On Saturday, 25th January 2020, Gillian Vogelsang wrote:
While working on the forthcoming quilt exhibition at the TRC and on the Encyclopedia of Embroidery series at home, I was struck by the modern need for precision and symmetry and how computers and their need for 'accuracy' have changed our lives. And in this case, also embroidery.
A feature of early twenty-first century embroidery, for example, is the use of computer programmes in order to create and re-create certain designs, and the distribution of such patterns online via social media groups such as Pinterest. Many of these designs are worked out on graph paper (or rather the computer equivalent) and then copied and mirrored, so quickly producing a symmetrical design.
However, when working with sixteenth century and later designs it is clear that what may look symmetrical was not necessarily identical on both sides of a central line. For example, eighteenth century cross stitch samplers from Amager in Denmark are full of small variations in the place and the way different parts of the overall design are worked out. Furthermore, it is clear that the embroiderer did not always ‘correctly’ count how many ground threads, and indeed which of these threads they were working the stitch over. From a distance these samplers look visually regular, but they are not ‘computer’ regular. But are these samplers therefore inferior?