Saturday, 21 November 2015

A visit to the Lace Guild museum

Remember I joined the Lace Guild some months back? That's when I found out that they operate a small museum in Stourbridge at their headquarters, about a two hour drive away from me. I suggested to my small lace group that we might want to do a road trip one day.  Diaries were compared and a date set some months in advance but we have now finally accomplished it.

The museum is in a small three-bedroom house owned by the Guild, conveniently near a pub where we stopped for lunch. We were shown around by a friendly and knowledgeable volunteer and felt very welcome.  The first stop was the exhibition of 18th century lace, in gossamer thread so fine that it is literally impossible to replicate now as the fine threads are no longer manufactured.  How they turned out such intricate designs without artificial light or magnification is a marvel.  There were several examples of lappets (a decorative band that hung down from the headdress) from the 1700s with very complex designs.  Then we were shown the library where they must have virtually every lace book ever published. Members can borrow books for free (you pay postage to return them) so I borrowed a book on Tonder Lace that I had had my eye upon on Amazon. We were all pleased to find a large selection of secondhand books on sale, as well as secondhand bobbins, thread, examples of lace and other goodies all at very reasonable prices.  Much shopping was done and I came away with some loot.

Crocheted tray cloth, tambour work mat, 'Point Ground Lacemaking' by CC Channer, 
'Threads for Lace Edition 5' by Brenda Paternoster, two unopened spools of Bocken linen thread, a pretty bobbin, and a Newnham lace bobbin winder.

But the best part was being given a private view of the reserve collection. The museum has hundreds of pieces of lace that they have no room to display, and it's all stored in archive boxes in this room. Boxes intriguingly labelled 'Honiton', 'Large items', 'Binche' etc. After laying out a protective cloth and all washing our hands, we chose a box labelled 'Hankerchiefs' and opened it to discover well over fifty lace trimmed hankerchiefs in protective film, some dating back to the early 18th century.  It was a good box to choose as there was lace in all styles, and our guide named them for us and discussed the techniques.  Early hankerchiefs were often much bigger and designed for display of the lace rather than for much use, so there were some extremely elaborate examples in Honiton lace, needlelace, Maltese lace, Bucks Point - right up to some relatively recent examples in Torchon.  We spent a good hour oohing and aahing before we reluctantly said that we had to leave to make the trip back before it got too late.  It was a long way to go but well worth it and we all felt very inspired by what we had seen.


Due to the new job, I have a new day off which is Thursday.  It's been a strange week, I think I am going to like the new job but it was a very hectic week as they are trying to train us as quickly as they can so that we can start contributing.  I've been quite tired in the evenings and having a new day off made me feel a bit mixed up about what day of the week it was!

But on Thursday I did a couple more hours of free motion quilting on the Starry Night Christmas wallhanging.  It's not the world's greatest job as I am so rusty at it but I've enjoyed it.  I've been all around the tree now and have stippled half the background.

Then I pulled out a seasonal UFO to work on which is a Christmas wallhanging in the stained glass technique using a pattern by Gail Lawther.  All the pieces of fabric will eventually be outlined in fusible black bias tape, stitched down with a twin needle.  I'm enjoying working on it but progress is slow as each bit of tape has to be applied individually then stitched down, because my bias tape is about 15 years old and isn't very sticky any more.  If I try to do more than one at a time, they start falling off! I like the colours though and I've added a bit of bling with metallic braid trim on some of the towers.


I've knitted the second Lett Lopi felted slipper and I've embroidered a snowflake on one toe.  I just need to do the second snowflake then I can run them through the washing machine to felt them - and cross my fingers that they fit ok afterwards.  Commuter knitting has been the Arne and Carlos vanilla socks.  I've finished the first one with an afterthought heel, and I've cast on for the second one. I came out as a knitter at work, knitting in the break room on one of my lunch hours, but I haven't had time to do very much as it's been so busy there.  When we went to the Lace Guild, I was knitting on the Now in a Minute shawl but I kept knitting on the way home when it was getting dark and ended up dropping some stitches so I have some fixing to do on that one.

Other stuff

I've almost finished the Bobbin Lace Christmas Star, all the lacing is done and I'm just doing the sewings to join the finish to the start.  Then I will have a go at stiffening it with the stiffener I bought at the St Ives lace fair.  If it turns out ok then I will probably start another one so I can give one to my m-i-l. On Thursday afternoon I did some more cross-stitch and quilted some more on my cushion cover. In fact Thursday was a very crafty day which was a nice contrast to the busy first week on the job.

It's suddenly turned very cold here, down to freezing tonight, and with a lot of wind chill.  Not unusual for November but a bit of a shock after having been so warm for so long.  Time to dig out and wear the legwarmers I finished last week!

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