Trekking the Globe in Stitches

Join PieceWork for a tour of needlework from the seven continents. This seven-part series was inspired by a previous post, From the Vault, when we shared an excerpt from Angharad Thomas’s “Knitwear for Polar Explorers,” from the PieceWork special issue Knitting Traditions Spring 2015. We’ll start our trek in Antarctica. Read more…



This is the rescue party, which recovered the remains of Captain Robert Falcon Scott (1868–1912) and companions who died returning from the South Pole. T. W. Nelson, T. S. Williamson, T. Crean, and T. Grau, members of the Western party are shown. The picture was taken before the tent in which they placed the remains of their comrades before burying them. Photo by Bettmann/Getty Images. The fingerless mitts worn by the men in the photo resemble a pair that belonged to Leading Stoker Edward McKenzie (1888–1973), a member of the crew on the British Antarctic Terra Nova Expedition, 1910 to 1913, led by Captain Robert Falcon Scott (1868–1912).



Suzani. Maker unknown. Embroidered. Silk on cotton backing. Uzbekistan. Early twentieth century. 26¾ x 26 inches (67.9 x 66.0 cm). Collection of the author. Photo by Joe Coca.

The next stop on our tour of needlework from the seven continents is Asia. In PieceWork’s July/August 2006 issue, Pamela D. Toler introduces us to suzanis, embroidered dowry pieces from the region of Central Asia now known as Uzbekistan, that she discovered on a trip to Istanbul. Here’s an excerpt from her fascinating article, “Suzanis: Flower Cloths of Uzbekistan.” Read more…



Married woman’s cap with beads and needle lace. Jablonica, Nitra County, western Slovakia. Twentieth century. From the Baine/Cincebeaux Collection. Photo by Helene Cincebeaux.

The next stop on our tour of needlework from the seven continents is Europe. In PieceWork’s July/August 2002 issue, Helene Baine Cincebeaux introduces us to the beautiful beadwork of Central Europe in her article “The Beaded Glory of Czech and Slovak Folk Dress.” Here’s an excerpt from this fascinating article. Read more…

North America


Cynthia LeCount Samaké’s Red Espadrilles to Embroider. The shoes are lavishly embellished with embroidered flowers typical of Guatemala. Photos by Joe Coca.

The next stop on our tour of needlework from the seven continents is North America. In PieceWork’s March/April 2014 issue, Cynthia Lecount Samaké introduces us to the red huipiles (traditional square-cut blouses) worn by the women of Patzún in Guatemala. Inspired by the region’s vivid embroidered huipiles, Cynthia embellished a pair of espadrilles. Read more…

South America


Figure purse. Maker unknown. Knitted and embroidered. Factory wool with commercially knit fabric shawl. Chuquisaca, Bolivia. Mid- to late twentieth century. 16 inches (40.6 cm) tall. Collection of the author. Photo by Joe Coca.

The next stop on our tour of needlework from the seven continents is South America. In PieceWork’s January/February 2009 issue, we follow tour guide for the Americas, Cynthia Lecount Samaké, and head south to the Andes. In her article, “Andean Knitted Figure Purses: Monederos for Your Money,” Cynthia fills us in on the whimsical monederos (coin purses). Read more…



Handkerchiefs (clockwise from upper right): hemstitched; crocheted edging; tatted edging (pink); tatted edging (green); drawn thread, pulled thread, and hemstitched; hemstitched. Each features needlework typical of that done by the characters in The Ladies of Missalonghi by Colleen McCullough (New York: Harper & Row, 1987). Photos by Joe Coca.

The sixth stop on our tour of needlework from the seven continents is Australia. In PieceWork’s September/October 2010 issue, our global adventure takes a literary turn. Mary Polityka Bush introduces us to The Ladies of Missalonghi (New York: Harper & Row, 1987) by Australian novelist Colleen McCullough, author of The Thorn Birds. Mary fills us in on the novel’s needlework connection. Read more…



Trish Faubion’s “tamed” appliquéd lion banner is representative of those created by the Fon of Benin since the seventeenth century, a craft tradition that possibly traveled with the African slaves destined for America. Photo by Joe Coca.

The final destination of our tour of needlework from the seven continents is Africa. In PieceWork’s November/December 2012 issue, Trish Faubion introduces us to “The Appliquéd Banners of the Kingdom of Dahomey.” Appliquéd banners have been used for centuries in the West African Fon kingdom of Dahomey, known today as Benin, to illustrate power and prestige. Read more…

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