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The Art of Fancy Needlework is closely allied to the sister ones of Painting and Design; and appears to have been well understood amongst the most polished nations of antiquity. We know that the art was practised with considerable success, by the Babylonians, Egyptians, Persians, and Arabians, as well as by the Greeks and Romans. The Jews brought the art of needlework with them, out of Egypt, as we learn from the directions for building the Tabernacle, and preparing the holy garments; and Sidon is celebrated for the rich wares of broidered cloths, in which part of her extensive traffic consisted. In more modern times, we find the fair hands of the ladies of Europe employed in depicting the events of history, in tapestry, of which the much celebrated Bayeux tapestry—supposed to have been wrought by Matilda, the beloved wife of William the Norman—detailing the various occurrences in the life of Harold, from his arrival in Normandy, to the fatal battle of Hastings, is a standing proof. Ladies of high rank employed themselves thus, for various purposes, previous to the reformation; and it is a fact, worthy of especial notice, that in those ages, when it has been required for the adornment of the[64] temples, and the encouragement of honorable valor and has thus become associated with the sanctifying influences of religion and manly virtue, it has flourished most.[64-*] Queen Adelicia, wife of Henry I.; Ann, queen of France; Catherine, of Aragon; Lady Jane Grey; Mary Queen of Scots; and Queen Elizabeth, all excelled in this delightful art. At the Reformation, or soon after that event, needlework began sensibly to decline, and continued to do so, until the commencement of the present century. At that time, a new and elevated development of mind began to appear, which was accompanied by a very visible advancement in every department of arts and sciences. This revival of the fine arts, like the mental and sacred gushing forth of mind, which gave it birth, was often in extremely bad taste; but as the latter becomes more purified and exalted, the former advances in improvement—mind asserts its superiority over matter, and infuses into the useful and ornamental, a living spirit of moral affection and enlightened sentiment. The year 1800 gave to the world, the celebrated Berlin patterns; but it was not until a lapse of thirty years, that their merits became generally appreciated; but now, such is the perfection attained in the cultivation of the art of needlework, that some of its productions, for delicacy and expression, may almost bear comparison with painting in oil.


Tent Stitch.—Work the cross way of the canvas, bringing your needle up through the diagram, No. 2 down 11, one stitch; up 3 down 12, up 4 down 13, and so continue to the end. This stitch is proper for grounding, and for groups of flowers; but in the latter case, it will produce the best effect if[65] the flowers are done in tent stitch, and the grounding in tent cross stitch (which is the same as tent stitch, only crossed.)

Cross Stitch.—Is the same as marking stitch; bring your needle up 21 down 3, up 23 down 1, one stitch, up 41 down 23, up 43 down 21, and so continue till your work is finished. All the stitches must incline to the right, or the work will appear imperfect and unsightly.

Double Cross Stitch.—This is a stitch very easy of execution. Bring your needle up No. 41, over four threads, down 5, up 1 down 45, up 43 down 25, up 3 down 25, up 3 down 21, up 43 down 21, one stitch. Four, six, or eight threads may be taken in depth, and two in width, according as taste may suggest. This is an admirable stitch for large pieces of work. Gold thread introduced between each row is a desirable addition to its attractive beauty.

Straight Cross Stitch.—This is a new invention, and has a pretty appearance. Bring your needle up No. 11 down 13, up 2 down 22, one stitch; up 31 down 33, up 22 down 42, and so on in like manner, till the work is finished.


Double Straight Cross Stitch.—Bring your needle up No. 3 down 43, up 21 down 25, up 14 down 32, up 12 down 34, one stitch. Owing to the number of times the wool is crossed, each stitch has a very bead-like appearance. A piece wholly worked in this, has an admirable effect.


Gobelin Stitch.—This truly beautiful stitch is especially calculated for working on canvas traced with flowers, leaves, &c.; and also for working designs, copied from oil paintings. Bring your needle up No. 2 down 21, one stitch, up 3 down 22, up 4 down 23, and so on to the end of the row. The stitches may be taken either in height or width, as may best accord with the taste, or with the subject represented.

Basket Stitch.—This is the same as Irish stitch, but the arrangement is different. Work three stitches over two threads; these are called short stitches; and then the long ones are formed by working three over six threads, the centre of which are the two on which the short stitches were worked. Thus you must continue the short and long stitches alternately, until you have finished the row. In the next, the long stitches must come under the short ones; and this diversity must be kept up until all the rows are completed. To finish the pattern, you have only to run a loose film of wool under the long stitches on each of the short ones, and the task is done.

Irish Stitch.—This is the production of an Irish lady of high rank. Bring your needle up No. 1 over four threads down 41, one stitch back two threads, up 22 down 62, up 43 (observe this is in a line with 41) down 83, up 64 (in a line with 62) down 104, up 102 down 62, up 81 down 41, continuing thus over the square. The spaces left between every other stitch must be filled up with half stitches; for instance, up 81 down 101, up 83 down 103. It is also some[67]times worked covering six and eight threads of the canvas at a time, coming back three or four threads, in the same proportion as the directions given. This stitch is proper for grounding, when the design is worked in tent or cross stitch; and the effect would be heightened by two strongly contrasted shades of the same color. It can be applied to a great variety of devices, diamonds and vandykes for example, and many others which will suggest themselves to the fair votaries of this delightful art. It looks pretty, and is easy of execution.


Feather Stitch.—This, as its name implies, has a light and feathery appearance, and will be found proper for any work in which lightness should predominate. You must proceed as in tent stitch, and work over twelve threads or less, but not more; then bring your needle out one thread below, and cross on each side of your straight stitch: you must so continue, taking care to drop a thread in height and keeping the bottom even with the long stitch with which you began. Thus proceed until you have ten threads on the cross, which will make a square: of course you must, in the same manner, form all the squares necessary to complete the row. You can vary the pattern considerably by making the edges irregular, which is done by lowering your slant stitches, the first one two, and the next one thread, and so proceeding. This will, in our opinion, improve the appearance of the work. You can introduce as many shades as you please, only taking care that a proper contrast is duly preserved. You finish by stitching up the centre of each row on a single thread. For this purpose, silk or gold thread may be introduced with advantage. It should be remarked, that each row must be worked the contrary way to the[68] one that preceded it, so that the wide and narrow portions may meet and blend with each other.

Point Stitch.—To work this stitch, take four threads straight way of the canvas, and bring the needle three steps up, and so proceed until your point is of a sufficient depth. This stitch looks pretty, worked in different and well contrasted shades, and may be applied to many useful and ornamental purposes.

Queen Stitch.—Work over four threads in height and two in width, crossing from right to left, and back again. Finish each row by a stitch across, between them, taking a thread of each, and, of course, working upon two threads. This is a very neat stitch.

Queen’s Vandyke.—This is supposed to be the invention of Princess Clementina, one of the daughters, we believe of a king of France. Take twelve threads, and reduce two each stitch, until the length and breadth are in conformity. It can be introduced into a variety of work, and looks well.

Single Plait Stitch.—Pass the needle across the canvas through two threads, from right to left; you then cross four threads downward, and pass the needle as before; then cross upward over two threads aslant, and again pass over four threads, always working downward, and passing the needle from right to left, across two threads, until the row is completed as far as you desire.


Double Plait Stitch.—This stitch is from left to right across four threads aslant downward, and crossed from right to left, the needle passing out at the left, in the middle of the four threads just crossed, and so continue working downward, until you have finished the pattern.

Velvet Stitch.—This is a combination of cross stitch and queen stitch, and is very ornamental when properly done. You work in plain cross stitch three rows, then leave three threads, and again work three rows as before; thus proceed until your canvas is covered, leaving three threads between every triple row of cross stitch. Then across the rows work in queen stitch with double wool; but instead of taking two distinct threads for each stitch, you may take one thread of the preceding stitch; this will give an added thickness to your work. It will be advisable to work the wool over slips of card or parchment, as doing so will make it better to cut. If you work it in squares, they should not be larger than seventeen stitches; and to look well, they must each be placed the contrary way to the other.

Algerine Work.—This work much resembles a Venetian carpet, but is finer; it looks best done in very small patterns. It is worked over cotton piping cord, the straight way of the corners; the stitches are over three threads. Your work as in raised work, putting the colors in as you come to them, and counting three stitches in width, as one stitch when you are working Berlin pattern. The paper canvas is No. 45 and the cord No. 00. It is proper for table mats and other thick kinds of work.

To Fill up Corners.—Work in any stitch you prefer and shade in accordance with the subject. In these, and ornamental[70] borders, &c., there is much room for the development of taste and judgment. In all that, you undertake, it will be well for you to recollect, that nothing is lost by taking time to think. However trivial and unimportant our actions may be, they should always be preceded by mature deliberation. A habit of thought once established will remain through life, and protect its possessor from the countless miseries of rash actions, and the agonies of remorse and unavailable repentance.

[64-*] The presentation of an embroidered scarf was a common mark of approval in the ages of chivalry.

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