I have always loved needlework and stitching. My mother taught me to knit, embroider and sew when I was a child. I enjoyed my needlework hobbies over the years, creating various stitched items along the way. With time and distractions, I drifted away from stitching.
While visiting the Huron County Museum’s archives doing research for an article idea on the history of women’s head coverings in Huron (I was also looking for a pattern for the head-covering my 2nd great grandmother as I thought it would be fun to try recreate it), I was given the opportunity to look through the museum’s full database of textile images. And I was inspired. And in complete awe.
Based upon what I saw of their textile collection, an article idea popped into my head: Early 19th Century household textile items in the collection of the Huron County Museum & Historic Gaol. I pitched the idea and eventually the article was published in PieceWork magazine in 2016.
It was one particular item featured in that article that truly sparked my complete return to stitching and served as my main source of inspiration: the counterpane crib blanket stitched in the early 1800s. The simplicity of the pattern is its perfect beauty and it drew me in.
I recreated the pattern to accompany the article and stitched a pincushion as an example of how the pattern can be used in a different way. My knitting advisor, Irene Kellins, former owner of Stitches With a Twist in Blyth, recreated one of the museum’s crochet doilies. You can find both patterns on the Patterns page.
As a knitter, my skills would be best described as ‘experienced beginner’. By that I mean, I’ve made hats, mittens, scarves, but the patterns were simple and straightfoward. Learning to recreate a vintage counterpane pattern required something different: a lot of research, a lot of trial and error and many, many visits to my knitting advisor.
There’s a story in every stitch of an heirloom textile. Each item created with skill and creativity by a stitcher long ago, their voice present and expressive in their needlework. Recreating vintage needlework items is a fascinating and rewarding pastime. Natural fibres are my first love and I keenly enjoy working with local wool.
I’ve been honoured to have my work featured in a number of magazines:
- Exploring historic textiles in our local museums, Grey-Bruce Boomers, Winter 2020
- Falling Leaves Fingerless Mitts Pattern, A Needle Pulling Thread, April 2019
- Creating a Natural Dye Palette, A Needle Pulling Thread, April 2019
- Heirloom Textiles, Huron-Perth Boomers Spring 2019
- Historic Textiles in the collection of the Huron County Museum, Piecework Magazine, July / August 2016
I am a member of my local Knit & Natter group and of Upper Canada Fibreshed. If you have an heirloom needlework item you’d like to share or have the pattern researched and perhaps recreated, please feel free to send me a photo.
I have discovered that needlework is a journey and not necessarily a destination. Each new fibre artist that I meet and share ideas with or each new stitching technique that I learn encourages me further along this path of needlework stitching discovery.
Stitch Revival Studio is a way for me to share my journey. Thank you so much for stopping by!
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