If ever you visit Whitby (north-east Yorkshire coast) and decide to visit the Abbey via the old town by climbing the 199 steps, allow extra time for window gazing. Most of the shop-windows offer tempting displays of jet new and antique.
The small museum is well worth a visit. Whitby is one of the few areas in the world where the gemstone JET is found. The fossilized wood of a tree similar to the Monkey Puzzle, about 182 million years old, it is fairly firm yet soft enough to be carved into elaborate designs, faceted and polished creating works of art but mostly used for jewellery. The height of popularity was during Queen Victoria’s reign and the Edwardian period when mostly worn as mourning jewellery. In other eras worn for its own merit and beauty. Carving is a time consuming skill so very little is carved these days, relying on the mounts to enhance the jet.
Whitby Jet – antique & modern
These items, clockwise from top left are: link from antique bracelet – carved flower spray motif, mourning brooch (original Edwardian photo of very handsome man now covered by Whithof lace); lucet rope & pendant had lock of hair, now carries Rosaline Lace; bird and ammonite brooches are modern; small pendant; snake bracelet is Victorian.
Bracelet a ”thank you” after a telephone request to visit and show caller how to make lace – NO – house-bound – age 80 mentioned – “mother would like to have a try BEFORE IT IS TOO LATE” – I gave in – daughter was 80 – mother 103 – on TV as oldest person in England at that time!!!! A few bookmarks and small mats appeared before her sight went then bags of knitted clothes-hanger covers appeared.
As usual the wool and material shops were almost emptied – some of us just could not resist acquiring more jet jewellery.
Unbelievably for the seventh year running we had beautiful summer weather encouraging us to enjoy the sun as well as lace. This year we stayed for 4 days so it was decided to have the chance to explore needle made lace.
Knitting, Tatting, Bobbin Lace, Patchwork, Embroidery display 2016 Sneaton
Norma, an extremely talented member, offered to share her expertise, generously and patiently helping the adventurous explore a different lace. By Sunday quite a few petals had been produced using the Zele techniques. Looking forward to seeing the completed flowers. Thank you Norma.
Sneaton 2016 group
Our Australian member brought her Torchon Lace tablecloth – entirely her own design and work. A Ravenfield member brought her crocheted bedspread adapted from an old tray-cloth. A sister-in-law visitor from Canada almost finished a pair of socks. The rest either crossed & twisted onwards or relaxed with a change of craft. Thank you ladies for sharing your work and skill.
A small aside – ever wondered why a “thimble” is so called? Really is a corruption of “THUMB BELL” as, if truly following continental methods, the needle is pushed upwards and away from you by using the thumb. Feels weird at first but I find you can control tension better this way – have a try – great fun.
Tochon Lace Tablecloth
Norma’s needle lace samples and our usual display – useful when other visitors and the sisters, intrigued by our notice “Lacemakers at Work”, come to look see – bride (beautiful lacy dress) and wedding guests this year!
Guess what? We are booked in for next year already!!!
Norma’s Needle Lace
For a few years a medley of about 30 of the group have spent a weekend at Sneaton Castle, enjoying passing the time with our lace / knitting / embroidery / jewellery without the inconvenience of housework.
Sneaton castle weekend
Situated near Whitby on the North Yorkshire moors, Sneaton Castle Centre, formerly a girls’ boarding school, is in the grounds of St Hilda’s Priory, the Mother House of the Anglican Order of the Holy Paraclete. www.sneatoncastle.co.uk.
Hardanger Embroidery Cloth, Bobbin Lace Flowers & Mobile Case, Knitted Stole
Torchon Bobbin Lace Layette
This area of Yorkshire has many attractions. Whitby and Robin Hoods Bay are outstanding, local wild life, adventurous walks, steam railway (or DIY at home) keep some of the husbands occupied whilst we visit the wonderful jet jewellery & wool shops.
A small display is usually set up as the venue often has other visitors who are intrigued as to why we are there. The trial pillow has initiated a variety of hands – Sisters from their African Convent, Best-man in kilt and full regalia, local celebrities attending their presentation lunch, group of talented young musicians who also entertained us. Come this last weekend in July, wonder who will be brave enough to “Have a go”?
Needle & Bobbin Lace
All Bobbin Lace
Romanian Point Box Lid – mix of Crochet & Needle Lace
Knitted shawl, Torchon tablecloth & box, hand-spun wool
Some of us are also members of the Wentworth Women’s Institute and were asked to enter examples of lace in the “100 Shades of Green” exhibition at Kiplin Hall to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the W.I. Not much lace around worked in green but a few years ago we created a display “Spring Watch” so had frogs and leaves tucked away on top of the wardrobe.
This is a minute portion of the original to fit a limited space. Mostly bobbin lace except tatted dragonfly and frog spawn. My own entry is the East European Guipure lace “Dragon”, well, it does have a streak of green.
Kiplin Hall: www.kiplinhall.co.uk 16 – 19 May 2015
Whilst winding bobbins I realised that three had surnames not just “Dear Jane” or “Betsey”. Curiosity won over housework, out came Mr Mouse, the hunt began.
EMMA CONQUEST was clearly visible in painted spots, though I suspect a previous owner re-painted it. Up popped an Alfred on Manchester 1911 census, born Great Linford, Bucks, wife Emma (Abrahams), born Colmworth, Beds. Promising – alas no sign of lace. However on the 1871 census Emma (21) is a lacemaker being visited by sister Louisa, also a lace maker. On the 1861 census mother Letticcea (53), sisters Frances (18), Louiesa (16) & Letticcia (13) are lacemakers, Emma (10) is a scholar but bet she knew how to use the bobbin even then. One down two to go – dust a bit deeper.
ELIZABETH SAVILLE bobbin was almost worn away through many hours of toil. Being an avid “who-dunnit” fan a soft-leaded pencil & thin paper revealed all – August 16 1863. So many could only sign a X on their wedding papers that it is no surprise that the census filler-inners wrote different versions of a name – Saville – Savil – Savall – Savell. Eventually an Elizabeth Savell, 1841, fitted. Luckily appeared as Saville on another document. Mother Mary Ann and sister Ann (15) were lacemakers living in Houghton Conquest, Ampthill, Bedfordshire. There is a death recorded as 3rd quarter 1863, aged 13 = 16 August 1863 – so maybe? Two down one to go, eyes down and stride over rubbish.
MARTHA FEASEY WESTBURY spiralled teasingly round the shank. No Westbury seemed to make lace, seemed folk made lace there. So hunt the Feasey in Buckinghamshire. Plenty, but no Martha as a lacer. Eventually two likely children surfaced – one born 1842, one in 1861 – both not on further census forms. Maybe in remembrance of the first one who died aged 13 – could account for the black square-cuts and the “Kitty Fisher” header bead? Mother Sarah and aunts were lacemakers, father Thomas was a carpenter – maybe made their bobbins? Or maybe for the other one as her aunt Eliza, mother Ellen and sisters were all lacemakers?
Frustrating but interesting – I will never know! Now I really must stop reading Agatha, hide the mouse, find feather duster and…. mmmm…..better idea still – use the bobbins.
In September 2014 ANN COLLIER, a world renowned lace maker and author, delighted members of Sheffield Lace Makers and visitors with a fabulous display of her fans and parasols. Ann designs the lace to complement the fan sticks then uses a medley of lace techniques to achieve a breath-taking work of art. Various styles of bobbin lace or net are embellished with needle lace, tatting, Sol work, Carrickmacross, Limerick… ad infinitum.
Ann also told us about the different styles of sticks usually made of ivory or exotic woods, the different ways of folding and holding and lots more interesting tit-bits – one fan magically turns into a posy of flowers. Her designs range from the Olympic fan having all but one of the national flags (astonishingly worked as one piece of lace) to her favourite set of Gilbert & Sullivan Operas. These are kept in a beautiful matching casket – another of Ann’s talents. She hilariously explained (interspersed with anecdotes) how she works, encouraging us to practise and try different laces.
Thank you Ann for sharing your love of lace with us. Thanks also to Nigel, a visitor, who has kindly allowed us to use some of his photos.
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