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15th January 2024
This week's subject is needlepoint, the genteel pastime of so many characters in Victorian novels such as Elizabeth Gaskell's Cranford and target of a great deal of derisory commentary in Punch. But the fact remains that needlepoint, which is quite different to tapestry although often labelled as such, was enormously popular in the nineteenth-century and a huge commercial success. The period was awash with colourful Berlin wool-work slippers, antimacassars, butterfly braces, smoking caps, screens and needle books, stitched mostly by women from charts like this (c1850).
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