Silver rings, struggling with embroidery and thoughts about textile in history

When I was in London in October I bought an embroidery kit in Victoria and Albert museum. They sell embroidery kits with motifs from their collections, in this case tile patterns from Burlington. I decided to stitch the proper way this time in contrary to my usual habit of stitching one row with stitches pointing to the left and the next pointing to the right. This makes perfectly right-angled pieces with no extra effort. I know this is unorthodox but it works well for me. But for now, this is how the embroidery looked when done:


It is heavily distorted as I had feared. Now the struggle starts to force it back to shape.   First trial was to tie the piece to a wooden frame with strings after being damped with water.  When dry it was still out of shape:


Ok, don’t give up, next trial damp again, and this time use knacks which allows the cloth to be hard stretched. Now the result was eventually acceptable. As the last step I made it to a framed wall hanging. But, now on I will stick to my own method. Why all this fuss just to have the stitches in the “right” direction?






A close up photo to show my “unorthodox” stitching:



I have recently bought a ring mandrel, a tool to facilitate forging perfectly round rings.


My first attempts: two rings made from square wire with some filigree filler wire and a few granules. The ring to the right has a 4 mm opal setting. 4 mm is a very small stone and my greatest concern was to not drop it on the floor. In that case I feared I might not find it again!

I read and think a lot about textile in various respects. In scientific areas textile has a great significance. Victoria and Albert museum has the largest collection of textile in the world. In Paris one arrondissement is called “Les Gobelins”, there is also the name of a metro station. It was here the famous tapestries (gobelins)  for the Versailles palace was made. It is now a museum which has an attached workshop where tapestries are woven in the old way. Historians know that textile objects were considered among the most valuable in former civilisations. The manufacturing of textile took a long time and demanded great craft skills, from weaving to dying, sowing and embroidery stitching. Textile is not very durable over time and a lot is lost. But fragments of linen has been found in Egyptian pyramid tombs, so delicate that no one today can figure out how it was made!

Textile is needed in everyday life for clothing, bed linen, towels, curtains etc. The first industry was the textile industry, “Spinning Jenny” is known from the history books.

In recent years, I seem to see a rising interest in textile methods in art. Annika Ekdals exhibition in Waldemarsudde was both recognized and popular with a lot of visitors.

But now I wonder: where are the men? In the courses I have attended, the museums and exhibitions I have visited men has been virtually non-existing. Why this total indifference, disregard and insensibility to something so obviously important? In my dark moments I suspect it has something to do with fear of being connected with anything that could be in any way feminine and thus inferior and contemptuous. Things are slowly changing I know but we can’t talk about gender equality before we can share interests without prejudices.

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