Saturday, 7 November 2015

D is for Devil, Death and Dressing Up - Revisited

When we first started this blog I made a series of posts beginning with each letter of the alphabet starting with A.  Unfortunately, they ground to a halt after L.  So in honour of The Alphabet Club hosted by Chiara I have decided to resurrect the original posts and link up each month with the rest of the Alphabet Club posters.  To learn more about this SAL follow the Alphabet Club link to Chiara's blog.

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:

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 would definitely make a great Fancy Dress outfit!


Heather said...

Great post! I love dressing up for Halloween. This is the first year in a long time I didn't because, being new to the state, we didn't have anywhere to go. I love fantasy costumes :)

Brigitte said...

You were putting together some funny and some interesting things. I have always wondered about these verses on old samplers.
WE don't have Halloween here but we have the carnival season where people disguise and celebrate carnival for a couple of days. That season starts seven weeks before Easter and ends with Ash Wednesday.

Stitching Noni said...

We generally don't dress up for Halloween.... but we do always make sure that there are lollies for the kids that come knocking in their costumes :o) This year we had some fantastic looking costumes come to the door!
Terry Pratchett's Death (and Binky) have always been my favourites!
And I do like the EMS devils - so cute :o)
Great post!
Hugs xx