Wednesday 30 September 2009

Museum Auction, Manhattan, 4 November 2009

Augusta Auction's New York City sale to be held at St. Paul Auditorium, 15 Columbus Avenue, New York, NY 10019 on 2 November, 2009, includes nearly 1,500 garments, textiles, and accessories. From New Jersey’s Montclair Art Museum comes Victorian clothing, Virginia’s Colonial Williamsburg provides rare 17th-18th Century women’s shoes and men’s 18th Century garments. There are unique woven and embroidered Chinese garments and textiles spanning three centuries beginning in 1600 from the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, and from the Brooklyn Museum there is definitive 20th Century couture not seen for more than twenty years.
Karen Augusta, a costume and textile appraiser for the PBS series, Antiques Roadshow, has been representing museum collections at auction throughout the past decade. In 2008 with her husband, Robert Ross, she founded Augusta Auctions and brought their fashion auctions to New York City. She says, 'It’s an interesting time for collections and collectors as knowledge of textile conservation has grown, so has its cost and the cost of museum quality storage. As a result, the museum back rooms have opened and there is more sharing of items important to the history of western culture. This wave of deaccessioning actually increases the value of these artifacts as knowledge of their availability spreads quickly in the information age. It’s encouraging to see this is no longer a market of insiders.'

What do you think?

New Needleprint Infinity Release - Alpursa Chocolade & Cocoa Album Cards - For Stitching and High Quality Printing on Card, Paper or Fabric!

Is it just me, or do I detect a nip in the air and a feeling I should be thinking ahead more that I have been doing lately? When I was going through my ideas file and came across the Altpursa Chocolate cross stitch album cards, I thought what lovely gift tags and cards they would make for friends. And if time runs out for stitching them ourselves, well, it is always lovely to send a chart to a friend so they can stitch in the holiday after Christmas, isn't it? I know I love having them sent to me. My mother would have loved these too, these are precisely what she would have squirrelled away for herself.

The new Needleprint Infinity Chart is rather more than a chart. There are four pdf files for you to download as well as an editable JGG file. Two of the four pdfs are facsimiles of the original Altpursa album charts themselves and are in high resolution format so you can print them onto card, cut them out and make your own album. One of these facsimile sets has the Alpursa name removed, providing you with a blank canvas to write your own words then you can print these out and use them as gift tags or fix them to a nice home-made card. The other two pdfs are replica charts we have made and you can use them for stitching the patterns, gift tags or embellishments to greetings cards. Plus, if you have the Infinity software there are infinitely more options for you. You can copy a design from the file, pop it in another work file and customise it. I can hear you saying, 'Nice colours, Jacqueline, but not what I would have chosen, personally.' And you will never again have to put up with my colour palette, simply personlize the perfect palette for you. Follow the ideas on our Infinity Blog to see how you can create unique cards and gift tags.

Tuesday 29 September 2009

Come on Auctioneers!

I have a much respect for auction houses and count some of the staff as friends, but there are times when I am quite baffled by the seeming lack of knowledge of some who make quite a nice commission selling samplers. Surely they can afford to send their staff on a training course. This is an image from an auction catalogue. The sampler is described as English - but maybe if they looked at it the right way up they might see that it quite plainly is not.

Now isn't that better? We can see that it was made in 1781 and not 180-something, and from the depiction of arms and crests that it is North European but hard to tell whether Northern Dutch, Northern German, or South Denmark. (It is strange to contemplate that Altona, now a suburb of Hamburg, was once Danish).

Alpursa Chocolate Cross Stitch Patterns

Cross stitch patterns in bars of chocolate is a sublime combination. In fact I keep buying chocolate bars just to check that I am not missing anything. The sad fact is that this wonderful marketing campaign hasn't been run in the last 80 years. Alpursa was founded in 1892 in Berne (Switzerland) to create and sell milk of the Bernese Alps. In 1931 the company renamed itself Allgaeuer Alpine Milk. So these delightful little album items are very rare and I was very lucky indeed to find them in the Czech Republic a few year s ago. I thought it sad that the pages had been ripped unceremoniously out of a treasured album for sale. When I looked at them, I could still see traces of pencil marks where a child had worked on adding to the graphs. It is past my bed time here because I have been working on an Infinity Set for you which will also include facsimiles of the cards themselves so you download them, print them on nice card and create an album of your own. And I thought it would be nice, too, to be able to print them out and use them as gift tags, or scrap-book items, so we'll have a special version of them for that purpose too. The next time you are rootling through your stash and you find some spare hours that no longer need - just email me them, would you, please?

A Regal Mary from the Queen City Sampler Guild

Another super finish from Pamela of the Queen City Sampler Guild. She writes, I corrected some of Mary's mistakes, but made some of my own. In the spirit of Mary, I left them. LOL.
It was my pleasure to spend time with Pam's Guild last year at about this time and I was made to feel so welcome. I have many happy memories. Ellen Chester and her husband, Tom, were the kindest of hosts. By the way if you are a sampler guild or a regular group of stitchers you can get a special discount on Needleprint books. Just click the angel on the righ hand side-bar to constact me.

Sunday 27 September 2009

Norwich Shawl Girls

I have been taking a closer look at a shawl I keep for draughty winter days when writing. It has been my companion so long, I regret to say I hardly notice it except when people visit and want to take it home with them.

Perhaps someone can tell me if this shawl has been woven or pattern-darned. It looks very fine to me and I would like to think it has been worked by hand, but it appears too new not to have been woven. Corner motifs are certainly hand embroidered and the end and side borders have ben applied using hand stitching also.

Charles Dickens in Household Words describes the working of shawls: In a light, upper room, women and girls are at work, sitting on low stools, each with a shawl stretched tightly over her knees. Some of these are darning, with the utmost nicety, any cracks, thin places, or 'faults' in the fabric; darning each in its exact colour. (Nicety here means exactitude.) Given the posture and position of shawl of the Little Shawl Maker, I wonder if she might be working on the shawl fringe rather than darning it. Below is another quote taken from The Repository of 28 July 1858:

Saturday 26 September 2009

Mary Goes Down Under

It is good to keep thinking of all the stitchers all around the world working on their Marys.
This wonderful image is from Hannah taken at the top of Mount Maunganui overlooking the Bay of Plenty in New Zealand. If you tilt your head a little, you will be able to see us all waving to you, Hannah.

Sampler Collections on Line

It gladdens my heart to see more and more museums opening up their sampler collections for us to study and enjoy.
I am grateful to Barbara and The Sampler Consortium for letting me know that the following collections are now visible on-line:
The Colonial Williamsburg Collection
The Mattatuck Collection
The Massachusetts Historical Society Collection
and also there is the
Powerhouse Museum Collection in Sydney, Australia.

I hope we can encourage many more museums to follow suite soon.

Friday 25 September 2009

Pattern Darning and Shawls

I am very pleased to have this book engraving of what, at first glance, appears to be a young embroiderer. The first glance is not deceived, but what leads one to think so is that she has the title 'The Little Norwich Shawl Worker'. I just wish she was less concerned with whoever is taking her portrait than the work in her hand, because it is difficult to see exactly what she intends with her hands. Although shawls from the East were known in the UK as early as 1662, it is not until the last quarter of the 18th century that they were adopted for fashionable female wear. By which time manufacture had switched from the East to three main centres of weaving in the UK: Edinburgh, Paisley and Norwich. In 1796 shawl production in Norwich was booming. John Bidwell had 18 looms and declared he could employ 3 or 4 times as many. In London he could sell ten times more than he could make. In 1847, one manufacturer alone sold 32,000 shawls. And in the early years of shawl making, before the acceptance in the 1820s and 1830s of the French invented Jacquard loom from France, designs on shawls were embroidered and pattern-darned by hand, by young girls such our shawl worker here.
Pattern-darning, as I have touched on before, is not to be confused with darning. Pattern-darning is concerned with surface creation while darning is concerned with surface repair. So, a few questions need to be asked. If all these shawls were being produced, how many tens or hundreds of girls such as the the Little Norwich Shawl Worker were required to pattern-darn them? Did they leave no traces at all except for this one engraving? How were the girls trained for the work? Was there a conscious production of locally trained girls to meet the demands of the town's manufacture? How did the girls present their credentials for employment (if any)? Did they work from home as piece-workers, or were they taken into a factory and housed together like the silk girls in Lyons? And like the silk industry in Taulignan, was this work considered to be useful sponge for mopping up orphaned girls? What about the shawlmaker's counterparts in France where there was also a fashion for shawls? What was happening in the Netherlands at this time? Is it a just a coincidence that patterned-darned samplers seem to spring into being at the same time as the boom in manufacture of these shawls?

And when Jacquard looms did replace the pattern-darner, who would mend the loom-produced shawls when threads were snagged in the weaving. A silk and fine wool shawl could not be rejected for a few defects, easily rewoven by a needle in appropriately trained little hands. There is so much more still to be discovered, let's never fall into the trap of thinking all the answers are known, nor the pit where it is better to follow existing texts than to risk asking why the Empress has no shawl.

Thursday 24 September 2009

Update on Tullie House Museum Sampler Download

The curator and I are still hoping to have the sampler collection at Tullie House in Carlisle available for you as a pdf download. Because this has never before been attempted in this country, a legal team has been called upon to examine the copyright issues and it is this that is, quite rightly, taking some time. I'll let you have more information as soon as I have it. In the meantime let us hope like Mary Lawson and admire her sampler of 1822. Mary's motifs display many features of samplers local to Carlisle - a blue fence and gate; arrangments of flowers with geometrically angular branching stems; and sailing a little off course through this flowery garden, a ship, perhaps in remembrance of a family member trading at sea.

Quaker Basket Project now Available for Working Over 1

Many thanks to Saho-san for letting me know that some of you may not have access to high counts of linen and would really like to stitch this project over-one. We have gone back to design and created a completely over-one project option for you. Those of you who have already purchased the chart can log back into the sharefile and download the two new over-one files also, one is PDF and one is for Infinity users.

Wednesday 23 September 2009

Catherine's Autumnal Mary Wigham

The season of mellow fruitfulness has arrived beautifully here, the trees are just beginning to catch fire and the boughs are laden with rosy fruit. It is a time when we can straighten our backs, look back across the year and reflect on all the goodness that has come our way with, or often without, the help of our ceaseless labour. Catherine has much to be proud of with the fruits of her hands - a superb Mary Wigham that will be a treasure forever.

Lucy is in the Sky with Diamonds and her Mother

Our neighbour told us today that his daughter, Lucy, had died. It is just two years ago that his charming wife, my friend and sampler lover, Catherine died. During one of our afternoon tea sessions, Catherine told me how her daughter had gone to school with Julian Lennon. One day they were painting and were told to paint a picture of their best friend. So Lucy painted Julian and Julian painted Lucy. They were the typical paintings of young children. A band of green across the bottom, a strip of blue across the top and somewhere in between floated a friend. When Lucy's parents saw the picture they asked who it was of. 'Julian', said Lucy. And when Julian showed his picture, he answered the same question. 'It's Lucy. In the sky. With diamonds.' So Lucy is home now, safe with her mother.

The Stitched Quaker Basket Project is Here at Last!

Thank you for your patience and all your kind wishes - I hope to be well again very soon. The stitched Quaker Basket Project is ready for you at last - there are three files to download: a PDF chart which everyone can use; those who have the Infinity Software will also be able to download an editable JGG file; and there is a PDF for making-up instructions also. Because of the amount of time involved in making this project, there is a charge of £5, $8, 6 Euros or 800 yen. I hope you have many delightful moments working this lovely heirloom project.
For your download just click here.

Tuesday 22 September 2009

New Basket Project in White

Just to give you an idea of how this project would look stitched in white/ecru on a grey linen.

Monday 21 September 2009

Beautiful French Basket Finish

Another stunning basket finish - this time from Aurore in France. I hope that working with the card has been a useful exercise in understanding the construction of the baskets, so that when we come to start the stitched example you will be feeling very confident about how to progress. In a way we are following the Lancastrian system. Joseph Lancaster, a Quaker, formulated a process of instruction for larger classes. One of his innovations, along with those of Dr Bell, was to employ the monitor system. The teacher organized and managed the class, while senior or more competetent students, the monitors, took on the role of what we would call today classroom assistants. And in schools following the Quaker Joseph Lancaster system of education, each stage of needlework taught was completed first using paper. Only when the student had demonstrated her proficiency was fabric allocated to her for stitching.

Sunday 20 September 2009

Thank you Donna Dzierlenga for Finding Hannah Cullcup and the Jennings Sisters!

I am so excited to return home to find that Donna has uncovered the identities of Hannah Cullcup and the Jennings Sisters - they all come from Quaker families. Here are Donna's findings in her words:

Hannah Culcup, the daughter of Gideon and Elizabeth Culcup, was born in 1674. If this is your Hannah, she was ten years old when she stitched her sampler. Her birth is listed in the register for the monthly meetings in Wheeler Street in Spitalfields, London [RG6/1102]. Note that the spelling of her surname and her father's given name vary quite a bit in the records and their transcriptions. Hannah's father is among those listed in Besse's A Brief Account of Many of the Prosecutions of the People Called Quakers [1736] as having been prosecuted for the nonpayment of tithes in Middlesex in 1709. Elizabeth Culcup is one of the signers on behalf of the women's meeting of a testimony about the life of Ann Whitehead , reprinted in Piety Promoted by Faithfulness Manifested by Several Testimonies Concerning Ann Whitehead (George Whitehead, 1686). Hannah married in 1706 [RG6/0496].

The Jennings sisters are probably the daughters of Isaac and Mary Jennings of London. Alice Jennings was born in 1683 [RG6/0498]. She married in 1704 [RG6/0497]. Her birth and marriage are listed in the registers belonging to the Quakers in and about the Cities of London and Westminster in the County of Middlesex and the Borough of Southwark in the County of Surrey, as is Hannah's marriage. I haven't been able to locate a record of Margaret's birth, but Henry Jennings (b. 1642 in Surrey; d. 1706 in Philadelphia), son of William and Mary Jennings, left property by will to his uncle Isaac Jennings of London and to Isaac's daughter Margaret.

By Donna Dzierlenga

Saturday 19 September 2009

Thank you Trisha Wilson Nguyen

I was thrilled to get a post card from Trisha that she sent from the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. The image on the card is a band sampler of 1687 stitched - purportedly - by Hannah Culleup (but I think the name is Cullcup - a Quaker name). Name apart, it is exciting because it is a dead ringer for the two wonderful Jennings' sister samplers in the Goodhart Collection at Montacute House. Trisha had a little tot up and believes that there are now 6 'sister' samplers in this series! Apart from the MFA and Goodhart cloths, there is a fragment in the possession of Erna Hiscock, a very similar sampler belonging to Siva Swaminathan and described by Dorothy Bromiley Phelan on page 30 of her book Point of the Needle, and one last fragment in the collection of Marsha Parker of The Scarlet Letter. Can anyone find Hannah Cullcup? Or Alice or Margaret Jennings?

Viji's Very Special Mary Wigham from India

Sometimes I am taken to task for selling direct. Am I not undermining the very Local Needlework Stores I say I support? I think those of you who have come to me requesting items can answer that best, since you are always encouraged to visit your LNS first. We are blessed with having wonderful LNS compared to the rest of the world - if only the rest of the world were the same! There are stitchers around the world, in many diverse countries, whose only chance of acquiring our books is by direct purchase. And sometimes not even then. I was delighted when Viji in the Chennai in India joined us in our Mary Wigham stitch along. She asked me what count Aida she should use. I offered to send her a gift of linen for her sampler since Aida is all there is to be had where she lives. But, I was gently told, parcels don't always get through..... Never daunted, in spite of the huge difficulties she faces, Viji is making good progress on her sampler on blue Aida. Viji is a great fan of the Infinity downloads, since again it is a simple reliable way of being able to participate with the stitching community. It's good to have you with us, Viji!

The Perpetually Engaging Diary Has Arrived

It would have been a crack open the champagne day yesterday if I hadn't been on antibiotics to fight off a bad cough I've had for the last fortnight. (Some of you have had the dubious pleasure of my barking on the phone to you.) But I'll tip my glass of water now and swallow another tablet in celebration as I see our new Perpetually Engaging Diaries have arrived in the USA and Canada ready for delivery to shops. I spoke to the collection owners today, Michéal and Elizabeth Feller, and they are thrilled with it, so I can rest easy now - well, for a day or two at least!

Friday 18 September 2009

Christine's Mary Wigham is Sitting Pretty

There are so many possibilities for sampler design as you have seen from all the Mary Wigham finishes. How wonderful is this idea of Christine's!

When I first carried out the research on the Ackworth medallions, I charted everything. The aim of that research (which gave rise to the
Ackworth School Pattern Book) was to see if there were certain Ur-Motifs or fundamental motifs from which others had been copied. If this were true then we might be able to put forward the hypothesis that some samplers were model or teaching samplers and that the other girls had recourse to these, using them as a kind of pattern book for working medallions on their own samplers. What I did find out was that, with the sample we had, no medallions appeared to have been copied from a single source. In fact, all the medallion patterns differed slightly from sampler to sampler. Some had slightly different borders, others minor adaptions. The girls were doing exactly what you do, making slight personal changes...or mistakes which they worked into the overall design with a certain aplomb!

Thursday 17 September 2009

Rag Sells for $465,000

When I bought the Sarah Moon Sampler at auction, people rather dumbfounded at the price I had paid came up to me to ask if there was something special about the rag I had just bought. This other rag which realised some $450,000 more than Sarah, was stitched in 1781 by Betsy Bentley, 13 year old daughter of Joshua Bentley (who rowed Paul Revere across the river for his famous midnight ride) was brought along in a brown paper bag to the appraisal day at Thomaston Place in Maine and was given an estimate then of $40,000 - $60,000. Before the sale Stephen Huber, textile specialist and sampler dealer, commented wryly, 'That old rag. If I saw it in the garbage, I wouldn't bother to take it out - well maybe I would.' He then went on to bid and win the item! At the end of the auction, auctioneer Kaja Veilleux commented 'Anyone that might have a similar piece, package it up in a brown paper bag and bring it to the gallery. I'll be happy to sell it for you.' Maybe people will start to shake off the habit of calling them rags........ This post was culled from Antique Trader and Antiques and Arts on Line.

Wednesday 16 September 2009

New Infinity Release - Old European Library

I love patterns and as you know I am curious about the origins of patterns on samplers, so it goes almost without saying that I am totally besotted by old pattern books. I have collected many over the years from all around Europe. This precious little book of Old European patterns was first published in Leipzig in the 19th century and I was very lucky to be in the right place at the right time to acquire it. Now the patterns are available for you, no waiting, no fumbling with train time-tables in the rain, simply click here for an editable Infinity Old European Library chart to download and customize for yourself. The price is $8/£5.

And Now They are Five!

Following up on the recent post Four Little Maids from School Are We - Julia Arnold has discovered another member of the school, Anne Hillman, who stitched her sampler in 1806. This sampler is almost identical with Elizabeth Tatham's of 1806 in the Goodhart Collection at Montecute House.
Eagle-eyed Julia sent me this scan of the sampler image which comes from the Joan Eyles' Collection and is featured in the 2004 Witney Antiques' Catalogue 'On This Fair Sampler Does My Needle Write'. Be sure to watch the
Witney Antiques Website for details of their upcoming exhibition on school girl samplers.

Tuesday 15 September 2009

Markers for Scottish Samplers

It always seems perverse that the strongest markers for a sampler worked in Scotland are the alphabets ornamented with running stitch curlicues which in fact appear to have their origins in Frisian and North German alphabet designs. Other markers we can detect on this Scottish sampler in the Goodhart Collection are the peacock on the bottom row left, and over on the bottom row right is a rather strange vase of assorted blooms which appears on many Scottish samplers also. (A chart for this sampler can be found inside the jacket of The Goodhart Samplers.) There is also a predilection amongst Scots stitchers for portraying houses. It may be an adaptation to northern dark, wet and windy weather systems that Scottish houses are typically low dwellings with large glazed windows and tall gables built into the roof. Sometimes castellated keeps make an appearance.

Yet another strong marker is this large arcaded floral band (some have identified the flower as a viola or pansy).

So, again it seems rather perverse that the pattern should crop up in a rare 19th century Leipzig pattern book I have, in which the design is classified as 17th century Dutch! I don't recall ever coming across this band on an early Dutch sampler or other item of stitching, but perhaps someone has. The other question to ask is: which direction did the designs go - from Scotland to The Netherlands and Germany, or from The Netherlands and Germany to Scotland? But that may be too simplistic. There are many instances of patterns travelling in one direction, being modified and reorganized by the new population and then being transported back to their place of origin - for example - Indian chintzes and Chinese porcelain.

Here is a free Infinity download of the arcaded band for your collection - just click here to download. Remember to choose the option to Save and not Open. If you don't have the software to read the Infinity charts, click here. You will be able to purchase the software for $20 which comes with the Beatrix Potter Sampler ready for you to edit and customise - and once you have the software you will also be able to download a free editable Mary Wigham sampler also. (Again, remember to choose Save and not Open when you download.)

Monday 14 September 2009

A Template for Our Quaker Basket Project

We'll take a week off to let you catch up with the card basket project. You can see some of the finishes on the Needleprint Projects Blog. Now that you have made that one, you will be ready to master a stitched version. Just so you don't get too bored doing the same construction over, we'll use a slightly different construction based on this superb basket which belonged to Dawn Lewis. Here there is no ground fabric to act as webbing. The basket sides just draw up on themselves, and this time we'll use some pretty ribbon instead of bias binding. We'll make the size the same, though, so you can visualise the size of the finish project.

Dawn's basket is a commemorative one - one side is embroidered on silk with lovely florals, while the other side is filled with hand written farewell notes to 'darling Julia' on paper - each section written by a different friend. The centre section was written by Julia's teacher and signed 'Edgeworth Academy'. So we shall have charts for stitching on both sides of the panels, but we'll also have a download which you could use to have a commemorative card to replace one side of the panels like this one. It would be a delightful project for a stitching group - you could perhaps all sign a greeting on each other's baskets.....or maybe you can make a special birthday for a friend ......or maybe you have more exciting ideas?

Sunday 13 September 2009

Two More Marys Finished in Japan

Here are two more beautiful, individual finishes.
The blue version is from Minmin-san and the pink version was completed by Sue-san. When you have enjoyed looking at the colour palettes, look for some new characters who have taken up home in the samplers!

Saturday 12 September 2009

Four Little Maids from School Are We*

Frances Batchelor 1794

Last week my friend Pat Judson pointed me in the way of Dawn Lewis' Needlework Antiques sampler website. Of course, I had to make a pot of tea and look at all the wonderful samplers there. And, wonder upon wonders, I found a sister sampler to a known set of three. So now there are four. I came across the first in the series when I was imaging the sampler collection for the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge. Stitched by Sarah Williamson in 1795 it struck me as decorative and interesting. Then, later, working on the Goodhart Collection, we found another exemplar there, stitched by Elizabeth Tatham in 1806. Mmmm - even more interesting, in spite of small differences, could we possibly be looking at a school? In March this year I sent some sample pages of our books to the Ipswich Museum - one of the pages being of the Goodhart Sampler. And what should come back from the curator? An emailed image of a sampler very similar to the Goodhart one, this time stitched by Alice Blizzard in 1803. Mmmm, now we can be pretty sure we are looking at a school. Not a bad innings. I thought that would be that. But last week, looking through Dawn's collection, I found yet another one, this time like the one at the Fitzwilliam. And even better, Dawn has a provenance which places the maker, Frances Batchelor in Buckinghamshire in 1794. I am really pleased - this is exactly why I am trying to release as many sampler images as possible, so we can make these connections. Alone the samplers are - lovely samplers. Taken together, and in a context, we have a set of meaningful historical documents. Do let me know if you happen to have one in your collection at home, won't you?

* with apologies to W S Gilbert (taken from the Mikado)

Sarah Williamson 1795

Elizabeth Tatham 1806

Alice Blizzard 1803

Friday 11 September 2009

Commemorating lives

Sandra Day O'Connor, former US Supreme Court Justice reminded us that our lives are not separate threads; they are inextricably woven within the fabric of many other lives. When I first saw the work of Marie-France Dubromel, it spoke directly to me. Her work, belying the worth of simple stitches, needles the elaborate winding cloths of our day to day life, the ones we use to bind that single fragile curl of breath upon which we hang, and recalls to us the preciousness of lives, simply lived. Aspire to beauty and technical expertise, but do not hold your breath as you do: create something your hands, eyes and imagination can easily accomplish. Begin today.
When one of two dies a part of the body of whoever remains is already dead.
Of the two hundred and thirty who were singing in the wagons when they left Compiegne on 24th January 1943, forty-nine returned, after twenty-seven months of deportation.