Saturday, July 20, 2013

Continuing Work on

I have been working on and I'm happy to report that I have posted new photos. I am very pleased to say that I did the last photos all on my own. Are they perfect? No, but I am thankful for small triumphs: the links work and the pages are seeable and readable.

I will get better with time. We all do, don't you think?

Even if you are not interested in my coding struggles (and struggles they often are), I promise that what the code has helped me post is indeed worth a trip to!
and click on 'Jane Austen' on the navigation bar.

When you arrive at Jane's page, you will see my biggest triumph: 3 images all lined up neatly and clickable, yes working links indeed!

Click on one of the links and I promise you photos and descriptions of some of my most-loved needlework treasures.

Under the first thumbnail: a small French box with gold needlework tools.

Under the second thumbnail: a French piano with silver needlework tools and, fitting for its subject, a music box that (on a good day) plays two tunes. (If you were 200 years old, you'd struggle to play both your tunes also).

Under the third thumbnail: an English traveling needlework box covered in black leather, with outstanding brass appointments.

For now that is as far as I have gotten. The practice is helping me learn, so my plan is to add a collection of photos each week.

So far I have been working on Needlework Tools from the era of Jane Austen and I have another two or three pages almost ready to publish.

After I finish with a few more needlework tools, I will turn to linens, where I have many more pieces of lace, at least a dozen Ayrshire Christening dresses and countless other pieces of whitework.

My Apple tutor Cody asked me the other day how many pages I thought MyNeedleworkBox would have if I were to complete it.. I thought for a while and said, 'if I do everything, probably 1000'. That means, if I post a page of photos each week, it will take me 1000 weeks. 52 weeks in a year, it will take me almost 20 years!

I'll have to rethink the number of pages, won't I. And now you understand a part of the reason our house groans under the weight of all the things I've collected. And that's before we start counting DH's books and all my needlework supplies.

But it was a big heady feeling of triumph when I got those three thumbnails to line up on Jane Austen's page. Small happinesses.

Gay Ann

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

History for Stitchers: Small Booklets on Mary, Queen of Scots, and Bess of Hardwick

DH has been busy, very busy indeed. He has been at work writing short booklets on the lives ofMary, Queen of Scots, and Bess of Hardwick and finally they are finished! Essentially the booklets are small histories for stitchers and they place the lives and needlework of these women into historical perspective.

Now, whenever I am faced with studying history, I always think of Jane Austen's memorable quote on the pursuit:

"The quarrels of popes and kings, with wars and pestilences in every page; the men all so good for nothing, and hardly any women at all."

And when DH started writing his booklets, I reminded him of that quote. Often. And unlike husbands who sometimes tune out their wives, I am pleased to say that DH heard me.

What I've enjoyed most about DH's two small booklets is that they pay attention to Jane Austen's lament: there's only one war mentioned briefly, no pestilences and the booklets are all about women: Mary, Bess, the Grey family and others. They are also about needlework in its historical context.

So are there 'men all so good for nothing'' in DH's booklets'? That you will have to decide for yourself.

I confess, I love DH's small booklets, but then I would hardly be an unbiased critic, would I. DH is a careful scholar, he writes very well, and the booklets are both readable and charming little histories.

In recent years, DH has been Queendom Website's head shipping clerk and bookkeeper, but before he accepted those positions,  his career was as a history professor. Although Elizabethan England was not his specialty, he is well grounded in Renaissance and Reformation studies as all those years ago they were among of his doctoral fields and he has always had a keen interest.

As I started stitching my portraits of Elizabeth 1, Mary and Bess, DH started reading on the period. I stitched and he read for the better part of a couple of years and when I taught my Elizabeth portrait for Shining Needle Society, DH wrote a series of short history lessons on Elizabeth.

As I've sold kits for my miniatures of Mary and Bess, people who had taken my Elizabeth class asked if DH would do some history lessons to accompany Mary and Bess also, and he said yes.

I had expected he would finish the booklets by May when I mailed the last of my Mary and Bess kits, but life got in the way and it has taken till July. Now as of two days ago the booklets are on my website and I am proud of them. They make perfect little companions for my Mary and Bess projects.

In their honor and also in honor of the inspiration that needlework brings to my life, I have opted for a summer of 'History and Inspiration' and how the two are intertwined.

I hope you will join MacSoph and me for our summer activities on

Gay Ann