Friday, September 30, 2016

A Book of Days

A Book of Days

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Hands Across the Sea Samplers would like to share with you their delight in receiving the new Needle Work Press “A Needlework Enthusiast’s Book of Days” for 2017.
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It is a delightful and useful book that is so visually appealing and can be used by both stitchers and patch-workers alike to record progress on their projects.
The cover of the 2017 edition is charming with a young girl stitching away at her sampler in a garden. Just looking at the cover brings a smile to one’s face.
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Inside, the book is packed with thought provoking and poignant quotes from antique samplers, books and the Bible together with delightful black and white wood block images. Each month has the calendar spread over 2 pages with ample room to record your progress with your needlework. There is also space to record your thoughts under Notes and Musings. At the back of the book there are pages dedicated to advanced planning for 2018 together with an antique chart to use as you will to create your own design plus a lot more.
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It is a book that every Needlework Enthusiast would love to own, and will make a wonderful gift for stitching friends. Christmas is getting closer!
Ask your favourite Needlework Store if they stock this wonderful book, and if not ask them if they could order it for you. You won’t be sorry.
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We would like to say thank you to Vicki and Maegan of Needlework Press for creating these wonderful books for us to enjoy. They are truly wonderful.
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Thursday, September 29, 2016

The Cornish Knitfrock

The Cornish Knitfrock

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The tradition of knitting guernseys began as early as the 17th century in the Channel Islands. Around the same time, a Cornish industry in hand-spinning began to form, using the wool from local sheep to make yarn that could be sold at markets. By the end of the 18th century, the invention of new machinery made these hand-spinners redundant and the women turned to hand-knitting.
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Although knitting is now associated  with dark winter evenings in front of a roaring fire, before the days of homes lit by electricity people often knitted outdoors for better light. In cottage gardens all around the coast of Cornwall and the clickety-clack of knitting needles would have been a common sound and a common sight throughout villages would be men wearing a navy blue jumper.
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The tradition of Cornish guernseys, ganseys and knit-frocks has its roots firmly in the fishing industry which once dominated this region. Guernsey jumpers themselves are not uniquely Cornish – they have been made all over Britain for many years. Named from the knitting industry that found success in the Channel Islands, guernseys were nevertheless seen throughout the British mainland thanks to strong sea links. They are also common across the North Sea in Holland.
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However, it is only in Cornwall that the sweater is commonly referred to as a ‘Knitfrock’. In Newlyn, it was known as a ‘Worsted Frock’ with the word ‘Frock’ widely used throughout the 19th century to describe a man’s knitted garment as opposed to a sewn one.
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Those produced in Cornwall, however, have a distinct history all their own. The pattern of each garment showed, to a certain extent, the place in which it was made. Every Gansey tells its own story, this was originally for a very practical, if morbid, reason. As each village fishing community could be identified by the design on its Gansey, if the body of a fisherman was found it could then be returned to his home for burial meaning that if either fisherman or jumper was lost, its wearer could be identified. Naturally, in different parts of Cornwall patterns could be replicated by chance, but within small communities this identification process would have worked.
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On a practical level, the tightly knitted, and snug fitting the fisherman’s gansey was virtually windproof and waterproof. The cuffs were very close fitting so as to keep out winter winds and ended short of the wrist to avoid being caught on any pieces of equipment or becoming soaked as the fisherman worked at sea. Cast off at the bottom end, any necessary repairs could be made by unravelling from the cuff and re-knitting. As these working garments were rarely washed, a layer of filth would have given extra protection against the elements. If well-made, they could last for more than twenty years and became an item of clothing for all occasions. Young boys were given oversized guernseys that reached their knees; something to ‘grow into.’
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The upper part of the body was knitted more densely than the lower part to provide extra warmth, and it was on the yoke and upper arms that the knitters had the opportunity to show off their knitting skills and to elaborate on the basic stocking stitch with numerous variations.
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Wordless Wednesday

Wordless Wednesday

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Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Poldark

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Poldark

The second series of Poldark is now underway around the world. Fashion during the 18th century in the provincial county of Cornwall was not the same as it was in bustling London.  At the start of season 1, the year is 1783 and Britain is in a crisis of falling wages and rising goods prices. The second series starts where the first ended in 1790.
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Block-printed cotton, c. 1770. LACMA
Despite the economic struggles of Poldark’s Cornwall, the county did have an upper-class which includes the characters Elizabeth, Verity and Ruth Teague. In their costumes, we see both solids and prints, and some embroidered fabrics as well.
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Taken during filming of Season 2, Heida Reed (Elizabeth) can be seen wearing a dress made from a fabric with an Indian feel.
Even in Truro it's likely that characters of all classes could have regularly worn the Indian influenced printed cottons.
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In an earlier article TOKENS OF LOVE we talked about the printed cotton textiles from the Foundling Museum, even women living in poverty in the mid-1700s in London would have been wearing block prints.
Marianne Agertoft was responsible for the costume designer for series 1 and there is a very interesting interview with her HERE where we can learn more about the costumes worn.
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Whilst Poldark is not a lavish costume period drama such as Downton Abbey where high fashion fills our screens in the majority of scenes there is still much to be enjoyed from the costumes worn.
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05 Episode 5 (HD)
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TRIVIA

“Although some countries passed legislation against the import, manufacture, and sale of painted and printed cottons in order to protect domestic textile industries (as in France from 1686 to 1759 and England from 1700 to 1774), by the 1730s printed cottons were serious contenders in the European clothing and furniture market, with their largest popularity from the 1780s onwards. While most printed cottons continued to be manufactured in India until the 1790s, mills in England, France, Germany, the Netherlands, and Switzerland began to produce their own versions. – Kendra Van Cleave”
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The textiles from India influenced not only the development of fashion, but fueled the industrial revolution which made more affordable textiles available on a large scale for customers in the expanding middle classes. By the 1790s, mills in Europe with upwards of a thousand employees were copying existing Indian patterns and  producing their own designs, like this 18th century block-printed cotton textile from France, above. The textile is part of the Collection of Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum.
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Monday, September 26, 2016

Nedra Bonds : The angry quilter

Nedra Bonds: The angry quilter

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Nedra Bonds from Missouri has made a name for herself with her very unusual take on political protest. When she’s angry about something, she makes a quilt.
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The BBC World Service has a nine minute radio INTERVIEW with Negra that is well worth listening to as she talks about her quilting. This should play in all countries.
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Sunday, September 25, 2016

Concern Worldwide

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Concern Worldwide

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Earlier this year Concern Worldwide launched Stitch for Syria, a cross-stitch project to show support for a group of female Syrian refugees in Lebanon, who are using cross-stitch to earn a vital income and deal with the trauma of all they have been through.
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Hundreds of people downloaded the cross stitch design which was based on a traditional Middle Eastern design and completed squares quickly started to arrive at Concern’s London office from every corner of the UK as well as Australia, the US, Japan, Greece, Sweden, and many other parts of the world. Many stitchers personalized the design adding beads, borders and extra touches.
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Jane Caldwell, a grandmother and retired lecturer from Cullybackey in Northern Ireland, has joined the patterns together to make three wall hangings. The wall hangings feature more than 900 individual cross-stitch patterns from 20 countries.
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For two months Jane spent four hours a day sewing the squares together, using more than one million stitches.
“I’m really pleased with how it has turned out,” she said. “It has been amazing to see how creative people have been and how varied each design is.”
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“It is privilege to have been able to put it all together. I hope the completed wall hangings will remind the Syrian women that we support them in the difficulties they face.”
The completed wall hangings will soon be sent to Lebanon, where they will go on display in the centre where the refugee women meet.
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Hunger affects everything for the world’s poorest people. Concern Worldwide are working for a world where no one dies for want of safe, nutritious food. Their approach focuses on practical, intelligent solutions that save lives and build livelihoods.
The places where they work are often at greater risk from disasters, both natural and man made. In an emergency, Concern acts quickly to save lives. Then they stay to work with communities, rebuilding lives and livelihoods to ensure people are better prepared for future crises.  Concern Worldwide’s approach enables families to tackle hunger and work their own way out of poverty.
Images copyright Concern Worldwide.
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