Art Journal

Nature Ramblings ~ Past Times Time Travel ~ Romancing Daily Life

Monday, June 27, 2011

Those Tudors Keep Me in Stitches (Co-Published)

These blog entries come from an iPad that my cousin Lizbeth left at my house when she went off to London for the summer. She asked me to post them for her in her blog, A Stitche in Time, if she ended up doing any traveling in areas where she might have difficulty accessing wifi. I’d say that being trapped in Tudor times, fills that bill.

So while Liz is otherwise engaged I’ll help out by cleaning up her notes and posting them on both our blogs, whenever I get a chance.

Laurel Shimer

I hope you've been enjoying Liz's story, The Sewing Chronicles of Lady Liz: Secret Diary of a Time Traveling Maide, in this journal.  There's plenty more to come!
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In the time of England’s Elizabeth I, the merchant class was enjoying new opportunities to travel and make a buck (ok let’s say a pound or a piece of eight) in the export/import business. That’s right, that means that if you were a white male, you might be enjoying new financial opportunities. These men and their families was beginning to rise in society by buying a place in the upper echelons. Sometimes their gold paved the way to marriages that united them with the titled classes. Their upper middle class wives and daughters, who might some day marry a lord, were enjoying some of the new prosperity as well.

It was becoming quite the thing now for women in such households to be educated. The well-read English woman was reading more than her book of Commoyne Prayer and hot-off-the-press Englishe Bible. She was also following artistic movements in Italy, Germany and France. Pattern-books for embroidery were becoming available and new designs emerged from her needle. Naturalistic styalized designs were hot. Flowers, as always, were big. With more freedom of movement, European designs were also influenced by interlaced Islamic arabesque designs.

With pattern books in her hands and money in her pockets, our Elizabethan-era sister also created a demand for new styles of embroidery from the professional workshops that provided the sumptuous hangings, that turned her brand new half-timbered house or stately brick manor into a right cozy nest.

Some of her needlework survives. The lovely linen piece above(*) is embroidered in deep pink silk thread, and features an interlaced trellis-work design (think Islamic motif) of carnations and roses worked in outline stitch.
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I highly recommend the book 5,000 years of Textiles, ed. by Harris. Check your library or, mebbe even break down and buy it.

* This gorgeous piece of work is housed at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London

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