Saturday, July 23, 2011

Down the years

I was just browsing through a gallery of Antique Samplers....lots from Scotland and England, very beautiful and detailed and oh so colourful.  Britain was pretty dour in the early 19th Century and times were hard, particularly in Scotland.  But here were little girls learning their letters and numbers and their stitches and creating lasting and now absolutely prized craft works that have long outlived them. The items they made were quite common in their day - most girls did them, but it is because they have survived and thus are rare, but also because they are stitched with care and skill and have created their own simple radiance.  But this applies to a lot of the things that I see every time I read craft and care and a wish to create something lasting and good and beautiful.  Ok we blog because we want to share our work with others, or want to show off, or want the lovely admiring comments....if we are honest with ourselves, this is true to varying degrees for each of us.

Maybe that is why I meals and cleaning the house...and even (dare I say it) raising children is not something that last too long.  Meals and clean houses do not last for (sometimes) more than a minute  or two.  Children go off and take responsibility for their own lives, but really your influence on the world, through them, only last your lifetime and perhaps a little beyond.  But a beautiful heirloom is another matter.....I know many of you will say that children influence and contribute long after you are gone, and I pray that mine will.  But mine seem to have grown  up so quickly - quicker and quicker every year!  (Oh dear maudlin again!)

But excuse my total lack of modesty I would like someone to go a Museum (in person or online) in generations to come and see a sampler or a quilt or some cross stitch that I have finished and say "Oh isn't that lovely!!!"  I doubt that the little girls ever imagined that their work would outlast them...maybe they just want to get it finished so they could get on with something else.   Craft is something that gives pleasure while you are doing it - there are moments when this is not strictly true (unpicking springs to mind) - craft also gives you pleasure when you complete something, when you get admiring comments and when your kids find some forgotten finished piece in a drawer after you are gone - or if by some miracle it ends up in the Sampler Room of the V&A (Well we can dream can't we!!!!!)

I should probably go and do some stitching after all that I have just said......

Here is the link

This girl could be a relative of mine Jannet Bruce 1775 Edinburgh

Mary Donaldson aged 12 1814 Peebles


  1. And to think that these young girls were doing work that some grown women still can't master! My mother does beautiful stitching. Her goal has been to create something for my sister and I, as well as our children, that we can look back on and think of her. I have the most beautiful prayer. The stitches are all in blue, on a cream background. I should post dome of her work sometime, too!

  2. I loved reading your post, and I love these are so right ...those girls lived in a hard time, no day-light lamps, no beautiful silk threads, but yet they accomplished the most beautiful works...
    Erna xx

  3. I love those samplers! It is amazing to think that these little girls have lived on in our hearts through their samplers. One of my favorite samplers is Le Marquoir de Justine. Little Justine stitched her sampler when she was 8 and died when she was 10. I think of her mother often and how bereft she must have felt. It does my heart good to think that little Justine is still thought of all these years later, that she might have had a short life but thoughts of her remain.