Hortulus

woodcut style cross stitch sampler

Hortulus

Stitch Count 179×179


I’ve always loved woodcuts and wanted to create a design that was reminiscent of them.

I found the border image and that gave me the inspiration I was seeking. It is an old motif used in some collections of vintage patterns. I loved the little wood violets and their leaves with the deco type form. One of the exciting things about playing with images is that you will sometimes be surprised at how a combination will suddenly suggest something else and that is what happened with this design. Putting those wood violets into a square looked rather medieval and then I knew I had to find something for the center that would carry that theme.

I found him in one of the oldest ‘modelbuchs’, in fact he appears in several such books and is referred to as anything from the ‘monk’ to ‘winter’. And I loved him on sight! When I found the motif of the monk something rang a bell in the mists of my memory. Placed in the herbaceous border I immediately thought of a medieval apothecary and knew that in all the reading I’d done in my life that I’d come across mention of a particular herbalist monk. The monk who would study the medicinal herbs grown in the monastery and compound them into various treatments for ills.

Thanks to the internet, I was able to find that monk I’d remembered, and found he was called Hortulus!

Hortulus was a poem written by a German monk, Walafrid Strabo, in the 9th century. He was the Abbot of Reichenau, an island monastery located on Lake Constance in Switzerland. Hortulus, which translates to “little garden”, describes Strabo’s personal monastery garden and contains descriptions of the many herbs grown along with their uses.

So there he was in front of me, that old herbalist monk warming himself by his fire gazing lost in thought maybe pondering what herb was needed for that ailment he was trying to cure and as I stitched the piece it made me smile to think that maybe that wood violet growing all around him in the border was what would do the trick? 🙂

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