Sunday, April 25, 2010

HANNAH ALSOP, QUILTING, trip to Winterthur

Have been sewing in my basement sewing room or "studio" as the quilters like to call their work room, for the past two days. My neighbor Bev is quilting a king sized quilt on my Innova long arm machine. She is making it for her sister who is in her 40's and getting married for the first time. Her sister, Donna, loves purple, and this quilt is all kinds of purples and mauves. Bev has to either send or take this quilt to Skagway, Alaska, in May for her sister's wedding there. She fears that the post office will be too slow, and what about the price of carry on baggage for the two air lines that she has to use to get to Skagway...Will they both charge her for an extra bag? Well, last night we pinned the back of the quilt to the leaders of the machine and basted the batting to the backing and then basted the front to the top of the batting. She was over here at 8 a.m. this morning to start quilting. She is doing a kind of large meandering that looks really good. She had wanted to do a pantograph (where you follow a pattern with a laser light) but to her surprise, the free-hand quilting is a lot faster and more fun to boot. I sent her home last night with a white dry erase board to practice various designs. I am working on my ABC jackets while she quilts. Have mine all quilted. Now to put it together.  Bev only has one more row to quilt, and then she can take it home and put on the binding and tie off the threads--where one bobbin ended or the thread happened to break. We used a new to me lovely shiny thread in a fantastic mauve color. Bev volunteers for the breast cancer hot line from 3-5 today and will be back at 5 to finish up. Long arm quilting can be very fast depending on what kinds of designs you quilt.


This is a photo of the photo of the reverse. She was a good stitcher though she didn't finish her border. It seems I don't have a photo of the front of the antique sampler... but you get the idea.

Hannah Alsop is one of the samplers that we reproduced. It is a simple marking sampler with a tremendous family history that I include with the chart. Hanna was from Middletown, Connecticut, and one of many children. Her mother was a prosperous woman who ran the family businesses when her husband was in Maine looking for land to purchase.

This is a photo of Hannah in her later years.

These are black and white photos of Hannah's grandmother and her mother, Mary Wright Alsop. They are photos of two paintings in the collection of the art museum of the Smithsonian. Notice the lovely lace in their clothing. They were wealthy women.  Mary was an only child.


I love this queen stitch pocket book. Mary was such a good needleworker to stitch both her name and date on her piece. I hope you mark your work with your name or initials and the year. 

As you can see above, Hannah's mother, Mary Alsop, was a talented and prolific stitcher. Many of her pieces of stitching and knitting are in the textile collection at the Winterthur Museum in Delaware. Notice how Mary stitched either her own name or the name of the person who was to receive the piece on each purse or man's pocketbook. These are photos from Winterthur's stock slide collection.

I was lucky enough to twice take a tour of the Winterthur needlework collection. The first trip was via the Embroiderers' Guild of America. Five of my friends and I went to a sampler symposium at Winterthur where we heard lectures and were shown textiles by the curator Susan Burroughs Swann. Susan Swann has written two wonderful classic books about the needlework at Winterthur. One was called Plain and Fancy.  I think the other was the Winterthur Guide to American Needlework. You can also go and see the needlework collection at Winterthur. They have group tours for a special rate, and you get to roam all over that huge house/museum and see the textiles (with a guide.) This is one of the best museums in America for viewing American textiles, porcelain, furniture, wall paper, etc. If you ever get a chance to go there, run... but call ahead to find out about the special needlework tours. I hope they still have them. And they were a reasonable rate.

A few years after we went to the  EGA sampler symposium at Winterthur, my friends Ruth and Marcia and I were in Middleltown, Connecticut, where Hannah Alsop grew up. We asked around and were told that this was Mary Wright Alsop's home. Later while reading the literature we picked up there, we found out that this was once a home of one of her son's, not Mary's. It was a fraternity house at one time and is now an art museum. 

There are several trompe l'oeil paintings on the outside of the house. 

While in the Philadelphia area for the Sampler Symposium, we took a tour of the Philadelphia Museum of Art's collection of samplers. Mostly we saw black and white photos of them. These samplers were from the Whitman Collection—like the Whitman chocolates with the sampler designed boxes. 

We had dinner with the gal who used to reproduce samplers under the business name of Simply Samplers. 

We visited the Chester County Historical Society in West Chester, PA, and saw samplers there. This was before the days of the internet, and I had written to numerous people and places in the Philadelphia area to see samplers. The curator there at Chester Cty HS asked what samplers we wanted to see so I looked through all my sampler books and picked out every sampler that I could find from their collection. The curator brought out only the samplers I asked to see—not any more--puleese! They do have lovely samplers in their collection that were a treat to see.

We went for a tour at West Town School which is located very close to West Chester, PA, and saw their map samplers and the samplers that were hung on the walls of all their offices and then we were taken down to the storage area where they had put out many more samplers for us. One had been decoupaged into a tray—a crying shame as it was one of the geometric ones. Who would decopage a sampler! For Pete's sake! They have a wonderful huge painting by Andrew Wyeth's father. I can't think of his name. It is in the cafeteria and is a picture from one of the children's classics that he illustrated. 

We also went to Malvern, PA, to visit a woman who had lovely huge gardens there. She lived in a wonderful house full of antiques and exquisite crewel work curtains that she had stitched when she and her husband were out on their boat. The gardens were wonderful, and she served us lunch in her home. I remember nasturtiums on our plates. There have been articles in some of the needlework magazines of her curtains. I remember one in Threads Magazine years ago. I can't remember her name. A long time ago I found the notebook of this trip and all the letters I had written to the Philadelphia area to find things for us to see and do while we were there. I would have had her name in the notebook. 

As the days wore on, our friends had to leave. Marcia and I were the last to stay and we visited the Schwenkfelder Museum and then went up to Allentown to look at samplers there. Lastly we went to Lancaster and wen to the Landis Valley Museum and the farmer's market. It was a wonderful trip that none of us will ever forget. This was in the late 1980's.

Better go. Bev is coming back to finish her quilt. My 89 year old mom is having hip replacement surgery tomorrow at noon so I don't know how busy I'll be this week with her. Have to scare up some knitting to take to the hospital where the lighting is never great. Hope to talk soon.  --Nancy

1 comment:

  1. Nancy, the Winterthur needlework tour is now $200 for up to 6 people. I went years ago and I'm arranging to go with a group again in about a month. Also, the Plimoth Jacket is now on display in the Winterthur Gallery; it's amazing!