Thursday, March 23, 2017

Anne of the Thousand Stitches!

Catherine of Aragon, once among the wives of Henry VIII, is credited for having made Blackwork, also called "Spanysh Work," popular in Tudor England.  Sadly, she was discarded in favor of the young and beautiful Anne Boleyn.  Now, both fair ladies have been brought together once again in this intricate Blackwork sampler stitched by The Bonnie White Hare!  Nearly all the designs are sixteenth-century authentic Blackwork embroidery patterns, charted by Karen Larsdotter, from guild collections and the Victoria and Albert Museum.  The bottom band, named "Small Row of Violets," is the only exception and is an original Blackwork pattern inspired by historical resources and created by Paula Kate Marmor.

The sampler is stitched almost entirely with black Tudor silk thread, except for the Tudor Rose in the center, which has some gold metallic thread accents, also typical of traditional Blackwork.  The Tudor Rose is my design based on many Tudor Rose designs, the outer stitches and trailing vine done freehand, and the inner fill-in patterns taken from some in the sampler (Can you find them?).

The ground for this small 10 1/2 x 6" Blackwork sampler is special 35-count aged "Boleyn" linen from the Primitive Hare, professionally printed in Anne Boleyn's handwriting.  I plan to mount the piece on black-painted distressed wood, which will allow it to be hung on a wall or propped neatly on a shelf.

Despite its being at times exasperatingly tedious to stitch, I thoroughly enjoyed working on this piece, as really, it was not difficult to do…just very intricate and precise.  I will add…it was wonderfully contemplative work, Ladies!

***Note:  For those of you too young to know, the title of my piece is an allusion to the 1969 movie about Anne Boleyn, Anne of the Thousand Days.

© Nancy Duncan 2017

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