X for X Stitch
Cross Stitch is a form of counted thread embroidery, and is perhaps dated back to the 6th or 7th century. It was used to decorate household items using floral and geometric patterns, often in black and red cotton floss on linen fabric. Catherine of Aragon, the Spanish first wife of Henry VIII has brought blackwork in England. Blackwork is thought to have influenced the development of cross-stitch. Indeed, Catherine of Aragon herself, used to stitch the King's shirts. The most common cross stitching work were samples, and it was usually in a form of a prayer or a saying. In 1797 children from the orphans school near Calcutta in Bengal were given the task of stitching the longest chapter in the Bible, the 19th psalm.
Here is a photograph ( Courtesy of the V&A ) of the sampler, and its inscription commemorates the birth of a child, Alice Lee, two years earlier. Jane Bostocke, who is known to have been a distant cousin of Alice's and was buried in the village where she lived, may have lived in the Lee family household. The motifs at the top of the sampler relate to their family crests. The sampler is from a period of transition in the practical use of such items - between the 16th century and earlier, when they served as a reference piece for a more or less experienced embroiderer, and what gradually became their nature in the 17th century: a method of measuring and recording the maker's skill. The embroidery is worked in cross stitch and back stitch but there are examples of work in more complicated stitches showing that the back stitch was intended to be a grounding for further elaboration. Other stitches include satin, chain, ladder, buttonhole and detached buttonhole filling, couching in patterns, coral, speckling, two-side Italian cross, bullion and French knots and beadwork.
Most cross stitchers still like to stitch and embellish items like dishcloths and household linens. It is now increasingly popular to stitch various designs, pictures and hang them on the wall for wonderful decoration. I myself love cross stitch, especially the lovely old fashioned sampler designs and am often on the look out when I visit flea markets etc. Here is one I have on the go, it very kindly given to me by a lovely friend who had had it herself for years, and thought I would like to finish it off, frame it and then display in my home.
This Post has been written by Marry Fogg, crafter and blogger, who you can follow on Twitter here and you can view her blog here: http://marypoppins-homesweethome.blogspot.com/