One of the areas you asked us to talk about was what the young ladies did for fun in the nineteenth century. There’s the usual card games, needlepoint, watercolors, which we’ll cover at some point, but I just couldn’t wait to share one of the more bizarre pastimes: drizzling.
When you drizzled, you took cloth that was embroidered with gold and silver threads and pulled out the threads. The cloth could be old tapestries, brocaded gowns, tassels and braids from military uniforms, or lace. See all the gold thread in the portion of tapestry to your left? You very carefully tugged and pulled and wiggled it out, winding it on spools. There were even lovely boxes, some of tortoise shell, made to hold your drizzling spools. Never mind that the cloth was irreparably ruined afterward. This was supposed to be FUN.
Of course, some people did it for money, because you could then sell the gold and silver thread to a jeweler. Emily Hendrickson, author of over 40 novels of nineteenth century England and the Regency Reference Book, says that drizzling showed off the graceful turn of young lady’s hands while she worked. So, I guess you could call it a flirtation device when you drizzled in front of young gentlemen. On the other hand, Prince Leopold on the right here, who Marissa mentioned as the beloved uncle who attempted to champion the young Victoria, was an avid drizzler, and he certainly didn’t have to show off his hands. He spent hours of his free time tugging away at the threads. I can only imagine it provided a focused respite from the affairs of court.
I could use a respite now and then. But if you see me tugging gold threads out of the gowns in my costume collection, I want you to grab my hands, no matter how graceful, and stop me immediately!