Gay Ann Rogers  Needlework

A Bit of Backstory

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Chapter 2: How and Why I Chose to Stitch Queen Victoria

Victoria's Competition

I love designs in fours. I know, artistically everybody wants threes or fives, but not me, I like fours. I've tried to decide why that is. I think it has to do with the four seasons. I had three queens and I thought I needed a fourth. So who would it be? Here is my list of contenders. DH, as he always does, had strong opinions.

1.  Maria Theresa of Austria was very high on my list. People have always asked me why I didn't do Marie Antoinette. Instead, I was more interested in Maria Theresa, her mother, and I thought the portrait on the right had such possibilities. I loved the choker and the lace sleeves.

Maria Theresa was a strong ruler in her day which is why I was more interested in her than I was in her daughter.

2. Theodora of Byzantium.  DH, an enthusiastic fan of Gibbon, had given me about 6 pages to read on Theodora. This mosaic is the only image of Theodora and it had some interesting parts, at the top of the list a profusion of pearls. With the possibility of a beautiful lavish costume and a tie in with our Supreme Court, she was certainly tempting. But Gibbon had written about Theodora's past which gave me pause. I guess a kind way to say it: Theodora had a colorful past, too colorful for many of my conservative followers.

3. Cleopatra. My followers thought Cleopatra was the obvious choice. My trouble with Cleopatra: I was less interested in Egyptian dress than I was in the Deco versions of Cleopatra. I seriously considered a Deco Cleopatra but decided she would not fit with the other queens.

4. Elizabeth II. A late entry into the Queen Sweepstakes was Elizabeth II.

She was certainly pretty in her youth and I could have done a wonderfully over-the-top Crown on her head. I  considered Elizabeth II in her coronation robes which would have been dramatic. In the end I stitched the crown instead of Elizabeth II.

The Choice

I had chosen Elizabeth I,  DH chose Catherine the Great, I chose Eleanor of Aquitaine, now it was DH's turn again and he was firmly in the Victoria camp.

I dithered on, all the while DH was plumping for Victoria.

I didn't think she was strong enough to match the others.

DH argued in a political sense she was very strong. She didn't rule, but she did reign over the largest empire the world has known and with a great deal of institutional strength behind her. It's true, she wasn't like the other queens, all of whom had a gritty strength, but DH did a good job of convincing me that 'powerful' takes many forms.

Around the time I was trying to decide which Queen to stitch, Carolyn meacham offered a pair of scissors on eBay. I made an atrociously high sniping bid for the scissors and said I would leave the decision of the Queen in the hands of fate.

I I won the scissors, I would try to stitch Queen Victoria.

I did win the scissors and I did stitch Victoria.

What if I hadn't won the scissors?

I probably would have ended up stitching Victoria anyway, but will never know for certain. I still like all three of the alternatives and as I revisit them now, I think each would have been fun to stitch, but no more Queens, four was enough.

Maria Theresa of Austria, Marie Antoinette's mother, was my initial choice for the fourth queen. She was such a powerful woman ruler and I would have loved stitching the lace

For a long time I toyed with Theodora of Byzantium. I loved this mosaic of Theodora, with the profusion of pearls draped all over her.

I went so far as to do a drawing of her.

So many of my followers thought Cleopatra my natural choice, but I was interested in Cleopatra on in Deco style.