Some of you may have noticed in reading my blog posts that I am dyslexic, whilst it has been the bane of my life it has never stopped me enjoying books. Time spent quietly browsing the historical and craft shelves in a second hand book store is a much savoured treat. On one such visit I stumbled upon an old and well thumbed book that had seen better days.
When I opened the cover I found myself enthralled with the preface.
The Craft of the Needle
For many women, to think of a needle is to conjure up visions of childhood sewing days, with painfully pricked fingers and heartrending efforts to make tiny stitches each one exactly like its neighbour. These are only the forerunners of what can be a most profitable and enjoyable pastime.
Unlike our grandmothers and great grandmothers, who had many leisure hours in which to ply their needle, the modern woman has little time for sewing other than the very necessary repairs to the family wardrobe, but for the more ambitious and leisured there is a wider choice.
I am not sure that the grandmothers and great grandmothers referred to would have agreed about their leisure hours but it is a great intro to a needlework book. The preface went on to say:
The “Big Book of Needlecraft” aims to assist needlewomen in all branches of the craft, and in detail, so as to be a help to the beginner and expert alike.
Some needlewomen prefer the fascination of simple dressmaking, for in this way they can express their own personalities in the clothes they wear. Others expend their energies on the adornment of the house with new and exciting soft furnishings. The more artistic natures will choose embroidery and spend many happy hours arranging the variety of stitches in intricate patterns and gay colour schemes, whilst others will turn to the unsophisticated amusement of toy-making and felt-work.
The use of the needle extends far beyond plain sewing and embroidery, even to making of fabric as in knitting as crochet.
Weaving, as it is known today, is not in the true sense a needlecraft, but it is classed under this heading, for originally the coloured wools and silks were woven, with a needle, in intricate patterns on warp threads of coarse worsted; as in the lovely tapestries of the seventeenth century.
So many lovely pieces of needlework are spoilt with incorrect laundering and pressing that brief notes on this subject have been included.
The Big Book of Needlecraft was published by Oldhams, London in 1935.
For the grand sum of 3 British Pounds it was a little treasure box of useful tips and tricks although I will not be taking up darning my husband’s socks!. Turning to the section on “Stitchery” I noted that coarse crash makes a suitable ground material for embroidery. Now what is “crash”?
Crash is usually a plain weave, sometimes twill, and always made from rough, uneven yarns. It has a coarse and slightly loose look. It was originally woven of linen, jute or hemp, and later also of cotton, wool, blends and manufactured fibers. The origin of the name crash comes from the Russian “krashenina” which means coloured linen.
It is good to learn something new every day and today for me it has been a crash course on coarse crash!
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