毛線衣是繡花船像，也是水手們渡過漫長的航海之旅時，製作的眾多手工藝品之一。 一些水手會接受縫紉和其他紡織技能培訓以修補船帆和船網，他們會將這些技能用於休閒活動，並製作一些有美感的物品來自用，或當成禮物餽贈他人。 雖然船主和船長通常會委託擅長這種體裁的專業畫家繪製船圖，但水手可能會自己繪製直接應用於船上可用紡織品的草圖（貼於紡織品上）。 紗線和帆布在港口很容易買到。 雕刻、建模、打結和編結也是水手很著名的手工藝。但近年來，Woolie 得到越來越多的海上和民間藝術收藏家的認可和欣賞。
Woolie 可用於描繪身份不明、懸掛美國國旗和歸國三角旗的三桅帆船。 這艘船滿帆航行，駛向一個同時升起美國國旗的要塞，似乎要強調一種美國意念。 雖然許多存世的 Woolie 似乎都出自英國水手之手，但是一些這類例子也暗示著美國水手也會練習這種手工藝。 這種方式體現了歸國對幾個月，甚至幾年航行於海上的水手的意義。
The donor of these unusual embroidered pants recorded that a sailor made them on a voyage from Rhode Island to the Pacific Ocean. They are made of several colored wools and striped cotton ticking. Sailors’ crafts such as scrimshaw, wood carving, macramé, and shell work were all shipboard activities that used available materials to fill the long hours and create gifts for loved ones and object for personal use. Sailors used sewing skills to repair sails and mend clothes and other shipboard textiles. Some sailors who were proficient with the needle employed embroidery to ornament garments, sea bags, and accessories with motifs and symbols important in a sailor’s life. Uniforms for seamen were not consistently regulated until the nineteenth century, and sailors were often expected to provide their own clothing. They sometimes embroidered uniforms or other garments that were to be used on shore leave.
The pants are constructed of coarse utilitarian fabrics, probably reused bedding—woolen blankets and striped cotton ticking. The embroidery is running stitch, worked in bold abstract patterns of palm leaves, flowers, stars, and human forms. It is possible that the motifs emulate tattoo patterns practiced by the indigenous people of the South Pacific region that the sailor observed while traveling. European and American sailors adopted tattooing as a form of personal adornment and symbolic expression in the late eighteenth century following the voyages of Captain Cook through the South Pacific. It became a cultural practice associated with sailors and soldiers throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
SOURCE: Peabody Essex Museum