To the uninitiated embroidery exemplifies the monotonous pulling of a needle and thread through a scrap of material yet to the appreciators of the art there are limitless fields to be discovered, explored and enjoyed.
A simple photograph glimpsed or a short sentence read can be a starting point to take us on a new adventure with embroidery combining it with history, travel and many other subjects.
The current antique sampler on the easel in my studio is a Scottish sampler from the early 1800's, the charting is complete and I am busy stitching the model and am submersed in all things Scottish whether stories, music, history or geography. I am half expecting to open my mouth and speak with a Scottish accent or a Gaelic phrase !
The sampler has taken me on quite a meandering journey whilst researching Scottish needlework.
For anyone wishing to learn more about Scottish needlework a great place to start is with Naomi Tarrant's Remember Now Thy Creator: Scottish Girls’ Samplers, 1700 – 1872 and Textile Treasures: An Introduction to European Decorative Textiles for home and church in the National Museums of Scotland.
Turning to the Bibliography at back of the latter book there are some 2½ pages listing some wonderful written sources to delve into and with the internet site "google books" excerpts from many of these books are freely, easily and instantly available.
A book's bibliography can be the starting point of many voyages of discovery.
Scotland was an independent country until 1603. Then the king of Scotland became king of England (not the other way round), but the two countries didn't merge their governments until 1707, to form the Kingdom of Great Britain.
The modern game of golf originated in Scotland in the 15th century. First mentioned as 'gowf' in 1457, golf was originally played on a course of 22 holes.
Scotland is reputed for its whisky, known outside Scotland as Scotch Whisky. What few people know is that whisky was invented in China, and was first distilled by monks in Ireland in the early 15th century before reaching Scotland 100 years later.
The most infamous Scottish dish is haggis, normally made with sheep's 'pluck' (heart, liver, and lungs), minced with onion, oatmeal, suet, spices, and salt, mixed with stock, and traditionally boiled in the animal's stomach for approximately an hour.
Notable Scottish inventions include the method of logarithms (1614), tarmac (1820), the waterproof raincoat "mac"(1823), the hot blast furnace (1828), and the pneumatic tyre (1887).
Scotland has some 790 islands, 130 of which are inhabited and has more than 600 square miles of freshwater lakes, including the famous Loch Ness.
Scottish literature includes such names as Sir Walter Scott, Robert Burns, Lord Byron, Robert Louis Stevenson, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and J.K. Rowling.
At least 6 US Presidents were of Scottish descent : Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), James Madison (1751-1836), Andrew Jackson (1767-1845), James Knox Polk (1795-1849), William McKinley (1843-1901), Woodrow (Thomas) Wilson (1856-1924).
The two first Prime Minister of Canada, John A. Macdonald (1815-1891) and Alexander Mackenzie (1822-1892), were Scottish.
Many Australian Prime Ministers were also of Scottish descent, like George Reid (1845-1918). Andrew Fisher (1862-1928), Stanley Bruce (1883-1967), or Robert Menzies (1894-1978).
The official animal of Scotland is the Unicorn. The flower of Scotland is the thistle.
Scotland has the highest proportion of redheads in the world. Around 13 per cent of the population has red hair, with 40 per cent carrying the recessive gene.
The shortest scheduled flight in the world is one-and-a-half miles long from Westray to Papa Westray in the Orkney Islands of Scotland. The journey takes 1 minute 14 seconds to complete.
Like Rome, Edinburgh was built on seven hills and the capital has more listed buildings than anywhere in the world.
Queen Victoria is reputed to have smoked cigarettes during her visits to the Highlands of Scotland to keep away midges.
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