Monday, December 5, 2011

Marghab Linens

This Saturday was our annual December luncheon for the St. Paul Needleworkers. Our special guest was Solveig, the Region Director for the EGA Heartland Region. Solveig has a collection of Marghab linens and gave us not only some of the background on these delightful pieces of embroidery, but she also brought along her collection for us to ooh and aah over. I was not familiar with Marghab linens so was especially interested in what she had to tell us.

Solevig and some of her linen
Marghab linens was started by a married couple, Emile and Vera Marghab.  The embroidery designs were done by Vera then a pricking would be made on the linen. The linen was then sent to highly skilled embroiderers on the island of Madeira were they would be painstakingly hand stitched. The linen used was often specially made just for the Marghab line and came from Ireland and Switzerland.  
A few of Solveig's pieces of linen
Marghab linens were sold in limited markets. Dayton’s had a Marghab Shop in their stores where many Midwesterners bought their treasures. 
What is amazing is the handwork on these pieces. Many are bordered with teeny tiny buttonhole stitches. It must have taken hours and hours to do them. One had a line of very small satin stitched circles going all the way around the placemat size piece. They are about 1/8 of an inch wide and there are NO threads running behind! That means the embroiderer stopped and started each of those tiny little circles. Several of us inspected this piece rather closely and could not determine how those stitches were secured so invisibly. I think this is a good example of the very high standards the Marghabs had for their linen. 
Vera Marghab was born in South Dakota and the state university in Brookings has the world’s largest collection of these linens. A number of us think maybe our chapter should go on a road trip to see them!

Another fun part of the December luncheon is the Secret Stitcher exchange. This is what my Secret Stitcher made for me!

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