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778970.  Sat Jan 22, 2011 5:25 pm Reply with quote

This cropped up in the most recent series, so I suppose that it's under H, but I can't remember why.

A recent QI said that the Bayeux Tapestry is not a tapestry, as a tapestry is woven and the Bayeux work is, of course, embroidered. This surprised me as I do closework embroidery on canvas in tent stitch, and I have always called this tapestry, and buy patterns for this under this title. I looked up on the (full) OED (authoritative ebough for you?) and found under tapestry:
A textile fabric decorated with designs of ornament or pictorial subjects, painted, embroidered, or woven in colours, used for wall hangings, curtains, covers for seats, to hang from windows or balconies on festive occasions, etc.; especially, such a decorated fabric, in which a weft containing ornamental designs in coloured wool or silk, gold or silver thread, etc., is worked with bobbins or broaches, and pressed close with a comb, on a warp of hemp or flax stretched in a frame. Often loosely applied to imitative textile fabrics.
(and further down)
Now freq. applied to (pieces of) canvas embroidery executed typically with wool in tent stitch.
There are two interesting citations:
1882 S. F. A. Caulfeild & B. C. Saward Dict. Needlework 473/2 Tapestry worked by the needle‥differs but slightly from Embroidery. The stitches are made to lie close together, so that no portion of the foundation is visible.
1976 P. Clabburn Needleworker's Dict. 263/3 Nowadays in Britain, any piece of canvas work, large or small, is called tapestry work, which is a misnomer, while America, although not falling into that particular trap, calls canvas work needlepoint, which is also confusing as that word should apply to lace made with a needle.

Looking up needlepoint: (orig. U.S.) Embroidery worked over canvas.
The first citation given is 1925

So it sounds as if this is an American plot! The first reference given to the Bayeux tapestry is way before 1925. Tapestry used to mean a woven pattern is an Americanism, and should be reisisted! Tapestry means ANY textile working with pictures on, basically, and the Bayeux Tapestry is well-named. So there!


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