Friday 31 December 2010

1773 Signed Pinball For Auction at Woolley and Wallis * Salisbury * 11 January

A date for your new 2011 diary - 11 January - because this is the day a George III knitted pin cushion worked in alternating striped bands by Sarah Hider at Hawkhurst (about 10 miles south of Yalding) in 1773 will be auctioned by Woolley and Wallis. It has a diameter of approximately 2.25in (5.5cm). Also comprising Lot 441 with this pinball is a sweet miniature sampler measuring just 2.75in (6.8cm)sq, stitched by by Jane Ling of Yalding (near Maidstone in Kent) and is dated May 13th 1805. Estimates £80-£120.
Another item, Lot 35, is this interesting Charles II embroidered silk picture measuring 11.25 x 14.5in (28.5 x 36.7cm). The central subject is a lady hoding a bouquet beneath an arch which is seen on many embroidered pictures of this period. What makes this more interesting are the painted portraits, top right and left occupying the centres of two raised work flowers. These are thought to be Charles II and Catherine of Braganza - but to my eye the portraits both appear to be of females. Were these family portraits? The estimate for this sadly damaged piece is £800-1,200. And you can visit this sale by clicking here.

Thursday 30 December 2010

The Historic Textile Museum, Prato, Italy

Many people make their pilgramage to the magnificent Italian City of Florence, often unaware of the many treasures that lie within a 10 mile radius of the city. One such special place is Prato, just 10 miles to the north-west of Florence, and home to a fabulous textile museum. If you love textiles, this museum has everything for you to enjoy: from the earliest Coptic examples, Renaissance sacred cloths, local and worldwide costume to modern works created by artists such as Raoul Dufy.

There is a very interesting and important exhibition running there at the moment which opened at the end of November and will run to 28 February 2011. The exhibition compares the designs on textiles and ceramics. This is a matter close to my heart since I think it is necessary to look at other artifacts produced in the same period as the cloths we are studying in order to gain balance, context and a deeper insight into the prevailing gestalt and taste of the times. The period under examination is the Renaissance and pottery produced by shops in Montelupo from the 14th to the 16th century (plates, jugs, bowls) is compared and contrasted with silk fabrics produced in major manufacturing centres of Italy and Europe. Maybe you can see on the promotional poster the comparison between textile and ceramic motifs. Click here for more details.

Wednesday 29 December 2010

Edo Needlework Models from Japan

These models of craftmakers from Japan produced in Nagasaki in the Edo period are a precious insight into age old traditions. Although it would be wrong to extrapolate from one culture to another, again it is interesting to note once more the side-ways approach to working on a long cloth stretched on an embroidery frame. This is how I believe long samplers from the 17th century were worked - not from top to bottom or from bottom to top, but from long-edge to long-edge. And it is a man working the embroidery.
While here is a woman making cords.
And here we can see a needle-maker and apprentice at their craft. These models are in the Leiden Museum.

Tuesday 28 December 2010

Glossary of Embroidery Stitches from Anne Wanner

For many years I have admired the work of Anne Wanner of Switzerland, at the Textile Museum in St Gallen Switzerland and for her production of the CatalogueMuster und Zeichen there and also too with the European Centre of Studies of Ancient Textiles.
Now she is working on a significant Glossary of Embroidery Stitches which will provide a formal structure and classification of stitches by type. The first three parts are published. The work has text in English, French, German and Italian and is beautifully illustrated with detailed stitches and the work of old textiles seen from both sides. I cannot recommend this work more highly. Each part costs 12 Euros which can be paid via PayPal. To obtain a copy, please click here to email Anne Wanner direct.

Monday 27 December 2010

Half Price Sampler of Motifs from Marken Chart When Purchased with the Amager Panel of 1799

I was sorry that we ran out of charts for the 5 chart offer and I was thinking what could be done to create a new offer for you. Then, after last week's jigsaw, I had many enquiries about the lovely Amager Panel of 1799. Which gave me the idea that those purchasers of the Amager Panel could have the Sampler of Motifs from Marken Chart at half price - and not only that, we would include the airmail costs to wherever you live in the world. I hope that is a nice treat for you. Click here to see more or buy.

Sunday 26 December 2010

Best Boots for Winter - The Leiden Museum for Folk Art Collection On-Line

You might have read a little while ago I attended a special party at the Foundling Museum in London, in my wellies - for shame! What I should have been wearing are these fantastic boots from Greenland. I shall now take a day or two to make my wellies look more festive. I have to say that with the right boots on you can wear a bikini in the snow - and survive. My Aigle Club boots have a neoprene lining which is just fantastically cosy and comfortable, no more frozen toe-tips.
The Leiden Folk Art Collection has some wonderful samplers from South America like the one above. Click here to visit and enter merklap in the search box.

Saturday 25 December 2010

Weaving a Nativity Story in the German Tradition

Meg Andrews has some wonderful textiles for sale - including woven items like this 19th century reversible weave blue and white cloth depicting scenes from the Nativity. Here you can see a detail of the Three Kings (who  look as though they have yet to gain consensus upon direction). You can find them on the main cloth beneath the shepherds and their flocks and the row of stables beneath the stars. (Now I understand why the Kings look so bemused when they have so much choice!)
This is a huge cloth and is some 5.5 feet square.
I hope you are having a lovely festive day.

Friday 24 December 2010

Towels on Parade

Often in museums we come across special embroidered items called Parade Towels. Many people are not sure what these are and what their use may be, possibly because in the UK we don't have a tradition of parade towels. Here, on this festive card (I hope you are getting excited about Father Christmas coming, by the way) you can see exactly what its purpose was - to bear gifts, usually bread and salt, when meeting special guests. Now don't stay up too late and remember, no peeking until morning...
(Perhaps a Russian speaking reader will translate this card for us, please?)

Thursday 23 December 2010

Pheasant Friendly Game Soup

Even though the village shop is selling 3 pheasants for a tenner (ready plucked) I still think that feathers look better on this decorative bird and so I concocted a nice game soup without the bird (or indeed any bird or beast) which would comfort the hardiest of country folk. For 4 people:
A tablespoon of good olive oil in a nice big pan on a medium heat and then in with a chopped leek. I was taught to use only the white of leeks, but here you can use the whole leek, green and all, sliced into coin sized pieces. You can equally use onion, but leek is a little nicer here. And you can toss in some garlic too if you like it. The next ingredient is a couple of sticks of celery chopped thinly against the string. Or you could use a nice Cox apple - or a mixture of both. When those have melted a little add about 500 grams of shitake mushrooms torn into smaller pieces. If you have no shitake then chestnut or portobello mushrooms work just as well. Then chop 4 or 5 dried prunes and add them. If you don't have prunes then tamarind or a tablespoon of pomegranate molasses, or even dried apricots will do. Put the lid on the pan and just let everything go on melting together over a low heat for about 15 minutes. Into a grinder put some salt (to your taste), some Szechuan pepper (if you dont' have Szechuan pepper then some chilli flakes for a bit of heat will do, but Szechuan is a lovely melodic arpeggio of flavour compared to the single loud note of chilli), and a couple of handfuls of shelled chestnuts (if you have no chestnuts or couldn't get them out the shells this side of Christmas, then use shelled walnuts instead), together with a good tablespoon of dried porcini or dried woodland mushrooms. Blitz to a flour. Make up a pint of stock with some Marigold bouillon and stir in the blitzed mixture - add all this to the soup and blend (with a hand held blender) well. It will be quite thick at this stage. Now for the taste that makes the gamey flavour. You need three or four dessertspoons of good, acidic, probiotic yoghurt. Nothing mild and Greek or anything with strawberries, sugar or even honey, please, it won't do. If you don't have the yoghurt simply leave it out, the soup will still be lovely and you can take it in another direction at the end by stirring in a little fresh cream. When you reach this point, you will probably need to slacken the soup to your liking with a little more bouillon or hot water. Ladle out in bowls and dollop a teaspoon of yoghurt or cream on the top, arrange small parsley leaves on top of that with a cranberry in the middle to look like a holly sprig. Now is this sampler motif of a pheasant or not?

Wednesday 22 December 2010

Musea Oost-Vlaanderen Collection On-Line

There are around 140 samplers in the collection of the Musea Oost-Vlaanderen which you can enjoy on-line. Here is just a small taste. I was very impressed with these two darning samplers which are very densely laid and display many decorative damask designs I have not seen on samplers before. To see these you should enter stoplap in the search box.

Here is an example of a pronkerolle or souvenir de ma jeunesse. These long samplers were built up example by example throughout the student's time at school and then were stitched onto a long band of backing fabric so that they could be roled up and saved for future reference or admiration. To see more of these then enter lap into the search box.
This is one of my favourite pieces and is beautifully worked. To see more examples like this and more traditional samplers then enter merklap in the search box.
Just click on this link to start your search.

Monday 20 December 2010

The Judith Hayle Sampler Mystery Answered

On 27th November we saw a previously unknown Judith Hayle sampler sold at auction in Cambridge for £480. And at the weekend Erna Hiscock of Hiscock Antiques emailed me to say she had purchased the sampler - and - yes, she did know what she had bought! Erna was also kind enough to send me some more detailed images of either end of this sampler. She told me that the 1696 sampler was worked by Martha Cousin, although on the sampler her name appears as Cussen. Martha was Christened 18.10.1686 at Brantham Suffolk, a few miles south of Ipswich were she obviously went to school. Her parents were Edmond and Hannah Cousin. In the top image the intials MC sit in the right hand cartouche. Erna will be posting more images on her web-site soon. Click here to visit.

Sunday 19 December 2010

Inside an Amager Home - Free Jigsaw Download

Here is a lovely interior of an Amager home. Do you remember that Amager was the little colony of Dutch taken to grow vegetables for the Danish court and who lived as their descendents continue to do to this day in an area just outside Copenhagen - in fact at the end of the airport runway. This is a lovely scene of a number of generations meeting up in a typical Amager home. Note the distinctive A framed shelves on the backwall, a spinning wheel (of course!) and the distinctive dress with the distinctive pointed caps of the women, made from chintzed indigo cloth which has been embroidered.  I hope you enjoy this free jigsaw. 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.

Saturday 18 December 2010

Gift Shopping at the National Gallery London

Many of you will know that you can buy lots of lovely items on-line from the V&A Museum in London, but you may not realise that many other galleries and museums also have lovely items for you to purchase - all of which help to fund the museums.
Many of the gifts are interesting and quirky and not the sort of thing you could walk into just any shop to buy. In fact many items are based upon the museum's own artifacts.
When I didn't have working lunches, I used to love popping down Pall Mall where I worked to visit the National Gallery - and I usually came out with more books than when I went in!
In addition to all the wonderful art books, there are many gifts that would not break the bank. Just click on any of the images to see more details or click here to visit the National Gallery's Shop - particularly if Trafalgar Square and Nelson's Column are a little too distant for you to visit!

Friday 17 December 2010

Um Livro de Bordados Antigo Portuguesa? - An Old Portuguese Embroidered Book?

I promised to show you some old Portuguese samplers - in fact, here is a book of them from the 17th century (1600s). We think. The book appears to have been brought from Portugual - though it is always possible that it came via Portugal from Spain. The images are from an old magazine in my mother's hoard and there is very little written about them. The book appears to have been put together in a piecemeal sort of way, but it was bound with sheepskin. The description says three shades of blue, two of yellow, some bright green and brownish black are present. The brownish black we know to be black which has corroded on account of the acid dye used.
This page appears to have a primitive double-headed eagle - symbol of the Holy Roman Empire - in the top left hand corner. The page also shows a very Italianate scrolling band, worked in reverse like Assisi work - possibly with a red background, though the text dows not say - and examples of whitework including needleweaving and near the bottom right corner, our favourite S motif.
This page is very interesting indeed, because it seems very specific and has many examples of raised couched cord whitework - maybe someone can say if there is a traditon of such embroidery in their country.
And this is also another distinctive page, particularly with those pierced hearts, the one to the right appearing to have the Latin amo (I love) incorporated within it. Perhaps these outlined hearts were also intended to be set on a red background 'Assisi-style'. it would be very interesting to hear the thoughts of our Spanish, Portuguese and Italian readers.

Thursday 16 December 2010

US Sampler Auction - A Way With Squirrels

For a change we can have a little look at some items for auction in the USA. All these items are for sale on 29 and 30 December 2010 through the Kaminski Auction Gallery, Beverly, Massachusetts. This charming sampler caught my eye immediately. It was only by looking a little closer and a little longer that I saw the squirrel perched on the girl's elbow. The sampler is early 19th Century and was wrought by Lydia Robertson, May 8th, 1807. It measures 19 1/4" x 19 1/2" and has several areas small areas of damage. It is lot 9204 and the estimate is: $400 - $600.
Lot 8003 in the same sale is a lete 18th early 19th Century framed narrow textile fragment measuring 47 1/2" x 9 1/2" and has an estimate of $275 - $375
And this item, Lot 8011, I find particularly interesting. It is described as a late 18th or early 19th Century framed textile fragment. It is certainly a sampler and I think it may come from Morocco or North Africa with many motifs familiar to us from the Islamic Near East. However, that band in the top left hand corner of the detail image looks Italianate so other possibilities are Greek Islands which changed hands between Venice and Ottoman Turkey in the 17th and 18th centuries. I love it - it is a whole compendium of fabulous designs and measures 30" x 37 1/2". There is some discolouration and the estimate is $300 - $400

Wednesday 15 December 2010

Free Chart Download - Kathy's Northern Nights

I am delighted to offer you this free download courtesy of Kathy from deep in the Rocky Mountains. It is howlingly bitter here in the depths of gentle Surrey and we have just heard we have not had the worst - that is being saved up for a nice, icy weekend. There are strange animal noises outside too, but no howling wolves - at least not yet! This sampler evokes the depths of winter in a way few samplers do. How glad I am to be by the log stove with a pot of steaming tea to hand. Kathy says that this sampler is her first design - living in the cold northern Rocky Mountains, she wanted a piece that would make one feel the cold of such a place at night in winter, but with the warmth of the lights from windows glowing from a hearth. The two 'wolves' are her Anatolian shepherds doing their customary howling on such nights. Her sampler became particularly meaningful when she had to put her oldest one to sleep a few weeks ago. I am very proud of Kathy because she wanted to show that even an old doll without a lot of computer savvy can make such things from the Needleprint Infinity kit. Well done Kathy - and thank you from all of us for sharing.

To download your free chart PDF just click here. For a larger colour image just click on the picture.
To visit Kathy's blog, click here. And for more about the Infinity Starter Kit which includes software and editable versions of the Beatrix Potter and Mary Wigham samplers, just click here.

Tuesday 14 December 2010

At Auction 17th Century Panel of Rebecca and Isaac

This mid 17 century English silk embroidered panel measures just 11cm x 13.5cm and could be the side panel of a casket. It is Lot 55 for auction at Halls Fine Art Auctioneers, Shrewsbury tomorrow 15 December. It is described simply as an elegant lady and gentleman with clasped hands in a landscape with distant castle which indeed is true. But there are two clues here which mean we can be a little more specific. The first is the kneeling camel, not a usual feature of the English countryside, and second, the gesture of the woman's hand to her hair, as if she is arranging it-or arranging something she might be wearing in that position, such as a veil. This gesture is known to us from more complete panels of the period which represent the meeting for the first time of Rebecca and Isaac, after she has been brought back via a camel train by Eliezer. She is covering her face in modesty. Even in the mid 17th century there would have been resonances with the less successful journey in 1623 of the Duke of Buckingham and Prince Charles to Spain in order to court the Spanish Infanta. The panel has an estimate of £150-£200.

Monday 13 December 2010

The Winner of The Threads of Feeling Catalogue is...

I am delighted to announce the winner of this draw which was open to customers who purchased items in the last fortnight. The winner is Wendy Holt who I believe is a member of the EGA. Congratulations Wendy, your catalogue will be in the air to you tomorrow. I am sorry you couldn't all have a free copy, but if you would like to purchase one direct from the Foundling Museum, then Hazel will be glad to help you. You can also make donations direct via PayPal. Just click here to go the Foundling Museum website.

Sunday 12 December 2010

Bless This House - and Bless Your House - Free Chart

I am feeling very guilty because someone asked me a little while ago if I could make them a house chart for their daughter. The email came in with my usual daily dose of around 200 emails and I put it on one side to come back to when I had a little less on my to-do list. So, in September, in all good faith I set to work. Then I couldn't decide on the colour scheme to stitch. Then when I did, and put thread to linen, something else major came through the door and I had to put it down.....and there it has stayed. And what is worse I can no longer find the email of the person who requested the house. So I do hope you are out there and don't feel too let down. I am sorry. But here is something for you now..... Just click on the image you prefer for a larger working image and feel free to change the colours as you wish.

Saturday 11 December 2010

Daí-lhe do fruto das suas mãos - Give Her of the Fruit of Her Hands - Boa Noite Brazil!

Every day I get up, I get so excited and give thanks for being a member of a world-wide community of needlework lovers. What really fires me up are the needlework teachers and those who are committed to ensuring our art does not become a lost art and will still be there for generations to approach and enjoy. I think all needlework teachers should take a bow. Today, let's celebrate the work of Lee Albrecht who runs The Escola de Bordado in Campinas, São Paulo, sharing skills with many like the stitchers in the picture above. Do click on the link here to go over and say Bom dia to everybody.

And here you can see how beautifully serene and inspiring is the interior of Lee's school, with some lovely work including samplers on the wall. Which reminds me - I have been asked a few times if there are any antique Portuguese samplers...and the answer is...yes! I shall have something very special to show you next week. Até amanhã Brazil! See you soon!

Friday 10 December 2010

In My Spare Time....

Yes, you are quite right, I am always busy and fiction is not really something I have the luxury to indulge in during spare moments (what spare moments!) but here is an exception - just before I go to sleep I do enjoy a chapter of a Dorothy Dunnett book. She is a wonderful, engaging writer, well-grounded in early history and, in particular, mercantile exchange across Europe with relevance to dyestuffs such as alum. The geographic scope of the books ranges between Scotland, Burgundian Flanders, the Tyrol, Medici Florence, Naples, Venice, Cyprus and ... Trebizond! There are six volumes in this series and I am well into the last book, though trying now to go as slowly as possibly since Dorothy is dead and there will be no more books to follow on! If you are looking for something to wrap yourself around and be spellbound over the holiday, then I do recommend Dorothy's books.

Thursday 9 December 2010

Special Offer - 5 Printed Charts for the Price of 3 Postage Included

We now have just 0 set of 5 Needleprint Quaker charts for the price of 3 remaining - the charts are: Rebecca Blake, Rebecca Jeffcoat, Sarah Spence, Mary Peacock and Hannah Westcombe. And the price includes postage to wherever you are in the world.

And now we have extended the offer - you can have any combination of 5 Needleprint printed charts for the price of 3, so you can give your favourite charts as holiday gifts - or even have a little selling party of your own, perhaps to raise money for your guild or favourite charity. Just email me for more details by clicking the flying angel below.