Sunday, October 16, 2016

"Women derive a pleasure,

incomprehensible to the other sex, from the delicate toil of the needle.”
Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter

Perhaps in today's world we should all consider some "toil of the needle' to give our minds a rest.  I always buy needlework pieces when I see them.  I know there are still needlework artisans out there, and this time of the year you do see the "needle" projects at the various craft/holiday shows.  And, while I am on that topic, please remember that these artisans are not 2 cents an hour laborers.  When you admire handcrafted items, remember you are not at the dollar store or at a big box store that has just sent mega bucks to a Chinese-based company.  Those of us who carry American made items often see people admire the items, but, when they look at the prices, they put them down.  Respect the American artisans who design, create, and market their efforts. 

Anyway, back to my history lesson...cross stitch and needlework can be traced to the sixth century B.C.  In research I found that... "In the Eleventh century, tapestry was the most popular and famous of embroideries depicting the Norman invasion of England in 1066.  Catherine of Aragon, who was Spanish and the first wife of Henry VII is credited with bringing blackwork to England in the sixteenth century.   Blackwork was believed to be the beginnings of what we think of as cross stitch today.  It was worked with black sheep wool on white linen.  Blackwork is still popular today, but here is an example from medieval times.  I think this looks so modern...
I love the old cross stitch pieces.  I buy them whenever I see them, and I think of the time someone put into creating them.
I also love old embroidery...can you imagine the loaves of homemade bread that rested under this hand embroidered cloth...
Then there are the white on white linens that were probably done as part of a wedding hope chest...now there is something we do not talk about today! 

I also like to look at the intricate finishing on some linens...yes, machines can reproduce all of this now, and you can find doilies at the dollar store, but there is something about handling a piece that has a history...like paying homage to the woman who lovingly "toiled".
For the white linen crowd some hints about laundering...
1. Wash your white linens separately. Mixing them with non-white laundry or with dissimilar textures (such as towels) can often cause pillage.
2. Always wash in cold water. Unless your linens are heavily soiled, there’s really no need to wash on any temperature other than cold. High heat can break down the fibers in your linens, thus reducing their durability and lifespan. Plus, cold water is washing is the most energy efficient method…an added bonus.
3. Use only mild detergents. Regular detergents contain fragrances, dyes and harsh other chemicals that slowly eat away at the fibers in your delicate linens over time.
4. Never use bleach. Bleach also eats away at the fibers in your linens and can cause a gradual yellowing of your whites. If your linens are extremely soiled, spray any stains with an enzyme based cleaner (Shout) which will help lift stains and then launder in warm water.
5. Avoid fabric softeners. They will decrease the absorbency of your linens.
6. Use a mild drying method. Line drying is best but if you don’t have the time or the outdoor space for line drying, tumble dry on low.

So, as you wander the fall craft/antique shows, look at the work with respect...and remember...
“You don’t make art, you find it.”
~Pablo Picasso

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