Sunday 30 June 2013

Free Kindle Needlework Books

If you have a Kindle eBook then you might be interested to hear that there are a number of free books that are available for instant download.

Here is a selection to let you see what is there.

If you search just the Kindle section and type in embroidery for the search argument then you will get about 11 pages of books. Some of the books are very reasonably priced.

And there are some patterns too - has anyone tried cross-stitching from an eBook pattern - does it work?

Saturday 29 June 2013

Advertisers In Stitches

I am always intrigued when I see needlework used in advertising. Let's turn this on its head a bit and ask: what is the special magic that advertisers divine in what we stitchers do, which can be put to good use in the emotional psyche of the readers to generate a favourable response to their products? What does needlework have to do with fried slivers of potato which we all know pack more carbs than we can ever hope to burn off plying our needles? Is this advert designed to be sympathetic to needleworkers? To women in general? To people who are nostalgic for the decline in stitching and homely values? Or is its sixties style meant to pick off a certain generation who have got over worrying about their figures? Is it the fact that nurturing use of the hands - handcrafting - links to the advertiser's copy picked, gathered and grown to imply hand picked, hand gathered, grown with human hand? Or.... what do you think?

Friday 28 June 2013

Costume History in Bury St Edmunds, Near Cambridge, UK

With all the wealth of sights around Cambridge, it is easy to overlook some local gems. One of the best is the ancient Burgh of St Edmunds some 30 miles due east of Cambridge where in 869AD the Christian King Edmund was shot to death by Viking arrows. The Burgh became rich as pilgrims from Europe came to vist the tomb of the martyr and the abbey built there to commemorate Edmund was the third largest one in Europe. Today you can find a delightful county town. The first place to visit is the museum, Moyse's Hall. Here you can explore the collection of costumes and textiles that dates from around 1600 to the present day and includes some fine examples of seventeenth-century embroidery and eighteenth-century embroidered waistcoats as well as a great variety of nineteenth century women's and children's wear.

Moyse's Hall is an ancient building that has had many uses through the course of time. Today, it houses a textile collection specializing in fine embroideries and costume with ornate surface decoration. The seventeenth-century examples include sleeve-panels with fashionable strawberry designs in red silks and gold thread. An elaborate man's cap and a lady's coif are decorated with Tudor rose and other floral motifs, while a frame picture of the same period has the classical figure of Charitas, surrounded by similar creatures created in numerous exquisitely detailed embroidery techniques.

Don't miss a period production at the Theatre Royal while you are there - the pretty theatre dates back to regency times.
Have lunch in Pea Porridge 28-29 Cannon Street for a wonderful local produce menu served for £12.50 for two courses - £16.50 for three. It is next door to the Old Cannon Microbrewery where you can enjoy a numbered bottle of Gunner's Daughter for aperitif.
And THE place to stay is the Angel Inn overlooking the wide square which fronts the Abbey grounds.

Thursday 27 June 2013

Darning Samplers From Diaconie Orphanage

Some four years ago we had a post on special Dutch orphanage darning samplers (click here to read the post) - so lover that I am of piecing together sampler jigsaw mysteries, I was delighted to receive an email from Hinke in the Netherlands, showing me one of her samplers which is virtually identical to the one seen in that earlier post. Both were made by young women such as those pictured in the old postcard above.

Above you can see again an image of the sampler we posted and below is Hinke's sampler. The sampler above was stitched in 1887 and Hinke's in 1887 and you will notice all the large initials - those relating the Orphanage Mothers -  are identical.

In fact there is almost a formulaic similarity between the works with one or two minor deviations which mark out, together with the girl's name, their individuality. The placement of the central bird is one such variation.

Who knows - you may be the next to find a similar sampler!

Wednesday 26 June 2013

The Scuola di Ricami Ranieri di Sorbello

While enjoying a study day at the Museo Storico della Tappezzeria in the Villa Spada in Bologna I came across a lovely blue embroidered cloth (under glass) with an intriguing tag. The tag is in English and is attached to what I can only construe to have been a souvenir handicraft aimed at British or North American tourists. I decided to research the Scuola Ricami (Embroidery) Sorbello when I returned home and had more free time.

It is a fascinating story. And it all goes back to a young lady from New Jersey, USA. Romeyne Robert who you can see here was born in Morristown, New Jersey, in 1878, the daughter of Charlotte Shaw and Robert Howell who was descended from 18th century French Huguenot emigres to America. Travelling to Italy with her mother, Romeyne met Ruggero Ranieri di Sorbello, whom she married in 1902. The Sorbellos had a Palazzo in Perugia, about 100 miles south west of Florence and Romeyne immersed herself in its redecoration. The Sorbellos also had a family villa at Pischiello, near Lake Trasimeno and it was here that Romeyne set up her embroidery school for local girls. It was just at this time when there was a great revival of embroidery and lace-making throughout Europe - Ruskin Lace in the Lake District, Aemilia Ars in Bologna, the Venetian School Burano are some of the examples.

The young, often poor, embroiderers were given the opportunity to learn a trade and to build up a dowry. They also received religious and ethical education. Romeyne was probably inspired by the schools in America which taught a trade to immigrant women, allowing them to integrate.  Here you can see the students stitching really quite large, sometimes shared, works in their hand without stretchers.

The girls worked on unique, one-off pieces, so they would have had a great cachet. Romeyne, with the help of her friend Amari Carolina Florence, revived and patented a stitch called Umbrian-point found in the ancient textile collections of the Countess Rucellai in Florence, renaming it Point Sorbello. It consists of a set of stitches that give a raised effect. The colours most frequently used were white or ecru, red, russet, green and blue in the typical Umbrian tradition. The school closed around 1934 when America imposed a tax on imported goods. You can see embroidery from the school in the Cooper Hewitt Museum, New York.

Tuesday 25 June 2013

Quaker Sampler @ Auction 26 June 2013

Lot 714 for auction at Jeffreys tomorrow is a black silk text sampler worked by Elizabeth Harward, at Chelmsford in 1827. The sampler measures 12.5" x 11" and has no estimate. Click here for more details.

Monday 24 June 2013

Free Give Away - Wendy Hope Falkner's Chickens Tapestry Pincushion Kit

I'd like to think we have a few younger readers who enjoy stitching, so to some extent I would like to encourage them to enter this free give away draw - or perhaps you are a mum, auntie or nanna who will spend time overseeing a favourite young person as they make up this delightful pincushion. It is not an arduous task and a little love and conversation will make the working a real pleasure. So when you enter do tell us who will be working this kit. It is brand new and purchased specially for this draw - shop value is around £15. Just click on the flying angel below and I'll announce a winner next Monday 8 July 2013.

Sunday 23 June 2013

Aemilia Ars Peacock Lace Design - Free Jigsaw Download

The Museo Storico della Tappezzeria at the Villa Spada in Bologna has some wonderful designs for needle-lace and this is one of my favourites which I photographed when I was there for a study day, to show you. It was designed by Guido Fiorini (1879-1960)  for the Aemilia Arts School. Guido was also an architect and prolific set designer - and as you can see elements of both these disciplines are very visible in his design for this lady's collar. To download the jigsaw - 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 22 June 2013

Textile Treasures in Frankfurt Historical Museum

This darning pattern sampler was worked by Christine Stricker in 1806 and is now in Frankfurt Historic Museum - accession number X28405. It is one of the many costume and textile treasures to be enjoyed there.

This rather beautiful beaded purse is in fact a tobacco pouch! From the 1st quarter of the 19th century, it is inscribed: tobacco smoke wraps up each care. Not quite like the health warnings we have these days! Below is a sample book from Sarasin & Co from Frankfurt Am Main. Click here to visit.

Thursday 20 June 2013

Stitched Treasures of Winchester Cathedral

While on my Jane Austen pilgrimage a few weeks' ago, I visited Winchester Cathedral - one of the loveliest cathedrals in the UK, set in a pleasant old town. While there, I just had to check on the embroideries. Not sure of what I might find, I found a veritable treasure of kneelers and pew cushions. In fact, there are so many, the cathedral is a very comfortable place to rest ones bones for a while!

There are over 600 embroidered cushions - and alms bags - of exceptional design and quality. All of them in daily use. In fact, I so wanted to get down on my knees and retrieve this upturned cushion from the dusty floor boards. Fifty years ago there were fears expressed about the survival of the embroideries and suggestions that they were reserved only for special usage. However, it would be sad indeed to be deprived of these stitched meditations.

And here we see the hand, eye and organization of that indomitable needlework woman at work - Louisa Pesel, first President of the Embroiderers’ Guild of England in 1920. Working with 160 other embroiderers, she created: 365 kneelers for the congregation; 32 choir kneelers; 60 stall cushions; 17 bench cushions; the lectern carpet; the litany kneeler; the communion rail edges; the borders for the curtains of the bishop's throne, 56 festival almsbags (14 for each of the 4 seasons) and 40 named almsbags!

The Pesel kneelers were largely stitched by the Broderers' Guild founded in 1931 whose first grant was towards the kneelers. Other cushions were embroidered by schoolgirls evacuated to Winchester during WWII. Louisa Pesel produced the designs based on the Cathedral's many medieval tiles. What appears to be over-dyed background stitching was produced by changing thread shade every twenty stitches. The newest set of cushions have been stitched by the Channel Islands parishes which are part of the Winchester Diocese. There is a small 36 page booklet on the embroideries - Stitched and Woven: The Embroideries of Winchester Cathedral by Sheila Gray.

And then of course there are the magnificent altar cloths which are changed according to the season. All this in a cathedral that has the longest nave in the entire world! Don't leave it too long before you visit!

Wednesday 19 June 2013

Embroidery from Provence

When I was in France this winter browsing the bookstores, I came across this charming and not very well-known embroidery book and thought I would share it with you. The title is a lovely play on words. Provence - particularly the Bouches du Rhone is famous for the wind called the Mistral blasting down the Rhone valley from the mountains. And if you look carefully at the paintings and sketches made by Van Gogh in St Remy de Provence you will see he painted the Mistral. Even on a clear blue sunshiny day the air can be in a howling rage all about you and the only thing you can see that's different is a slight curl to the top of the high pines and cypresses. Mistral is also the name of Frédéric Mistral who was instrumental in preserving and promoting the ways of the old Langue d'Oc of the south (as opposed to the Langue d'Oui of the North).
There are a number of little projects described and charted in this book based upon that old southern culture. Here you can see some pretty pockets embroidered with ladies in their Arlesienne finery. Every year there is a festival where the women of Arles dress - and my goodness me, they are beauties in their costume!
Here you can see a project to embellish a shirt - this is very much in the spirit of the Saintes Maries de la Mer where the summer attire for trekking on those fabulous white horses is a pair of chick jeans, cowboy boots and some exquisitely embroidered, tailored shirt.
Frédéric Mistral was responsible for founding the Museon Arlaten at the end of the 19th century. While this museum is undergoing a six-year restoration that began in 2009, you can still see some of the rooms illustrated in this book. And it's only a snip at around €11! Click here for more details.

Tuesday 18 June 2013

Sampler Stories * Pakhuis Koophandel Museum, Leeuwarden, Netherlands * Until 31 October 2013

The Pakhuis Koophandel Museum is one of Leeuwarden's best kept secrets - don't miss this smaller museum if you are touring in the North Netherlands and planning to visit Leeuwarden's spectacular town museum. Some of these samplers are like nesting boxes, they tell stories referencing other stories referencing even older stories. Such as a sampler of 1786 the original of which is in the Zuiderzee museum. A pattern for this sampler was published in the 1980s and one lady, Geertje Dijkstra Hoff embroidered it in 1993. This sampler featured in the recording of a televised Douwe Egberts advert, and created a sensational amount of interest in samplers and sampler makers. Also in the exhibition are: antique samplers (the oldest is from 1694); embroidery patchwork from the Biedermeier time; darning samplers; red school samplers; contemporary samplers and samplers commemorating the life and tours of the Dutch royal family. Also on show are antique sewing kits from a private collection. The museum is open Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays from 11am to 5 pm. Click here for more details.

Monday 17 June 2013

Recipient of Merwaardig's 25th Anniversary Diary

The recipient of the dairy is Nancy in Ontario

For those of you who missed out this week - don't despair there will be other give always and you can always obtain a copy of this lovely diary by contacting our friend Erica. The price is 18 Euros excluding shipping just click here to place your order.