Wednesday 31 March 2010

Indiana University Library Quaker Friendship Quilt

While reseaching the collection in the University of Indiana Library, I thought it would be a pity to stop at samplers, so I entered Quilt in the Search box to see what came up - and what came up was this joyful Quaker Friendship Quilt.
Each quilt block is signed by its maker, sometimes with a verse, a dedication or a name. This block is particularly interesting for its inked drawing of log cabin and flag above the signature.
And it would be wrong to assume that it is purely women's work, as this block by Silas Warner makes clear.
I really love these mordant resist madder dyed cloths with a splash of eastern influence for their painterly designs and warm, rich tones, don't you?

Tuesday 30 March 2010

Samplers from University of Indiana Library Now On-Line

A small but not insignificant collection of samplers from University of Indiana Library are now available for on-line study. Just click on the sampler above to see more. Thank you to all those organizations now putting collections on-line. I remember the day when I phoned one museum to ask to see their sampler collection. 'Which samplers would you like to see?' I was asked. A very difficult question when I didn't have a clue what they had! Is that called Catch-22?

Monday 29 March 2010

Socks that Rock

Meg Andrews
has this wonderful pair of mid 19th century girls stocking which have the loveliest embroidery. Those stylized tree patterns with their Eastern configuration remind me of Palestinian motifs. This would be a wonderful project to revive a tired machine knit cardigan, sweater, beanie hat - or even - to make some new plain socks rock!

Dear Blogger

It looks as though poor dear Blogger is having one of those days we sometimes have when we wish we had stayed in bed. I'll give them a few days to see if they can recover lost images - and if that fails, I'll repost. I guess there'll be a few people whizzing round working their socks off - I wish there was something I could do to help......

A Big Thank You

A huge heart-felt thank you to everyone who has supported Lucy in her Race for Life and to all of you, everywhere, who give your precious time and resources to aid and befriend others.

Saturday 27 March 2010

17th Century Upper Middle Class Garments from Cologne

One of the most fabulous gifts I have ever received is the book of 17th century Cologne Costume published by Abegg-Stiftung in 2008. (I think it means I have to be good for the rest of my life.) The text is in German, and the book comes with a separate English translation of the main chapters. Apart from the images of the fabulous items of clothing themselves, there is a full analysis of the stitching and construction of each garment, including diagrams of all the pattern pieces. It is a hard task to choose which items to show you. The sleeves have it for me on this jacket - they enhance the body and give presence, yet with a provocative glimpse of the man beneath. And I try to imagine how those sleeves would move along with hand and arm gesticulations, can you see them?

What is truly astonishing is that the strips which compose the sleeve are virtually all air - strips of lace threaded with thin silk ribbon. The woven damsk of the body is beautiful in its simplicity and understatement - I must take myself off with some linen and thread and try to pattern darn this design!

This woman's jacket seems almost ordinary by comparison - what is there to get excited about that? Apart from its age? Let's look a little closer....

Here you can see that the entire jacket is meticulously and painstakingly pinked and stitched to reveal the contrasting lining beneath, creating the most marvellous texture and colour combination. I wonder how long it would take us to do that?
By the way, the colour pink is a recent addition to the English language, in the past the word rose was in common use. Pink meant serrated edge (think: pinking shears) - and the clove gillyflower having serrated petals came to be called pink because of this. The fact that the flower was rose coloured and very popular led to the transfer of meaning.

Friday 26 March 2010

James Wilson - Boy Stitcher 1828

Haslemere Educational Museum is a private museum and has a very special sampler collection. It was the second museum collection we imaged in order to raise money for the collection. I can still remember the joy of working there, and not just because of the samplers, but also because of the excellent curator and volunteer staff - amongst them Freda Chapman who for a time was also Chair of The Textile Society. I have seen a number, though small, of samplers worked by boys, and this one by James Wilson which was worked when he was 12 in 1828 is the most carefully worked I have seen. We discussed this sampler considerably without forming any conclusions while taking the photographs. How exactly did a boy come to make a sampler? In the Chicago Institute of Arts there is a lovely image of 5 year old Jean Renoir, painted by his father Auguste, showing the long-haired little boy stitching. It has to be remembered that many schools established in the 18th century and into the 19th century had as their objective little more than to ensure technically skilled crews for the British navy. Workhouse schools at the time had masts in the playground where it was expected boys would learn the ropes and rigging and, early on, develop a head for heights. This practice continued into my day at junior school when climbing on ropes and rope ladders to what felt like dizzying heights was part of a daily exercise regime. Talking to male work colleagues, I discovered that many believed they had been trained at school specifically for war. It is hard to describe just how ingrained this gendering was.

Thursday 25 March 2010

The Girl on the Wall

Every so often you come across truly inspired books - not always highbrow - not always richly beautiful - but books that evoke a resounding, gasped Yes from the heart of you....books that I wish I had published! One of these special books is The Girl on the Wall by Jean Baggott. Jean has mapped out her life on a panel of linen which hangs above her dining table and this book is her very personal guide to her stitched journey, explaining the people, places, events and feelings which have coloured her life and which are captured now in thread.

Jean, a needlewoman since childhood, was inspired by the plaster ceilings at Burghley House but had run out of room on her walls; there was no more room for cushions (sounds just like my house!) - what to do? So, she initially thought she might make a table cover - which later became the wall panel above her table. The overall theme is circles of life and so she charted 73 interlocking circles which took nearly 37,000 stitches to create - and this was before she started to fill them with the history of her life. And it wasn't as though she was doing only this - like all of us she was looking after family and home AND studying part-time for a history degree. I believe this book illustrates the thread that stitches understanding and meaning into our lives creating something richer, deeper and more beautiful than we could ever have imagined.

Wednesday 24 March 2010

34 Free Needleprint Downloads!

Dear me, yes, I know I should have done some housekeeping before now - you have been very patient with me. The download gallery has not been updated for some time. But today I did it. I couldn't believe we that we now have 34 free downloads! There are charts, articles, jigsaws and other projects for you to download absolutely free. Just click here . Or whenever you can visit scroll down the right hand side bar until you see the picture for the Download Gallery. And a word about the Download Gallery - select the item you want to download and then click the rotate arrow you will see on the image to flip it round. You will then see a download description and a bar at the bottom reading Click to Download. Just click. If you change your mind then flip the rotate arrow and click the background to zoom out again and consider a new choice. When you are downloading a Jigsaw choose the save and not open option. Then find your file and click on it to open. I promise there will be more free downloads soon - and may I ask you to consider Lucy in her Race for Life for Cancer Research please - you can sponsor her for just £2.

Tuesday 23 March 2010

Janet Bolton Workshop * 11 June 2010 * Quilt Museum, York

I have been a secret fan of Janet Bolton's for such a long time now - there are so many dimensions to her small works of found and recycled art. They are something a beginning hand can comfortably accomplish with delight. For those within reach of Yorkshire, there is a lovely workshop with her coming up on 11 June 2010 at the Quilt Museum in York. The charge for the workshop which runs from 10.00 to 16.00 is just £20 and also includes admission to the quilt gallery. You just need to bring along a few simple materials. Click here for more information.

West Dean College in West Sussex, UK, is also hosting workshops by Janet Bolton. There is a three day workshop 12-15 April 2010 concentrating upon composing and making pictures with fabrics and found objects and again on 25 - 27 June. On 25 June there is also a taster day to explore making pictures with fabrics.

For those of you who live too far away Janet has published many books which come with very comprehensive instructions.

Calling Dorothy Golden DeFrancia of Loudon Sampler Guild

Dorothy I have your comment - please could you send me an email by clicking on the flying angel on the right hand bar so that I can reply to you?

Monday 22 March 2010

Sampler Auction Roundup

There are a number of interesting samplers coming up for auction in the UK in the next few days - here is a round up of some of them. This first from Friesland in the north Netherlands measuring 12 inches x 19 inches is being auctioned by: Locke & England on 25 March 2010 at 11am GMT. The lot number is 421 and the estimate is £40 - £60.

This second, an intriguing English needlework picture circa early 18 century of a monarch and a page, with a deer, hound, insects, foliage and the sun in splendour, worked in silk and metal thread in a variety of stitches on a linen ground measuring 7 inches x 10 inches is for sale by Mellors & Kirk on 25 March 2010. It is lot 811 estimated at £100-£150 and is somewhat threadbare and faded and requires remounting.
Lot No 680 at the Gardner Houlgate Auction on 24 March 2010 estimated at £3,000 - £5,000 is a fine and rare 16th/17th century needlework employing tent stitch and raised embroidery with silks and metallic thread on a blue ground. It is worked with numerous figures, wild animals and birds interspersed with trees and buildings and measures 15 inches x 18 inches.

Toovey's have 2 interesting lots of 4 samplers each. The first, 2915 is 3 pattern darned samplers by `Alice Worsfold, Wiston School`, dated 1891, 1892 and 1893, and a similar sampler by `Eliza Worsfold, Age 13, Wiston School`, dated 1903, all displaying various stitching techniques in polychrome silks. The second set of 4 samplers, lot 2916, has alphabet samplers from the same girls. The estimates are £150 - £250 and the sale begins on 24 March 2010.

Above is an early Victorian needlework pin cushion sampler, with an estimate of £100 - £150 detailed `Lady Webster, Battle Abbey, Sussex, July 31 1839` on one side, and a pious verse on the side you can see here, worked with red thread within a green border, it measures approx 2 inches x 2.5inches and is lot 2906 also for sale by Toovey's on 24 March 2010.
Framed in pretty verre églomisé, this pair of needlework pictures measuring 6 inches x 8 inches has an estimate of £150 - £200 and is being auctioned by Lock and England on 25 March.
Lot number 407.

There are 13 samplers for auction at Goringes North Street, Lewes and here are 2 Adam and Eve examples for you to see. This first example, Lot 109, is a George III needlework sampler, by Rachael Cheffne, dated September 1789, worked with a verse, flower and plants, and later framed. it measures 14.5ins x 14ins and its estimate is £100-150. The border around the verse is seen frequently in its satin stitched white-work variety on a number of north of the border Hollie Point samplers. I have not been able to trace Rachel so far.

However, Georgiania Louisa West Wiard is traceable and was christened on 21 May 1826 at Beyton in Suffolk. She was the duaghter of John and Mary Anne Wiard. This sampler is Lot 98 and is described as a rare William IV needlework sampler measuring 26 ins x 16 ins. Estimate £1,000-1,500. I really like that looping alphabetic border.

Sunday 21 March 2010

Free Jigsaw Download

Here is part 2 of the composite sampler diary cover for you to solve - I hope you enjoy it as much as the fist part. However, sadly, this is not going to work for Mac users. Instructions: Click here next Click Open, then click the .EXE file name and click Run, when you see the jigsaw puzzle, click Play
Too many pieces? Try clicking on Trays on the top tool bar to create any number of resizeable trays to sort your pieces ........ you can also click the Cheat button and watch the puzzle solve itself! The software is by David Gray designer of Jigsaws Galore - the powerful jigsaw player and creator for Windows. Please consider sponsoring Lucy who is running to raise money for Cancer Research. Thank you.

Race for Life

Some of you may have noticed I have been quieter and busier this year than before - and that in part has to do with having attended not four weddings and a funeral, but five funerals and a wedding. Three of our friends died with cancer, other friends of ours still live with cancer. I know some of you have also lost loved ones or have loved ones living with cancer. And you will know how the treatment of cancer has changed out of all recognition to that available just twenty years ago. When I was young no-one spoke the dreaded word. Once a neighbour came to tea who, it was rumoured, had cancer. After she left, my mother disinfected the house and the tea cup and tea saucer were broken and buried in the garden, such was the total lack of understanding of this tragic illness in those days. Now, even if the disease does not go into remission with treatment, precious years are added to lives of mothers and fathers, children and grandchildren so that they might have time to know each other more. And the work continues. And people continue to raise money so that the work can continue. And miracles do happen every day. You might like to sponsor Lucy who is running to raise money for Cancer Research by clicking on the panel on the side-bar - or perhaps you might find a way of becoming involved in fund-raising yourself.

Blooming Stitching in Leeds

Those of you who have travelled to the UK for the Ackworth seminars will be familiar with Leeds, an important textile town in the West Riding of Yorkshire. I am just sad now that I did not create an opportunity for you to meet up with members from the Leeds Embroiderers' Guild or to see their Millenium Tapestry in Leeds City Library. But here you can see some excerpts from the astonishing 16 panels which compose the tapestry, a community embroidery conceived by Kate Russell to celebrate the life and times of this West Yorkshire city at the millennium. Abbey House Museum was also not on the Ackworth itinerary, though those of you visited separately will have seen the ancient Cistercian Kirkstall Abbey nearby - but without the daffodils - which is depicted in stitching here by Maureen Hinds.

This panel shown here in its entirety is entitled Local Faces capturing together many well known Leeds people, past and present. You may be able to spot TE Lawrence (of Arabia); Scary Spice of the Spice Girls; Diana Rigg of the Avengers; playwright Alan Bennett; Fiery Fred Truman - a former English cricket captain and in-law to Raquel Welch; and at the front in sun-glasses Sir Jimmy Savile who once danced with my Auntie Doris and who has raised much needed funds by running charity marathons. My daughter, Lucy, an intensive care nurse for newborns, follows in his footsteps and will be running again soon. I wonder if you might be able to spare £2 to sponsor her. Please see the little box on the right side-panel. To see all the Leeds Millenium Tapestry panels, click here. To visit their blog and link to other UK Millenium stitched tapestries click here. Have you stitched your home town? If you have, it would be lovely to hear from you.

Saturday 20 March 2010

More Mary Wighams Finishes from Japan

Bee-san finished her Mary Wigham at the end of last year and now has it beautifully framed. She says her Mary turned out more colorful than she expected, but she is very happy with the way it turned out. She used Zweigart Cachel Linen 32ct Raw
stitching with overdyed threads from The Gentle Art, Crescent Colours, Weeks Dye Works, Threadworx. In the open spaces, she added some motifs in wine-colored threads:
a clover motif symbolizing friendship with the SAL participants around the world,
the 3 hearts, one for Jacqueline, who sponsored the SAL, one for Saho-san the Japanese Head Girl, and one for a friend who encouraged her. The single flower is for Mary. Bee-san thanks everyone for their support in completing such a wonderful project.

Mii-san's also completed Mary sometime last year, but today she sent me a picture of it framed. Mii-san says it is lovely to look at and she enjoys admiring it every day. She is also happy that she was able to make many friends through the SAL.

Text translation courtesy of Saho Nogi.

Friday 19 March 2010

Dreaming of a Chest to Impress?

We have all been ooohing and aaahing about the embroidered chest coming up for auction at Christie's on 25 March, but perhaps the estimate of £40,000 - £60,000 might entail more frugality than we could endure this year. So here instead, suggested by Jennifer who has three herself, is an opportunity for you to make one yourself. The chest you see here can be purchased for $750 through Hand Dyed Fibers - the boards all pop out and all you have to do is to stitch a few little pieces of linen of your own to cover them and - Hey Presto - you could have your own impressive chest! Click here for more information.

Heartfelt Roses from Waveney Embroiderers' Guild

I couldn't believe my eyes when I entered the Friends' Meeting House in Beccles on Wednesday to talk to the Waveney Branch of the Embroiderers' Guild. There was an entire display table smothered with the most beautifully stitched bonnets destined for the Roses from the Heart installation. In case you haven't heard, the aim of this project is one of empathy for the 25,266 women who were transported between 1788 - 1853 from the UK to Australia often for minor crimes that required pity more than punishment. I wish you could have been there to see the Waveney Guild bonnets also - and have the opportunity, as I did, to enjoy the warmth and interest - and sheer passion for stitching - of the many Waveney Guild members. Take a bow Waveney stitchers!

Hooray - Foundling Museum Has Purchased the Sarah Quartermain Sampler

Art Daily announced this morning: the Art Fund today announces that London’s Foundling Museum has acquired a rare embroidered sampler made by a ten year-old girl in 1825. The sampler is the only known child’s depiction in any medium of the original Foundling Hospital, London’s first home for abandoned children, which was demolished in 1928. The girl who worked the sampler is believed to have had close family connections with the Foundling Hospital. Acquired at a Christie’s auction on Tuesday 9 March, the sampler cost a total of £10,000 of which £5,500 was contributed by The Art Fund. Generous contributions were also made by the MLA/V&A Purchase Grant Fund and the Worshipful Company of Weavers. The museum does not often make additions to its collections, making this acquisition particularly important. The Foundling Museum was established in 1998 by the childcare charity the Thomas Coram Foundation for Children (now known as Coram), which is the successor of the original Foundling Hospital. The sampler was created by ten-year old Sarah Ann Quartermain. Embroidered in fawn and green silks on a natural background with a floral border, the work depicts the Foundling Hospital as it looked in 1763. Experts at the Museum have tracked down records of an ‘S.A. Quarterman’, baptised at St Andrews in Holborn, a church which has links with the Foundling. It is believed that Sarah had a personal connection with the Foundling Hospital, given that topographical samplers of known buildings are unusual, and when they do occur, they usually directly relate to the child’s experiences. On hearing of the Christie’s sale, The Foundling Museum immediately applied to The Art Fund and MLA/V&A Purchase Grant Fund for funding. Stephen Deuchar, Director of The Art Fund, said: "The Art Fund is absolutely thrilled to have helped secure this beautiful sampler for the Museum, bringing to life a child’s vision of the Hospital as it appeared in the eighteenth century, and highlighting an important element of a girl’s education at the time.” Lars Tharp, Director of the Foundling Museum , said: “The Museum’s trustees are deeply grateful to The Art Fund and to the MLA/V&A Purchase Grant Fund for allowing us to bid for this wonderful piece. This sampler is exceptional on many counts: it is the only known needlework depiction of the Foundling Hospital, home for “ London ’s exposed and deserted young children”, and the image itself is at once naive and sophisticated. While many young girls’ samplers of the period convey an air of austerity, compulsion, drudgery even, Sarah Ann’s “Foundling Hospital”, worked in simple cross-stitch seems to convey a simple sense of enjoying a scene familiar to the young seamstress.”

Thursday 18 March 2010

Woman Did Not Waste Time - Mrs Delany's Legacy (and Existentialism)

Woman Did Not Waste Time was a headline in the Oxford Mail - it had nothing to do with Mrs Delany, but I was glad for the reassurance and hope you are too. I have visited Mrs Delany before on this blog, and I confess that after reading the reviews of her work by the media I feel at a tangent to their universe. I took my perplexity along to Mrs Delany's exhibition at John Soane's Museum in Lincoln's Inn Fields last week to see if I could resolve some issues. (Please note that John Soane's Museum to the V&A by direct Picadilly line is about 20 minutes door to door - so if you are visiting the Quilt Exhibition, do drop by to see this exhibition also.) I'd read the book Mrs Delany and Her Circle and it struck me as quite extraordinary to have 14 present day experts analyse the work of one who is regarded by some to have wasted her time. Doesn't that make you smile, too? The exhibition is not huge, but very impressive. The exquisite photographs in the book of the wonderfully shaded embroidery had left me quite unprepared for the astonishing dimensionality of the needlework itself. Sprigs of flowers appear to occupy a recession of planes, likewise the stitching of a single flower is executed in such a way to raise individual petals above others, and differentiate minute botanical details. I have never seen the like. For the flower mosaics, composed of delicately cut and tinted pieces of paper, I was full of admiration. Having read some explanation on a table I looked up and saw close-to in front of my gaze what could only have been a carefully pressed flower - and it was only after a few moments that I realized this was one of the paper mosaics. I have practised botanical illustration and pressed flowers in the past and know how difficult it is to arrange the plant so that all elements are available for study. It is, of course, impossible to press fleshy plants without deconstruction prior to drying. And having gone to all this trouble, the plant fades quickly with time. Not so with Mrs Delany's paper botanical mosaics which reveal with accuracy and without loss of colour the construction of plants. What a service Mary provided to botanical students and botanical classification in her time. That her work received praise from Sir Joseph Banks should be praise enough.To say that this repetitive, time-consuming, sedentary work is wasted time is to say that the repetitive, time-consuming, sedentary work of Redouté is wasted time. The question is not one of feminism, but of existensialism - how should we engage ourselves and spend our lives, given freedom of choice?

Wednesday 17 March 2010

V&A Quilt Exhibition

I know many of you have scheduled a visit to the major quilt exhibition opening this week at the V&A, so I won't spoil your pleasure of discovery. If you are travelling by tube do take the underground passage to the museum, the roads between South Kensington tube station and the V&A are a mess at the moment, to say the very least. If it is not possible for you visit the exhibition in person, there is a terrific catalogue of the exhibition - Quilts 1700-2010 edited by Sue Prichard.What I particularly like about this book is its telling of the personal stories behind -sometimes literally - the quilts. We have already looked at the Rajah Quilt worked by the female convicts during their transportation to Van Dieman's Land in 1841. Here are just a few more examples of work that moved me. The first item - a scrap of patchwork cut in two - was handed over by a mother, together with her child into the care of the London Foundling Hospital. She would have kept for herself the other half against the day when she hoped, in better circumstances to prove her parenthood and reclaim her child.
Personal dedications of items confer a lasting spirit of life and generosity. I love this simple inscription and it is a reminder to me to always do the same - it doesn't have to be grand to be special, does it?
This piece reminds me of the stitched maps we see - how interesting to see it interpreted in quilt form though it looks sadly beheaded and very insular!
I have known inmates of World War II prisoner of war camps in the East; and have heard how terribly constrained even marginal living was, though somehow they discovered in themselves a previously unknown well of resourcefulness which enabled them to survive. This last Granny's Garden quilt was pieced and stitched in secret in the early 1940s by the Changi Girl Guide Group who somehow conjured a variety of printed dress cottons from amongst their group and other prisoners. How? Go visit! Go see!

Tuesday 16 March 2010

Thank You White Roses of York

There are no white roses out in our garden at the moment, so I have only the blowing snowdrops to thank the York Embroiderers' Guild for the hospitality and friendship extended to me last week. This guild has the distinction of meeting in the Folk Hall at New Earswick, just outside of York. New Earswick is a garden community founded by the Quaker chocolatier Joseph Rowntree. The village came into existence 1902 a year after Joseph's son Seebohm published his book 'Poverty: a study of town life' - a study of the living conditions of the working classes in York, which revealed appalling statistics of dark, overcrowded and unsanitary housing. Joseph insisted there should be fruit trees in every garden at News Earswick.
I was so pleased to have the opportunity to talk about the history of samplers - one of the members emailing me said, 'I was expecting something rather dry as samplers are not my thing, but was amazed and now full of enthusiasm to find out more, you have certainly opened my eyes to explore and discover some of the hidden gems to be found in what was the original stitchers dictionary of patterns.' And I was delighted to find out about their Artists' Trading Cards system. Members design and stitch a small playing card sized item and then bring it along and exchange it for another stitcher's card, so eventually building up a real sampler of stitched designs. Thank you very much, York Embroiderers' Guild.

Monday 15 March 2010

Feeling Quilty? Some Quilty Pleasures.

Liberty of London are offering fabrics for patchwork based upon original designs seen in some of the quilts in the forthcoming V&A exhibition - this is limited edition for a limited period. The prices are £11.50 a metre - click here to see more and purchase.

I am so delighted to see that the Sewing School at Liberty has reopened. This is where I learnt my stitching skills and I loved every minute. (We also used to be given a card that gave 10% discount on fabric and haberdashery - I don't know if they still run this, though.) There are classes for patchwork on 27 March and 1 May with Janet Goddard. See here for more details of these and other classes.

Free Charts to Download

Philippa Sims who you may remember is a volunteer curator at the Costume and Textile Study Centre at Carrow House Museum, Norwich is also a member of the Norfolk Heraldry Society and she has created a pair of heraldic motifs for you to download. The first is a griffon - one of the sixteenth century patterns for lacemakers and embroiderers by Federico Vinciolo, pattern designer to Henry I of France.
Griffons were thought to live in the high mountains of India where they dug up and guarded all the gold - hence their appearance as supporters to the coat of arms of the London Stock Exchange! The second is that other famous heraldic beast, the unicorn. Another of Federico Vinciolo's patterns of the 16th Century shows a Unicorn dipping his horn into the fountain to neutralise the water of poisons. Drinking vessels were often said to be made of 'unicorn horn' to safeguard those fearful of being poisoned. The famous tale of the Unicorn Hunt, where the mythical beast is tamed by a maiden is depicted on the wonderful tapestries now in the Cloisters section of the Metropolitan Museum in New York. Click here for the Griffon download. Click here for the Unicorn download.