One of my treasured old books in my needlework library is Art Needlework for Decorative Embroidery. It’s the second edition of the book, which was published in 1879 by S.W. Tilton Publishers of Boston. I love this little volume! And fortunately, you can love it, too, because it’s available online.
Old books like this are a treasured medley of sound advice, of sometimes-not-so-sound advice, and of wonderful dated verbiage. I love reading them! They often impart a priceless historical lesson, too, demonstrating how so many aspects of our lives have shifted in the past 100+ years.
One of my favorite passages from the book reads thusly:
Do not mix the style of one epoch or nationality with another. It may be seen both in specimens of ancient embroideries and in representations of it in paintings, that the patterns used in needlework were, allowing for the technical differences of the art, similar to those used for glass and wall painting, and manuscript illumination. We have no distinctive nineteenth-century style, and too often we make an unmeaning jumble; but we should as far as possible assimilate our needlework to the style of the room we wish to decorate.
In conclusion, we should like to warn our readers against the extremes into which fashion loves to lead us. Just now there is a mania for what is called art-needlework, of which some of the manifestations are any thing but artistic. In illustration of the danger into which the embroiderer may fall, we give the description of two articles which we have lately been distressed by seeing. One of these was an anti-macassar worked on crash, and presented at its lower end three dandelions all in a row, – pre-Raphaelite dandelions, stiff and bold upright, all exactly alike, and all hideous. The other piece of work, intended for a mantlepiece valance, was also on crash – a poincettia (sic) was depicted springing out of nothing, and sticking out its leaves stiffly enough. There were no sweet and flowing curves: all was angularity and jerkiness. This frightful plant was repeated five times without any variation. These two hideous specimens were bought and sold under the name of art-embroidery!
It just cracks me up to read passages like this! I can just see a pair of Victorian marms eyeing the offending antimacassar with looks of sputtering horror. Maggie Smith comes to mind.
Anyway, you can enjoy the book, too, for free, because it’s available online through Internet Archives, right here: Art Needlework for Decorative Embroidery. I think it’s interesting reading (but then I’m kind of weird that way!), and it does have a few (a very few) little line patterns in it. I think the daisies above are probably the most complex of them all…
Here’s a PDF of the embroidery pattern, for your printing convenience:
Free Hand Embroidery Pattern: Art Needlework Daisies (PDF)
Hope you enjoy the pattern and the book, and your weekend, too!
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