Encouraged by the kind welcome which greeted their former efforts to provide a volume worthy the attention of the ladies of the United Kingdom, the Publishers of the _Lady's Album of Fancy-Work_ have issued a similar production for 1850. Solicitous to preserve the favourable consideration so flatteringly accorded, every care has been taken to render the _Lady's Album of fancy-Work_ for 1850 as attractive and useful as possible; no expense has been spared in its artistic illustration, letterpress, and embellishment; and it will be found an elegant ornament in the drawing-room as well as a useful ally at the work-table. The patterns and designs are of the most useful and varied character: specimens are given of each style of work recently invented; and no article either of ornament or use at present in fashion is omitted.
The exercise of the needle has been from time immemorial a favourite occupation with the females of every country; and the allusions to the subject from cotemporary historians and poets evince that this feminine pursuit was regarded with approval and respect. The invention of embroidery is ascribed to the Phrygians; and we also learn from ancient authors, that the Sidonians particularly excelled in this beautiful art of decorative needlework; it must have also made considerable progress in the country soon after the Norman Conquest, from the accounts that are recorded of the robes embroidered in gold and silver, generally worn by persons of rank at that period. The Bayeux Tapestry also remains to us as a lasting trophy of the skill and industry of Queen Matilda and the ladies of her court, and is not more interesting as a historical record than as a specimen of the needlework of the mediæval age. The introduction of knitting into this country is comparatively of modern date; so late as the middle of the sixteenth century. The invention of the art is usually ascribed to the Spaniards; though the Scotch, with some appearance of justice, assert their claims as its originators. Like all inventions, knitting has undergone wonderful improvements since it was first simply used for stocking-making: and the value attached to stockings so made may be judged from the fact, that a pair were deemed a fitting present from one sovereign to another. A pair of knitted hose was amongst the gifts received by that lover of finery, Queen Elizabeth; but no record remains to shew if these were preserved with the three thousand robes which were found after her death in the wardrobe of England's Maiden Queen.
The love for domestic occupations, which is so admirable a trait in the character of our countrywomen, has often been a subject of gratulation; and that female ingenuity and skill may continue to be employed in embellishing the drawing-room, rather than in directing the political intrigues of the _salon_, must be desired by all interested in the preservation of those domestic attributes which give so pleasing a charm to home, and secure the comfort of all around.
The taste which her Majesty Queen Victoria evinces for feminine pursuits and occupations has naturally exercised considerable influence in preserving habits of industry amongst her female subjects; and to her Majesty's example, and that of the amiable Queen Dowager, may be ascribed that the labours of the English embroideress are now justly appreciated, and her work esteemed as in no respects inferior to the produce of foreign ingenuity.
In expressing their thanks for the patronage extended to the _Lady's Album of Fancy-Work_ for 1849, the Publishers take leave to state that the present Volume contains designs and patterns for various articles in Embroidery, Braid-Work, Crochet, Knitting, Netting, Ribbon-Work, Scagliola, and Indian Ornamental Work; all of which are executed and engraved in a style of unusual superiority. Each pattern is accompanied with plain and explicit directions; and it is hoped that their execution will afford many hours of pleasurable employment to the fair and industrious votaress of the needle.