People all around the globe spent an unprecedented amount of time at home in 2020. As a result, for the first time in decades, modern women are picking up embroidery hoops, crochet hooks, and needles in greater numbers than ever.
Before the advent of mass production—back when clothing was handmade, costly, and most people only owned a few garments—needlecrafts were critical to preserving and extending one’s wardrobe.
But that wasn’t the only purpose such domestic arts served. In addition to being important to the household economy, needlework was also an excellent way for women—whose lives were often strictly circumscribed—to socialize.
If you enjoy reading Jane Austen, Georgette Heyer, and other such authors, you likely have noticed references to embroidering chair covers, refurbishing bonnets, and even making fireplace screens. The most intriguing mention I have come across was in Heyer’s The Unknown Ajax, where the heroine, Anthea, is making a reticule in the shape of an Etruscan vase.
As a romance author, I was familiar with the drawstring bag that was considered the standard reticule during the early nineteenth century. Many examples of beaded, crocheted, and embroidered bags from the period still exist in private collections and museums.
But I discovered something new while I searched for an example of Anthea’s vase. Along with the more traditional cloth bags were reticules that utilized cardstock and papier-mâché to fashion flowers, birds, and other shapes, which were then painted—yet another pastime that many Regency Era ladies enjoyed.
While I never found an Etruscan vase in my searches, I did discover that reticule-making is still popular today. Of course, modern crafters use their bags to carry car keys rather than smelling salts, but the craftsmanship employed is as varied and impressive as that from the Regency Era. There is something heartwarming about women embracing the same crafts—albeit for entirely different reasons—more than two centuries apart.
Minerva Spencer was born in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. She has lived in Canada, the US, Europe, Africa, and Mexico. After receiving her M.A. in Latin American History from The University of Houston she taught American History for five years before going to law school. She was a prosecutor and labor lawyer before purchasing a bed and breakfast in Taos, NM, where she lives with her husband and dozens of rescue animals. Readers can find her at www.MinervaSpencer.com or on the social media platforms below.
The cure for a willful wife . . .
Drusilla Clare is full of opinions about why a woman shouldn’t marry. But that doesn’t stop the rush of desire she feels each time her best friend’s brother, notorious rake Gabriel Marlington, crosses her path. So imagine her dismay when she finds herself in the clutches of a scoundrel, only to be rescued by Gabriel himself. And when Gabriel’s heartless—and heart-pounding—proposal comes, it’s enough to make Dru’s formidable resolve crumble.
. . . is a smitten husband.
She’s sharp-tongued, exasperating—and due to one careless moment—about to become his wife. Still, something about Drusilla has Gabriel intrigued. First there’s the delicious flush of her skin every time she delivers a barb—and then the surprisingly sensual feel of her in his arms. Gabriel even finds himself challenged by her unusual philosophies. And when he discovers a clandestine rival for Dru’s affection, his temperature flares even hotter. But the real threat to their happiness is one neither of the newlyweds sees coming. If they’re to save their future—and their very lives—they’ll need to trust in each other and their growing love.