Colonial Encounters in a Native American Landscape

The Dutch Vrouws,
page 9 of 9

Other dames taught more elegant accomplishments:—

“Martha Gazley, now in the city of New York, Makes and Teacheth the following curious Works, viz.: Artificial Fruit and Flowers and other Wax-Work, Nun’s Work, Philligree and Pencil-work upon Muslin, all sorts of Needlework, and Raising of Paste, as also to Paint upon Glass, and Transparent for Sconces with other Works. If any young Gentlewomen, or others, are inclined to learn any or all of the above-mentioned curious Works, they may be carefully taught and instructed in the same by said Martha Gazley.”

Mrs. Van Cortlandt, in her delightful account of home-life in Westchester County, says of the industrious Dutch women and their accomplishments and occupations:—

“Knitting was an art much cultivated, the Dutch women excelling in the variety and intricacy of the stitches. A knitting sheath, which might be of silver or of a homely goose-quill, was an indispensable utensil, and beside it hung the ball-pincushion. Crewel-work and silk embroidery were fashionable, and surprisingly pretty effects were produced. Every little maiden had her sampler, which she began with the alphabet and numerals following them with a Scriptural text or verse of a metrical psalm. Then fancy was let loose on birds, beasts, and trees. Most of the old families possessed framed pieces of embroidery, the handi- work of female ancestors. Flounces and trimmings for aprons worked with delicately tinted silks on musliin were common. I have several yards of fine muslin painted in the early days with full-blown thistles in the appropriate colors. Fringe looms were in use, and cotton and silk fringes were woven.”

Tape-looms were also found in many households; and the weaving of tapes and “none-so-prettys” was deemed very light and elegant work.

Though to the Dutch is ascribed the invention of the thimble, I never think of the Dutch women as excelling in fine needlework; and I note that the teachers of intricate and novel embroidery-stitches are always Englishwomen; but in turn the English good-wives must yield to the Dutch the palm of comfortable, attractive housewifery, as well as shrewd, untiring business capacity.


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