Lace is created using many different techniques. One of the group excels in knitting very complicated lace designs using fine wool, often 1 or 2 ply. Modern spinning (often hand), using glorious dyes together with the textures of alpaca and other exotic fleeces produces wonderful garments. Shawls are practical as well as beautiful.
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.
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.
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”?
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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Christ Church, the parish church of Brampton Bierlow, holds a “Tree Festival” every 3 years. Local groups sponsor and decorate a tree. The Rockingham Craft Group searched cupboards, finished UFOs and created new ornaments in embroidery, tatting, crochet, knitting as well as a variety of laces to provide a beautiful and interesting display. One of the Lace Angels was nick-named “Kamikaze” as, no matter how we tried to attach it to the tree, it managed to fly and crash land in a nearby pew.
As a new comer to the making of lace I have been surprised by the variety of styles and techniques. All of which stem from the basic whole/cloth and half stitch. I love the feel of the bobbins and found the concentration the hobby requires to be very beneficial, the history and folklore fascinating.
In May a group from the Rockingham Lace group attended a two day course tutored by ANNA HALIKOVA in Edinburgh. Anna teaches in her home city of Prague and for privileged lace groups in the UK. I am attracted to Czech lace by its colour and modern usage so in spite of my inexperience I was excited to be able to join the ladies.
Before attending one of Anna’s courses folk are asked to choose one of a small number of possible lace pieces to ensure she brings all the necessary threads and accessories with her from the Czech Republic.
Anna is a very approachable and bubbly lady. Unfazed by my inexperience Anna promptly set about finding me a project more suitable to my needs. Once I got started I was delighted with the task of making my first lace necklace in a range of turquoise threads.
The other ladies worked on scarf edgings or Christmas stars having previoiusly attended courses with Anna.
We travelled by car and stayed in a nearby self-catering apartment (with cleaning service**), wined and dined on local delivery cuisine (fish & chips) , gorged at the Quayside where we convinced the waiter that we were “calorie loading” ice cream so as to run the Marathon next day!! Sincere thanks to those ladies of Rockingham Lace for their encouragement throughout an eventful weekend, topped off by a visit to the Royal Yacht Britannia. Sue W.