I inherited some very beautiful embroidery silks and began looking for some printed linen to embroider. New kits are very expensive so I turned to Ebay. I was surprised to find many lots of printed fabric for embroidery, along with some that were advertised as unfinished. These were from private sellers.
It was common for girls to be taught embroidery skills at school in the past. They would be expected to complete a sampler, showing off their mastery of the different stitches. It was time-consuming work and the school curriculum is far too full to allow such studies now. My grandmother taught me, and though it might be seen as an outdated craft, there are many wonderful textile artists who continue to rely on quality hand-sewing to embellish their work.
One lot that I bought was described as ‘various items for sewing’ and the seller was a man who freely admitted he knew nothing about embroidery. He sold a box of beautiful linens for a very small sum of money. It was almost certain that he was clearing out the belongings from a house of an elderly relative. He at least recognized that the box contained items of value, and didn’t immediately add them to the contents of the numerous black plastic sacks which are always a necessary part of this sad task.
In another lot of partially sewn linens, it was apparent that the person who had started them was an expert embroiderer, but when they could no longer work at the task, another member of the family had tried to fill in the missing flowers and leaves. Sadly, they lacked the skills and gave up, and so the abandoned project became listed on Ebay.
I think of these many women ( and they are all women as far as I know), who have put away their beloved silks in a cupboard because their eyesight was failing. There were some who were stricken by a stroke, or were losing their abilities due to advancing dementia. Previously called upon to make beautiful, complicated altar cloths for their church community, or chair back covers to disguise the worn out and stained fabric, reluctantly they had to admit they could no longer do it.
So I have taken up the crusade to finish these neglected projects. I may not ever use the tablecloths, cushion covers and other items, but I value them greatly. The whole process is excellent for stress relief, and the sense of achievement from seeing beautiful, textured images appear in front of your eyes, makes it a wonderful activity especially for cold winter nights.
I now have so many projects to work on that undoubtedly there will not be time in my remaining life to complete them.
I wonder if my daughters will attempt to finish the projects, or simply list them on Ebay?