Piecework Celebrates Pre-Tweet Communciation

From Marcy: When I first saw this crochet sample book, with crocheted pieces sewn to fabric pages, I wanted to go straight home and make my own. How delicious is this? Sitting on the coffee table, it's as much a history of a needleworker's life as a photo album might be. PieceWork explores the history and technique of fine needlework, including crochet. Its articles explore the history of the textiles as well as providing clever fine projects. This crochet sample book is just one of the sample books celebrated in the new issue of PieceWork. Here is Jeane Hutchins, editor of PieceWork to tell more about the treasures in this issue. 

We live in a time of high-speed connectivity, with hundreds of thousands of books, magazines, and newspapers online and in print, with texting, Twitter, Facebook, and patterns available for instant download. It's hard to imagine a world without them. But long before instant communication, before printing, even before books, needleworkers had developed their own way of communicating.

Crocheted samples sewn onto the pages of Jane Moody's sample book.
Photograph by Joe Coca

Samplers—the physical examples of their work that needleworkers used to remember, communicate, and preserve patterns, stitches, and color combinations before books and printing-probably were in use circa a.d. 500.

The July/August issue of PieceWork is packed with samplers and sample books! Here are some highlights:

  • The handmade crochet sample book, shown on the cover of this issue, has more than 100 samples sewn onto its 12 polished-cotton pages and wool felt covers. It is a real treasure trove.
  • A sewing sample book that belonged to Elna Pughe, a college student in Colorado between 1904 and 1908, survives. It contains her handwritten notes on general sewing rules, codes of conduct ("Each student is requested to wear a white apron"), how textiles are manufactured, descriptions of various fabrics, bed and table linens, and actual samples.
  • In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, English countrymen who worked in the fields, tended sheep, led wagons, cut wood, and baked bread wore smocks, handmade, loose-fitting overgarments, most with exquisite smocking and embroidery. Our project accompanying this fascinating step back in time is a smocking and embroidery sampler, complete with instructions for making a traditional Dorset crosswheel button.
  • Plus knitted samplers, bobbin-lace and embroidery sample books, a tribute to schoolgirl samplers from 1929, and lots more!

Enjoy our special look at samplers!

A tapestry crochet beaded heart, Coeur de Couleur by Karen Sue Groll, was the grand-prize winner in PieceWork's Heart Ornament 2010 contest.
Photograph by Joe Coca

P.S. This issue also brings you the winners of our 2010 Heart Ornament contest! Prizes in this annual event range from $500 cash to $200 in product from our generous sponsors; in addition to a grand-prize winner, we have 4 category first-place winners-needlework, lacemaking/tatting; quilting; and knitting/crochet. All of the entries were outstanding. We'll be announcing details of the 2011 contest in the November/December issue.


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