Saturday 31 October 2009

Mary Wigham Finish by Head Girl in Japan

Saho-san, Head Girl in Japan, has sensitively chosen such a clever and gentle palette of colours that speaks volumes about her. Many will remember seeing Saho-san's Japanese squirrel in the early days of the project. Saho-san says, 'My Mary was stitched on 40ct Lakeside Linens Luna, and Vikki Clayton silks. The project was a challenge for me: it was actually the first time I stitched on 40ct, first time to use silks, and first time to stitch a reproduction sampler, and first time to stitch a large Quaker project! And what a joy it has been! Participating in this Mary Wigham SAL was truly an epoch in my life, and such an exciting adventure. I enjoyed every step of it, from planning and choosing the fabrics to fibers, pondering over the colors in each motif. I felt myself being "freed", to draw out the creative part of myself, and to have fun in doing so, instead of just following the chart and directions, as I always used to do. What is even more wonderful was working as Japanese Head Girl. It gave me a chance to get acquainted with the stitchers in my own country. Each e-mail and comment I got is a treasure to me. It is nothing short of a miracle that I am pulling through; even if it looks as if I am the "Head", it is actually myself who is being guided through this journey of discovery, with many inspirations, brand new ideas, encouragements and such kind words.'
I am touched by Saho-san' kindness in incorporating my initials and the little Quaker Needleprint logo.

Friday 30 October 2009

Clarks Quaker Shoemakers

There is a saying that the cobbler's wife is the worst shod, I wonder if that holds true for the shoemaker's wife also? Or did Helen Priestman Bright who married William Stephens Clark of Strete in Somerset have lovely embroidered shoes like these? The Clarks family have traded since the mid 17th century in Strete. (So-called because it is on a causeway specially constructed to carry quarried stone above the marshy Somerset Levels for the building of Glastonbury Cathedral.) In the beginning, Cyrus Clark sold sheepskin rugs, boots and woollen slippers. James, his brother joined him later and together they began making shoes. Today the company is still C & J Clarks. But it was James' son, and Helen's husband, William, who went on to to build the company into the flourishing success it remains to this day, while ploughing back profits into employee housing, welfare and education. This first pair is too early though for Helen, made in 1790 from white satin they have little louis heels.

This second pair, pumps crafted from cleverly tailored brocade is later and dates from 1810-1820. Both pairs come from the Clarks Shoe Museum in Street and I am very grateful to them for the care and consideration taken by the archivist in preparing these images for us to see.
As a little coda to my aquaintance with Clarks, a descendent of the family informed me that one of his female ancestors stitched a map 'sampler' when she was in her 40s. And we are now seeing more samplers stitched by mature women. We are not alone!

Thursday 29 October 2009

Quaker Wedding Dress

When I was young, the custom was that the bridal gown though worn but once would be cut down to make christening robes for the babies, so redeeming in part the frightening expense of the gown. Today, it seems that bridal gowns are for wedding days only, and then are put away, thrown away - or at best donated to a charity. Two hundred years ago the bridal gown, which was not necessarily white, but pale plue or grey, would have been worn until pregnancy, at least. Since Quaker marriages were simple affairs conducted without a minister, following discussion and agreement at the meeting house, our expectation is that Quaker wedding gowns would have been similarly simple. This Quaker bridal gown, having no frivolity of furbelows or lace is, however, very stylish and follows the fashionable cut of the day down to the pelerine or little shoulder cape. It was worn by Elizabeth Priestman of Newcastle (who did not attend Ackworth School) when she married on 27 November 1839 John Bright (who did). Little did she know on her special day how famous her husband would become, and that she would be dead of tuberculosis within two years. Their daughter, Helen, will be subject of a different story tomorrow.
The wedding gown is now in Platt Hall Museum, Manchester, which is home to a wonderful gallery of costume, unfortunately closed until 2010 while a new boiler and heating system is installed. Be sure to keep a watch for its reopening and go along to visit.

Wednesday 28 October 2009

Behind Closed Doors - New Book by Amanda Vickery

The Gentleman's Daughter is one of my favourite books for the informed insight it provides into genteel women's lives of the late 18th and early 19th centuries. If you have not yet read this book, I thoroughly recommend you lay it down for some very enjoyable winter reading. Some of you might have read Amanda's review last week of the book Mrs Delany and Her Circle in which she probed some established thinking upon the usefulness - or not - of 'women's arts'. She concluded by stating that we have lost the ability to read the eloquence and multivalency of of the items women produced. And she extends this thesis further in her latest book - Behind Closed Doors.

It has been historical thinking for some time that men and women pursued very different trajectories through their mortal lives: men aspiring and rising to the stars; women constrained to a 'lower' realm. A less high-flown example is my sister-in-law excitedly buying wallpaper for her just-bought new home, only to find when she returned home that her husband and some chums had just demolished said wall. However, Amanda argues that all was not as one-sided and unidimensional as it might appear on the suface and that in Gerogian times, at least, there was considerable blurring of the traditional male and female spheres. But what I think will interest you most in this book is the re-evaluation of female crafts. She comments that if such work was not valued, if it was scorned, then how is it that it survives in great quantities amongst many museums and private collections? (Though not always sufficiently valued today to be allotted a place on display.) She asks us to understand that such work was executed with great pride and pleasure.....I just hope that those not already entranced by women's arts will also read this book and see for themselves the astonishing and life-enhancing beauty achievable by women - and men! If you would like to read a more in-depth review of this book by the Guardian Newspaper,
just click here.

Norwich Pattern Books - More Insights

It is really wonderful that when I pose an uncertainty, there is a wealth of information and expertise that comes back from you to help. So, questioning whether the flowers in the borders of the textiles which we can see in these pattern books were darned or woven, we need to thank our favourite weaver in the US, Marjie Thompson, and the Editor of Needleprint France, Paule Motton, for their helpful contributions.

Marjie writes: I think that the designs are woven in. The women (or children in many cases) sat on the bench with the weaver and hand manipulated the threads for the supplemental patterning. There's an 18teens Scottish book where they talk about 'finger spots' and say that children were employed but that 'this branch is now sadly neglected due to cost.' Even children didn't work for free.

Paule writes: The women were standing close to the weaver, and while he was working the machine, they introduced the shuttles with the threads of different colour, so that the work went quicker for the weaver who was supervising the weft and the warp threads. I saw that when visiting the textile museum in Labastide Rouairoux.

Tuesday 27 October 2009

Norwich Pattern Books * Exhibition Until 20 November 2009 * Talk by Jenny Watts 11 November

There is a very interesting exhibition at the moment displaying Norwich Pattern Books which are fascinating evidence of the 18th century textile industry. The exhibition is in the Long Gallery at the Archive Centre in Martineau Lane, Norwich. It is sometimes difficult to remember the huge role played by Norwich textiles, and not just shawls, throughout the world when Norwich was second city to London. Norwich damasks provided a major component of the Frisian female's costume and there is a Norwich pattern book in the West Fries Museum at Leeuwarden. There is even a Norwich pattern book in Stockholm's Nordiska Museet. On 11 November Jenny Watts will give a lunch time talk: Exploring Records of the Textile Industry in Georgian Norwich. There is no need to book. You can find more information by clicking here.

As you know, I have had a darning weekend. I was fascinated by the textile bands in the Norwich pattern books some of which appeared to have darned motifs. We are not sure whether these flowers were darned or woven in. There is mention of women working beside weavers, introducing runs of wool to build up patterns, but I have yet to understand exactly what that means. Perhaps you can help me. However, I tried to emulate the patterns by darning ribbon bands for myself and really enjoyed the experience. Maybe you would like to try. If you click on the pattern you will get a bigger, workable version on your screen. Here you can see what I did. Not finished again! OK another pin in the black side of the pincushion for me.....

Darned Miss Polly

Miss Polly's Progress has been something of a lament in our house. If you remember I embarked upon stitching an illustration from one of the first books written specifically for children, John Newbery's A Little Pretty Pocket Book of 1744 which came with a ball if you were a boy, or a pincushion if you were a girl. The ball and pincushion had both a red side and a black side. If a girl did something good, then her mother or governess would put a pin in the red side. For something naughty, a pin was stuck in the black side. And...if you had 10 pins in the red side then you would be rewarded with a penny from Jack the Giant Killer - but should you have 10 pins in the black side, then Jack the Giant Killer would send a rod to beat you!I think I have about 20 pins in the black side but hope to redeem myself in time.

Well, I have yet to finish the over 1 version of Miss Polly. But while I was stitching, it occurred to me that the spirit of the print would be better represented if the image were darned. I was too busy to put this theory to the test until last weekend, when I had some free time. In no time at all, relatively, I finished the darned version and now you can compare it with the over 1 version.
They are very different interpretations. It is simple to darn using a standard cross stitch pattern. There are just 3 tips to share with you: 1. Always use a stab technique. 2. For a run of more than 5-6 squares all the same colour, divide the length by making some back stitches, as a long loose thread is unstable. 3. If you have two colours abutting, don't come up through the hole of the already placed thread, instead work backwards to take your thread down through the hole for a neater surface finish. If you would like to try simply
click here for a free PDF download of the chart.

Monday 26 October 2009

Free Infinity Download for Karen

I promised Karen I would make an Infinity download of the little ditsy motifs found on G44 of the Goodhart Samplers, and here it is for everyone to download free. (Remember you need to choose the Save option and not the Open option when you download because the file can only be opened in your Cross Stitch Designer). The Infinity file is in JGG format which means you can edit it, recolour it and make hundreds of your own designs. However, you need Cross Stitch Designer software to read it. (Email me if you have MacStitch.) If you don't already have Cross Stitch Designer software you can purchase it as part of the Infinity Starter Kit now with the bonus that it comes with a free editable version of the Beatrix Potter chart - and you can also download a free editable version of Mary Wigham - all for $20! There will be regular motif library downloads, free and for purchase, in this format, so it is well worth investing in the Infinity Starter Kit. Look at the masterclasses to help you get the most out of your Infinity chart downloads.

The World's Largest Embroidered Dress

About 150 Palestinian women in the West Bank town of Hebron have stitched what they believe is the world's largest embroidered dress which measures 32.6m (107ft) long and 18.1m (59.4ft) wide. (Do tell email me if your Guild has stitched anything larger.) They hope that it will promote an increase in demand for their handiwork. The BBC reports, 'Many women in the West Bank have turned to handicrafts for income since Israeli restrictions imposed after the second intifada caused the economy to decline. The Palestinian economy lost ground for the ninth year in a row in 2008, and unemployment rate now stands at 32%, according to a recent UN report. Economic decline was rooted in Israel's restrictions on the movement of people and goods, the erosion of the Palestinian productive base, the loss of some of the territory's most fertile land and natural resources to the Israeli barrier in the West Bank, and expanding settlement activities there, the report said. The Israeli government says the restrictions are essential to prevent Palestinian militants from entering Israel and attacking Israeli civilians.'

Sunday 25 October 2009

Fabulous Finishes from Japan

The first of the fabulous finishes is Yu-san's which was stitched on Zweigart 32ct cream, using DMC 3371 815.The Japanese SAL members kept saying it was stitched in black, but in fact it is stitched in a dark brown - a yummy chocolate color. It is easier to see perhaps from the up-close photo. Yu-san says the Mary Wigham SAL will be THE most important event for her this year (if the next 3 months pass peacefully!) She says, 'I am filled with joy for having completed this large project, and feeling of thanks to Jacqueline-san and our Head Girl. By participating in this SAL, I have met many people who love stitching. As a cross stitch beginner, I got many kind advice and encouragement, which gave me energy and was able to find the joy of a finished project. Thank you so much for a wonderful project, and encounters with stitchers from around the world.'
This second lovely finish is by Makimaki-san, though the image has come through quite small. She used Zweigart 40ct Antique White with DMC threads over 2 giving a finished size of :35.5×37cm. Makimaki-san tell us, 'It was such a fun 3 months, although in the beginning I wondered if I could really finish this project. It was my first try at a 40 count linen, which only looked like a piece of cloth, and at the start my eyes could not adjust and wished I had chosen a larger count. But as I stitched the motifs one by one, my eyes got used to the count and I started enjoying myself greatly. But the fun was halted by the fact that, since I chose a linen which was whiter than the recommended one, the white and ecru motifs would not show up!
I decided to switch the colors, choosing from among the recommended palette. So I ended up with "colorful Mary". It is far from having an antique look, but I am happy with my Mary which is unique and only one in the world. I have memories of the 1 over 1 (Mary's name) the stitching was so tight, so I would forget where I was as I stitch,and I rearranged the zig-zag part evenly, and here is how it turned out. As memorandum, I stitched the year "2009" and my initial "M", in a very tight 1 over 1 (I did not stitch the flower part of the wreath.)

I would like to express my thanks for Jacqueline-san from Needleprint,our Head Girl, and other participants. I received (only received..)many inspirations and had so much fun working with everybody. I would not have finished this project if it were not for our Head Girl, Saho-san. I would like to frame this and hang it where it would always be seen. Although my SAL is finished, since many are now beginning to stitch, I would like to keep coming back to get more inspirations.
I don't know about you, but just looking at the beautiful detail stitching on both these samplers leaves me awe-struck.

Japanese Sashiko Textiles * York Art Gallery * Until 3 Jan 2010

Supported by the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation, the Arts Council Yorkshire and Renaissance Yorkshire, York Art Gallery will be home to this stunning exhibition of Japanese Sashiko. The items have been selected by Michele Walker for the stories they tell of women's perseverence and hardships. The 75+ garments will be fleshed out by videos and significant works from Japanese photographer, Iwayima Takeji (1920-1989). Until the mid 20th century Sashiko was the traditional method of making work wear in fishing and farming areas throughout Japan. The physical protection of sashiko garments was reinforced by the spiritual protection thought to be associated with the stitched patterns. Sometimes these ‘talismen’ took the form of small stitched symbols hidden on the inside of the garment to protect vulnerable parts of the body, for example the neck and back. Or they may take on a more flamboyant character, as seen on the inside of fireman’s garments that picture heroic images applied using tsutsugaki (freehand resist-dyed technique.)
Most of the exhibits are being shown in the UK for the first time. Lenders include The Japan Folk Crafts Museum; Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography; The Aikawa and Ogi Folk Museums, Sado Island; Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum; Fukuoka City Museum; and private collectors.
Click here to download a brochure.
Don't fret if York is difficult for you visit, this is a touring exhibition and will also visit:
27 February – 11 April 2010 Collins Gallery, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow (closed for Easter, 2 - 5 April)
8 May – 4 July 2010 Ruthin Craft Centre
31 July – 26 September 2010 Plymouth Museum and Art Gallery

Busy Wasting My Time - The Mrs Delany Dilemma

Here I am on Sunday busy wasting my time. I'm stitching. The work will never be hung on my wall, nor anyone else's, let alone a gallery. It is just an experiment. It is not ready to show, but I'm quite pleased with the way it is going, so if anyone were to knock on the door, they would find an agreeable and not a grumpy person. All is garnered to feed the family at lunchtime. I am fortunate, I don't have to walk two miles to find fresh water, I don't have to cut down scrub to fire up the family oven. Food does not have to be hunted except from the back of the fridge. There are no sick or poor people nearby to visit today. I could be reading an improving book, but I did that for a while last night and I am still wondering, as I stitch, how the world can benefit from my recently improved mind - or would it want to? But then I am not a young person....but neither was Mrs Delany - she was 73 when she began her paper mosaics. Question: Do old ladies waste time? Do old men waste time? Was Picasso wasting his time? Was Mrs Delany wasting her time in a different way to Picasso? Let's talk about these things.....

Saturday 24 October 2009

Sofie Wang's Timeless Mary Wigham

Sofei Wang originally comes from Taiwan but has been living in Ohio, USA for about 10 years.
Sofei says, 'It is kind of interesting to meet Mary Wigham in this way - Ohio v.s. Ackworth School , 1790 v.s. 2009, Mary Wigham v.s. Sofei Wang. I remembered reading something about stitching a sampler before: If you’re doing a sampler, you’re doing something that’s TIMELESS.'

As you may notice, I put my full name, location and year of stitching at the bottom of the sampler. I used ecru to match my cream linen. This way, people may not notice it but I know exactly where I am. *__* I do enjoy stitching this project with some people from Taiwan and the stitchers from all over the world. Thank you again for your great and meaningful project … forever Mary Wigham.'
And forever a beautiful reminder. Congratulations Sofei!

Friday 23 October 2009

Free Download of Christmas Ornaments on a Quaker Theme by Designer Donna Hearn

It gladdens me greatly to see the designer in you coming out thanks to the Infinity charting software and motif sets. Here are lovely Christmas designs for a card and ornament created for you by Donna Hearn. For the PDF version click here.
For the editable JGG version click here. (Remember you need to choose Save (not Open) the download and then open it in Cross Stitch Designer.)
Have you created any designs you would like to share with the Needleprint Society?

Thursday 22 October 2009

Our Gifts to Palestine Have Arrived

You might remember that on 9 September we sent out a box of donated linen, thread and other items to Beit Sahour in the Palestinian Territories. I have been holding my breath ever since I saw our shipment stop dead in its tracks - it happens sometimes - but when it didn't move and still didn't move, I grew very concerned. Word came through at one stage that it was threatened with destruction and when my heart started beating again I just picked up the phone and started talking to people, and Richard and I stayed on the phone in relays pretty much for a week or so until we were able to get the shipment moving again. But it is a time for rejoicing now. The shipment of linen and threads is home safe and I hope that we shall be able to set up some stitchalongs with the stitchers of Beit Sahour, so we can learn a few tips and wrinkles from each other and have a good gossip!

The images above are courtesy of
Karen Augusta Auctions - these wonderful items, deaccessioned from US Museums, will be auctioned on 4 November in Manhattan.

Wednesday 21 October 2009

Spinning Yarns with the Past

For many years I have been visiting spinning galleries in the Lake District. They usually date from the 16th century and are attached to either cottages or barns. Perhaps the most well-known is at Beatrix Potter's Yew Tree Farm near Coniston. This one is at Townend near Windermere (formerly known as Winandermere). The house is now the property of the National Trust and is filled with a wealth of decoratively carved oak furniture and fittings. I had visited with the intention of helping make a rag rug for the house. However, I swiftly fell under the spell of the volunteer tutor and guide and was more than happy to listen to her reminiscences about early days. Aged 16 she was about to be 'finished'. But the year was 1939 and instead of leaving home for a genteel school in Switzerland, she left home to work on a farm as one of the Land Army Girls where her job consisted of heavy labour, carrying full milk churns up the farm lane for collection, birthing and rescuing lambs (and if you have ever wrestled even a small lamb free from a barbed wire fence, you will know that it feels like a round with Mohammad Ali), and harvesting. She told me she still enjoys a swim and when I suggested she upped her practice sessions in time for the Olympics, she laughed and said that since a horse fell on her left leg, she tended to swim in circles. I have spent a few days now writing down all she told me and I shall pass it on to my daughters. It made me think how much I lament that people in the past didn't write down more about their needlework, but the truth is, there are so many memories we can still gather today and write down for reseachers in the future. I am thinking of my rag rag tutor now since perhaps she is one of the few remaining Land Girls invited to take tea with the Queen this afternoon.

Tuesday 20 October 2009

Mrs Delany and Her Circle * John Soane's Museum, London * 19 February - 1 May 2010

It is always a delight to read a stitching feature in a non-stitching magazine, and even more wonderful when it appears in a national newspaper - and something of a miracle when allocated an entire page! The article was triggered by an upcoming exhibition at Sir John Soane's Museum, London, from 19 February to 1 May 2010 which will display textiles and paper mosaics of the twice-widowed Georgian gentle-woman, Mary Granville Pendarves Delany (1700-1788). The article in Saturday's Review section of the Guardian is worth reading in full. If you are unable to lay your hands on a copy you can read the Guardian text on-line. Germaine Greer says that if you insist on viewing Mrs Delany's collection 'you could end up profoundly depressed by yet more evidence that, for centuries, women have been kept busy wasting their time.' However, Amanda Vickery who wrote the article puts forward another side of the debate and concludes, 'Domestic crafts were venerable, multivalent and eloquent - we have simply lost the power to read them.' My personal thoughts are that it is easy to get caught up in feminist debate when perhaps the debate should be about the relative merits of craft versus 'fine art'. We can investigate that more another time.
In the meantime, I would say that Mrs Delany's collages would translate into some inspired applique and quilting. This copyright image is a close-up from one of the collection of around 1,000 botanical paper mosaics made by Mrs Delany and now in The British Museum.
To see more of her work in the British Museum, click here.
And there is also a book which might interest you.

No people are uninteresting.
Their fate is like the chronicle of planets.
Nothing in them is not particular,
and planet is dissimilar from planet.
And if a person lived in obscurity,
making their friends in that obscurity,
obscurity is not uninteresting.
To each their world is private,
and in that world one excellent minute.
And in that world one tragic minute.
These are private.
In any person who dies there dies with them
their first snow and kiss and fight.
It goes with them.
They are left books and bridges
and painted canvas and machinery.
Whose fate is to survive.
But what has gone is also not nothing:
By the rule of the game something has gone.
Not people die but worlds die in them.
Whom we knew as faulty, the earth’s creatures,
Of whom, essentially, what did we know?
Brother of a brother? Friend of friends?
Lover of lover?
We who knew our fathers
In everything, in nothing.
They perish. They cannot be brought back.
The secret worlds are not regenerated.
And every time again and again
I make my lament against destruction.

– Yevgeny Yevtushenko

Monday 19 October 2009

New Infinity Chart - Sarah Moon

Sarah Moon is very dear to my heart and it has been a long time now since the Sarah Moon chart went out of print. For those of you who have been unable to obtain a copy of the limited edition print run, you can now purchase a downloadable Infinity version. The Infinity version comes in two file types: PDF only for $16; and PDF plus editable format for Cross Stitch Designer for $20. If you would like the second option but have MacStitch, just email me.
To download the story of Sarah Moon, just click here.

Sunday 18 October 2009

A Dance to the Finish Line for Mary Wigham and Myra Jo

Myra Jo writes:
I am finished, and happy dancing all over the place! Thank you Jacqueline for this stitch has been wonderful to see the
many incarnations of Mary Wigham. I wonder what she would say if she could see what excitement her sampler has caused?

And together we can celebrate 200,000 blog visits! Join us in the count down tonight.....

Friday 16 October 2009

Mary Wigham Progress at the Loudon Sampler Guild

Elizabeth from the Loudon Sampler Guild sends us this welcome update on the Guild's stitching of Mary Wigham:
'Back in July we showed you the progress some of us had made on our Mary Wigham samplers. We took another photo at our Guild meeting this week. In the front row are Melissa Nichols (on the right) whose sampler is ready to go to the framers, and Anne Canniazaro (on the left), who is stitching hers over-one. In the back row, left to right, are Jean Young, Kay McQuie, Kathy Myers and Judi Munson. These six stitchers and several others are enjoying stitching Mary Wigham together.'

Mary Wigham Cushion Finish by Ineke

Ineke from the Netherlands promised us a Mary Wigham cushion, and here at last you can see the result of her efforts and creativity. Well done, Ineke, and thank you for sharing.

Thursday 15 October 2009

The Emma Henriette Schiff-Suvero Collection

Emma Henriette Reitzes was born in 1873 to a well-to-do family in Vienna. She married into the banking family of Schiff von Suvero, Jewish aristocrats. After World War I, the Austrian Government decreed that the aristocratic von was to be dropped and so Emma and her husband, Paul, became simply Schiff-Suvero. A son, Edgar was born around 1903 but aged 25, he died four years after his father in 1928. Emma herself died in January 1939 and the estate of the Schiff-Suvero passed to a nephew - Erwin Reitzes Marienwert. These were not auspicious times. The Austrian Anschluss or annexation by Germany had occurred in March 1938 and all Jewish property had to be registered with local authorities and was subjected to heavy taxes. Property was also banned from export. Amongst the items once belonging to Emma and Paul were 180 spectacular textile objects including a number of early English samplers. The nephew, having left Austria for Switzerland for reasons of health in May 1938, unable to export his aunt's collection and desiring its safe keeping, sold it to the Staatliche Kunstgewerbemuseum in Vienna for RM15,400 where it was stored for the duration. In 2003, following restitution of the collection by the Austrian Government to the family heirs, this fine collection was sold again at Christies in November 2003. The lovely sampler you see on the cover and inside The Perpetually Engaging Diary comes from the Emma Henriette Schiff-Suvero Collection, having miraculously survived 2 World Wars. If you are a stitching group or guild then you can purchase copies for your members at a special guild price, just click here to email me.

Wednesday 14 October 2009

Ackworth Medallions and Watch Papers

For any researcher there are many blind avenues. In fact, the ratio of blind to fruitful avenues can be compared to an iceberg: the shining tip is all that is visible of the vast grey morasses of rejected material lying beneath the surface, which although rarely seen, is sometimes bumped into again! This was my experience when exploring sources or possible objects of the Ackworth sampler medallions. I came across a reference in a book that Strangers' Hall Museum in Norwich had watch papers that were similar to the Ackworth Medallions. (Watch papers are protective circular slips of paper, often with the maker's name and address, which stop the watch glass from getting scratched with use. Sometimes watch papers were replaced by a circle of fabric embroidered with a loving sentiment, given as a gift by a sweetheart or caring daughter.) When I contacted the author of the book, now quite elderly, to discover more, her reply was that she had picked up on what a previous author had written. Since that author was now dead, there was nothing for it but to conduct a search in the museum to see if we could discover the watch paper or watch paper(s) that had sparked the comment. Unfortunately, we could find nothing. Ackworth medallions do have a shape that would lend themselves to being stitched as a gift to protect a watch glass, in the same way that watch papers do. The fact that, so far, we have not found one and all we have seen as objects of the medallions are knitted pinballs, does not rule out the possibility that a stitched watch paper with an Ackworth medallion may yet be discovered. If you do come across one, be sure to let us know, won't you?

Tuesday 13 October 2009

British Museum - Searchable Database

The British Museum has a wonderful searchable database which you might find useful in your textile researches. There are a number of searchable options, you might like to explore - try Object in the Category Field and Sampler for the search, or Technique in the Category Field and Needle for the search. I was captivated by the embroidered bonnets of which this Hungarian example is my favourite.

Monday 12 October 2009

Stitch a Jessy Lambert Sampler from Norwich Museum

Some of you will know that the wonderful textile museum at Carrow House in Norwich is closed pending expensive repairs to the building. Volunteer Philippa Sims has set out to raise funds by charting two small samplers, one of which you can see here. Jessy Lambert was born in Norwich in 1820 and there are no less than five of her samplers in the Carrow House collection. It is quite astonishing that tucked in amongst the homely flowers, houses, windmill, deer and peacocks is a .... camel! You can purchase a download of the sampler with Jessy's history for £7 - simply click here. All profits go to Carrow House. Because I don't see your purchases - the PayPal goes through direct to Philippa - it may take a little longer than usual before you have your link, please bear with us. You have our gratitude.

Sunday 11 October 2009

Mary Wigham - a California Girl!

Here is Wawanna's story:
Well, it's official, she is finished! I plan on framing her sometime this winter. I made a few changes here and there, mostly moved the motifs apart two or three spaces which made her a little larger, but not significantly. And I added initials of family members, friends and present 'fur-baby' puppy dogs. Each group of initials is in a different style. I also added my age in the top right of the piece, since I have just turned 65 , which is a pretty significant birthday for me. This is the very first time I have actually worked entirely through a piece without stitching on other projects in between. I am very proud of that, but being in the SAL and seeing the progress of others kept me greatly inspired. Oh, all those lovely colors, every one a great beauty! Thank you a million time over for making this possible!
In case you are getting envious of Californian surf, sun and fun, Wawanna goes on to tell me:
It was extremely hot here in Southern California with the temp at 107. There was a brush fire two weeks ago in our community of ranchers here where we live. Within two hours it had burned a significant amount and took one house. It came up so fast with the Santa Anna winds that it raced up an incline and 'ate' that house before the fire department could be of any help! They did get it stopped eventually but the roads into our community were closed for a while. It took two airplanes and two helicopters dropping fire retardant to tamp down the fire - the smoke was billowing up for a while. Everyone was calling and trying to find out where the fire was, how bad it was, and where was it headed. The ranches go from 5 acres up to 80, with lots of livestock - mostly horses. We all panic when we see smoke.

Saturday 10 October 2009

Would you Adam and Eve it?

If you are planning ahead for a visit to London, you might want to dust down your Cockney Rhyming slang. We sometimes say that someone was never one to call a spade a shovel, and Cockneys are not ones to call boots - boots, they are called Daisy Roots. Stairs are Apples and Pears. Would you Adam and Eve it? translates to Would you believe it? We know that some sources of inspiration for motifs on samplers came from early printed herbals and from engraved pictures, and it is also useful to cast your eye over ceramic designs when you are next in a museum or bookshop. These would have been novel and visually interesting ready reference pieces in family or friend's homes. Here is an Adam and Eve on Bristol Delft pottery dated around 1700, about the same time that Adam and Eve were finding their way onto samplers.

Friday 9 October 2009

The Riddle of Solomon's Temple

Many of us are well-acquainted with the small architectural feature known as Solomon's Porch on samplers. And maybe some of us are aware of this larger representation of Solomon's Temple which appears to be based on the engraving below. The tedious task of detailing all the bricks and windows must have been an exercise in great patience and discipline. There are a number of these Solomon's Temples in existence stitched in England between the 1780s and 1830s. Here, from the collection of Rudolf and Gisela Creutzburg, you can see Catherine Pettit's Solomon's Temple stitched in 1798 when she was 10 years' old and Elizabeth Mothersole's close version stitched when she was 18 years old in 1803. Did they have the same teacher? Were they affiliated to the same religious or, perhaps, masonic group? Both girls came from East Anglia, though other versions are stitched by girls in many other locations. The question to be asked is, was there a particular discovery, movement or event which gave rise to these samplers? Certainly this period saw a great increase in the number of churches built, though much of that impetus followed the conclusion of the Napoleonic Wars in 1815 with the building of 600 Waterloo Churches. Maybe you know and can tell us?

Thursday 8 October 2009

Sampler Exhibition * Witney Antiques * 2 - 14 November 2009

Another sampler treat in store from Witney Antiques - an exhibition of historic samplers: 'Tis Education Forms the Common Mind'. As a background to the exhibition there will be a collection of fine antique furniture, clocks and many recently acquired samplers and historic embroideries.
Click here to visit the Witney Antiques web-site for more details and to see their latest samplers.

Samplers in Their Historic Context - Exhibition in Antwerp until 29 November 2009

This exhibition is currently running at the Maagdenhuis in Antwerp - for full details (in Dutch) click here to download a PDF brochure.