Saturday, April 25, 2009

A Legacy In Stitches

Amidst the names written in ancestral charts after the birth of a daughter and recognition of her marriage little mention remains of her life thereafter. Unless perhaps she married well, an account was made of her issue (children).

Much has been published or preserved in the form of male accomplishments example; ships' logs, town clerk journals, land ownership deeds... but sparingly the female counterpart. I recently came across a publication written in regards to the life
of an ordinary gentleman farmer from the early 1800's that rose through the ranks of the militia to Major and later became a woolen manufacturer. Of his two wives it says a few words of their names, dates of death and children they bore. From the original document, 'of his two wives we get no characteristics in the documents furnished us; probably not because they did not exemplify worthy ones, but because our informants have not yet outgrown the old fashioned reticence about the merits of ordinary women. No intentional slight met in such omissions.' (1888)

It is through needlework, samplers, quilts, linens and lace... that we are privileged to admire their work. Such creations of beauty were treasured, passed on and actually recorded in household ledgers for transferal from estates.

Anna Bramble wrought this pictorial sampler in 1832 extolling her fine embroidery to make her worthy of a good match (marriage).

Everetta Pattison in 1866 used scraps of wool, velvet and cottons to display her talent both in sewing and arrangement of colour bold enough to rival any present day art form.

The quilt would have made for a topic of conversation as she traveled about with her husband as he ministered to his worshipers from church to church.

So many women who bore children, died young or lived to old age have left their legacy in stitches.

*A special thankyou to Valda for the use of her Anna sampler.
* Everetta quilt from my collection.


Doreen said...

Both beautiful pieces with wonderful stories. I just love the name Anna Bramble...what a great name!


Britt-Arnhild said...

You are right. Female history has not been written in words but in stiches. It is so important to take care of this, your post is great.

I have a few old quilts, but unfortunatey I know nothing about them.

Karen from A`Musements said...

What incredible pieces of art you shared with all of us. The quilt, so beautifully pieced of scraps, is wonderful. And the sampler, tiny perfect stitches and all, is amazing as well.

I am glad the two of you (you and your friend who owns the sampler) have these works in your homes, where they are clearly loved and appreciated.

I'll bet the men who left out the details of such women's lives in their writings over the centuries, would be greatly surprised to find that their 'lesser counterparts' creations live on, and with them the 'histories' of the artists who made them. Bravo for sharing all of this with us, Susan! (What could be more personal, a more inspiring insight to another human being, than something labored over for hours in dim light, and lovingly stitched together inch by precious inch?)

Dzintra Ingrid said...

And oh how these very special Quilts do live on private collections, in published works...museums and so forth. A very meaningful post I think, I have so many images in my head now.
Hope you are having a lovely Spring...we over here put our heater on for the first time this Season...Dzintra ♥

Aunt Amelia's Attic said...

It's always so lovely to see a post by you, pop up in my Google Reader.

And a lovely entry, this is.

Gentle hugs,
'Aunt Amelia'

Suzanne said...

Beautiful pieces of history, and the telling of it done so well. Thank you for sharing. I do hope spring has found it's way to your home.

Julie said...

What a beautiful tribute to these women who put their heart and soul in to these wonderful pieces of art. I bet they would be thrilled to know that their labors of love did not go in vain. That you for this, Julie

The Victorian Parlor said...

Wow, what a powerful post. The needlework and quilting of past generations are wonderful expressions of the artistry of women. Thanks for sharing the lovely pieces of art and a very insightful post:)



Sea Angels said...

Your post leaves me just a little uncomfortable.....with questions that I wonder about. What will our generations leave Susan, and will our hopes and dreams be one day remembered, and valued, will our work last long enough to be admired? I wonder what will remain of these years....
Always you make me think, always your posts are sheer pleasure. xxx
Lynn xx

Fete et Fleur said...

This post made me sad and happy at the same time. Anna Bramble's sampler is gorgeous!


Annabelle said...

What a beautiful sampler and the name is beautiful! A lovely post indeed!
Hugs Annabelle

Dzintra Ingrid said...

Hello Susan...Thank You for your visit...and yes I do associate Latvia and that part of Europe as the Land of the Reindeer...along with their beautiful embroideries, tapestries and weaving and beautiful rich colours..and not to forget the food, especially my Grandmother's cooking. I hope you are having beautiful Spring we are in Autumn albeit with a coastal breeze in the air...Dzintra ♥x

Dixie Sargent Redmond said...

This is beautiful. I am into researching my family tree, and am lucky enough to have transcribed my great-great grandmother's journal from the early 1900's. So often she mentions, "Worked on quilt." or "Knit a sweater."