Epstein 1998

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Epstein, Kathleen. British Embroidery: Curious Works from the Seventeenth Century. Williamsburg: The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, 1998.

The Fayre Maid of the Exchange, lines 168-170; mistress inspecting girls' embroidery projects (6-7)

Martha Edlin, dated and signed 4 extant embroideries completed between ages 8 and 13 (11)

Academy of Armory and Blazon

Fig. 10: casket worked on paper ground, instead of cloth

Barnabe Riche, Emilia, "who daydreams about passing her afternoons with her samples and 'with her Nedle'" (31)

John Rea, Flora: Seu de Florum Cultura, dedicatory poem to Lady Hanmer: "For (like Penelope) you stay / At home, and sweetly spend the day, / In Spring, when flow'rs your Gardens grace, / With Needle or pencil you can trace / Each curious Form, and various Dye So represent unto the Eye / Nobly proportion ev'ry part, / That Nature blushes at your art." (33)

Fig. 36 -- "an arrangement of slips -- embroidered botanical elements and figures worked on a separate ground, cut out, and applied to another piece of fabric. The name is well justified; in contemporary horticulture a cutting taken from a plant for grafting or planting was called a slips. Although it is likely that these slips were produced by an amateur needlewoman, panels of embroidered slips were available for sale, made by male London professionals and 'work women' in the trade. The purchaser had only to cut them out and stitch them to a panel (or have a household servant do so) to create an ornamental household furnishing textile." (33)

Lady Bridget Vere wrote her uncle Sir Robert Cecil in 1598: "as for the working of slips, it is some part of our daily exercise, and the drawing of them. I trust with exercise to frame in some sort to it." (qtd. 33-8)

"Bed and wall hangings decorated with applied embroidery were much cheaper to buy than woven tapestry and much less labor intensive to create than an all-over pattern of embroidery. Furthermore, when the background fabric wore out, the applied motifs could be taken off and used again." (38) -- from Calendar of State Papers, Domestic, Elizabeth, Addenda, p. 105, entry 74

letter from Heneage Finch, March 27, 1656: "As for the Carpet and Chayr and stoole, I should despayre of seeing an end of them, if John Best [possibly a professional pattern drawer and/or embroiderer] had not found out a way to ease her [Finch's wife]. But now John takes those borders which my mother wrought and cutts out every single Flower and Leafe, and when they are so voyded, he draws some Turning Stalkes for my wife to work, upon which he will so place the Flowers and Leaves, that it shall seam as if all had been wrought together, and be perfectly sutable to the pattern on the Bedd." (qtd. 38) -- from Conway Letters, no. 74, quoted in Nevinson, Catalogue of English Domestic Embroidery (p. 26)

Fig. 40 caption; many designs in pattern books are plagiarized (39)

Fig. 46-8: embroidered bindings

George Chapman, Sir Gyles Goosecappe Knight, main character is a parody of the professional embroiderer (53)

Fig. 66: slips; mentioned on 57, too

"The existence of male professional embroiderers in the seventeenth century complicates the process of determining who may have worked a surviving embroidery." (57)

Fig. 68: looking glass frame; "The arrangement of the motifs in this frame, its lady and gentleman viewing each other across the space reserved for the looking glass, echoes the design of the title pages of some contemporary books, with the looking glass replacing the printed text." (59)

"During the reigns of James and Charles I, because of the high number of impoverished people in many districts of England, 'poor laws' legislation was enacted to create schemes for training poor children, girls as well as boys. Thus, a girl from a poverty-stricken family might be taught to knit so that she might earn a wage and stay off the poor rolls. The system that most districts favored was the dame school." (63)
"In the apprenticeship system, efforts were made to provide for the basic literacy skill of reading. In 1630, Katherine Matthews of Monmouth was apprenticed for eight years, during which time she was to learn 'to read the English tongue and to make bonelace of all sorts'." (64)

lace -- "It is constructed of row after row of detached buttonhole stitches, made with a needle and thread. These stitches are built up as filling patterns across outlines of thick threads that have been tacked down along design lines drawn on paper. Variations in fillings depend on how the buttonhole stitches are grouped and whether the stitches are open, twisted, or knotted. After all the filling patterns are completed, the worker links the shapes together with small detached buttonhole bars or she creates a background of net mesh. When both the pattern and ground are complete, she cuts away the tacking stitches holding the lace to the paper pattern." (64-5)

"Although some needle and bobbin laces were made by professionals or by upper-class women for their own use, the craft was primarily an occupation of poor women." (66)
"In the seventeenth century, hand-knitting was a part-time cottage industry and supplementary source of income for men and women of laboring and farm families. It was a full-time occupation for the poor. While traveling around England in the 1660s, Thomas Baskerville observed women knitting in Gloucestershire at four in the morning: 'Many women of the old sort smok[ed] their pipes of tobacco and yet [they] lost no time, for their fingers were all the while busy at knitting and women carrying their puddings and bread to the bakehouse lose no time but knit by the way." (68)

Fig. 79: "La Galerie dv Palais," engraving by A. Bosse. Open shops for needlework alongside a book stall.

1592, allegorical play performed in honor of Q Elizabeth's visit to Lady Russell at Bisham. "The cast consisted of two young shepherdesses 'sowing in their samplers' and an inquisitive and eager-t-woo Pan." -- they discussed the samplers' embroidered images (73) - -John Nichols, The Progresses, and Public Processions, of Queen Elizabeth, p. 3

"It was not unusual in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries to couch politics in embroidered images. The following sonnet, printed in 1612, contains a political message disguised as an elegy stitched on a sampler. The work is titled "A short and sweet sonnet made by one of the maides of honour vpon the death of Queene Elizabeth, which she sowed vppon a sampler in red silk"." (73) -- in Early Modern Women Poets, An Anthology (Jane Stevenson and Peter Davidson), pg 154 -- "It is doubtful that such a sampler ever actually existed. These are lyrics to a ballad; the author instructed that the sonnet could be sun to the tune of 'Phillida flouts me'. And because some eight years separate Elizabeth's death from the appearance of this work in print, the ballad was likely written to criticize the then reigning monarch, James I, by extolling the glories of his predecessor." (76)

Fig. 92: embroidered picture of King Charles I and Henrietta Maria (76)

Fig. 94: Purse with portrait of Charles I and Henrietta Maria (77)

Fig. 96: Box embroidered with image of Charles I from Eikon Basilike title page (81)

Fig. 97: embroidered book cover, ca. 1644, for Robert Barker's The Holy Bible (1644); depicts Fides (Faith) with open Bible in her left hand and the shield of faith in her right.

Richard Braithwait, 1631, "cautioned his female readers to contemplate spiritual matters while they went about their daily activities" (84) -- see Braithwait's English Gentlewomen, pg. 49

Jasper Mayne, The Citye Match; connection between religion and embroidery (87)

"Equally important is the intricate relationship between needlework and religion during this period. Seventeenth-century English women defined themselves in reference to a set of assumptions and expectations that were created by a male-oriented society and voiced in print and pulpit. The projected image of a goodly housewife mixed piety and accomplishment: women's daily activities were endowed with a religious purpose. Significantly, writers frequently singled out needlework as being both an important domestic skill and a means by which women could express personal devotion." (96)