Relax! By Deborah Love
23rd October 2020
Although the world seems to be constantly changing, there are many aspects of our life which remain consistent across years and ages. For example, no matter the year, when times are tough or when modernisation results in existing roles becoming redundant, survival and recovery is only possible when unemployment is addressed.
In 1896, these concerns were at the forefront of the minds of two intrepid women from Deerfield, Massachusetts, USA. Margaret C. Whiting and Ellen Miller realised that their town was declining and needed some kind of economic boost.
Knowing the needlework history of the area, the two got together to revive the tradition of crewel embroidery which had thrived there during the 1700s, and to turn it into a viable business for the women of the town.
And so the Deerfield Embroidery movement began.
At its height, the society which Ellen and Margaret formed, appropriately entitled ‘The Deerfield Society of Blue and White Needlework’ employed between 25 and 30 women who ranged in age from 19 to 70 years old.
These women were taught stitches and techniques that Ellen and Margaret had identified from historical crewel pieces produced in the area.
As time went on, the society shifted from wool thread to linen thread, and the characteristic palette of fresh white and various shades of blue became the defining feature of the group.
Women could earn around $0.20 an hour for their work, which was a respectable amount at the turn of the 20th Century. Although it did mean that the items they produced were significantly more expensive than industrially manufactured linens.
Unfortunately, this was one of the things which ultimately spelled the end of the Society. As well as the inevitable aging of the members, with few young members to take their place, by the 1920s factory-produced linens were so cheap and well-made that handmade products simply didn’t sell. The Society sadly closed its doors in 1926.
Fortunately the traditional style of Deerfield Embroidery has not faded away.
Deborah Love is one designer who has continued to produce beautiful Deerfield items, perfecting the stitches and working within the design tradition laid down by Ellen and Margaret over 100 years ago.
Relax! is one such project which cleverly incorporates the traditional style with a practical and modern item – a fabulous eye pillow filled with dried lavender and featuring a stunning, Deerfield design in soothing tones of brilliant blue.
The wonderful thing about Deerfield is that the stitches themselves are gloriously straightforward, suitable for beginners and experts alike. In its nod to traditional crewel embroidery, the design is worked with familiar stitches such as blanket stitch, feather stitch, satin stitch and trellis couching amongst many others you may or may not be familiar with, providing the embroiderer with a fantastic variety to enjoy and perfect.
Crow’s Foot Stitch
Worked on a fine, off-white linen, when completed, the Relax! eye pillow from Inspirations issue #108, is beautifully soft, deliciously scented and truly an item to be admired.
We are all naturally concerned about the current problems in our world and, like Ellen and Margaret, we all do whatever we can to help people in need.
But there is truth in the belief that you can’t take care of others unless you take care of yourself.
This means taking time to relax, whether it be in a bath, on a sofa, or lying out on the grass, with your soft, eye pillow over your eyes and the healing scent of lavender surrounding you.
Or, as we all probably prefer, with a fresh piece of linen in hand and the pattern for Deborah’s Relax! nearby, ready for us to stitch a perfect gift for someone who really needs it.
Make Your Own | Relax!
Step 1 – Purchase Project Instructions
Relax! by Deborah Love is a pretty, scented sachet or eye pillow embellished with Deerfield embroidery.
Step 2 – Purchase Ready-To-Stitch Kit
The Inspirations Ready-To-Stitch kit for Relax! includes everything* you need to re-create this delightful sachet: Fabric (unprinted), embroidery threads and needle.
*Please Note: To cater for flexibility of purchase, instructions are not included with our kits. For step-by-step directions on how to create this project, please refer to the magazine/digital pattern.