One of the things I’ve been doing in this heat is reading out of print Victorian needlework books on my kindle — doing research for new crewel designs and new embroidery designs in general.
The other day i was happily bouncing through Ada Wentworth’s Jacobean Embroidery, its Forms and Fillings, Including Late Tudor, when I came across this description of a bed hanging or valance:
…measuring about 5ft. 8in. in length, and 1 ft. 8in. in width. Each leaf was about 22 in. long and 19 in. across.
I did a double-take. The length and depth of the work made sense to me, but the sheer size of each leaf amazed me. Crewel work today, even when “reproduction” work, is so much smaller in design? Can you imagine the detail and stitch variety available in just one of those leaves?
I’m going to need to reevaluate my understanding of this needlework genre. The largest leaf I have ever seen modernly is about 5 inches long – and that was considered huge. Working them so much larger, and in a heavier tapestry weight wool would make it much quicker to stitch a set of bed hangings than i have been imagining. I know the smaller designs existed as well – I’ve seen some of them. But my mind is still boggling from the idea of this scale… Maybe that shower curtain is in my future after all… I could use superwash sock yarn instead of crewel wool and it would be washable! …. hmmmm.