Thursday, January 20, 2005

Inquiring Minds Probably Don't Care 

There's been quite a discussion on a list to which I subscribe about knots and backsides of embroidery, etc. This is one of the age old questions that seems to surface cyclically on needlework lists and groups. Just in case anyone wants to know how I stand on these life-or-death issues that spawn small battles or global conflict from time to time, here are my opinions. Quit here if you don't give a Pringles potato chip.

1. Floss licking. I lick floss. That part gets cut off and my embroidery gets washed after stitching anyway.

2. Knots to start or finish a thread. I don't except with metal embroidery. I did when I was a child because that is how I was taught. I think my grandmother put knots in her embroidery because it got a heck of a washing in an old Maytag washer and then went through a wringer, then got dipped in boiling starch and ironed. Her stuff never came loose by golly.

3. Reversible blackwork. Not unless it is a design meant to be stitched reversibly and seen on both sides. Historically stuff isn't stitched reversibly unless it was used on collars, cuffs and the like. Some pieces obviously done in professional shops are a mad tangle on the back. Time was money to these folks and if you wanted to get from point A to point B you went, so long as you didn't trip on the long loop left on the back. When the designs moved to samplers and home stitchers they had enough time to fiddle with making stuff reversible and sometimes piled up several compensating stitches to torture a filling pattern into compliance.

4. Counted thread blackwork. I've not found an early blackwork piece that I can say was stitched using a counted thread technique. Carefully stitched but counted, no.

5. Leaving hoops on fabric. For reasonable times I leave hoops on fabric. I do quite often protect the fabric where I hold a hoop with a piece of muslin.

6. Thread has grain. Don't believe in that theory. Thread is twisted using a particular twist, but grain - not in my opinion.

7. Band samplers are long and narrow because there were only tiny little narrow looms in "those days". Rubbish. If you want to know the reason why, take one of my classes.

8. Catherine of Aragon introduced blackwork to England. Not hardly. Again, visit one of my history classes if you want to know why I don't buy that nice story.

9. Sampler stitchers rolled their samplers up on little rods and placed them in their workbaskets. Never seen one, don't think I ever will. They may have wrapped their work around a goldwork tool, a brooch - which is a little rod and that may have confused some writer.

Other than that, I have few decided opinions.

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