Grandmama made a lovely linen tablecloth in white-on-white needlelace, but as I couldn’t get any sort of photograph of it, I photographed this small teacloth in ecru shades instead. I think this might have been a practice piece, not in the sense of learning a new skill so much as in the sense of trying it to see whether she enjoyed the technique. I now wonder – in the light of “Stitching for Victory” – whether this was another wartime project, and the various shades of ecru were all that was available.
It looks prettier in real life than in the photograph. I used some of the motifs as inspiration when I designed the Jacobean Firescreen.
Grandmama worked the filet crochet border as well. We have a couple of teacloths with Filet crochet edgings she worked using Mary Card designs. There’s also a crochet lace teacloth that was going to be a bedspread – it is the only occasion that any of us know of, in which Grandmama failed to finish what she started! I’ll try to find the photo of that and scan it to put it up another time.
Scattered around the family, there are also examples of canvaswork, stitched rugs (two quite large ones and a small mat, which is in our hallway), tablecloths, napkins and bedlinen, and a footstool (two footstools, actually!). Not to mention assorted knitwear (I still have, and wear with pride and glee, an intarsia sweater she knitted for me when I was eighteen), and some crocheted work.
She also tried a sort of pressed metalwork, drying flowers and foliage, and Heaven knows what else.
I’ve been told I “collect skills”. Where do you think I inherited that from?
I designed and embroidered this piece shortly after I was married. It was my first design for Our House, and I suspect it gave my husband fair warning (if he hadn’t already guessed) that furnishing it would not be a simple matter of a trip to a furniture shop!
I took some of the motifs from a tablecloth that Grandmama stitched using surface embroidery and needlelace. Then I combined them with some Jacobean leaf shapes and the occasional curlicue. The snail and the butterfly are added because Jacobean designs often included bugs and animals, and although our house is nearer to Arts & Crafts in style than Jacobean I wanted to work on a Jacobean crewel-style design.
I had enormous fun playing with ornamental stitches and threads. There are Persian wools, soft cottons, pearl cottons, stranded cottons, rayons. The butterfly even had some metallic thread in it, and I don’t often use metallics. Stitches included Battlement Couching, and Pekingese Stitch using overdyed chenille thread, and open Fishbone stitch in a crinkly overdyed rayon.
That rayon thread is much more difficult to embroider with than the chenille, but I am realising as I photograph and study some of my past embroideries that I seem to use a great deal of it. I should have a stern word with myself about that, because every single stitch with that thread is accompanied by muttered swearing – which can’t possibly be good for me!
I seem to be going through a phase of gold and teal at the moment, so when I wanted a picture of some of my embroidery to put in my header, this seemed the obvious one to pick. I’m not wholly happy with some elements of the design, but every time I see it I remember the fun I had making it. So it is a good representation of the sort of “virtuosewer” I would like to be.