I vividly remember how I was first introduced to embroidery. I was seven, and my family was visiting an historic museum. In my memory it was Old Sturbridge Village, in Sturbridge, MA, but I grew up in Rhode Island and we frequently made day trips to many of the museums in southeastern New England, including Plimoth Plantation. We could have been in any number of places.
What I remember about that particular trip is the woman embroidering. I was fascinated and absolutely itched to try it. I come from a family in which the women all did handcrafts, mostly crocheting and plain sewing, but embroidery was new to me. I don’t know if she was demonstrating and inviting members of the public to try the stitching as an established program; perhaps I was just patiently persistent and she made an exception, giving me some supplies so my family could at last move on. However the reality, I came away with a small piece of perforated paper, a blunt needle, and a length of orange cotton floss. She showed me how to make single cross stitches, lower left to upper right; lower right to upper left; and how to make a row of them – lower left to upper right to the end of the line, lower right to upper left all the way back. I remember making stitches on the way home until I was so thoroughly carsick I had to stop. Still can’t stitch in the car.
It wasn’t a passing fancy, either. After I filled up my piece of paper and ran out of floss, my mother procured a simple kit with stamped crosses and probably acrylic yarn. This was the 1970s, after all. I think my mother still has the red and green ladybug I made; I saw it not that long ago. I kept going and within a few years my mother was having trouble keeping me in projects. I did crewel work with wools and counted thread pieces on linen. In my work for Plimoth Plantation I have (very occasionally) worked ‘slips’ on fine canvas with silk.
Do you remember how you found your love of embroidery? How did you get hooked?
Today’s picture is of Tricia Wilson Nguyen and Wendy White examining one of Plimoth Plantation’s two 17th century samplers. This one is dated 1664 and has the initials “EC”. It is about half whitework and half colored silks, pretty thoroughly faded but in good condition overall. Participants in the June session (and now we have 11confirmed!) will be able to see both samplers during a Friday morning collections tour with Curator of Original Objects Karin Goldstein.
Kathy is quite rightly insisting that we firm up the schedule and get it posted here and mailed to the participants, so look for that early next week. I don’t know where we’d be without her