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More Questions than Answers: Post #5 Borage

We're delving back into the 17th century cushion cover from the MFA Boston that we've been exploring for the past year (see our other blog posts entitled "More Questions than Answers").

A fascinating aspect of this cushion is the very wide variety of stitching styles as well as motifs. There is such a range of techniques that it strongly suggests that the person (people?) who worked this cushion were trying out different styles in a sampler kind of way. There are five separate clusters of grapes in different techniques, several strawberries, two very different stags, appliques, padded and raised work, canvas work, and on and on.

A great example of this variety is the humble and sweet little borage flower. We’ve written a previous blog post about this favorite of Elizabethan embroiderers and gardeners alike.

This borage (above) is stitched in an interesting techique which we're not entirely sure of -- some of it looks like queen's stitch and some areas like eyelet. Anyone have any suggestions?

This borage is actually four colors on the petals (white, light blue, medium blue, and the faded color) -- which is unique. Borage, at this time period, is usually stitched in three colors. The color on the tips is potentially black that has faded to a washed out grey. Some borage flowers have black-tipped petals. But, as you can see from the other borage on this piece, this is the only one stitched with the black petal edge, all the rest of them are blue.

We're sorry for the poor quality of the overall picture of this borage -- we think we take a ton of photos when we're researching, but this is an instance of missing a detail! We're including the partial image so you can see the stitching. Still, we can see that this is an example of a borage done as canvas work in tent stitch.

And this little borage is the classic three color worked in long and short stitch.

Next time, we'll explore some of the other motifs on this cushion.

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Chris Berry
Chris Berry

Belated comment sorry!

Queen stitch often has a look of eyelets. You don't need to make a choice.

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