Needlework display at EP Library continue through Nov. 30

By age 8, Maralou Cross had displayed a penchant for resourcefulness. She secured her mother’s permission to receive embroidery instruction from their kindly neighborhood 4-H leader. “I never joined 4-H,” Cross said, “but  became so intrigued by the craft, I just had to learn it.”

After gaining, and plying the skill for years, she expanded her interests to include counted cross stitching, which she also defines as a form of embroidering. In the process, she acquired a knowledge of the history surrounding the art form, and our country’s education methods.
“Most antique samplers were originally made by girls as young as seven,” Cross said. “They incorporated numerals and letters of the alphabet into the samplers they designed. Children didn’t have television, movies or similar devices to occupy their evenings back then.” 

Cross also discovered  an interest she shared with predecessors from decades or even centuries earlier—a love of mottoes. Cross-stitched samplers often featured these, she noted. Along with the sayings, some depicted whimsical characters, familiar stories, biblical or historical creatures. One in her collection presents Adam and Eve standing beneath an apple tree–a lengthy serpent draped upon a branch between them. According to  her research, a 13-year-old named Lydia Hart produced the original in Boston circa 1744. 

Antique samplers didn’t seem to exist out here in the West, Cross said. She first found them in antique shops when she visited New England. Their price tags induced a sticker-shock that prompted Cross to summon that inner resourceful spirit, and find ways to make her own. She located an instructional catalogue called “The Scarlet Letter,” which featured detailed diagrams and kits containing thread and patterns on paper. “The needlework artist must count the threads on linen,” she says. “That’s why it’s called counted cross stitching.'” Reproducing existing antique needlework also involves observing faded originals, and discerning which  colors will match an object’s former appearance. Kits often include such historical detail.

A six-by-four-foot area rug may take her about three months to complete. A throw pillow, perhaps ten days. Although she enjoys the rug-hooking hobby, cross-stitching remains her favorite.

Throughout the month of November, Eagle Point’s Library showcases exquisite examples of the Upper Rogue resident’s extensive collection, said local Library Director, Charlene Prinsen. For more information, please contact the Eagle Point Branch Library at 541-826-3313.
By F. C. Blake
Of the Independent

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