I’ve been asked a couple of times for instructions for lacing up finished embroidery onto a board, to stretch it and prepare it for framing or presentation in some way, and was happy to share the way I do it.
I’ve always found this a neat and effective way of lacing the back of an embroidery, but I didn’t invent it myself. I was taught how to do it by a lady who was one of the most highly respected embroiderers in the North of England, Dorothy Watson. Although not one of its founders, Mrs Watson was a very early member of the North East Branch of the Embroiderers’ Guild, later the Newcastle upon Tyne Branch, and remained a member of it for over 50 years, serving several terms as Chair, and was the Branch’s Honorary President when she passed away a few years ago, when I was Chair myself. She led the Durham Cathedral Broderers, and taught embroidery and textile crafts for many decades; her work spanned traditional and contemporary styles and was always flawless, and the number of stitchers, including myself, she must have taught and influenced is huge.
But someone must have taught her how to do these things, and someone else would have taught her teacher, and so on, down the years and centuries. Although there’s no end to what you can do to express your own creativity through textile arts, the basic tools and techniques have existed for millennia, and have been passed on down the years.
Now, I’m passing on things she taught me through my work to people all over the world, and now other textile artists are passing it on too, all part of a continuous line of embroiderers stretching from the far past into the future. I wish Mrs Watson had lived to see that.
I think we should all take a moment to celebrate our own craft ancestors, whether they were our grandmothers or school teachers, authors of books or makers of videos, and remember that it’s up to us to pass this wonderful art on to future generations.