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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An embroidered alphabet: letter B

Embroidered letter B (hand embroidered by Mary Addison)

This week a somewhat curly B embroidered in a mid blue thread. It’s really quite liberating researching these letters as you realise that pretty much anything goes as to the details of letter formation as long as the overall shape is discernible – in this case two near circular curves. I don’t know why I opted for the style I did, except that I think I was taken with the idea that the arms forming the curves looked like they could be untangled from each other like the tendrils of a honeysuckle or clematis.  One of my favourite monograms is the B & J (see below) which comes from an old piece of linen. The design has a balance and rhythm you’d never tire of  looking at – and though obviously the letters B & J, together they have something of the abstractness ofIslamic calligraphy too.

Embroidered letter B (hand embroidered by Mary Addison)

Every day we are reminded how advancing technology and social media confront us with new problems for which there is often no  easy solution. While the news is full of the biggest of these problems, little blogs, like this, throw up a few small problems which we can either ignore or muddle through to some sort of conclusion. For example, sometimes blogs come to an abrupt and  sudden halt. From time to time you check in to see if there is anything new and years can pass.  It’s true you can email these blogs and enquire if they are well, although if their last post is headed something like ‘Trouble at work’ or  if it contains news of a serious hospital visit, I ‘m inclined not to do this. (The first example I think took to Instagram in a big way but I have a feeling that the hospital visit mentioned in the second example did not end well since there have been no posts since 2012.) When the garden writer (The Guardian and Sunday Telegraph)  Elspeth Thompson took her own life in 2010, her husband told us so on her blog which he then signed off appropriately – although I now notice that the blog is marked “private by the owner” and you have to request permission to look at it.

Various letter Bs -including an elegant BJ monogram – sketched from online examples

In the case of my own blog I have noticed people wh0 used regularly to comment, disappear quite suddenly. After a few months I found I missed them, ever so slightly grieved for their absence and then wondered if something dreadful had befallen them. Once again, there is no etiquette for this relationship but recently, two year’s after one person’s last comment, I emailed her and hoped she’d forgive the intrusion. A couple of weeks went by with no reply and I was beginning to think the worst, so when her email came I was delighted, even overjoyed. She had taken time to reply because she wanted to consider what she had to say. In essence she’d become an Instagram fan and at the same time found that life generally had become more complicated and left her less time to keep up with the blogs she used to follow. Relieved, I was very grateful she’d bothered to reply and now I can rest easy about her – and even look at her Instagram posts too.

There is now an entry in my notebook with my blog passwords so that should anything sudden happen to me my nearest can sign off my blog as they think fit – almost anything is better than just leaving it hanging.

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