In my part of the world we say you are a fool if your passion for a pursuit overcomes all practical sense. I am a stitching fool, and I stitch foolishness.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Was it just a week ago?

It feels like it was months ago, but The Diligent Needle, Winterthur's needlework symposium, started just slightly over a week ago.

Because this entry would be way long if I talked about the whole thing at one time, I'm going to divide it up (and talk about the rest of the Great Escape) on different days--this was day one of the symposium, day three of the Great Escape. And this is going to be long enough as it is.

First of all, before I say anything at all about the event itself, I want to say the best part of the whole thing is getting to spend time with friends who are as passionate about this stuff as I am. Some of them I get to see on a regular basis, some of them I only get to see a couple of times a year, and some of them I was able to reconnect with for the first time in years.  For that alone, it's worth the price of admission. And, happily, it will be held every two years rather than every three, starting with 2016!

This event offers four lectures each morning, then classes, tours, and other lectures in the afternoons. The lectures on this day were the following:

  • Amanda Vickery's "Rescuing Domestic Crafts from the Condescension of Posterity"--in short, women's needlework and other crafts tend to be disdained in favor of male artistic accomplishments, even though the design, level of skill, ability, and talent may well exceed them. Amanda is an engaging and enjoyable speaker who made her point quite easily.
  • Tricia Nguyen's "The Workers Behind the Work: 17th Century Cabinets and the People Who Made Them"--Based on her research, the caskets that a bunch of us are stitching may have been inspired by the draftsmen who drew the designs, looking for markets for their work as the interest in embroidered clothing waned. It's a fascinating thesis, based on intensive research, and one that is most logical, especially since three primary artists have been identified due to their individual styles. As one of the casketeers involved in Tricia's online Cabinet of Curiosities class, I found this lecture one of the most interesting.
  • Marla Miller's "The Mystery of Rebecca Dickinson"--Marla Miller wrote a fascinating biography of Betsy Ross a couple of years ago, and she continues her research into women who made their livings with a needle with research into the life of Rebecca Dickinson. Rebecca did not follow the usual path of women of her time as she never married and was self-supporting. She also kept diaries. The interesting thing is that what she wrote about her life is contradicted by the journals and diaries of contemporaries who could be said to have known her well. She talked about being lonely and unloved (nobody likes me, everybody hates me, I think I'll just eat worms) but other people wrote about her wit and kindness and popularity! I always enjoy Marla's talks and reading what she's written and look forward to more about Rebecca.
  • Aimee Newell's "Threads of Time: The Needlework Samplers of Aging Women, 1820-1860"--I'm not sure I agree with her definition of stitching samplers, since she documented only two samplers actually stitched from start to finish by aging women (defined as women over 60--imagine the reaction she got from the audience on that definition!). The rest of them involved family record samplers that had names and dates added to the original schoolgirl sampler, or schoolgirl samplers that had ages and/or dates removed or altered.
Winterthur feeds its symposium guests quite well, with lovely pastries at the coffee break, a buffet luncheon, and a delightful reception at the end of the first day. If I lived in the area and needed to have an event catered, I'd talk to them!

Anyway, after lunch, we all separated for various tours, lectures, and classes. Since Joanne Harvey was teaching, I signed up for both of her classes. This was the day she taught Ann Almy, a Rhode Island sampler.

We had a wonderful slide show on Rhode Island samplers. I had seen it in Williamsburg last Christmas and was hoping to have the chance to see it again, and it was just as drool-worthy this time as before. And Joanne Harvey is always entertaining.

I also engaged in just a tiny bit of additional stash enhancement. I couldn't fit Margriet Hogue's class into the schedule, but I was able to buy the kit for it:

Did I work on anything at all when the day was over?

Uh, no . . .


And on to another topic entirely . . .It's November. When I first started reading blogs, bloggers united to post every day in November, and it was loads of fun to travel from one favorite to the next.

I don't think I've heard anyone even talk about that this year. A lot of my favorite bloggers have moved to other platforms, some have dropped out entirely, some have talked about getting back into it (some have, some haven't).

Because I'm contrary, I'm hanging onto my blog and hereby announce that I'm going to make a valiant effort to blog every day in November.


  1. I'm glad to hear you'll be doing Nablopomo this year. I look forward to reading your thoughts. I have done it the past 3 years, but have other commitments this year so will only do my usual 2 a week.

  2. Those are both gorgeous samplers! I wish I could have gone!