Thirty Days Hath November

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A needlework picture inspired by early eighteenth century American examples

The depiction of a lazy shepherdess intrigued me when I first saw it in a blurry old illustration of an eighteenth century New England canvaswork picture. She lounges beneath a tree looking dazed, bored, oblivious to the fantasic scene unfolding around her, where a tree simultaneously bears fruits, flowers, and leaves, a daffodil hangs suspended in a blue sky with puffy white clouds, sheep, a dog, a goat, a cow, a bird, a bee and a butterfly rejoice in a lush green landscape. She all but ignores the “gentleman” in the upper right corner seeming eager to attract her attention but failing quite profoundly. Bucolic scenes such as these- “ideal landscapes” if you will- grew out of the Romantic movement, a rather broad artistic and aesthetic concept that appreciated a return to nature in its purest elemental sense. It represents a place to escape from the rigors of the real world: a magical universe where flowers grow as large as cows, the trees are ever fruiting, and the pastures are always lush.

“Thirty Days hath November” is a traditional verse mnemonic used to remember the number of days in each month of the calendar year. Most common versions begin with September, but this version was taken from a fifteenth century text in the British Museum’s Harley Manuscript 2341. It translates as:

Thirty days hath November
April, June and September
Of 28 is but one
And the rest 30 and 1

On 40 count linen stitched over two threads, with a few small embellishments stitched over one thread, the finished piece will measure 12-1/2″ x 10″.

With thanks to Nathan Burt for stitching the model

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