Sunday 31 July 2011

Weddings More Weddings and Gorgeous Lace from Sheelin Irish Lace Museum

Yesterday saw Princess Anne's daughter, Zara Phillips marry in Edinburgh. On the same day, Janet, one of the key assistants on the second volume of the Micheál and Elizabeth Feller Needlework Collection, attended a wedding at a no less distinguished venue than HMS Warrier in Portsmouth Harbour - it was touch and go with heels on those companionways, I am told!
Ireland has a famous history of needle-made lace and some beautiful items can still be purchased for brides of today from the Sheelin Lace Museum Shop. I wish all small bridesmaids were as docile as Rosebud Bear in her antique Limerick Lace dress.
I am an unreformed traditionalist when it comes to wedding dresses and much as I think all brides look beautiful on their special day, I do hanker for a shift away from bare backs and shoulders - a lace covering is so much more flattering and covers those goosebumps whether from nerves or chilly churches. These beautiful lace bodices are a dream and they can swiftly be switched for an evening bodice for the later dancing. And you simply cannot dispense with a veil.

And perhaps the evening gown can be given that special bridal touch also with a fabulous lace and bead choker.
Above is a bride's bag decorated this time with bobbin lace.
The Sheelin Antique Lace Museum and Shop is privately owned by Rosemary Cathcart and houses approximately 700 fabulous exhibits. It is located in Bellanaleck near Enniskillen in Co.Fermanagh, Northern Ireland and you can find out more by clicking here.

Saturday 30 July 2011

Blackbird Supports Spencer Museum with New Book - Spencer Samplers On-Line

I am over the moon to hear that Barb and Alma of Blackbird Designs with their phenomenal talents have created a new book to support the samplers in the Spencer Museum of Art in Kansas. Their new book includes 11 projects inspired by the schoolgirls in this collection. I don't know yet - their wonderful book is due for publication in August - whether they include this sampler with its mind-boggling image of a beam engine that you can see above. (This is a first as far as I know and I am such a great lover of beam-engines!) But we are all in for a treat that is sure. The book which has 104 pages will be available via Norden Crafts, Hoffman Distributors and The Kansas City Star. So, do order your copy now, happy in the knowledge that 50% of Barb and Alma's royalties will go back to the museum. To see more samplers from the Spencer Museum of Art just click here.

Friday 29 July 2011

Bye Bye Bonhams Textile Auctions

It is with a teary eye that we bid farewell to the delight of looking forward to wonderful textile auctions at grand old Bonhams. There will be no more - and we shall miss Claire Browne's (formerly of the V&A) enlightening descriptions. It would appear that the sale of textiles cannot pay its way. Time for a comforting cuppa, I think.

Thursday 28 July 2011

Their Manners Pleasing, & Their Education Complete: Newport Samplers 1728 - 1835 * Exhibition 12-14 August 2011

Above is a sampler completed by Roba White, 1806, Newport, RI and is one of the 50 or so examples of needlework in the collection of the Newport Historical Society from the 18th and 19th centuries which will be on display at the 2011 Newport Antiques Show. The event is to benefit the Newport Historical Society and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Newport County. So make a date in diary now to enjoy a wonderful exhibition and do a power of good. On Saturday, August 13 at 11am, Dr. Margaret T. Ordoñez, Professor in the Textiles Department at the University of Rhode Island, will discuss the components of 17th through early 19th century samplers and show how time, method of mounting, and use affect their condition. Dr. Ordoñez will offer advice on storing and displaying samplers in homes, museums, and historic houses. Newport samplers are well known for their lively and distinctive designs Most decorative samplers were made in female academies, where pupils learned needlework along with subjects like reading, arithmetic, painting, and music. Frances Townsend ran one such school for the daughters of Newport’s elite, promising in a 1787 advertisement that her instruction would “render their Manners pleasing, and their Education complete.”
The exhibition is generously sponsored by Woodbury Auction, LLC, the auction services division of Thomas Schwenke, Inc.
This sampler above also from the collection of the Newport Historical Society was completed by Ann Baker, 1754, Newport, RI. On Friday, August 12, 2011 from 6pm till 9pm there will be an Elegant Preview Party to start the weekend-long show. (Oh, how much I would love to attend an Elegant Preview Party!) The Show itself will take place Saturday, August 13th from 10am to 6pm and Sunday, August 14th from 10am to 5pm. General Show admission costs $12 per person, advance reservation for party tickets is required. All net proceeds from sponsorships and ticket sales benefit the Newport Historical Society and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Newport County. For more details, click here. And don't forget to tell me how wonderful it was, will you, please?

Wednesday 27 July 2011

Latest Glossary of Embroidery Stitches by Anne Wanner

I think I've already said that 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 Catalogue Muster und Zeichen there and also for the European Centre of Studies of Ancient Textiles.
In fact I shall going saying that forever. Anne has just completed with her latest volume the four part Glossary of Embroidery Stitches. This significan work provides a formal structure and classification of stitches by type. 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.

Tuesday 26 July 2011

Simple School Girl Samplers from Ackworth & Milverton Schools & More at Tennants * 12 August 2011

I do love simple school samplers and there are some simply wonderful samplers coming up for auction at Tennants of Leyburn. You have a few weeks to get yourself organized and register for bidding, so hopefully you won't be disappointed. First up is Lot 1101, an unframed sampler worked by Sarah Hodgson 1832 worked in cross stitch in blue thread. The guide price is £70-£100 - which is rather nice since there is a Sarah Hodgson from Appleton who appears in the Ackworth School register for 1830-1833 and is very similar to alphanumeric samplers worked by the Mills sisters in the early 1840s when the inclusion of ligatures appears to have been dropped, these special characters having lost favour with printers. Also included in the lot is a white cotton christening gown, girls' smocked dresses, kid leather gloves, a collection of assorted buttons, two bodkins, patterns etc,. A treasure trove?
Lot 1170 is another unframed alphanumeric sampler worked by Elizabeth Rawes at the Quaker Milverton School in 1790, and here you can see the preponderance of  ligatures. This sampler is worked in cross stitch primarily in brown thread and measures 32 cms by 20 cms. The guide price: £200-300.
Lot 1168 comprises two samplers above and below from Chapel Allerton Girls School. (In the 19th Century Chapel Allerton was the home for the rich industrialists and manufacturers who wanted to escape the dirt and grime of the centre of Leeds.) The sampler above is again unframed and was worked by Marianne Hildyard in 1839, using cross stitch in black thread. It measures 19.5 cms by 15 cms. The sampler below is another by Marianne dated 1837.It measures 19 cms by 11 cms. Included in this lot are four lace collars. Together they all have a guide price of £100-150.
Another pair of samplers, this time by sisters, features as lot 1169. Above is a framed text sampler worked by Eliza Ann Bowes and dated 1834. It is worked in cross-stitched blue thread and measures 30 cms by 36 cms. Mary Bowes sampler below worked when she was 9 years old in 1837 is unframed. It measures 26 cms by 36 cms. Also included in this lot is a small circular card box and inscribed to the base in pencil 'For Miss Bowe'. The guide price for this lot is £100-150. For more information on any of these samplers and to register a distance bid contact Tennant's Auctioneers, Leyburn as soon as possible. Let me know how you get on!

Monday 25 July 2011

Quincunx and The Lady Lever Winner

A section of the new book describes and gives names to the most commonly found bands on early band samplers - in this way we can speed up descriptions by simply referring to standard names. The word quincunx crops up in a few of these. A gem of a word which means the conjunction of five things and you know this and see this every time you throw a dice or lay a playing card marked with five pips. There ought to be a game devised where the winner rolls a five on the dice, or trumps aces and kings with a five. Then one could shout QUINCUNX with glee, which is how I think the word should be pronounced anyway.
And so it was that Erica told me I should read this book titled Quincunx and I was delighted to do so as Erica always suggests excellent books to read. Erica told me it was a real page-turner - and it most certainly is for every one of its 1200 pages! I would have defied anyone to sustain a story for that length and so it was that I lost the bet on Quincunx. I heartily recommend it. Charles Palliser has imbibed Mayhew and this book is a fabulous rollercoaster of emotions through all strata of London society at a time when to loose one's footing, particularly if you were female, meant certain destitution. I will warn you that it is quite harrowing at times and anyone who thought that single women could sustain themselves simply by their needle without recourse to theft or prostitution has some serious research to attend to.
And thinking of research, to those avid researchers of early needlework who entered last week's draw for the Lady Lever Needlework Booklet a huge thank you for your participation and spirit of fun. The winner this week is Sally from Michigan. Brava, Sally!

Sunday 24 July 2011

Free Jigsaw Download - Irmgard Gierl - A Needleprint Give Away to Come!

It was perhaps the books of Dr Irmgard Gierl that I came to first, many years ago, and I have much to thank her for in terms of of all the pleasure and delight from sampler working and study that has been joy to pursue and to share ever since. We'll have this super book as a give away soon. In the meantime I hope you enjoy the cover as your subject for a free jigsaw download this week. 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 23 July 2011

Accenting The Micheál and Elizabeth Feller Collection & Where to Buy in the Netherlands

I have had many questions about that accented a in Micheál Feller's name - no, it is not a misprint, the acute accent really does rise over the letter a and not the e. This accent is called a síneadh fada and is a feature of Irish Gaelic. (In Scottish Gaelic the accent is grave and falls down on the vowel as opposed to rising.) Its nature is to lengthen the vowel sound. So, there you have it. And the image is one of the book pages showing details of the fabulous Frances Lockwood's sampler of 1633. If you live in the Netherlands then you can obtain a copy of this book from the wonderful Naald & Draad in Roermond and Boekhandel van de Moosdijk in Someren.

Friday 22 July 2011

Sale of Betty Ring Samplers at Sotheby's New York * 22/23 January 2012

Nancy Druckman, Senior Vice President, Head, American Folk Art Department at Sotheby's, New York writes: The sale of the Betty Ring Collection of American schoolgirl embroideries will take place during the sale of Important Americana – scheduled for January 22 and 23, 2012. At this moment, we have not confirmed if the sale will take place on Saturday, January 22 or Sunday, January 23. The exhibition for the sale will open to the public on January 14 and run through January 19. The printed, single owner catalogue will be available sometime after Christmas, with the online catalogue available soon thereafter.

Thursday 21 July 2011

Samplers From The Closet * Maria Magdalenakerk in Goes, Netherlands * 9 July - 17 August 2011

More than 120 samplers from private collections dating from 1750 are now on display in the Maria Magdalenakerk in Goes, Netherlands until 17 August. The exhibition and concept of the exhibition is wonderful since each piece comes with a description and narrative from its particular owner, providing a unique insight into its history and background. Above you can see a rare Surinamese sampler from Paramaribo dated 1894 worked by C Nyhof. Another owner has provided samplers from 5 generations of stitchers. The exhibition is free and opening times are: Monday to Friday 11.00-17.00 and Saturday from 12.00-16.00. Click here for more information.

While you are there do stop by the Museum of Bevelanden also to see a fabulous exhibition of contemporary stitched tea-towels. For more information on this exhibition, click here.

Wednesday 20 July 2011

Sunbury Millenium Embroidery and Jigsaw

How can it be so long since the Millenium? I am still stumbling across some lovely stitching projects worked by local communities to celebrate 2000 and the one at Sunbury on Thames stumbled across me in the most delightful way when I was antiquing in Dorking. It was the subject of one of the lovely Wentworth wooden jigsaws which I collect avidly whenever I find them. So I went hunting for more information. The embroidery is composed of a central panel with eight side panels. Here you can see the central panel depicting the village which is composed of over 130 separate pieces of embroidery. These include churches and pubs, hotels, shops and house-boats as well as many features of local flora and fauna. Do visit the website for more information on the stitching and embroiderers.
And, yes, the puzzle is wonderful collector's item. It comes boxed with a nice green bag for the pieces together with a brochure on the embroidery project. I love the eccentric jigsaw shapes - some of them are in shapes of small ducks! There are 250 pieces that will amuse two people for an afternoon. The jigsaw can be shipped worldwide and for more details about buying one for yourself or as a gift for a friend, just click here.

Tuesday 19 July 2011

A Belated Give Away from The Lady Lever Art Gallery

I know, I know... I had meant to offer this give away sooner - but what with the new books arriving and all the extra work, I am afraid it got lost for a while in the pile - as things do. But, I hadn't forgotten my promise to you - here you are at last. It is an informative 16 page brochure from the Lady Lever Art Gallery in Port Sunlight, Liverpool - a wonderful place to visit - but do book ahead to see the embroideries as they are not always on show. You can click on the image above to download the jigsaw - but sadly not for Mac users. And just click on the flying angel below to enter the draw, which will take place in a week's time on 26th July.

Monday 18 July 2011

Quakers & Darners at Bonhams, Knowle * Queen Anne Sampler at Lawrences of Bletchingley * 26 July 2011

After the whirl of last week it's time to look at some interesting samplers up for auction in just over a week's time. Remember to contact the auction houses as soon as possible if you are contemplating bidding. Bonhams at Knowle have some wonderful samplers lined up in their 26th July sale at Knowle. Click here for more details. Lot  270 is an unmistakeable Ackworth School Damask pattern darning sampler worked in black and cream. Signed Mary Coleby and dated 1798 this specimen measures 21cm x 23 cm framed (8" x 9" approx) and carries an estimate of  £1,500 - £2,500
Lot 250 consists of two early 19th century Quaker samplers worked by Hannah Wood at Plaistow School in 1802 and 1800/1801 (see above and below). The one above is finely worked in black silk on linen and framed it measures 22cm x 31cm (9" x 12" approx). Below is an alphabet and moral verse sampler featuring the typographical ligatures of Quaker samplers of this time. It is dated twice and is also worked in black silk on linen, framed it measures 27.5cm x 26.5cm ( 11" x 10" approx) and the estimate for both samplers together is £500 - £700
Above is an image of the Quaker Meeting House at Plaistow which was probably also where classes were held.
Lot 269 above is a late 18th century pattern darned sampler worked in silk on linen. It measures 30cm x 28.5cm (12" x 11" approx) and comes with another sampler entitled 'The Hymn' by Mary Ann Burton, dated 1831 (not shown). The estimate for the pair of samplers together is £250 - £350
Two other beautiful late 18th century pattern darned samplers are also joined in a single lot 277. The one above features 25 squares of different samples of embroidery around a central floral motif and numerous initials, worked in polychrome silk on a silk ground, 34cm square (13" square approx) and it resembles closely another sampler in a private collection. For auction with this sampler is the one below inscribed Susannah Garner, worked in silk on a linen ground. It measures 36cm x 36cm (14" square approx) and together they come with an estimate of  £700 - £900
Lawrences of Bletchingley are also having an auction on 26th July and Lot 1469 is this Queen Anne band sampler, worked in polychrome silks with stylized flowers, alphabet and numerals is signed with Elizabeth Burges and is dated 1701. It measure 20ins x 8ins and shows some fading. It has an estimate of £400 - £600. For more details of this sampler click here.

Sunday 17 July 2011

Soulful Stitching * Museum of the African Diaspora, California * 15 July - 18 Sept 2011

Stitching knows no boundaries - it travels around the world and traditions follow the nomad or displaced needle; the conscripted prisoner and the willing migrant. This spectacular exhibition showcases 32 quilts stitched by women who are heirs of enslaved or merchant Africans and who left their East African shores for Goa in India as far back as the 16th century. These women of African descent, known as Siddis in India, have adopted and adapted local traditions of quilting to create unique quilting styles and designs.
The traveling exhibition is co-curated by Dr. Henry J. Drewal, Evjue-Bascom Professor of African and African Diaspora Arts at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Dr. Sarah K. Khan, Director of the Tasting Cultures Foundation.
For more information click here.

Saturday 16 July 2011

The Winner of the Micheál and Elizabeth Feller Needlework Collection Volume 1

I was just looking at the price of Needleprint Books on and have been sniffing a cup of tea ever since.... I do realise how many people would dearly love this book - but you shall never have to pay dearly for it - or for other Needleprint books while they are in print, I promise.

Click here for a copy for $90 including airmail postage worldwide.

Click here for a copy for $40 including airmail postage worldwide.
If you have any doubt where you can obtain a copy or if you are having difficulties obtaining a copy we can link you to a shop near you who will be happy to help you. Just click on the flying angel below if you would like help. And in the meantime an angel will be flying over to Sharon in Virginia, USA to present her with a copy of our new book which she won in today's draw.

Friday 15 July 2011

The Doggy Bag Winner

It has been such a busy, hectic, mad week that this morning I found there wasn't enough in the fridge to make even a Bottom of the Fridge Soup for lunch. Nothing for it but to go foraging to fill the doggy bag. As it was a pleasant day, I took myself off to the farm shop in Abinger Hammer where Jack the Blacksmith rings the bell on the hour with, yes, his hammer. So, like a child, I spent half an hour in a busy day waiting for the hour to strike. I knew once I had made that decision that I was lost. I surrendered myself to the day and serendipity and followed the road into Dorking to look at the wonderful antique and fabric stores there. If you are in this part of the world, the town is well worth a visit.
I realised at some point I would just have to come back home and get on with work, but returning the country route I passed Wotton Hatch and an intriguing little Saxon church I always see from the road and always mean to visit and somehow never do. So, today had to be the day. But as luck would have it, the church was closed. However, I looked around and admired the bed head graves, which are the horizontal bars you can see in the foreground of the print. Extending from these wooden bed heads are quilted mounds of fire-stone, or old brick. Then as luck would have it the gardener arrived and I asked when the church opened for vistors and he told me after service on Sundays. So, I said I would call back on Sunday. Just as I was about to set off home, he came up to me and planted a big placard announcing there would be no service this Sunday. He shrugged, I shrugged. Some other Sunday then. I made to set off again and he came back up to me and asked where I lived. Then he said he had a key to the church and could show me round now. Inside the church was very small and very plain, very little to see and I was about to drop some money in the collections box and thank him, when he told me about the Lady Chapel. I followed him to a side chapel, where, amazingly there were three fabulous Stuart tablet monuments on the walls and two 17th century coffin shaped floor monuments - one of which was the tomb of John Evelyn, the famous diarist. Well, well, well. Serendipity strikes again! And serendipity has also struck this evening for Torrie in North Carolina who was first out of the draw for the Doggie Bag. Congratulations, Torrie. I know there were a few of you who would have loved to buy a similar bag if you didn't win, but it looks like it was limited edition and sadly, I can find no others for you. I did my best.