In 2009, I received a beautiful embroidered needle book from Kathy Storm of Medieval Arts & Crafts blog. Her post about her work is here. The pattern she charted for this project was inspired the pattern on the angel standing by St. Margaret, which was published in German book about embroidery. This is a very similar late 14th C embroidered hanging, likely made in Hildesheim, from the Met Museum, possibly even the other half of the altar hanging which inspired Kathy.
This needlebook has held up extremely well, and has help inspire me to doing more handsewing. For example, it was after I received this gift that I did a completely handsewn garment.
It is unfortunate that needlebooks in general are not a medieval period concept, at least as far as I am aware. Period depictions of people sewing tend to have their supplies in an open, usually oval basket, or a closed bentwood box, again, usually oval. The simple fact is that we travel so much more in our daily lives than nearly all individuals in history did. The authentic solution that worked for them, doesn’t always work for us, as we travel to events, or take our embroidery to work on at lunchtime.
That doesn’t stop me from using this needlebook regularly. But I’ve found a few other options as well. At a garage sale, I found a pair of woven oval boxes. Tiny, but they hold a tiny embroidery project as well.
I picked up a set of bentwood boxes at a goodwill. While they are round, not oval, they hold about the right amount of stuff. Threads, needles, tiny shears. The larger the box, the less sturdy it is, I’ve found. I painted one with the recipients coat of arms for another exchange, filled with sewing supplies.
There is a period version of a traveling sewing kit. On the Mary Rose was found a lathe turned item, where you could wind thread about the outside, and the stopper up top keep the needles in the central drilled hole. Master Eadweard Boicewright makes and sells these. You can find him merchanting at various wars and events, like the upcoming Kris Kinder in Calontir.