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Saturday, August 06, 2011

Ecclesiastical embroidery samplers by Karin Svahn

Sometimes you are surprised to find evidence of someone you know in unexpected places. It's an odd sensation, the pleasure a little like meeting a friend unexpectedly. I had a longish ferrywoman's stint yesterday, picking up my son at Beaver Cross Camp, and made a discovery.

The camp used to be on the shores of Lake Otsego and only twelve minutes away from home. The cabins clustered close to Ringwood Manor (1900), once one of the three home belonging to the Arthur Ryerson family. If you watched Titanic, you may remember that Leonard DiCaprio pilfered a coat belonged to one Arthur Ryerson. (I don't remember it because I haven't seen it, but you might.) Mr. Ryerson died when the ship went down. He and the rest of his family were heading home from Europe because they had received news of a death in the family.

When the camp moved east of Saratoga, N was still loyal; he has gone to the camp since he was a pre-schooler on his first overnight adventure. On leaving the dining hall, I stopped to admire a group of ecclesiastical samplers, only to discover they were by Swedish-born needlewoman and longtime Cooperstonian Karin Svahn, still resident in the village during the summers.  I'll list the types of samplers in the captions to the photographs, so that if you are curious you may google the names and fin out more.

I thought particularly of the cloth ornamentation in paintings by Clive Hicks-Jenkins. I wish he could have taken a good look at all the interesting stitches! And when I see this, I feel a little regret that I did not keep up with the sewing my mother taught me as a child. At 82, she is still a grand needlewoman (and gardener and much else) and has recently bought a new 4-harness loom.

Here's the stitched union of two towns, one in Ireland
and one in Italy! Mountmellik and Casalguidi, 2006

Mixed silk and metal
with Christ the King crown and pansy wreath, 2005

Blackwork, 1999
Let's see; there's Celtic-looking triune fish symbol
surmounted on an anchor that somewhat resembles the☧Chi Rho.
Ichthys and anchor go back to the 1st Century A. D.
as Christian symbols.

Whitework/darning, 1996
Be sure and click to see the larger version.
Goldwork with dove of the Holy Spirit, 1995

Silkwork, 1992
This time with a butterfly, emblem of the soul.
Hardanger (Hardangersøm), 1992
I was given a piece of drawn whitework
by my mother--handed down from her grandmother.


  1. How lovely. Is this a church camp? I could never get Jeremy to go to any camp, though I tried. He was unwilling to go anywhere, but I suppose it was just as well. The camp would have had to administer meds to him, and also to deal with his difficult temper at that time.

  2. Beautiful! I have some table linens with that drawnwork, some that was made by older generations as well as by my mil.... Your grandmother sounds amazing.

  3. Yes, in the Episcopal Diocese of Albany--they have 600+ acres outside Greenwich that include the camp land.

    All camps are required to have a nurse on hand, I believe. NYS has rules about administration of meds at camp and so on...

    I only went to camp once in my life and got so many chigger bites the first night that I was miserable the whole time! But my children have enjoyed various kinds of camps and gotten a lot out of them, including close friends that have lasted. Of course, it's so easy now--N talks to facebook friends from camp all the time, even ones who no longer go.

  4. marja-leena--

    Trying to decide if that is a compliment. Hmm. Not my grandmother but my mother! And she is rather amazing. She has a solar envelope house on top of a mountain with tons of wildflowers (when she retired from the university library, she took horticulture classes) and a big vegetable garden. She is weaving away up there. She's a birder and hikes. Latest project is working with an architect to design steps and landings to run down the side of the mountain.

    I love having old family linens. Family things that other generations used and touched.

  5. Pardon me and my sloppy reading - that amazing woman is your mother!

  6. Beautiful. Handmade things are especially special these days what with Amazon and Walmart and the rest. One of my treasured possessions is a quilt made by my great-aunt Pearl. Now you've got me inspired...

  7. marja-leena,

    No worry. I just decided to assume that you think I look like a mere infant!


    Yes, isn't it? And I have had visits from three Sus/zanna's today. Your tribe increases!

  8. Robin,

    I missed you there...

    We are awash in quilts. I could do a quilt post easily. We even have some oddball ones. I have flour sack quilts, velvet quilts, wool quilts--two from Mike's side as well.

    Let's see your granny's quilt!

  9. your post yesterday is a juxtaposition of mine yesterday. church camp verses gun camp

  10. Marvelous treasures!
    i do love needlework. posted about it, i think.
    i always have something going...find it very soothing. Love feeling connected to my own Scandinavian heritage with it.

  11. Susanna,

    Probably gun-and-bonfire camp! Shall go see...


    I am not a whit surprised, as gardens and needlework often seem aligned.

  12. I cannot sew, not a whit, but I admire quilts.

  13. Very beautiful. I did nit know Karin was so talented. Though she did give Ellie a beautiful handmade doll. Thanks for sharing.

  14. Marly, please do the quilt post. That would be fantastic.

    Your mother's steps and landings project sounds fantastic. Peter particularly would love to see that. (His father was an architect and an artist!) He's talked of making a woodland walk hear at Ty Isaf on our side of the ravine, with platforms and steps and a boardwalk down to the stream and around in a loop to the bottom of our property. Do encourage your mum. That would be quite something to see.

  15. Clive,

    Perhaps I shall get to it after my two eldest are ferried to colleges--I will have to make a big mess to drag them all out! But they are interesting...

    Yes, I think the steps and walks plan is good. It is a way of helping her stay longer in what is not at all a "safe" landscape for an elderly person. And my mother still clambers about the mountainside like a goat, planting and digging up plants. And should look quite wonderful...

    Though I think the Ty Isaf walk is pleasant as it is right now (lovely bridge!), I can imagine that it would be fun to design your own little private walks and overlooks. And no doubt the sad day will come when we can't all go hareing (is that a word? should it be "haring"?) about the banks and making great rabbit leapings onto sandbars and so forth.

  16. Apparently, we have nobody who WENT to Beaver Cross!! FOR SHAME! Mr. Ryerson was 'sneaked' off the sinking boat by his Nanny...dressed up as a little girl (as, only women were allowed). BTW: NOBODY escaped from 3rd class...those doors are SEALED, to this day

  17. Apparently, we have nobody who WENT to Beaver Cross!! FOR SHAME! Mr. Ryerson was 'sneaked' off the sinking boat by his Nanny...dressed up as a little girl (as, only women were allowed). BTW: NOBODY escaped from 3rd class...those doors are SEALED, to this day

  18. Apparently, we have nobody who WENT to Beaver Cross!! FOR SHAME! Mr. Ryerson was 'sneaked' off the sinking boat by his Nanny...dressed up as a little girl (as, only women were allowed). BTW: NOBODY escaped from 3rd class...those doors are SEALED, to this day

  19. Lawsy, you frothed at the mouth three times! That is pretty impressive, Ms. Anonymous.

    And you appear to be wrong. Try looking up
    and you will find that Mr. Arthur Ryerson died on the Titanic, though his young son survived.

    In defense of the Ryerson boy of 13--perhaps you meant him--I should say that Mr. Ryerson simply said, "Of course he will go. He is but a boy." I have heard that he was a sturdy child and so it was in doubt whether he should go with the women and children.

    You are welcome to come back any time, preferably with a name and without SHOUTING LIKE A HARRY POTTER CHARACTER in all caps.


Alas, I must once again remind large numbers of Chinese salesmen and other worldwide peddlers that if they fall into the Gulf of Spam, they will be eaten by roaming Balrogs. The rest of you, lovers of grace, poetry, and horses (nod to Yeats--you do not have to be fond of horses), feel free to leave fascinating missives and curious arguments.