Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Encyclopedia of Needlework

I picked up a brilliant book at a vintage fair in York on Sunday - the Encyclopedia of Needlework by Therese de Dillmont. It was orignally published in 1884, but the version I bought was a later version - still no later than 1900, I'd guess. It's amazing - it covers everything from plain sewing to gold embroidery and Irish lace. And also takes a look at crochet and knitting - everything a late Victorian lady would need to know about handiwork, whatever class they were from, so that (in Therese's words), "those who are able to employ others to work for them, should at least know how to distinguish good work from bad, and those who are in less fortunate circumstances, have to be taught how to work for themselves."

But the most anachronistic part I've found so far? "To keep needles from rusting, strew a little asbestos in the packets, and workers whose hands are apt to get damp, should have a small box of it handy, to powder their fingers with."


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