To Ellen

This blog is made to the honor of my grandmother Ellen Elisabeth Thomsen who was a modern woman .
She was born in Randers in Denmark 1895 and died in Copenhagen 1976.
She had long salmon red hair down to her hips. It was braided and put up with lots of hairpins to make it look short.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Red haired women with handwork

Louis Rittman

                              My grandmother Ellen a tailor. The love for sewing I got from her.
                             Every year I make carnival costumes for my 3 sons. I recently discovered
                                       that my grandmother also was fond of making Costumes
                                         Here she is in her own creation, I guess around 1915.

Ellen in her Pierrot costume.

When my grandmother was very young when she learned to saw
Her grandmother had been a seamstress .

Emile Munier

                                                                    Munier was a french painter
                                                You will find nice information about this painter on
He liked the sweetness of this idea so much he had to use it once more

Emile Munier


What is going on? Pretending to have painted this all by himself?
Was the striped dress too hard to make?
If You make a copy You have to write it on the painting!
And not cheat people pretending you got the idea all by yourself!!

Between 1963 and 1975 in Denmark when I went to school ,we had handwork
and also lessons in keeping a household.The teacher taught us how
to knit, to crotch, to sew, to stitch, to weave and how to make patters and cut after them
I remember being 12 and knitting a Bikini !My first real bikini!
With a real bra and  nice panties, that covered the navel .
The model was rather big though, here were perhaps 2 cm open skin between the bra and panties.
I still can recall the enormous excitement when first time wearing  it in the sea,
but the thing grew to size 56 when it got wet ,
 so everything did slide of my thin ironing board of a body!

But this lessons in handwork was not close to what  my grandmother had learned.

 Back then when she was young , Embroidery was part of a proper
woman's talents. An inherited deed from the times of Dowry. In the generations
before my grandmother the young unmarried woman would prepare for her
married life by sewing and knitting all she would need in her new home , bed sheets, pillows, towels,aprons nightgowns, handkerchiefs, tablecloths, underwear skirts etc.

As a teenager I would roam flee marked to find this treasures of old linen and white cotton clothes,
with their fantastic hole stitches and embroideries, made in the most intricate patterns.
Each piece was a work of Art and many women signed their names in fine stitches.
I still have a big collection of the first underwear and bras, they were called
Skovbukser (Bloomers) and Livstykker in Danish. The panties would be open down so the woman
could just spread her legs and stand when she needed to let her waters. The bras
were short blouses in much finer fabric like very thin  cotton batiste ,silk or muslin ,
really soft and pleasant to wear.
Much more pleasant than today's  bras which
cut into the skin and are much to warm because of the synthetic materials they are made of.

Some of the old laces in my collection , my grandmother made.
She had learned how to make the many different types of embroideries and how to tie Orkis.
How to embroider with a ribbon and how to do hemstitches.
Her bed pillows and linen would carry her initials and her nightgown which was made from solid unbreakable hard linen to last a lifetime, would  have fine almost invisible stitches in white.
 I imagine how difficult it must have been to embroider in this hard material.
It looks so easy on the paintings, but don't be mistaken.... it was not!

James Caroll Beckwith

Eugene von Blass
The knitting lesson

What was there to do back in time before television existed?
The few women who had some free time would read or
if they couldn't they would sew, knit or embroider. The small girls learned it early.

Albert Ancher
Knitting red haired Girl

William James Glackens
Mrs Glackens  knitting.

Hammann  I think.

Danes have since Hammershøj always loved simplicity. No patterns or  embroidery on clothes 
and therefor also not in paintings.

Only the older generation is still interested in handwork.
You hardly ever see a teenager with handwork today.
Women nowadays waste their evening time staring at Soap Operas  on the television,
  instead of embroidering, knitting socks and sewing.

Berthe Morisot

There is hardly a painter who didn't paint an embroidering woman.

Frank Weston Benson

Frederick Friesike Peace

George Lemmen


Still need to find the name of the artist for this painting.

Berthe Morisot

Paul Serusier
French 1863-1927


Michel Kikoine

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