REALISM AND AVAILABLE WALL SPACE

Some time back, I posted about having the perfect place for a tapestry, and contemplated the effort involved in stitching up a massive needlepoint kit. Examining my life, I finally came to the conclusion that eternity would in fact be involved. So I found a reasonably priced jacquard woven reproduction. This weekend past we installed it over the living room fireplace.

tapestry.jpg

It’s a big fireplace – that tapestry is 52 inches across and could have been bigger. Even so, it works in the space, and we’re pleased.

To assuage my needlework hunger, I did score an interesting find. I dropped off Elder Daughter at her college orientation. While we were in New Paltz, NY we wandered through an antique shop in the town’s center. My find is a piece of stamped linen intended for embroidery. I found it jumbled in a pile of vintage kitchen linens. The design is clearly Stuart-era inspired, and is intended for working in crewel wool. The linen is thick, and of excellent quality. Although the fold lines are prominent, the linen itself is not damaged. Gentle steam (no pressing) will relax the creases.

embkit.jpg

Doing a bit of research, I suspect that my find may in fact BE a find. The tag says “An Embroidery Masterpiece by Needlecraft House.” On the flip side it reads “Stuart Series Design II, Design M751… Needlecraft House – West Townsend, Mass.” The style is strongly reminiscent of Elsa Williams work and her needlework school was located in West Townsend, but she is not credited.

There are no directions, and the label reads “These pieces are prepared for the embroidery who appreciates fine materials and perfection in design. There are no instructions or color diagrams provided for these pieces. You plan you own color scheme to suit your personal taste. All designs are adaptable to your own favorite stitches and may be worked in solid areas or in simplified detail….” Looking over the Web I do find that there is an Elsa Williams “Stuart I” kit with the number 750. Unstitched it’s offered for sale at over $80. Mine cost $4.00. The picture below links to the site where #1 is offered for sale. This is their photo, shown here to illustrate the general style of the work:

stuart1williams_demo.jpg

Elsa Williams was the author of Heritage Embroidery. She and Erica Wilson were two of the chief disseminators and proponents of the 1960s era Crewel embroidery revival. If in fact my printed linen is hers, I suspect that it was issued prior to the release of Williams’ book in 1967. After that point she was widely famous in needlework circles, and her kits and other publications all bore her name. She sold her business to JCA when she retired in the late ’70s/early ’80s.

So I now have a dilemma. Do I stitch up my kit, or do I flip it for a profit to the cognoscenti? Somehow I suspect the former… Eventually.


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3 responses

  1. How wonderful to see that you found a tapestry for that spot! I’m also relieved that you gave up on the idea of needlepointing it yourself. As you said–eternity. My Mucking Huge tapestry has not been worked on for years. When you gave me helpful tech tips I thought I was going to sit down and work on it — last summer. As If.

    –Kathryn

  2. The design appears on page 23 of Mrs. Williams’ Heritage Embroidery. She used to sell the stamped linen and let the buyer choose the colors. I just bought a completed version of a piece on page 21 done in. . .purple and more purple. My mother loved doing these kits! But we don’t like purple.

    1. Thank you for the pedigree! I still haven’t touched my stamped linen, but it’s in the Someday Queue.

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