This section is from the "The Ladies' Work-Table Book: Domestic Needlework in Nineteenth-Century America" book, by Margaret Vincent. Also available from Amazon: The Ladies' Work Table: Domestic Needlework in Nineteenth-Century America.
The Art of Fancy Needlework is closely allied to the sister ones of Painting and Design ; and appears to have been well understood amongst the most polished nations of antiquity. We know that the art was practised with considerable success, by the Babylonians, Egyptians, Persians, and Arabians, as well as by the Greeks and Romans. The Jews brought the art of needlework with them, out of Egypt, as we learn from the directions for building the Tabernacle, and preparing the holy garments; and Sidon is celebrated for the rich wares of broidered cloths, in which part of her extensive traffic consisted. In more modern times, we find the fair hands of the ladies of Europe employed in depicting the events of history, in tapestry, of which the much celebrated Ba-yeux tapestry - supposed to have been wrought by Matilda, the beloved wife of William the Norman - detailing the various occurrences in the life of Harold, from his arrival in Normandy, to the fatal battle of Hastings, is a standing proof. Ladies of high rank employed themselves thus, for various purposes, previous to the reformation ; and it is a fact, worthy of especial notice, that in those ages, when it has been required for the adornment of the temples, and the encouragement of honorable valor and has thus become associated with the sanctifying influences of religion and manly virtue, it has flourished most.* Queen Adelicia, wife of Henry I. ; Ann, queen of France ; Catherine, of Aragon ; Lady Jane Grey ; Mary Queen of Scots ; and Queen Elizabeth, all excelled in this delightful art. At the Reformation, or soon after that event, needlework began sensibly to decline, and continued to do so, until the commencement of the present century. At that time, a new and elevated development of mind began to appear, which was accompanied by a very visible advancement in every department of arts and sciences. This revival of the fine arts, like the mental and sacred gushing forth of mind, which gave it birth, was often in extremely bad taste; but as the latter becomes more purified and exalted, the former advances in improvement - mind asserts its superiority over matter, and infuses into the useful and ornamental, a living spirit of moral affection and enlightened sentiment. The year 1800 gave to the world, the celebrated Berlin patterns ; but it was not until a lapse of thirty years, that their merits became generally appreciated ; but now, such is the perfection attained in the cultivation of the art of needlework, that some of its productions, for delicacy and expression, may almost bear comparison with painting in oil,
Work the cross way of the canvas, bringing your needle up through the diagram, No. 2 down 11, one stitch; up 3 down 12, up 4 down 13, and so continue to the end. This stitch is proper for grounding, and for groups of flowers; but in the latter case, it will produce the best effect if
* The presentation of an embroidered scarf was a common mark of approval in the ages of chivalry.
the flowers are done in tent stitch, and the grounding in tent cross stitch (which is the same as tent stitch, only crossed.)
Cross Stitch - Is the same as marking stitch; bring your needle up 21 down 3, up 23 down 1, one stitch, up 41 down 23, up 43 down 21, and so continue till your work is finished. All the stitches must incline to the right, or the work will appear imperfect and unsightly.
This is a stich very easy of execution. Bring your needle up No. 41, over four threads, down 5, up 1 down 45, up 43 down 25, up 3 down 25, up 3 down 21, up 43 down 21, one stitch. Four, six, or eight threads may be taken in depth, and two in width, according as taste may suggest. This is an admirable stitch for large pieces of work. Gold thread introduced between each row is a desirable addition to its attractive beauty. Straight Cross Stitch. - This is a new invention, and has a pretty appearance. Bring your needle up No. 11 down 13, up 2 down 22, one stitch; up 31 down 33, up 22 down 42, and so on in like manner, till the work is finished.
Bring your needle up No. 3 down 43, up 21 down 25, up 14 down 32, up 12 down 34, one stitch. Owing to the number of times the wool is crossed, each stitch has a very bead-like appearance. A piece wholly worked in this, has an admirable effect.