Tuesday 31 July 2012

Upcoming Sampler Auctions

There is not a great deal happening at auction at the moment - probably because we have hit holiday season - though many holiday makers would be glad to escape the downpours for the cover and enjoyment of some good auctions right now! The Adam and Eve sampler above with those fabulous twinned houses is Lot 235 at Ryedale Auctioneers on 4 August. The sampler is dated 1834 and is by Elizabeth Cravens aged 12 with crisp red colour. The estimate is £150 - £250. Click here for more details.
The pictorial and prose sampler above was worked by Harriet Powell aged 10 years in 1843 - it does have some holes and wear. This is Lot 857 measuring 31cm x 38cm for auction on 4 August at Willingham Auctions with an estimate of £60 - £100. Click here for more details.
These two framed samplers above are worked by relatives Mary Ann and Sarah Dyson. Mary Ann Dyson's is dated 1839 and was worked when she was 12. It is 12 ins square. Sarah Dyson's is dated 1894  say the auctioneers and is in poor condition - I think maybe the date has been misread and could be 1834 but you must get the auctioneers to check this! It measures 12 3/4 x 11 1/2 ins. They are in the same Lot 285 for auction on  8 August with an estimate of £150 - £200 at Diamond Mills Auctioneers. Click here for more details.

Godiva Walks Again

Some of you may not yet be aware of this fabulous project which now has legs and is making its way from Coventry to London. It - or should it be she? - is a 6 metre high puppet of Lady Godiva - and there is also her horse.

Textile projects don't get much bigger than this coat for Godiva. This time Godiva is not naked as in her legend - but has been clothed by the famous designer Zandra Rhodes and her dress and coat stitched by craftspeople, students and volunteers - with a little help from the general public too!

There is magic stitched here - what inspired dreams can be wrought with needle and thread still - congratulations everyone! Here you can see some of the coat in detail. There is a wonderful BBC video of Godiva on the move - click here for the link.

Monday 30 July 2012

Punto A Croce Winner

I am delighted to announce that the winner of the Punto A Croce Pattern Book is Maria from Brasil. Congratulations to Maria and thanks to everyone who entered. A very special draw coming up in a couple of weeks. Don't give up hope of winning something.

Sunday 29 July 2012

Lily, Elizabeth and Jack Yeats and Church Sodality Banners

In the latest edition of Text from the Textile Society, Nicola Gordon Bowe describes the revival in hand embroidery in Ireland in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Famous amongst those leading the revival were Lily and Elizabeth Yeats, sisters of William Butler Yeats (the poet) and Jack Yeats (the artist). Inspired by William Morris, the sisters worked with the Dun Emer Guild. Their aim was to find a use for Irish hands in the making of beautiful things. They educated young girls local girls to work with Irish-sourced materials honest and true. Here you can see Lily and her students at work - and behind them are church sodality banners for which they became well-regarded.

Here is a finished sodality banner signed Lily Yeats and as you can see it bears the initials of the designer in the lower left - JB, for Jack Butler (Yeats). You can read more about this fascinating and important embroidery revival movement in the Textile Society's journal Text. Even if you cannot attend the exceptional events and meetings, the full colour journal with over 100 pages is well worth the subscription. Click here for more details.

Saturday 28 July 2012

Jane Greenoff's Bristol Orphanage Printed Fabric

I am delighted to see in my latest Cross Stitch Guild Magazine, packed with all sorts of wonderful stitching projects, that Jane Greenoff has had the brilliant idea to print on fabric a Bristol Orphanage Sampler stitched by Catherine Archer. And that this fabric on 40 ct linen can be purchased by Cross Stitch Guild Members to make up into all manner of delightful items.

For more details and how to join The Cross Stitch Guild, just click here.

Friday 27 July 2012

Olympic Gold for Art? Architecture? Music?...... Why No Textile Arts?!

It is rather strange now to contemplate that between 1912 and 1948, Olympic medals were awarded for: literature, music, painting, sculpture, and architecture. According to Richard Stanton's book The Forgotten Olympic Arts Competitions a total of 147 medals were awarded in these arts categories over the years. Germany won a total of 24, Italy 14, France 13, and tied with nine medals each were Austria, Denmark, Great Britain, and the United States. I am asking myself why no textile arts figured in this list.... However, as I sit and toast the opening of the the London 2012 Olympic tonight, I shall feel as though we have done a little to mitigate that omission with our competition - A Mirror To My Art. I have already received images of some completed pieces and I hope those working on their competition pieces are really enjoying their projects.
As Her Majesty the Queen parachuted in to open the Olympics with James Bond - let it never be said that she lacks humour..... image by Fabrizio Bensch, courtesy Reuters.

Thursday 26 July 2012

A New Dimension for a Time Lord

Today, getting ready for a funeral, Richard brought me news of the death of a school friend - one of those days. Mary Tamm was the girl with thick plaits who sat next to me at primary school and together with another friend called Olga we won scholarships to senior school. Mary had the voice of an angel and I cannot to this day at Christmas sing Three Kings From Orient Lands Afar without remembering her clear voice when she sang the solo in our last year Christmas concert for parents. She went on to do many things, one of which was to be Romana, a Time Lord in the Doctor Who Series in the 70s. But perhaps the other thing I remember most strongly is when, as lower sixth formers, we were gathered in assembly and heard an appeal for Cancer Research. That was the moment moment when we were told the real facts of life - that one in four of us would get cancer and that one in three of us would die of cancer. Well disciplined as we were it was the hardest challenge not to turn our heads to take stock of the full portent of those words. Please remember your local charity for Cancer Research and Care.

Wednesday 25 July 2012

Map Samplers at Auction

This is a very interesting pair of map samplers because they are attributed to M Gortley at Plymtree School in Devon and dated 1797, and because the first exemplar on the left is a rare circular world map. They are both Lot 214 for auction by Campbells of Worthing on 31st July 2012 and have an estimate of £80-£100. For more details click here.
The map sampler above is for auction by Stride and Sons and is Lot 368 in their 27th July sale. It is a George III map sampler, of oval form measuring 54.5 x 48cm. Also in the same lot is another George III verse sampler by Susannah Price dated 20th March 1771 aged 11 years. For more details of this lot, click here.

Tuesday 24 July 2012

Better The Devil You Sew at Oxfam North Street Brighton

Better The Devil You Sew is the name of the brand created by Oxfam volunteers for their redesigned, upcycled garments which are a true inspiration. For those of you not in the know, Oxfam is short for the Oxford Campaign for Famine Relief which has been running for as long as I remember and has charity stores - thrift stores - throughout the UK. They sell everything from books to biodegradeable washing-up liquid, couture to fair trade chocolate. This latest venture gives young designers/redesignators a platform to create outfits from donated clothes and an outlet for their stitching talents - truly heart-warming. At the moment they are in North Street Brighton - the clothes are well stitched, fun and well-priced. Do support this venture if you can - hopefully we shall see more Oxfam shops working with young design/stitching volunteers in this way.

Punta A Croce Pattern Book Give Away Draw

We have had a sudden break out of summer and sun and colour here, so we are all in slightly crazy celebration mode. And just for a bit of fun I thought some of you might like this little Italian Cross Stitch Booklet as a free give away in a draw this week.

There are about 2 dozen pattern pages in all.

I particularly like the joyful traditional costumes - and there is also a troupe of Commedia Del Arte figures.
To enter the free draw for the give away - just click on the flying angel below. We'll pick a winner from the hat next Monday 30 July.

Sunday 22 July 2012

The Micheál & Elizabeth Feller Needlework Collection Volume II Coming September 2012

I've had a spate of emails from people who think this book has now been published, so I thought it best to tell you that it is still on schedule for publication in September 2012 - not too long to wait now. You can place advance orders with your shop now. If you missed the earlier sneak preview of The Micheál & Elizabeth Feller Needlework Collection Volume II here you can see a small sample spread from each section. Just click here or on the cover image to see the flipping book version. When you see the book in the flesh, as it were, you will realise this is 2 books in 1 volume. In fact I know no other book that has ever been published like this one. This time there are two lovely charted samplers from the collection for you. In the book are 400 samplers, plus pinballs, pockets, huswifs. The Micheál & Elizabeth Feller Needlework Collection is a world class sampler collection and it is described here by Elizabeth Feller, so you can understand how this extraordinary and fabulous collection came into being. I hope you will love it as much as we do. We expect it will be shipping in September, but I will keep you updated.

Saturday 21 July 2012

US Sampler Auction Sites

Thank you very much to Birthe from Calgary, Canada for sharing some on-line auction sites that regularly sell samplers. The first is Pook and Pook Inc of Philadelphia. To visit their site just click this link and enter the search term Sampler in the box at the top right.
Another auction site is Skinner of Massachussetts - to see their catalogues, click here and enter Sampler as a search term.
Last but not least is Garth's of Ohio. To see their past sampler sales, click here.

Friday 20 July 2012

Staging the World - Shakespeare at the British Museum * Until 25 November 2012

During the summer of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games the British Museum presents a major exhibition on the world and works of William Shakespeare, supported by BP. Shakespeare: staging the world is part of the World Shakespeare Festival in the London 2012 Festival. The exhibition provides a new and unique insight into the emerging role of London as a world city four hundred years ago, interpreted through the innovative perspective of Shakespeare’s plays. The exhibition features over 190 objects, including coins, armour, textiles, sculpture and paintings such as the famous Sieve Portrait of Queen Elizabeth I shown here by Quentyn Metsys the Younger, 1583. (Pinacoteca Nazionale, Siena). For a minute and a half taster see the video below. While on the subject of Shakespeare and fabulously inspiring videos, I have to tell you about the magnificent Hollow Crown cycle of Shakespeare's Richard II, Henry IV pt 1 and pt 2 and Henry V which we have been in raptures about each Saturday night for the last month. If you follow the link below you will see a taster from Henry IV pt 1 featuring the Geordie Armstrongs père et fils, Alun and Joe, playing the powerful Percys of the Northern Marches in Northumbria - with Geordie accents. Young Joe Armstrong plays Hotspur who has just vanquished the Scots and, as was the custom, taken hostages for lucrative ransom. However, the King demands his right them. Hotspur is not impressed - particularly since the Percys were the family that helped the exiled Henry Lancaster back to his lands, after which he seized the crown from Richard II to become Henry IV.

Thursday 19 July 2012

New Zealand Greetings - The Wyndham Sampler

Greetings to stitchers and those waiting in the cold for a bus in New Zealand, we here are growing gills and acclimatizing to a sub aquatic existence, which may mean we start to look as verdant as our lawns! Just so everyone is entirely clear - New Zealand has a thriving sampler and stitching society, with active researchers like well-loved Vivien Caughley, and fabulous stores like Heirlooms in Napier. Samplers travelled easily and lightly with those crossing the globe for a new life, as evidenced by this stunning sampler from the Wyndham and District Historical Museum in NZ, which was likely stitched by Mary Meikle in 1836. It is probable that Mary was born to Robert Meikle and Sarah McPherson in Lanarkshire, Scotland. Robert's name is worked in black, the custom being that he was deceased at the time of stitching. In fact, Sarah went on to marry Andrew Wilson in 1826, who would have become Mary's step-father. I particularly like the variation on the dedication: I have done this to let you see how kind my parents were to me. Which feels a little less remote than the usual - what good care my parents took of me. This is such a fabulous Scottish sampler with its large thistle, cupped garlands, row of family initials and the distinctive paired urns in the lower corners. But not only that, there are two darling confronting birds perched on a heart over the word Amor - Love. And look at the labelled deer and lepord. And for good measure, at the base is a Solomon's Temple above which the date stands with its quirky reversal of the numeral 3. For your copy of this sampler contact Sherelyn at Heirlooms, NZ or visit the Heirlooms web-site.

Wednesday 18 July 2012

Loudon Museum Threatened With Closure

I just had this worrying news from the Sampler Consortium today:
This is an urgent appeal from the Loudon Museum in Leesburg, Virginia. On July 9 the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors' Finance Committee voted to recommend elimination of funding for the Loudoun Museum. If the recommendation is adopted, the museum will close and its collections dispersed. One-third of the Loudoun Museum Collection consists of textiles made in Loudoun County and northern Virginia between the 18th and 20th centuries. The collection includes schoolgirl samplers, quilts, coverlets, costumes, historic clothing, needlework tools and accessories. The Loudoun Museum sampler collection owes its existence to Betty Whiting Flemming, who worked tirelessly to acquire, document, and promote girlhood embroideries. In 1995, forty samplers were displayed in an exhibit curated by Betty. In the exhibit's accompanying catalog, "Threads of History," Flemming wrote, "Most of the embroideries were made by girls in Loudoun County between the years 1792 and 1860." Pam Stewart, former curator of the Loudoun Museum, provides this additional information: "The LM sampler collection, in addition to those made in Loudoun, includes a number of Quaker girl samplers, as well as a 1799 English silk map sampler, a Virginia centennial sampler featuring Jack Jouett, the Susan Constant, and other key VA historical sites, a Janney sampler, several sewing samplers and a knitting sampler from Germany. Another highlight is the Esther Shivers sampler, beautifully worked on dark linen - a real eye-catcher." Help keep the Loudoun Museum open and the sampler collection intact. What can you do? Email the County Board of Supervisors and argue for continued funding of the museum. Their email is:

Tuesday 17 July 2012

Prêt-à-Papier - Trompe L'Oeil Gowns by Isabelle de Borchgrave

In Washington, DC this time, at Hillwood is another wonderful exhibition by Belgian born Isabelle de Borchgrave who recreates fabulous iconic historic fashion by simply crumpling bits of paper.....

The fashions date from the 17th to 20th centuries. The exhibition runs until 20 December 2012.

Above is the coronation robe of the Empress Josephine.

And above an 18th century gown in the style of Marie Antoinette.
For more details about the exhibition, click here. And to see Isabelle at work, watch the video clip.

Monday 16 July 2012

Gather Up the Fragments * The Andrews Shaker Collection * 11 July - 28 October 2012 * Belle Vue Arts Museum * Washington

If you are up on the Pacific North West Coast you might like to know about this lovely exhibition. Gather Up the Fragments tells the story of the first and most avid collectors of Shaker art, Faith and Edward Deming Andrews.

This exhibition of more than 200 objects – several iconic Shaker gift drawings and functional household objects such as textiles, baskets and furniture – is the most comprehensive collection of 19th and early 20th century Shaker materials. It provides insight into this almost-vanished religious community, known for the ecstatic nature of their worship practices and commitment to celibacy, as well as the superb craftsmanship, inventiveness and simplicity of their creations. For more details, click here.

Sunday 15 July 2012

12th Century Sicilian Gold and Pearl Work Mantle

I am such a fan of the series of videos made by the SmartHistory Team within the Khan Academy. I watch at least one a day while I have a break to have a cup of tea. They usually last around 5 minutes - just the right length of time for those short relaxation breaks. This is a special video on textiles and features a coronation mantle from around 1133 that is now in the Neue Hofburg in Viena. The fabric is from Byzantium or Thebes and is samite worked with silk, gold, pearls, filigree, sapphires, garnets, glass, and cloisonné enamel. It is thought to have been made during the flowering time of Norman rule in Sicily at Palermo during the reign of King Roger. It is edged with a Kufic script which translated reads: This mantle was worked in the most magnificent clothing workshop and is connected with the desire and hopes, felicitous days and nights without cease or change, with authority, with honor and felicity, assurances of trust, reverent care, protection, good destiny, freedom from harm, triumph and livelihood in the capital city of Sicily in the year 528 - 1133/34 in the Gregorian calendar. To see the wonderful collection of SmartHistory videos, click here.

Saturday 14 July 2012

William Booth Draper of Dreams

I am not entirely sure how I came across this site, but I am thrilled to have discovered it and I think you might enjoy browsing it for yourself, if you don't know it already, that is. There are wonderful patterns for period clothing, including pockets, stockings, stomachers and caps.

There are kits for stomachers and pockets, including (below) the Deerfield pockets I was shown when I visited - very exciting.

And do check out the sewing tools and buttons and buckles - there are such fabulous items there - like the stilletos below.

Fabulous bone bodkins!

Busks for stomachers....

And wonderful hornfish needlecases!
Click here to browse or buy from William Booth Draper.

Friday 13 July 2012

Madelena Antiques - Samplers

It is a bizarre omission that Madelena Antiques has not been mentioned before now on this blog. I first met David some 6 or 7 years ago and later he came to show his fine antique samplers at The Ackworth seminars in 2006 and again in 2008.

Based in the UK, David's daughter-in-law Bridget set up a Madelena hub in the USA and to date Madelena have shipped 2,400 samplers to 37 different countries. So, no matter where you live, whether you are a dealer, designer, home decorator, collector, antique lover or just a shopper with a discerning eye, you will find something you love at

At the moment there are 95 samplers for you to browse - just click here to see more at the Madelena site.