Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Inspiration of Marigold Garden

Recently I found a beautifully illustrated copy of Kate Greenaway's Marigold Garden. My copy was printed by Fredrick Warne & CO LTD. which makes it even more special to me.
If you didn't know, Fredrick Warne &CO was the same publishing house who took on Beatrix Potter and gave her her first big break.

I was already familiar with Kate Greenaway's artistic style. I'd seen several of her illustrations and fallen in love with her soft muted color pallet and the gentle childhood expressions she put on the faces she painted. These expressions she created always seemed to float between innocence, peaceful resolve and slight boredom. I couldn't tell if the child was as pure as the driven snow, content beyond words or bored out of its mind. Still, these quiet images soothed me. If this artist is new to you, I know you will enjoy reading and viewing free examples of her beautiful artwork and poetry here.
I knew that I liked Kate Greenaway's style and that she was an English artist and illustrator who lived in the Victorian period, but I didn't know much more about her. You can read a brief bio here. That was all I knew about her.
I didn't know was that Kate Greenaway was a pivotal influence on needlework. I learned later that many of the red work sunbonnet sue patterns that are common on children's quilts are actually inspired by her.
Even though I don't sew, this new information sent me on a massive hunt for Kate Greenaway red work patterns. It's never to late to learn a new skill right?

I found a cross stitch pattern, iron on transfers, and a cheap copy of a hard cover book of patterns.

But I still didn't know how to sew, or stitch or embroider or . . . .

Then I found this amazing site that has a primer with pdf lessons in stitches and free samplers.
I'm a little embarrassed to admit this, but that is when the light bulb clicked on. This would make a wonderful life skill to teach my daughter!

And . . .

I could even tie it into our current living book. In Hetty Her First Hundred Years by Rachel Field, young Phoebe is learning to do stitch work as a hobby, she was also made to work a more challenging sampler as punishment for her misbehavior.

This new life skill would tie my daughter to the character and bond them together through personal experience. I would be giving her a richer connection to the book and pulling her into the story.


Another great embroidery site primer can be found here.

This great site is also bubbling over with information on red work.

Would you rather start small?
This site has beautiful free samplers for beginners- advanced. After reviewing the pdf primer lessons together with your child and developing confidence in your stitches, maybe consider allowing your child to choose their pattern themselves. This creative choice might inspire them.

Also, if you're really brave, you can follow in the footsteps of Victorian young ladies who made their own patterns. Here is a site that will teach their method for making perforated patterns.

As you begin learning this skill, remember to take some relaxing time snuggled up on a couch together reading Kate's poetry. As the pages turn, allow the warm images and the quiet beauty of childhood to invite you back in time.

Happy Reading!


  1. Great ideas. Thank you for submitting them to the next Charlotte Mason Blog Carnival. Keep us updated with your progress.

  2. I have always loved Kate Greenaway's illustrations, too! How wonderful that you will be able to learn this new skill alongside your precious daughter. Keep us posted!
    Ring true,


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