I was recently asked by an acquaintance why I was so attracted to antique needlework. It is such a difficult question to answer.
Needlework has such a long and fascinating history. In particular the study of samplers and reproducing them bring the rich sense of the past to the present, giving a link to those who went before. Researching a stitcher and discovering their story leads me down many different paths and lets me indulge my love of history. For me, what makes samplers so very special is the time I spend with the antique sampler working in my studio reproducing it and then with my needle stitching the model.
This precious time lets me bond with the little girl and I escape with her to the past, my head filled with my thoughts and dreams.
As I work I tend to listen to audio books and music that are relevant to the time and culture of a project. I am currently lost in the early 1800's on the banks on the Clyde with a young Scottish girl. We have traced her through birth, marriage, census and death records and my imagination as I stitch her sampler is filling in the rest.
I wonder what she dreamt and wished for - did she meet her prince and live happily ever after?
Last year I had the privilege to see the amazing Feller collection of needlework which spans the 16th to the 20th century. Seeing so many examples together emphasised how fashion and tastes change yet it is still the same lines and stitches that are used over and over again.
Throughout the world speech and countenance differ but one accomplishment that each culture has in common is embroidery. The needle stands for patience, hard work, beauty and thoughtfulness - all good qualities that draw us together.
I recently read "The needle has been the comfort and consolation of English women from the earliest times; from the bone needle found in dwellings of the Neolithic caveman before the last glacial period in Britain to the present day, and it will be the solace and delight as long as the world lasts"
The rhythm and repetition of plying a needle certainly soothes my soul and the satisfaction of creating is very rewarding. Time spent with my needle passes all too quickly.
In this modern age of technology and instant gratification you occasionally hear someone say that embroidery is not of this age. As we know that is not true. Good workmanship has its place in every age.
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