's Cross Stitch Designer or Cross Stitch Designer Gold. If you are having trouble finding this software just email me and I will help you.
We shall be using this software platform to release more libraries of motifs for you very soon, so it is worth the investment. I wouldn't recommend this to you simply as a sales gimmick, or if I hadn't been using the software for all our publishing for 6 years. I truly believe this will seriously release your creativity and enhance your stitching pleasures.

Saturday 25 July 2009

Amsterdam Orphanage Samplers - do you know the location of any?

Throughout the 18th and 19th centuries when life expectancy in Europe was around 35-40 years, the problem of what to do with orphans was omnipresent. People were particularly concerned about orphaned girls, in part because of their vulnerability to abuse, and in greater part because of their perceived role in the spread of what was politely referred to as 'contagious diseases'. The church provided one shelter for orphaned girls, and other asylums and boarding schools of industry in which the girls were taught to spin and stitch to earn their keep were set up. Perhaps the most famous in the UK is the Bristol Orphanage at Ashley Down. There were also orphanages across Europe. Margriet Hogue is currently researching Amsterdam Orphanage samplers. The first example you see here is from the Burger Orphanage and displays a style typical of that institution with red alphabets and crowned crests. The darning example following is from the Diaconie Orphanage. Margriet says it would be a great help to her if anyone knowing of a sampler from an Amsterdam orphanage would please contact her. To email Margriet direct, just click here.

Friday 24 July 2009

A visit to Lily and Rosemary, her Grandmother, in Idaho - and Emily too!

This will be a very special visit because over the years Lily and her older sister, Emily, and their grandmother, Rosemary, have shared many interesting summers. For example, seven years ago they began a museum – the granddaughters named it the Forest and Field Museum, made a banner for it, and had a Grand Opening. It was chock full of interesting exhibits including bird nests, rock specimens, pressed flowers, Native American artifacts, and 'our own sad little attempts to make pine needle baskets'. Another summer Rosemary taught the girls to cook and they served formal meals once a week for family members. The favorite meal that summer was the Harry Potter dinner complete with homemade, painted fabric , napkins sporting different characters from the books. Needless to say, Rosemary is the most blessed grandmother in the world. In recent years, Lily has won 1st place awards at the local county fair – her grandmother says that her needlework is truly lovely. Rosemary says that the Mary Wigham sampler has a particular resonance for her. She is descended from English, Irish, and Welsh Quakers, who emigrated in the 1660s to Pennsylvania. Dear Lily and Rosemary, not forgetting Emily, we have on our best bib and tuckers and are heading your way to join you in your stitching. Just start the music on the music box! Can you hear us singing?

Trade Beads

Wouldn't it be lovely if you could go into a store, choose any items that take your fancy, go to the cashier and, from your huge stash, pull out a sprinking of beads in payment? Maybe exchange a few if the cashier already too many of that type. In the old days, this is exactly what happened on the international trading scene - adventurer traders would set out and trade beads for precious spices, metals and textiles. (By the old days, I mean from as early as the 15th century - until quite recent times.) Beads were custom produced just for trade, the earliest were made in Venice, and though this trade card is quite late, similar cards would have been used to allow traders to choose beads which would bring the highest premium in traded goods. Beads came in a variety of forms since traders were quick to identify shapes which pleased or held great significance for the seller. The most prized in Africa were Talhakimt pendants like the green one you see left.
In the Pitt-Rivers Museum in Oxford there is a whole case devoted to traded beads, some of which resemble very beautiful teeth - I wish I had a picture to show my dentist. In the Kelvingrove Museum in Glasow I found this fabulous beaded Glengarry with a wonderful bird - a bonnet worn by Scottish men. (Image shown with permission from the museum). It comes from North America and it has been beaded with trade beads by a native American - perhaps the owner's wife. Or the hat may have been discarded and picked up by a native American who decorated it according to their own fancy. Whatever its story, I think it is very special. On this rainy afternoon, I shall go hunting through my beads to liven up an old beret. Maybe a beret or woolly hat embellishing project would be fun - what do you think?

Thursday 23 July 2009

Some new Quaker Motifs from Catherine

Catherine has already stitched part 8 of Mary Wigham - she stitched 8 metres in 2 days....but I thought I would show you a previous version of her work in progress. That way we can concentrate more on some new additions to the repertoire of motifs. Can you spot them?
Gone is the flying turtle, replaced by a more aerodynamic bird; two interesting motifs each side of the squirrel; and looking again at the squirrel, has it or hasn't had a little cosmetic surgery around its proboscis? I have a feeling Catherine will continue to add a smattering here and there even when the sampler is technically complete. And is that what Mary did, because there are points of collision of motifs on the original, which I am sure you have noticed by now. Little afterthoughts. Now why was that?

Downloads for your Basket Project

The first version of the basket we have put together is card based like the original. The second version for stitching will come later. If you make this card one first then you will understand better how the stitched one will work. Page 1 of the project is ready to download. This is two panel faces of your basket. The basket has 12 panel faces in total - 6 inside and 6 outside. You can print out the first page on thin card, or fabric or paper and stick either on thin card. At this stage you may want to tea bag, or bake the images. Don't worry if your first try goes wrong, you can always print out another copy - this is the beauty of the project - it is all forgiving! When you have your panel faces looking as you like, cut them out and backstitch bias tape, the colour of your choice, along all edges except the upper side of each one. They are separate pieces so they need to be edged individually and not joined in any way. Tips: You will have to fold the tape when you come to stitch each corner. Iron your bias tape or ribbon in half and use a little light glue to help you manage it while you stitch. The upper side will be edged together with all the upper sides as a later stage so it does not matter that the edges you leave for now are not finished, they will be hidden later. You can email me with questions. A big favour please - please, please download once and make copies on your machine rather than redownloading from the web-host - otherwise we shall go into the dark with bandwith problems. Click here for Page 1 of your basket project. Please send me images of what you have completed so I know when to load the next page for you.

Companion to Beatrix Potter now available as editable Cross Stitch Designer Download

For those of you have already bought the Companion to Beatrix Potter chart as a .pdf download for $16 - the good news is you can also download the chart in its Jane Greenoff Cross Stitch Designer format for free. This will mean that using the Jane Greenoff software you will be able to edit, recolour and move motifs. You will also be able to use the motifs for other projects. Just return to the secure Needleprint file for your bonus download. If you have not already purchased the chart, you can chose between the .pdf download for $16 OR the .pdf format plus the Jane Greenoff editable file version for $20.

Still Picking Pockets!

Thank you for all your helpful comments and for mentioning the lovely Pockets of History book produced by the Costume Museum in Bath for their exhibition. I would have shared mine with you, but like all the books I rave about, I gave it away.....I shall contact the museum this morning to see if the book is still available and I'll be back to this post to let you know. (I checked with the museum and this book is sadly no longer available.)
The V&A has some lovely web-pages dedicated to pockets and you can see images of 18 complete pockets in close-up. The trick is to click on the fabric squares you see when you reach the pocket page.
Hold on to your pockets and click here to be whisked off on a journey of delight!

Wednesday 22 July 2009

Pockets - Inside or Outside your Skirt?

I was always led to believe that pockets, no matter how beautifully decorated, were always worn under the skirt. Although it seems a shame not to show off the lovely stitching, security in the days of no street lighting and footpads on every corner, always would have commanded a greater priority than flaunting fashion. Many pairs of pockets have become separated over time, so to have the opportunity to image this crewel-work pair made around 1725-1750 which are still attached was a great pleasure for me when I visited the Swaledale Museum in Reeth a couple of years ago. The Museum in Reeth, in the heart of the North Yorkshire moors, is probably one of the most charming museums I have ever visited, and certainly one with the best views. But what sets it apart is that it is the only museum I know with guest rooms attached! Coming back to the pockets, all my certainties were thrown into doubt when recently I came across this picture circa 1785 in France. Here the woman is clearly wearing her pockets outside her skirt. Is it a difference between cultures? Might it have been the case that at certain times of the day the pockets were worn outside the skirt? Can you shed any light on this question?

Tuesday 21 July 2009

Quaker Motifs

I don't know if this will help you with designing your smalls or new samplers to stitch - but I can make available the entire repertoire of authentic Quaker motifs in a format that you can use directly in a charting program by Jane Greenoff. This will enable you to cut and paste medallions straight onto a chart, move them around where you want them, edit them, recolour them and then print them out together with pattern information and a thread shopping list. You will need the Jane Greenoff software to make it work - either Cross Stitch Designer or Cross Stitch Designer Gold - which you can buy direct from the Cross Stitch Guild or Amazon. The price for the Quaker Motifs Set download is $30 but if you have already bought the Ackworth School Pattern Book in .pdf format, or buy the Pattern Book now then you can buy The Quaker Motifs Set for $15 - just let me know the date you bought your Pattern Book .pdf download and I will send you an invoice for half the normal price. If you like this idea then we shall start to release libraries of motifs in this form which is easy for you to use.Click here if you just want the Quaker Motifs Set. Click here for the Ackworth School Pattern Book .pdf. Click here to buy Jane Greenoff's Cross-Stitch Designer Gold.

Your Quaker Smalls - Biscornu from Jenet

Your Quaker smalls projects are so lovely - I shall set up a special gallery for them later this week. It is really ingenuous the way you are working with your Mary Wigham charts to produce so many charming new items for yourself. Here is a delightful biscornu project from Jenet. She has worked it on the same 32ct lambswool, taking two of the motifs which happened to be the same size, a medallion and a floral one (the floral one had to be modified a bit to make it symmetrical). Jenet says: In the corners on the floral side I used motifs that occur in the sampler. I did the same on the medallion side. Part 7 had not been published when I started, if it had I would probably have used the similar medallion with no changes. The colours used are the ones recommended.

Opening up the world of needlework for you in France and Japan

Needleprint's aim is to open up the world of needlework for you - wherever you live. In preparation for adding a French language Needleprint blog and a Japanese language Needleprint blog to our current blog, we are offering a prize to anyone from either country who can find the best phrase in either language to translate our aim. And just to help you on your way - 'needlework' embraces everything made with a needle - for example knitting - and not just embroidery or cross-stitch.......

Waiting for Part 8 of Mary Wigham?

I can see Veronique in Switzerland is ready to begin Part 8 so I sha'n't keep her waiting any longer! We have seen original colour schemes for Mary, we have seen striped squirrels, and now look, Veronique has personalized the lettering and signature - and has even added her own name to the sampler. Maybe there is a small corner or space where you might add your name or initials to Mary's sampler, just to leave a little mark of yourself, if nothing else. And now you can click here for part 8.

Monday 20 July 2009

Do try this at home

Here is a lovely inspiration for a stitching project without much stitching - it only involves finding some pretty printed images and gluing them to thin card, then binding them with ribbon and bringing them together to make a charming floss basket. You can age your images, fabric, ribbon and threads. Play around with some paper shapes and cellotape until you are confident about how all the shapes fit together. It doesn't have to be totally perfect, as you can see. Once you have made this, just think what else you could do!
(I shall have a free download for the construction next week to help you.)

Sunday 19 July 2009

Three Cheers for the Head Girls

The Mary Wigham project would not have been possible without the unstinting and uniting support of country Head Girls. Not only are they leading the SAL in their various countries, they are also providing an invaluable translation service also. Here you can see that Paule, French Head Girl, has even found some time to stitch. Do visit the beautiful blogs of the Head Girls and say Hello to them - they all speak wonderful English and they won't put you in detention for being behind with your stitching. Just click on the flags on the right hand side bar and follow the links. So Head Girls take a bow - hip, hip, hip hooray!

Ackworth School Motifs - The Swan

Although Mary Wigham's sampler can be said to be typical of Ackworth School, it is rare in that it does not possess that defining Quaker medallion - the Swan. There are four types of Swan that appear on the samplers, ranging from a rather chubby duck to a most elegant specimen. A first tentative explanation was that it recalled the tale of Cygnus from Ovid's Metamorphoses. Children at Ackworth were schooled in the classics and the tale of Cygnus' repeated diving to save his friend Phaethon who crashed the sun's chariot into the water appeared to be a symbol of agape - self-sacrificing love. The theory was also helped along by the prominence of the star cluster, since there is constellation named Cygnus.

However, children at Ackworth also read Aesop. This is my copy of 1740 by Samuel Richardson, 'curiously' illustrated for children. Aesop has a fable of the Swan and the Stork. The Stork asked the dying Swan why it was singing - it seemed perverse to do so. The Swan replied that it would no longer be in danger of snares, guns or hunger - who would not enjoy such a deliverance? It could be you might be able to shed more light on this.

Saturday 18 July 2009

The Samovar Awaits You - in Australia

At the end of a stormy and unpredictable week, it is lovely to gaze on this warm and promising sunset. Even if we are late in settling down for our weekend, it is good to know that there is a simmering samovar of tea waiting for us in Sydney, Australia, and we can sit around together and discuss those initials on Mary's sampler - to whom did they belong? We can now hazard that the HT under Mary's name belonged to her mother whose maiden name was Hannah Thistlethwaite, and those beneath - JW - to her father, John Wigham. There is also HW in all probability for Hannah, her sister, but the rest we cannot be sure of. What is interesting is that there are these family initials, which continue the North England and Scottish sampler tradition of having ranks of family initials, including grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. So, whatever the origin of the medallions themselves, there is definitely the twining of North of England roots of Quakerism amongst them. And what of our roots? The first language of Natalie (aka Koala) who is stitching her Mary Wigham in Sydney is Russian, so she is stitching in the company of Olia's Russian SAL members thousands of miles distant. And that is why it is a samovar, not a teapot waiting for you at the beginning of sundown. At the end of the day we all seem to blend like this terrific sunset, how could you begin to unpick the gold from the red or the red from purple? Or who would want to?