The story of embroidery includes in its history all the work of the needle since Eve sewed fig leaves together in the Garden of Eden. We are the inheritors of the knowledge and skill of all the daughters of Eve in all that concerns its use since the beginning of time.
When this small implement came open-eyed into the world it brought with it possibilities of well-being and comfort for races and ages to come. It has been an instrument of beneficence as long ago as "Dorcas sewed garments and gave them to the poor," and has been a creator of beauty since Sisera gave to his mother "a prey of needlework, 'alike on both sides.'" This little descriptive phrase—alike on both sides—will at once suggest to all needlewomen a perfection of method almost without parallel. Of course it can be done, but the skill of it must have been rare, even in those far-off days of leisure when duties and pleasures did not crowd out painstaking tasks, and every art was carried as far as human assiduity and invention could carry it.
A history of the needlework of the world would be a history of the domestic accomplishment of the world, that inner story of the existence of man which bears the relation to him of sunlight to the plant. We can deduce from these needle records much of the physical circumstances of woman's long pilgrimage down the ages, of her mental processes, of her growth in thought. We can judge from the character of her art whether she was at peace with herself and the world, and from its status we become aware of its relative importance to the conditions of her life.
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