Lace, ladies, lunch and laughs

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Yesterday was the Halifax Embroider’s Guild trip – a day full of surprises. Firstly, having settled into the back row of the coach with my two partners in crime, it wasn’t long before heads started turning, close mutters were heard and dulcet tones of various phones were heard ‘in 50 metres, turn left…turn left’ whilst we watched with increasing anxiety as the coach trundled it’s way up various cobbled and very steep Yorkshire tracks up to the top of the moors. We realised the driver was lost and probably following his own sat nav but it was rather alarming in places and we were poised to be asked to get out of our back seats and push at a couple of points when moving forward in 1st gear was not looking likely.
Nevertheless, with chuckles from the back seat and many ladies giving helpful directions, we arrived at Empress Mills for a spot of retail therapy and a cuppa, if rather late.
We had a great little talk about products from the owner and my guilty stash looks as follows:

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A rather nice bacon and Brie panini was had for lunch before travelling to Gawthorpe Hall, Lancashire.

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I couldn’t possibly mention the discussion my friend and I had about the real or pretend status of the lovely single rose on the tearoom table. Suffice it to say after bending it just a little too far, it was escorted out of the tearoom as a rather fetching corsage before we were!

We then had the most interesting talk about Miss Rachel Kay-Shuttleworth and her lifelong collection and love of textiles, embroidery and lace. The textile collection there is extremely extensive with just a small part on display, but you can book study days to learn more. The following photos are from gawthorpe textiles.org.uk .

Miss Rachel

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Her desk

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Her amazing notes with a system of symbols detailing countries, types, and importance of pieces.

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Photos are not allowed in the hall, and although this traditional type of work is not what I want to pursue, it was absolutely breathtaking and very humbling. Seeing garments you might just assume were printed, then realising that they were all hand-stitched in glorious detail was quite moving.

The other thing that I found moving was the lace – my mum is a lace-maker and I know she too has examples from around the world and over the years. She would never admit it, but she is a very talented lady and if you are reading, mum, I’m coming to have another look at all your stuff!

Whilst historical work like this is the other end of the spectrum from the Experimental Textiles course I’m so enjoying, I think this has given me a new respect for those incredibly skilled ladies who did this work, and how textile work in its different forms evidences our heritage.

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