Monday 28 February 2011

The Photographic Archives of the Shetland Museum On-Line

The weather has definitely taken a turn to the cold days of January - so I have pulled on a nice woollie today. And it reminded me of the shetland woollies - jumpers and cardigans, berets and mits that my mother used to knit for all of us (to wear with Royal Stuart tartan kilts.) So here is a toe-curling - in more ways than one - archive photo of my two darling big sisters and me. It looks like I'm waiting for one of these super jumpers to be handed down....
So with a wave of knitting nostalgia in full flow, I went to see what there was in the Shetland Museum - and discovered a most marvellous archive of the tradition of knitting. Oh, what I would give for this wonderful jumper! It is so beautiful in my eyes.
My mother would also knit shetland lace christening shawls for anyone in the street who was expecting. Maybe you can just see in the top family photo again that I am sitting on my Shetland lace christening shawl. One of my best friends makes astonishing Shetland lace shawls - it is so comforting to pull her shawl over my shoulders when I am feeling tired.
This is a Shetland knitted lace sampler. The patterns for Fair Isle were directly influenced by embroidered sampler patterns. I am always curious about this knitting/stitching crossover as I have seen some marvellous samplers, which look just like traditional stitched samplers, but are, in fact, knitted.

Wedding veils were an extraganza of air and fine ply wool - this shawl would be so fine that you could draw it through your wedding ring. Imagine!
What is so surprising is that these precious items were knit outside - and not a curatorial glove in sight to make sure the work was not marked. I have to confess that my hero is Edward Maeder of Deerfield - with all his incredible experience of handling textiles and with his magnificent Masters Degree from the Courtauld Institute to boot, he will simply ask people to wash their hands. Which makes a whole lot more sense than some of the distinctly grubby gloves I am sometimes offered in Museums.
Makkin belts such as these are worn around the waist, with the leather pouch to the right hand side of the knitter's body. They are used by sticking the end of the right hand knitting needle into the pouch, which is filled with horsehair. This frees up the knitter's right hand to manipulate the yarn, making the process much quicker. The belt also supports some of the weight of the garment being knitted. It has been known for an experienced knitter to manage 200 stitches a minute with the help of these types of knitting belt. To see the wealth in the Shetland Museum archive just click here. Use knitting, or lace, or school as a search term and then just follow the thread of your thoughts!

Sunday 27 February 2011

Rose Tree - Free Jigsaw Download

We have primroses, miniature iris, crocuses, and snowdrops open in the garden; the narcissi are just about open and the bluebells are greening nicely. It will be a few months more before the roses are blooming, but we can always look ahead, can't we? Here are some fabulous embroidered roses from an old tea-cloth which you might like to piece together. 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 26 February 2011

Anthropologie, Apologies and Pea Green Soup

It has been one of those days full of unexpected pleasures - and an embarassingly empty fridge... I am saving myself for the local farmers' market next week, so I have let stocks run down in the fridge - plenty to last us, but a bit of a whatdoIdo when friends arrive at the door with a lovely bottle of wine (but no parsnips!) So we just had to take everybody up through the woods to the Iron Age Fort to work up a good country appetite. Meanwhile I was alternatively racking my brain and remembering the parable of bread and fishes, wondering just how many tins of sardines there might be in the larder... But what I really wanted to tell you about was Anthropologie which I discovered yesterday. They have some lovely knits and embroidered items. I am already formulating my Christmas list and this scarf is on the top, dear Santa.
The view from the top of the hill was a revelation - nothing but green fields and blue horizon until the South Downs. This wonderful view reminded me that we still had some frozen peas and spinach in the freezer, maybe some salad onions (scallions) and the smoked salmon we intended for lunch anyway. I just want to come up to the top of this hill sometime and find a log to sit on and write about what I can see once a week - or once a month. (I need to be realistic.) And there is never time enough at the moment to stitch my own notebook and so I rather took a shine to this.
Maybe both? Or is that greedy? Anyway we lit the log fire, opened the wine, and I melted a whole bunch of trimmed scallions in some gentle rapeseed oil (didn't want to overpower the flavours with olive oil.) Then I tossed in a handful of frozen peas, a handful of frozen spinach, two nice green peppercorn and a quarter of a pint of liquid (this time half stock, half soya milk) for each person. A pinch of salt and let that simmer briefly while I made some wholemeal toast, divided out the smoked salmon with a curl of dill for each open sandwich. Then I blitzed the soup which was truly and amazingly pea-green. Into each bowl I swirled a teaspoon of creamed horseradish - and yes you really do need this - it lends a lovely peppery sweet flavour. If you don't have creamed horseradish, then use regular horseradish blended half and half with creme fraiche or sour cream.
Together with the wine, warm fire, good conversation and happy memories, it was a really nice lunch, even if I say so myself. Am now a bit drowsy and would love to curl up in a bed like this - and it can't all be bad, these items are in the sale....

Friday 25 February 2011

Anatomy of a Quaker Bonnet

This is a Quaker bonnet coming from a family who were old Ackworthians. It could even be Mary Wigham's bonnet. We don't know the name of the owner, but we can be grateful the bonnet has been looked after so well and for so long. Apart from the frill around the face which is of light muslin, the bonnet itself is very fine linen. There is a large bag for the hair, which is large enough to accommodate much more than crown of the head and hair - it would take a good sized bun  or coiled plait to fill it. Between the bag and the frill you can, I hope, see three seams running parallel to the frill and three seams parallel to the neck. These are in fact channels.

If we now turn the bonnet inside out and focus on what is happening in the area of those channels we can see that each has a thin cord, like string, running through them. They are there to gather and adjust the size of the bonnet so that it will fit the wearer's head - and most exactly too. So one set of gathers occurs at the top of the head, the other at the middle of the neck back.
Here you can see a little more of the workings and the finely hand-stitched channels.
The stitching is minute and virtually invisible to to the human eye - it takes a close focus to see anything at all. You can just see the tip of my thumbnail as I hold the bonnet in shot and that perhaps will help you see something of the scale. If you click on any of the pictures you should get a bigger image. If you wish to show the images to members of your Guild or stitching group, please do.


Petit point embroidered braces, c.1850

Shortly before 1800 braces were added to the gentleman's wardrobe to keep his under-breeches in place. Braces were a most practical solution to the problem of unsightly bunching under the smooth outer trouser. The main difference between modern suspenders and braces is that the former hold up the pants, while the latter held up the under-breeches.

By the mid-19th century, braces had evolved into fancy hand-embroidered gift items, often worked by a young fiancé who could not admit that she knew about a gentleman's undergarments. Braces have survived in modern fashion as the suspenders that hold trousers up in place of a belt.

These wonderful braces are a special find! When you look at the fine petit point embroidery, you can just imagine the young lady doing the handwork, while thinking forbidden thoughts of her intended. The embroidery is worked on a canvas ground with mellow shades of silk floss. The backs and edge bindings are fashioned from ivory silk moiré. These braces would make a very special gift for the man in your life!

The condition is excellent. I could not find any problems.

The braces are 31 1/2" long and 2 1/8" wide.

Thursday 24 February 2011

How to Save $20

I was just a bit taken aback to see that were selling Erica's lovely book, Tokens of Love - Quaker Pinballs, for a huge $50! Goodness me. This delightful book of charted patterns for 24 knitted or stitched pinballs need only cost $30 and that includes airmail delivery to wherever you live. Think what you could do with the $20 saved mmmm... I wonder? Just click here for more details.

Manchester Antique Textile Fair * Sunday 6 March 2011

Not long now until the annual Textile Society spring fair. A must for enthusiasts interested in buying antique and vintage costumes and textiles to collect, wear or discover. The selection is vast with 130 stands from the UK, Europe and Worldwide, selling Oriental & Eastern European costumes & textiles; English costumes & textiles, fans, lace and linens as well as plenty of vintage clothes & textiles.
In the upstairs hall the Quilters, Embroiderers’ and Lace Guilds will be demonstrating their craft, selling books and offering advice. The museum showcase will be the fabulous Gawthorpe Hall, promoting their Special Collections, and the University of Leeds International Textile Archives (ULITA). Specialist book dealers and conservation experts will also be present.
Make it a date! Click here for more information.

Tuesday 22 February 2011

Holiday Reading - Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall

For some reason I have an aversion to book prize winners. Perverse, isn't it? I mean there must be some good reason why the book won a prize... So, I knew Hilary Mantel had written an historical novel and that it had won the Man Booker Prize for fiction. Having impinged on some part of my consciousness, it then floated off the edge of my horizon. Then, one Saturday morning, just a fortnight after I had returned home from my emergency visit to hospital, I was having breakfast and idly browsing the Guardian Weekend supplement and I came across an article written by Hilary Mantel concerning a very traumatic stay in hospital. And I read, and went on reading, even though our hospital stays were so different-thankfully! It was the way she described pain. I knew it, and there was something about her truthfulness, lacking drama, that touched me. And so I ordered my copy of her prize winning book for when I went on holiday at the beginning of this year. This is an intelligently and most extraordinarily well-written account of the life of Thomas Cromwell and his role in Henry VIII divorce of Katherine of Aragon and marriage to Ann Boleyn... and much more. You will be hooked (or stitched) into this book. I shall quote you two snippets: She has been sewing - or rather, unsewing, teasing out the pomegranate border from the crewel-work panel - these remnants of Katherine, of her dusty Kingdom of Grenada, linger in England still. and: For the King's new year gift he has commisioned from Hans a miniature on vellum, which shows Solomon on his throne receiving Sheba. It is to be an allegory, he explains, of the king receiving the fruits of the church and the hommage of his people. Now I dare not read anything else by her in case I am disappointed - so if you have read any of her other books I would like to hear, please.

Monday 21 February 2011

Auction Roundup

Oh, these are so pretty with their peardrop shape. They are embroidered pocket watch holders - and they are a pair! From the time of William IV, they are dated 1833 and their estimate is: £70-£100. They are being auctioned by Tooveys on 23 February. So click on the link and establish your creditworthiness and bid with Tooveys right away to avoid disappointment.
I wonder if the Patchwork artist Mary Jenkins is looking - this early 19th century woolwork sampler was made by Mary Treloar Jenkyn who was born April 29.1819 and finished her sampler Mar 2.1829 with the motto if idly spent no art or care times blessing can restore and heaven requires a strict account for evry misspent hour It measures 52cm x 20cm and the estimate is £50-£80. To be auctioned on 24 February by David Lay.
Good things seem to come in pairs and this pair of late Georgian samplers worked in 1819 by Margret and Ismay Flanagan are no exception. I am so pleased they are still together after all these years. The measure 42cm x 18cm and have an estimate of £50-£200. They are being auctioned on 25 February by Bigwood Auctioneers.
This fabulous Dutch darning sampler dated 1811 and measuring 45 x 43cms will be auctioned on 25 February at Stride & Son Auctions. There is no estimate given.
Yes, I have a thing about Scottish samplers, their alphabets and those boxers, tease me no more! This sampler has holes and some damage but is most endearing nonetheless. Worked by Elizabeth Haig aged 8 years in 1776, it measures just 12" x 8¼" and has an estimate of £200 - 300 with Taylor and Fletcher Auctions on 24 February.
Last but by no means least is this very charming sampler by Sarah Watson dated 1831 with a young lady and man on either side of a vase of flowers in the middle ground. The sampler measures 31 x 42 cms and has an estimate of £300-£500 at Rowley Fine Art, to be sold at Tattersalls, Newmarket on 22 February.

Sunday 20 February 2011

Beautiful Work Willy!

Willy from the Netherlands who has a beautiful blog has been working the sampler of Motifs from Marken using 32 count Zweigart in antique ivory and DMC 3799 and 3826.
And now it is finished and framed. Time to admire this wonderful, wonderful work - and congratulate Willy.

Margreet Beemsterboer's composition based on historic Vernaaider Linten from the Isle of Marken. Includes a full charted alphabet and history of Marken. Price includes postage.

Saturday 19 February 2011

Pretty French Needlework Books

Of course, one thing I do when I am in France is to spend the first day (almost!) buried in FNAC in Nice. Though the two independent bookshops on the Cours Mirabeau in Aix-en-Provence are absolute heaven for textile-lovers. The biggest problem with books, of course, is...weight. I usually take a half-full suitcase, but there is still only so much one can gather. However, the good news is that you can obtain some of these books from - and it is possible to order direct from - they will deliver to you wherever you are. To digress a moment, I sometimes find cheaper versions of hard-to-find textile books on and even with the delivery charges, I save money. So don't give up! I can recommend all these books. Sylvie Castellano, I adore. If you have yet to come across her books, do browse with her name, all her books are beautiful.
So the French are interested in English samplers and this book, which is browsable on Amazon, has a number of full charted examples for you to stitch.
This is just such a sweet book - something to curl up with in autumn when you are looking forward to the holiday season.
Well this book just had to come home in my hand luggage - there was no way I would leave it on the shelf! It is fabulous - the loveliest red and white abecedaires. Yes, I wanted to bring a copy back for everyone, but I couldn't I'm afraid....sorry.
If you like Liberty prints, you will like this pretty book - stitch some very special buttons for your needle-rolls.
This book is fabulous too - and when I retire - as one day I must, one of the things on my to do list will be to make a stitched book of my days. Absolute inspiration.

This book has been around for a little time, but for those of you who don't know it, it is worth a mention. You won't be disappointed.

Friday 18 February 2011

New in The Hannah Gilpin Stitchalong

I love keeping an eye on the work in progress you post in the Stitchalongs. This week Teresa gave us an update on her progress and it is delightful to see this wonderful cloth growing ever more beautiful. This is my favourite monochrome Quaker sampler, if monochrome it could be called since it has not one but many subtle shades of gentle brown and buffs. It is a classic for all time as you can see, and Teresa will have a sampler that generations will treasure and adore. Thank you very much for sharing, Teresa.
To vist the Needleprint Hannah Gilpin Stitchalong just click here.

And it is not too late to start this sampler and join the stitchalong, you can download your chart and start stitching today. Hannah's sampler is stitched in gentle shades of brown on cream. The chart comes with an eBook of all the Gilpin samplers in the Ackworth collection.

Thursday 17 February 2011

Leopold Iklé - A Passion for Pattern

Leopold Iklé was born in Hamburg in 1838. Aged 15 years old, he was travelling as a salesman for his family’s textile company, Iklé Frères, which specialized in machine-embroidered muslins and laces imported from St Gallen, Switzerland.
When he was 19, Leopold was granted residency in St Gallen, where he was later joined by his brother Adolf. At this time, the demand for machine-produced embroidery was in the ascendant, and in 1880 Iklé Frères entered the market, producing the first Schiffli embroidery in eastern Switzerland. In this business, new patterns were important, but having started to collect old textiles as a resource for the business, Leopold soon became passionate about the embroideries for themselves.
In 1904 he donated much of his collection to the Industrie und Gewerbe Museum in St Gallen—now the Textile Museum. The rest of the collection went to family members, and items appear at auction from time to time. The last auction of items deriving from the Iklé collection was at Christie's on 4 December 2007. You can't buy these items now - but you can still see the items on the internet - like an echo of something wonderful.
There is something for everyone, Vierlande samplers, silk knitted gloves...there are other non- Iklé textiles also including patchwork and some fabulous laces, court dresses and christening robes. Just click here to go back in time.

Wednesday 16 February 2011

Say Hello to Monika in Norway

Monika likes to read the Needleprint blog to see what everyone is doing - it is a nice way for stitchers to keep in touch with stitchers around the world. Particularly for those of you in far flung places where stitchers may be few on the ground. Monika and her husband are wearing the tradtional 'bunads'. Monika says: As Our 'bunads' are from a region called Telemark. The blouse, as you can see, is stitched in cross-stitch - the rest of the outfit is stitched in satin stitch. Although I am not Norwegian I am very proud to be the owner of such a beautiful outfit - it was a wedding gift from my husband. Both male and female bunads have a lot of silver buttons, claps and broaches - I tell you - it is quite a task to get everything into place on the morning of our National Day - May 17th - but in the end well worth it. Lovely to hear from you Monika - we look forward to hearing more about you and your stitching in the future. Perhaps there are stitchers from other parts of the world who would like to share something special with us? Just scroll down the blog and click on the flying angel to email me.