Thursday, February 10, 2011


Nothing to show. I'm reading like mad. I'm still reading English Domestic Needlework--1660-1860 by Therle Hughes. I find my attention wandering and so my reading's slow. My fingers are beginning to itch to stitch so I may begin my samplers. I'm still trying to find a form for them and/or a design. So I'm reading.Today I got an interlibrary loan copy of Queen Elizabeth's Wardrobe Unlock'd, edited by Janet Arnold. This is a bit before my time frame but I've always wanted to read it and I think it will be a good grounding. That's my excuse and I'm sticking with it. (It's a fascinating book even at first glance.) I'm reading, mostly online, about the dyes and colors they would have had in the 17th Century--below is fustic dyed silk. (from Aurora Silks)
And I'm coming up with more and more questions. Like why, after many years of exquisite fine silk embroidery, stumpwork and needlelace, would there be a fashion for crewel wools. It's beautiful, but seems huge and kind of clumsy next to work like the medieval Opus Anglicanum.

What caused wool embroidery to come into fashion? Why at this time? And who did the embroidery? Was it professionals or perhaps women at home? Middle or upper class?

The other thing I've discovered. I am very (very) literal. So. The Jacobean era is named after King James I, who ruled from 1603 to the 1620s. I assumed Jacobean Crewel embroidery would have it's roots during his reign. If it did, they're deep underground.

So far, I'm not finding examples that I can identify as this style until at least the mid-17th Century(which is why I'm paying so much attention to Therle Hughes's book). This timing makes sense if, as the crewel stitch books all seem to indicate, the designs are derived from imports from India and the Far East, primarily by the East India Company. The EIC wasn't chartered until 1600 and it took them a while to get up and running full steam. I'm adding to my book list.

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