Tuesday, March 8, 2011


Matilda's notice on her door;

Well taking embroidery as the theme of the day, thanks to Morning Minion's comment, I remembered two things I had wanted to photograph and record, one is a piano cover the other a tablecloth.

 Matilda my grandchild is also craft minded as well, and though my daughter is'nt she collects and keeps family 'treasures' in a large school cupboard in which Matilda is always to be found scrummaging around

M proving that it is not a wishing chair

In Matilda's bedroom amongst the assorted bits and pieces on her chest of drawers last time, was an old wooden box in which she kept her 'treasures' she had opened it to show the Victorian bead bag I had given her.  Recognition slowly dawned on me that the box in fact was an old cigar box of my grandfathers'.  He smoked cigars quite regularly, and the whole art, for it is indeed an art, came back to me.  The removal of the cigar from the box, the band removed, hold the cigar between thumb and figure and gently rotate, smelling the tobacco.  Then the clipping of the end and the lighting up, blue tendrils of smoke and the very strong aroma of cigar, which always permeated any car he owned.
So to the two pieces of embroidery, the first is a Chinese piano cover, exquisitely embroidered on silk, the silk embroidery threads having faded to an all over grey colour, though LS says they would have been coloured.  There is a Chinese water dragon in the centre with lily pads floating around, and flowers and butterflies embroidered all the way round.  It also has family history and will probably be Matildas' one day.  My first mother in law was Dutch, and her parents the Dutch ambassadors in China for a time, and they acquired a lot of Chinese furniture, dragon chairs, screens and a beautiful Chinese dresser, which is still in the family, so it would make this piano drape mid 19th century probably.
It always hung in the house in a dark corner, but has never been photographed fully, digital though does wonders for detail, so today I pulled it out from the cupboard and looked at the detail closely, four motifs at each corner, 2 have chyrsantheum detail, the other two maple leaf.  Around the edge are embroidered butterflies and leaves, and then the skinny water dragon in the middle.

The tablecloth is something I found at a church hall sale, again beautifully embroidered and also carefully crocheted around the edges in cotton.  The tablecloth is thick linen, the colours used are pretty, and even the edging of green shows a lot of work and strained eyes probably.


cotton edging in crochet

The embroidering out of the flowers over the green reminded me of a painting in the Guardian recently, it was of a woman holding a book which stepped out of the painted frame.


  1. How beautiful! I do embroidering, but looking at the tiny stitches on these pieces makes me realize how far I have to go.

  2. Thank you for showing us this lovely and detailed work.
    I recall when I was a very young child that my Mother embroidered a few small table cloths and made crocheted edging on handerchiefs, likely projects she had started before marriage as she never did such crafts later in life. She was devoted to teaching [she returned to this when my youngest sister was 5] and leading out in the church choir.
    The design of your luncheon cloth is very similar to the dresser scarves and such that I remember from the late 40's--again patterns and work probably started at least a decade earlier.

  3. What beautiful pieces of embroidery. I have quite of few of the latter type, amongst my souvenirs, and always marvel at the neat stitching. I love the colours of your one. And the wonderful writhing coils of the Chinese water dragon.

  4. Glad you all appreciate them ;), not really a collector of embroidery, but the chinese one is something else....