Saturday, March 14, 2015

Captain Cook's Waistcoat.

This week to an event I had booked almost a year ago - a talk at the Society of Antiquaries, which is housed in the same building as the Royal Academy, on Piccadilly.

In the courtyard, this huge artwork, called something like "Shiny Star and Wooden Star" - can't argue with that.  The artist seems to have had the surname Stellar, unless I am misremembering that.  It was certainly catching the eye in that courtyard.

So  - The Society of Antiquaries.  This is one of the oldest organisations related to the collecting of objects, and seems also to be in charge of Kelmscott Manor, home of William Morris.  The society had been left a substantial legacy to fund research scholarships related to historical dress.  In 2014 this was awarded to Alison Larkin, an embroidress from Hull, in order that she might research Captain Cook's waistcoat.

During Cook's second voyage, he was given a piece of bark cloth in Tahiti, cloth which he brought back for his wife.  While he was away on his third voyage, she began to make an embroidered waistcoat for him, in the fashion of the late 18th Century.  This waistcoat was never finished, presumably because he did not survive his third voyage. 

The research project involved Alison Larkin going to Australia to view the unfinished piece, then to New Zealand where there is a similar finished piece.  Once that was done, she embarked on the three hundred hours of work it took to create a finished garment, as close as possible to the intentions of the originl piece.

From the talk we learnt a great deal about 18th century methods: how buckram was stiffened with rabbit glue, how spangles differ from sequins, how the class system would have determined how much embroidery you could decently sport.  It was fascinating.

The finished item is currently on exhibit at Whitby, in a display of Polynesian textiles - since the ground is barkcloth rather than linen, or silk.

Charity knitting

A little cardigan and hat for Pine Ridge.

This is a sleep sack, apparently the dernier cri for babies these days.  One inserts the baby up to its armpits so that it is inside its blanket.  What exactly did the Sioux Indians dress their infants in when living on the Plains?  Might it have looked somewhat similar?



Christine said...

Would you share the pattern for the child's cardigan and hat?

LizM said...

Love the red buttons, they really make the cardigan something special. LizM