Wednesday, 18 March 2009

DID YOU KNOW? - No.1 - Ayreshire work

As I am not listing new items on the website at the moment I thought I would start a
'DID YOU KNOW?' section here on the blog.

Ayrshire white work.

Ayrshire work is one of the most beautiful of embroideries bequeathed by the 18th century. It originated from Ayrshire, also the west coast of Scotland and from Ireland. Its heyday lasted from about 1795 to the late 1850's.
The patterns were often floral and enhanced many christening gowns and bonnets.

Unfortunately blindness in women increased dramatically when Ayrshire white work was being embroidered. In Ayrshire and Western Scotland agents travelled around cottages where the women and daughters were only to pleased to take in needlework to eke out their menfolk's meagre wages. The embroidery was so fine and was executed by candlelight. In Winter they used to work in the cow sheds to keep warm from the heat of the cows. As they were so poor they needed to work very long hours working on the embroidery and when they got tired they bathed their eyes with whisky to give them a few more hours clearer vision. Eventually they went blind.

1 comment:

pwl said...

Such a sad story behind something so beautiful - but I guess that's not all that uncommon, is it?