Tuesday, 18 March 2014

D is for Devil, Death and Dressing Up

D is for Devil from A Dark Alphabet designed by Julie and Becky's Note of Friendship blog.  So you might be wondering why there is a monkey in this picture?  In Dutch samplers the stitchers would often use a Spinning Monkey to represent the Devil rather than tempt bad luck by stitching Old Nick himself.  The monkey stood for folly, laziness, lechery and vanity and his punishment was to be turned into thread.

I wonder if we get a bit of "monkey thread" sometimes, you know where it knots and twists and won't lay neatly no matter what you do?

If you like your devils on the cute side, Ellen Maurer-Stroh has a series of stitching devils, this one has a bobbin (ready to tangle?) and there is one with a pincushion and a sweet pair playing with a sewing machine.
Stitching Devil winding Bobbins

Onto Death, that's a gloomy subject for stitching?  

Black Grim Cross Stitch

So here's a more cheerful Death, from Terry Prachett's Discworld series:

Death Cross Stitch

So where do we get these images of Death from?  In England, Death is often called The Grim Reaper and from the 15th Century onwards is shown as a skeletal figure cloaked in hooded black  and carrying a large scythe.  In the Bible there is also a reference to "The Angel of Death" who reaps the firstborn sons of the people of Eygpt.

Probably the most common image for Death in cross stitching is the gravestone (but I'm saving those for G!) or some of the verses stitched on antique samplers.  For example this piece by Amy Ball which includes the couplet "When I am dead and in my Grave, my Friend's in Hand my work may have":

Amy Ball

These samplers were often stitched by very young girls and it makes you realise how close to death people were in those days.  Many women would have given birth to several children only to see three or four survive into adulthood.

And onto something more modern and cheerful!!  Dressing-up.  Why do we dress up for Hallowe'en?  This tradition goes back to Celtic times when people believed that evil spirits walked the land on Hallowe'en.  The best way to fool these spirits was to disguise yourself as someone else.  In early 20th Century America Trick or Treating was referred to as "guising" before the actual term Trick or Treat came into use.

Here's a cute pair dressed up ready to go Trick or Treating:
cross stitch pattern Trick or Treat Kids

So what's your favourite dressing up costume?  Do you enjoy dressing up or do the words "Fancy Dress Party" strike dread into your heart?  Being rock fans has always made dressing up for Hallowe'en easy for me and my friends.  We already have wardrobes full of black velvet and lace, long wild hair and leather coats.  Just add a white hair streak, some extra eyeliner to the black lipstick, nail varnish and the jet jewellery and you have the perfect Vampire.  In fact, at one party in our local pub, my friend brought his new girlfriend to meet us all for the first time.  I admired her outfit and hair only to be told she hadn't realised it was Fancy-Dress and that was how she dressed all the time!

This HAED would definitely make a great Fancy Dress outift for me!


Gypsy Rose said...

Very pretty and I love that you explain the monkey, I didn't know that!

Lili said...

I didn´t know about the monkey. :)
The dress from the gothic princess is gorgeous.

AnaCristina said...


Angel Blue said...

Very informative post and love the Gothic Princess.

Stitching Noni said...

Nene Thomas artwork is always so gorgeous!
And who can go past Death! Love the Terry Pratchett books - haven't read one for years though!
And of course who can go past the EMS designs! Years ago I had all of her freebies but somehow the CD went missing... so no more EMS freebies :o(
Great post!

jacquie morris said...

This is such a cool post! I love it! Halloween great time of the year and why not stitch it through the alphabet!
Love this idea of this and thanks for sharing this :) Are you all doing letter E now? Its it too late to join in? Oooh can I join in? Its quote exciting!