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Sewing furiously

Rosalind Mitchison, 7 March 1985

The Subversive Stitch: Embroidery and the Making of the Feminine 
by Rozsika Parker.
Women’s Press, 256 pp., £14.95, October 1984, 0 7043 2842 9
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Living the Fishing 
by Paul Thompson, Tony Wailey and Trevor Lummis.
Routledge, 398 pp., £13.95, September 1983, 0 7100 9508 2
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By the Sweat of their Brow: Women Workers at Victorian Coal Mines 
by Angela John.
Routledge, 247 pp., £4.95, February 1984, 0 7102 0142 7
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... Why should embroidery exist? Its aim is the enhancement of fabrics, and so it might be expected to flourish only when the manufacture of such fabrics is confined to plain products. Would there need to be embroidery on the best fabrics of the Persian world, or on the wonderful silks displayed in the Japanese exhibition of a few years back? Perhaps there would: personal or religious symbols might be demanded by persons of special status, and anyone likely to be able to afford the basic fabric would probably consider themselves special ...

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