“Come, give me needle, stitch cloth, silk and chaire.”
I admire and collect antique needlework. My love for this art form led me to try my own hand as a folk artist doing reproduction stitchery. Every time I take up the needle, I am reminded of the young girls and elegant ladies who created beautiful works of art and useful things for their homes.
In the 1800s and before, it was a necessity for refined young ladies to learn the art of embroidery, knitting, crochet, tapestry, and netting. This was not just enjoyable fancywork but a practical pursuit as well. These skills have become quite fashionable in our time, and women and girls of all ages can be seen doing them. Just as we have our modern “how-to” books, Decorative Needlework was the guide for every kind of needlecraft that was popular in the 19th century.
Beginning with Chapter 1, “History of the Art,” Miss Lambert, an expert needlewoman, explains the early history of needlework, starting from the time of Moses. She continues throughout the next chapters explaining in detail the history of tapestry and the materials used in needlework, such as, wool, silk, gold and silver. She speaks about drawing designs, braids and beadwork, canvas, and of course, needles.
There are many pages devoted to crochet and knitting, as well as various useful patterns, such as a “Baby’s Stocking” and a “Lady’s Traveling Cap.” Perhaps you’d like to make a “Purse in Fine Silk” or a “Harlequin Quilt with Tufts.” There are detailed instructions for each stitch as well as illustrations. Within the chapters, you’ll find lovely poetry and historical information as well. And since this is a facsimile edition, you are seeing the pages just as they were seen by ladies in 1846.
I especially enjoyed the chapter called “Needlework of the English Queens and Princesses.” Miss Lambert, also an Englishwoman, speaks in detail of how needlework was enjoyed by royalty. Priced at $39.00, this lovely hardbound book with a gold emblem would be a lovely gift for any woman who appreciates this art form or who has a love of history. It would be a nice addition to a home library, a treasure to pass down, and a practical guide for anyone wishing to learn needlework.