Wednesday, December 19, 2012

It's Here!



You can see that we have been busy working on getting our samplers framed (Julie's is ready for the framer now, but not quite there yet).  And while we've kept ourselves busy and working away on some surprises for January, our advance copy of what we now refer to as "The Book!" (the exclamation point is essential) arrived!  It's beautiful - everything we'd hoped for!  When we started on this journey, a little over a year ago,  we never dreamed what was in store for us.  It's been an up and down, roller-coaster of a ride as we "learned  by doing"!  We do have to say that it would not have been possible without the mentoring of our wonderful friend, Jacqueline Holdsworth of Needleprint.  She guided us through so many new avenues and saw us safely on our journey!  If there's another person more generous with her time, energy and spirit, we don't know who it could be!

We are thrilled with the results of our labors, and in this picture it's a little deceiving - this is a big book!  350 plus pages, filled with years of research, biographies, and pictures!  Over 100 girls' work is shown here in glorious color!  And the work done by the author - Joanne Martin Lukacher - is incredible!  She draws the reader in to a world gone by and shows how a unique sampler style came into being - how it is the result of the time and place it originated.  A fascinating study...

Here's a sneak peek!



Many of you have kindly been asking to be contacted when the book was ready for pre-ordering - we had lots to consider and finally we received all the shipping information as well as everything else we needed to price the book, and we are now ready.  

Imitation and Improvement will sell for $92.95 plus shipping and handling charges.  We are taking orders on our website and will be shipping in the second half of January, if all goes well with customs.  Naturally, any pre-orders will be filled first and you will receive your book as soon as we get them!

We will also let you know who, among your favorite needlework stores, and other sources, is carrying the book so you can save a bit on the shipping (it's a heavy book!)  So far, Attic Needlework in Arizona has ordered some.  As others do as well, we will let you know!  


In the pictures above you see two samplers that are "in the Norfolk style", and that, at first glance, look exactly alike, but they are not.  The chart to this original design is included with the book - and we hope you truly enjoy stitching it.  The classic Norfolk sampler, as shown on the cover of the book, is absolutely gorgeous, and we loved making our own chart with all the elements that go into the classic style.  Ours is shown stitched two ways.  Becky's is all counted work, except for the satin-stitch bows, while Julie tried the free-embroidery for the outside floral border.  The chart includes both ways so you can personalize the sampler the way you would like.  

Now, Santa would bring it a little late, but wouldn't this make a marvelous Christmas gift?  Sending this link to a loved one who might be wondering what to get you could be a good idea!

If you're a member of a guild - good news!  We are offering a 20% discount to any guild that places a group order of 8 books or more to one address (you'll save on shipping, too).  This is a great way to either pass on the savings to guild members (a wonderful perk for members) or to raise funds for all the guild does!  Either way, everyone wins!  

Now, of course, this is not the only thing we've worked on this year though it's certainly received most of our attention!  But we don't want you to forget that there's only a few weeks left to enroll in the Tokens of Friendship subscription!  Who doesn't want to receive a wonderful surprise in the mail, all gift-wrapped and ready to please!  Multiply that by four times in a year, and you have a gift that will really wow someone special!  


For a brilliant glint of gold - try our Gilded Swan - the latest in our line of boxed sets - something really special for yourself or someone on your gift list!  This hand-painted set comes complete with all you see here - so wonderful!  Each one is unique, as we make them up by hand.  The grain-painting is glittering with gold, and the special needlework tools inside are ready and waiting for you!


Thursday, December 6, 2012

Travels....



There is very little we like as much as Christmas, so we decided to take a pre-holiday jaunt to San Francisco, and we had a lovely time.  In fact, we thought we should show you!  Becky had found a Dickens Christmas Fair in San Francisco, and we decided it must be the perfect time to visit our friend Marian in the Bay Area.  Here we are enjoying a night out with her.  

Marian Soss, whose sampler collection is the subject of our book "Let Love Abide", is all things delightful, and we had a wonderful time visiting with her.  It was so good to just sit and talk - you know how that goes....

We also did a little shopping, of course, but one reason for our trip was to get away from the dreary Seattle rain and find a little sun!  Well - torrential rains and winds met us and kept up until we left, so that was not to be, but we did manage to find a few bright spots!  Here's Becky shopping in Berkeley, where she found "her restaurant"!



This little movie also shows how enchanted we were with the Christmas lights the shops featured.


video
But the piece de resistance was, of course, The Dickens Fair.  Come with us into the street of London during  the Dickensian period....

First, you will be met by Maudie Hawkins, whose little dog is "the very best ratter in all of London town!"  She also sells bits of lace and fabric in case you are in a buying mood...  And if later on, you decide you do want her services after all, why, just "send a telegram to Maudie 'Awkins in Grey's Lane and she'll come round to your 'ouse straightaway!"



You might also be accosted by a chimney-sweep, or some of the "ladies" down by the docks! 



We were invited to a tea party by the Mad Hatter, which did not best please the Queen of Hearts, who had NOT received her invite!  



But all ended well with Alice and other children enjoying their tea and riddles very much!  "Why is a raven like a writing desk?" you might well ask.  You won't get an answer, but you might well ask.

On we went to enjoy the entertainment (country dancing in this case), and later to peruse what there might be to eat.



We visited Mr. Dickens' home, and were told the great man himself would be there later in the day, but alas, we missed him!  



We thought about the local pub,


but the Cornish pasties in a shop window were calling us



another bakery featured gingerbread and other delights  - we were spoiled for choice!

We continued through the streets of London


listened to a speech on temperance

tried on hats in a lovely shop


marveled at the signs of the shops!


We  noted that the fair was in town and thought about seeing the Bearded Lady and other Wonders...


or riding the carousel....


Becky even convinced Julie to pose for a picture!

Perhaps not her best side....

There was a pretty little Tea Shoppe, 

with an excellent kitchen...



and we peeked in at an afternoon soiree.



Victorian rooms are just filled with so many interesting things to see....


Speaking of interesting things, this fellow seemed to be an inventor of some sort - very scientific!


We ended the day with some wonderful Christmas carols, before we were whisked back home by jet!
It was a lovely stroll back in time, and we hope you've enjoyed the trip as much as we did!

This trip certainly pointed out that I am NOT ready for Christmas!  Are you?  If you have any stitching friends you still need to find things for, why not take a look at what's new over at In the Company of Friends?  

Tokens of Friendship is a wonderful gift - for your friend, your spouse, or yourself!  The deadline for signing up for this year-long extravaganza of gifts is coming up - don't miss out!  

All of our Golden Splendor Casket boxed sets are gone now - but we do still have some of the very nicely priced Gilded Swan Sets - we hurried to get these done for Christmas giving because we knew how much fun they would be.  Get yours while they last!



Saturday, November 17, 2012

Gilded Swans



We have just released our new box, the “Gilded Swan”.  It has been so much fun to create and just in time for holiday giving or receiving!  It glints with gold that seems to shimmer in the light.  Filled with fun toys for any stitcher  to enjoy.  There is a beaded scissors fob which ends in a golden swan charm and attached to a beautiful pair of scissors. A swan waxer,  a tiny tri-fold with a thread counter bejeweled with another swan and holding a needle ready to start your stitching, a pin keep with beautiful jewel-topped pins and a 3” quick start/thread palette doing double work complete this set.  Just the right size, this 4” box can go anywhere you take your needlework.


So it has us thinking about the swans we enjoy on many of the samplers we see in historic needlework.  Why were they placed on the sampler and what was it a symbol of for the women who choose to stitch them?

The Swan has many meanings through history, not only in needlework but in various forms of artwork and folklore.


The Simply Samplers site has many motifs explained as well as lots of other wonderful information.


Swan: the bird of love and is associated with Venus and Cupid; also because it believed to sing sweetly when dying, it represents a good death; in Germanic mythology , being an attribute of Wotan, it is a creature of the sun, a bringer of light and life. It is the typical symbol of purity and of chance. Rare in the old samplers, it became more popular in the nineteenth century.

I think it is amazing when we think of some of the meanings regarding love and romance, that when you look and find the two swans together they create a heart.




Symbolic swan meaning continues the theme of transformation in the tale of the Ugly Duckling by Hans Christian Anderson. Mislabeled from birth, the little duckling lives his life with the heroic heart of a swan. Indeed, after growing strong under the nurturing of kind humans, the duckling is set free, and sees its image for the first time in a reflective pool of water to discover he had “transformed” into a lovely swan.




Who doesn’t love this little fairy tale? It reminds us of our inherent glory, power and beauty (as the duckling was always a graceful swan). At the same time, the tale encourages us to have faith and have a persistent heart while pursuing the gifts that are our birthright.

Dreams hold many symbolic references.  White swans in dreams are symbolic of cleansing and purifying ourselves and our lives. Black swans indicate deep mysteries within us that are longing to be set free to express themselves creatively. Dreaming of a swan may signify self-transformation, intuition, sensitivity, the soul.

For many cultures the white swan is a symbol of light, both as a feminine symbol of the moon and a masculine symbol of the sun. In Greek mythology, the swan has been linked to Apollo, to Zeus who took the shape of a swan to seduce Leda, to Aphrodite and Artemis who were sometimes shown accompanied by swans.
 Leda and Zeus (as a Swan), ''El Prado'' Museum, Madrid. Photo by Alejandro B├írcenas

Many cultures have stories incorporating the swan as a symbol of transformation and many of the people transformed in the stories are women.

In India stories tell that  it was the swan that lay the Cosmic Egg on the waters, from which Brahma sprang. The In Hindu tradition, swans represent the perfect union, and the spirit of Brahma.The Hindu goddess Saraswati who is the goddess of learning, music and wisdom has a swan as Her companion animal. The word in Sanskrit for swan is "hansa" or "hamsa" so the Divine is also called Parmahansa or Parmahamsa.



Folklore is filled with tales of people and sometimes the gods changing into swans.
 The swan is a totem of beauty and grace. As in the story of the Ugly Duckling, it connotes inner beauty as well. If Swan is your totem animal, you are emotionally sensitive, and empathic towards the feelings of others, and you draw people to you. The pure white swan is a solar symbol, whereas the Australian Black Swan is a nocturnal symbol. The swan, with its long neck, acts as a bridge between the worlds, making it an oracular bird. Being a cool weather bird, its direction is North. Swans are excellent totems for children, those connected to the Fairy Realm, poets, bards, mystics, and dreamers.

 In the Medicine Cards, pulling the Swan card tells you to “accept your ability to know what lies ahead, pay attention to your hunches, gut knowledge, and female intuitive side.” Reversed, the Swan card means you are not grounded, not paying attention to your intuition, or the Unseen. The authors suggest that you “notice your surroundings, and touch the Earth; be still and focus on one reality or the other - the Dreamtime or the mundane world; stop the clutter in your mind and listen; or focus on a physical activity that will ground you.”


In Celtic lore, pulling the swan card can mean poetic inspiration from the Otherworld. It can also mean an enduring love is entering into your life.

Key words for symbolism of Swans:
Love, Grace. Union, Purity, Beauty, Dreams. Balance, Elegance, Partnership, Transformation



This is a new one, I haven’t heard this acronym before.
What does SWAN stand for? Society of Women Addicted to Needlework


This information below is where I found a lot of information and there is more if you wish to pull anything else from it….otherwise, you can just use the links to the web-sites for reference.


Swan: the bird of love and is associated with Venus and Cupid; also because it believed to sing sweetly when dying, it represents a good death; in Germanic mythology , being an attribute of Wotan, it is a creature of the sun, a bringer of light and life. It is the typical symbol of purity and of chance. Rare in the old samplers, it became more popular in the nineteenth century.

Swan . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Bird of love; also represents a good death



Swan Meaning and Swan Symbolism

Our first symbolic clues from the swan can be taken from observing them in nature. They are waterfowl, closely connected with water, even nesting near the water.

Water is symbolic of: Fluidity, Intuition, Dreaming, Emotions, Creativity.

In this respect, we can intuit the swan’s appearance in our lives as an arrow pointing to our dreamier depths and feelings. Furthermore, we get the sense of balance from swan meaning as it lives harmoniously amongst three of the four Aristotelian elements. Grounding herself on earth, lofting to great heights in the air, and winding through waters with magnificent elegance.



The swan may also bear messages of love and relationships. They pair for years, sometimes male-female unions are sustained for a lifetime. When the swan glides upon the waters of our awareness, it might be a symbol of love, and a reminder of the blessings found in our relationships.

The concept of partnership is further expressed on a divine level in Hinduism, wherein the swan graces vibrant traditions as the Hamsa bird. In the Saundarya Lahari (translated: “Waves of Beauty,” it’s a text filled with beautiful mantras from the Hindu perspective) two swans (Ham and Sa) pair together, swimming around in the divine mind “living on honey from the blooming lotus of knowledge.” Isn’t that a lovely concept?

In the Celtic mind, swans and geese were observed in the context of movement. Specifically, the keenly observant Celts noted their transitory nature and the swan’s pattern of migration. Consequently, the sign of the swan urged Celtic intuition to consider changes of mood (water) and heart (love).

Swan meaning is also linked to Celtic deities with solar associations, like Belanus and Lugh. As solar animals, the swan represents the rising glory of a new day as well as the farewell of an old day with the setting sun. Fittingly, the Celtic goddess Bridgid is also associated with the swan as her grace is expressed with equal elegance in the form of writing (poetry) and song.

Celtic myth also indicates when inhabitants of the Otherworld required passage to the physical land of life you and I experience every day, they would take the shape of the swan. Furthermore lore states they would travel out of the Otherworld in pairs, thus reinforcing the theme of union, bonds and partnership.

In Celtic art, gold and silver chains are often depicted around the swan's neck. I’ve read where this is symbolic of supernatural appearance of divine energy or the descent of gods to earth. I like to think the chains are symbolic of a harmony between cosmic forces; gold representing the sun, and silver symbolic of the moon. Perhaps the Celts recognized the essence of gods within the guise of the swan, and honored that power in the bird.

We see further themes of transformation and deific embodiment in Greek myth wherein Zeus (Jupiter in the Roman pantheon) transformed himself into a swan in an effort to slake his uncontrollable passion for Leda.

Symbolic swan meaning continues the theme of transformation in the tale of the Ugly Duckling by Hans Christian Anderson. Mislabeled from birth, the little duckling lives his life with the heroic heart of a swan. Indeed, after growing strong under the nurturing of kind humans, the duckling is set free, and sees its image for the first time in a reflective pool of water to discover he had “transformed” into a lovely swan.

Who doesn’t love this little fairy tale? It reminds us of our inherent glory, power and beauty (as the duckling was always a graceful swan). At the same time, the tale encourages us to have faith and have a persistent heart while pursuing the gifts that are our birthright.

In dreams, the swan asks us to spread our wings and take flight into our waking dreams. She also encourages us to strengthen our relationships, as well as make new, long-lasting bonds with people whom we admire.

White swans in dreams are symbolic of cleansing and purifying ourselves and our lives. Black swans indicate deep mysteries within us that are longing to be set free to express themselves creatively – perhaps as Bridgid would have us do, in poetry or music.



I hope you have enjoyed this page on swan meaning and symbolism. Keep swimming with the creative flow by visiting these related pages selected for you by Theophanes:


Can anyone tell me anything of the symbolism of swans in spirituality?

For many cultures the white swan is a symbol of light, both as a feminine symbol of the moon and a masculine symbol of the sun. In Greek mythology, the swan has been linked to Apollo, to Zeus who took the shape of a swan to seduce Leda, to Aphrodite and Artemis who were sometimes shown accompanied by swans.

Many cultures have stories incorporating the swan as a symbol of transformation and many of the people transformed in the stories are women.

In the symbolism of Alchemy, the swan was neither male nor female, but the "marriage of opposites", fire and water. It was associated with Mercury as it was white and winged.

Dreaming of a swan may signify self-transformation, intuition, sensitivity, the soul.

Native American

In Navajo tradition, the Great White Swan can call up the Four Winds. The Great Spirit will use swans to work its will.

Australian

The aborigines saw the Black Swans as the wives of their All Father.

Japan

In Ainu folk tales, the swan was an angelic bird who lived in heaven. When the Ainu fought amongst themselves killing all but one boy, the Swan descended from heaven, transformed into a woman, and reared the boy to manhood. She then married him to preserve the Ainu race.



India

It was the swan that lay the Cosmic Egg on the waters, from which Brahma sprang. The In Hindu tradition, swans represent the perfect union, and the spirit of Brahma.The Hindu goddess Saraswati who is the goddess of learning, music and wisdom has a swan as Her companion animal. The word in Sanskrit for swan is "hansa" or "hamsa" so the Divine is also called Parmahansa or Parmahamsa.

Folklore is filled with tales of people and sometimes the gods changing into swans.


-Zeus changed himself into a swan as a means of seduction. (Greek)

-The children of Lir were changed into swans for 900 years until the spell holding them was broken. (Celtic/ Irish)

-The Valkyries, warrior goddesses who chose the warriors to enter Valhalla after death, had the power to transform into swans. If a man stole their plumage, they were forced to obey him. (Germanic)


-Swans took off their plumage in fairy tales, revealing themselves as maidens (Celtic, Siberian and European)

-In Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake, Princess Odette is changed into a swan.

Adelaide Giuri as Odette and Mikhail Mordkin as Prince Siegfried with two unidentified children as Little Swans in Alexander Gorsky's staging of the Petipa/Ivanov Swan Lake for the Bolshoi Theatre, Moscow, 1901

-The Eleven Swans by Hans Christian Anderson, the story of Even princes, transformed into swans and their sister who must remaining mute, sew eleven shirts in seven years, to change them back again.


Phew!  Who knew our little Gilded Swan had such symbolism? 

While you're visiting our website, be sure to take a look at the Tokens of Friendship Subscription - this is such a fun thing to do for yourself or a friend - and you can only sign up at this time of year - subscriptions close on January 15th!

And of course, check out our big project for this year - the Imitation and Improvement: The Norfolk Sampler Tradition book!  This lovely volume is at the printer now, but you can have a sneak peek here!  

Every once in awhile, we stumble across a new blog or something of great interest, and today was no exception.  Take a look at Mary Jenkins' blog on Welsh samplers!  They are beautiful!  We signed up as followers immediately! http://welshfolkartsamplers.blogspot.co.uk/








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