毛线衣是绣花船像，也是水手们渡过漫长的航海之旅时，制作的众多手工艺品之一。 一些海员会接受缝纫和其他纺织技能培训以修补船帆和船网，他们会将这些技能用于休闲活动，制作一些具有美感的物品，留作自用或作为礼物赠送给他人。 虽然船主和船长通常会委托擅长这一体裁的专业画家绘制船图，但水手可能会自己绘制直接应用于船上可用纺织品的草图（贴于纺织品上）。 纱线和帆布在港口很容易买到。 雕刻、建模、打结和编结也是水手最为著名的手手艺。但是近年来，Woolie 得到越来越多的海上和民间艺术收藏家的认可和欣赏。
Woolie 用于描绘身份不明、悬挂美国国旗和归国三角旗的三桅帆船。 这艘船满帆航行，驶向一个同时升起美国国旗的要塞，似乎强调一种美国意念。 虽然许多存世的 Woolie 似乎都出自于英国水手之手，但是一些这类例子也暗示，美国水手也会练习这种手工艺。 这样方式可能体现了归国对几个月甚至几年航行于海上的水手的意义。
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