Sunday, July 20, 2008

A Stitch in Time
Beaudry herself hadn’t paid much attention to the various thimbles, hem weights, lace bobbins, and straight pins that she and her students had dug up while working at the farm from 1986 to 2004. “I had fallen into the trap nearly all archaeologists do, that pins equal sewing,” she says. “They don’t.”

A closer inspection of these artifacts, she says, can reveal what kind of needlework was being done — utilitarian, such as sewing or mending, or decorative, such as embroidery — and whether the items were for household use or for sale. It also can help paint a broader picture about their owners’ economic and social status.