I’ve finished the right hand strip on my Do-Right sampler, plotted a strip of equivalent width on the right side, and settled on a pattern. I’m using another from TNCM – the Buttery pattern (Plate 59:1). This one is original, inspired in equal parts by historical motifs, a happy communal house where many friends have lived over the years, and boredom.


The historical part is the twisted framing mechanism, with each diamond shape hole holding a different flower or fruit motif. Many of the motifs are very traditional, too. The completed pomegranate in the center of the worked strip, for example is a very common motif, and in execution would be easily accepted as an authentic motif. What’s not historical is that there are no exact sources for anything in the Buttery design, not even the exact structure of my twist frame, or that pomegranate. There are historical pieces that are close, but nothing is spot on (the large number of different fills in a counted piece is for example, something for which I’ve never found precedent). But the overall effect isn’t wildly out of phase with expected period aesthetics. I wouldn’t advocate using it on a historical re-creation, but for someone with the freedom to play in the style without accountability to authenticity hawks – why not?

The Buttery part is the home of many friends over the years. Presided over by Marion and Mark, it’s been the base of an ever changing constellation of people, each very different yet all living in harmony. Sort of like the collection of motifs in this piece – each unique, but each complementing the rest and contributing to the whole.

And for boredom, this is a function of having done lots of stitch by stitch repros of historical patterns. No matter how long the repeat, eventually “Are we there yet?” syndrome sets in. This piece was a think-exercise, to see how many different individual and distinct fruit or flower motifs I could come up with, given the established space constraint of the frame. The version published in TNCM has 18 different motifs. I’ve got a few more that didn’t make it onto that page. Maybe I’ll use them on this strip, or maybe I’ll doodle up some others. We’ll see as I begin to get to the point where I need to recycle previously stitched ones.

For the record this is the third thing I’ve stitched using Buttery. One was a book cover in black silk on 40-count linen, edged with black silk cording. The entire surface of the book cover was done in this pattern. I worked it around 1994/1995, around the time we moved back to the Boston area. I gave away the book cover around a blank book, as the first prize in a storytelling competition, aptly won by Richard, who coincidentally happened to be an on-again/off-again Buttery resident. I also did a small sweet bag in this pattern (sort of an Elizabethan gift bag, just big enough to hold a handkerchief or small treat). In that case I did a strip of the framing with a selected subset of the fillings at the top and bottom of the bag, leaving the center area unworked. The sweet bag was monochrome brick red stitching on a cream linen background. I forget the count, but it was also relatively fine, small enough for five motifs to march across the thing, and the bag was less than a fist wide. The sweet bag was given away as a gift, long before I began photographing my work.

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