An embroidered alphabet: letter D

Embroidered letter D (hand embroidered by Mary Addison)

Now the weather has turned, we have rain, overcast skies and a real drop in temperature. Though I have no complaints at all about our recent wonderful sun and heat, the change in weather does at least make getting on with the Ipsden altar frontal more congenial – all that heavy patchwork over the knee when ambient temperatures are constantly high was bad enough but hand sewing became increasingly difficult as needles quickly lost their shine, started squeaking in their passage through several layers of fabric and needed replacing regularly.

Embroidered letter D (hand embroidered by Mary Addison)

This letter D has a hint of Art Nouveau and was inspired by a capital B with a leafy flourish found (and then lost) on an internet search. An appliquéd piece of ivory silk was in part embroidered over in a cool bathroomy sort of green and the pillar of the D was then picked out in a single strand of black embroidered floss. Instead of using my favourite satin stitch,  I went for stem stitch which gives a satisfying smooth yet textured appearance. It would look good on the pocket of a pair of pyjamas.

Various letter Ds – sketched from online examples

Hooray for expensive titanium framed spectacles. This week I narrowly missed damaging my eye from a direct hit by a falling apple. My spectacles took the full force of the blow – the apple plummeted into the right lens, pushed it firmly into the eye socket but fortunately the spectacles then recoiled intact – no broken lens, no distorted frame. Thank goodness, my husband’s post cataract eye is doing well but still a bit blurry – we don’t want to go down to just two eyes between us! But I should explain. Apples have been falling thick and fast in our back garden recently and usually this is nothing more than mildly irritating – when there are only two of us we can sit outside their range. Next week we will be visited by family, including the two littlest ones (4 and 1 years of age) who will inevitably make a bee line for the garden when they arrive. My husband set to thinking. So it was that one afternoon I came out to find him, armed with a line prop, poking at the most threateningly looking  apples. Of course, I had to have a go too … and then I got more than I’d bargained for. We retired inside to rethink. Perhaps we should get a little tent for the small people to play in. Why have I never had to worry about falling apples before? Have we all become hyper Health and Safety in the C21st? Perhaps rain will be our saviour and we shall stay inside!

Useful handbook for styles of lettering. (4000 Alphabet & Letter Motifs: A Sourcebook by Graham Leslie McCallum; Batsford 2009)

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An embroidered alphabet: letter C


Embroidered letter C (hand embroidered by Mary Addison)

A touch of whitework this week for the letter C. The arms of the letter are padded out with stem stitch and chain stitch, though I wish I’d used felt to give the padded areas a bit more thickness – that’s what comes of being too lazy to get out of my chair and rustle through a drawer for the felt!

Embroidered letter C (hand embroidered by Mary Addison)

This week, C is for cataract too as my husband had his first removed on Tuesday. It’s early days as yet and his vision is still a bit blurred but the return of colour to his life has amazed him – especially as he hadn’t realised it had ever left him. Why is  it only now that I learn he could no longer tell the blue breakfast bowl from the green one!

Various letter Cs – sketched from online examples

I was going to shoe horn into this post  Christopher de Hamel’s glorious  book, “Meetings with Remarkable Manuscripts” on the slender basis that his name begins with C but I decided it was far too good for shoe horning and that I would devote an entire post to it soon. I’ll leave you with a snippet to whet your appetite. As the Librarian of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge de Hamel has in his care the late C6th Gospels of Saint Augustine, a single volume which is traditionally used during the consecration of Archbishop’s of Canterbury. Probably the oldest non archaeological artefact of any kind to have survived in England, for centuries it was in Canterbury until being added to the Corpus Christi Library in the C16th.  Among the many illustrations there is a little scene showing the Last Supper with the apostles sitting around a curved table on which the vessels are shown as if from above; these elements also appear in a scene of Bishop Odo and his nobles feasting on the Bayeux Tapestry. This suggests the former was known to the designer of the latter …  possibility because that the Bayeux Tapestry was made actually in Canterbury.

Left: Last Supper in the Gospels of Saint Augustine.
Right: Scene from Bayeux Tapestry of Bishop Odo of Bayeux feasting from his nobles (from Christopher de Hamel’s book Meetings with Remarkable Manuscripts (Allen Lane, 2016)

Sarah Bower’s The Needle in the Blood (2007) is a fictional account of the tapestry’s English origin in a Canterbury workshop. A good and informative, read it would be an even better book without the Mills and Boon romance between one of the embroiderers and Bishop Odo (William the Conqueror’s half brother). It is, however, well written and full of imaginative suggestions as to how to read the tapestry.

Detail of Embroidered letter C (hand embroidered by Mary Addison)

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