I was up early this morning to collect Marion and make our way to the showground. We kept our fingers crossed that the rain would hold off at least until we’d unloaded the car. Thankfully, it did.
Over the next couple of hours, from a heap of bags and boxes, some order was created and the story of a century of craft in the WI took shape.
The early years were illustrated with Lady Cripps’ beautiful pulled work, a few pairs of handmade gloves and a beadwork valance which my m-i-l Bettine found recently, probably worked by her grandmother. The story was one of exquisite needlework skills then, including the blue embroidered nightie too, not shown in my photograph but referred to in this blog post from last year.
The story continues throughout the years when materials were hard to come by, when WI speakers toured the county showing women how to make footstools from empty tins, when my grandmother did some beautifully regular crochet around four men’s handkerchiefs to make a tablecloth and small scraps of fabric were used to make lampshades and table mats.
A few vintage knitting patterns, a rushwork stool and a marquetry picture illustrate the 1950s with a few small bits to fill in a gap here and there.
New materials, new colours and Marion’s Kaffe Fassett scarf and a beautifully knitted tam o’shanter brighten the story a little with a few kanzashi flowers leading through to the story of how our travels and the internet led to our trying all kinds of new and different crafts. I’d hoped for a macrame owl to include here but it seems no one valued them enough to hang onto one! There was, however, just enough room for my small patchwork pincushion, the only evidence of Laura Ashley design I could find anywhere, though at some point, we must have had quite a few patchwork cushions. I wonder where they went?
Temari, kumihimo, kusadami and Australian Cross stitch might provoke a conversation or two. We’d originally planned to place the appropriate books alongside but by now, we were fast running out of space. There was room to squeeze in a little dressmaking and a crochet shawl over a paint effect stool, but with a couple more important developments to record, we had to be choosy about what to leave in and what to take out.
There was room for my willow pig, a tatted collar and my silver brooch, all made in WI classes and useful illustrations of how the organisation enables women to acquire new skills.
That just left about eighteen inches at the end for the future, when computing skills will probably be integral to developing new crafts as digital cutters, sewing and knitting machines begin to be used in conjunction with traditional hand crafts.
We stood back, returned to tweak one or two things and heaved a sigh of relief.
Did I say “done is better than perfect” ?