Sunday, May 6, 2018

Fox Stitch-a-Long, part 5

SPOILER ALERT: I finished the leaves! I finished the leaves!

There was a lot left to go at the last check-in ... still some green leaves, and almost all of the blue.

But then I finished the green leaves ... AND THE BLUE LEAVES.

Again, it's a little hard to see on the front, but you can see just how much has been filled in on the back!

Oh, and ... I started to stitch the background. I feel like background stitching is probably the most boring part of any needlepoint, but I love how it makes the leaves look even richer and brighter.

Here's a closeup of the top edge -- see how the leaves look brighter next to the navy blue background?

I can't wait to fill the rest of this in -- it's so satisfying!

All of this acanthus stitching and William Morris thinking reminded me of something I read in graduate school -- that the green dyes used in Victorian wallpaper and fabrics contained arsenic and that people were being sickened and even killed by their exposure to them.

I found a book at my library by Lucinda Hawksley, entitled Bitten by Witch Fever: Wallpaper & Arsenic in the Victorian Home.

It's a gorgeous book, filled with rich, full-color images of Victorian wallpapers.

Each chapter cited original sources from the time as they came to the conclusion that the arsenic in wallpapers and fabrics was dangerous, and detailed the eventual shift away from using these dyes. It also gave information on all the papers pictured -- who produced it and when, as well as whether or not it tested positive to arsenic. Again, spoiler alert: all of the papers in the book tested positive. 

The book even included one of my all-time favorite illustrations from Punch -- I had a copy of this at my desk all through graduate school:

I had always taken as gospel the primary source material I had read -- especially the growing outrage in the popular press of the day.

But here's the thing: according to a study in the Journal of Environmental Monitoring from 2004 (republished by the Royal Society of Chemistry in 2005), the "mass poisoning of Victorians by arsenical poisoning" was determined to be an urban myth. I had gotten caught up in "fake news" of the day ... as clearly, have many historians.

On another note, when we were up visiting the tulips two weeks ago, I picked up an acanthus of my own. Being overly indecisive (and planning some big garden work) I decided just to put it in a big pot for now. I look forward to watching her grow!

And speaking of things that are growing; my fellow stitch-a-long members are also working on their growing projects. I've loved seeing what they're working on and how much they are accomplishing! Check out their blogs here:

Avis,  Claire,  Gun,  Carole,  LucyAnn,  Kate,  Jess,  Sue,  Constanze,  Debbierose,  Christina,  Kathy,  Margaret,  Cindy,  Helen,  Steph,  Linda,  Mary Margaret,  Heidi,  JackieHayleyTony, Megan and Timothy.