Sunday, February 7, 2016

The Princeton Embroiderers Encounter Redwork

All our chapter programs are very good, but now and then there's a standout.  Today's  program on redwork quilting was one of those. 

Presented by  textile authority and collector, Lyna Wiggins, a chapter member, it was a totally absorbing journey through the history of redwork,  that is quilt blocks stitched in red thread, since its inception in the mid-1800s when a stable, colorfast red thread  came onto the market. 

Known as Turkey red, writers dispute the origin of the thread color's name, but nobody disputes the beauty and joy of this lovely artform.  

And our instructor today was so enthusiastic, organized, knowledgeable and happy to share that the time went too fast. 

Some of her library of books on the subject also came with her, and a set of notes for each participant to keep. Above, surrounded by the quilts and squares she brought to pass around and discuss,  she finds a reference in her favorite reference book on the subject by Deborah Harding, pictured second below

She has also invited us to visit her Clinton home to see a lot more of her collection, in a few weeks' time, watch this space for a report on that event, too!  

Aside from being experienced stitchers, a number of her audience are themselves teachers, some of us to adults, and appreciated just how well Lyna delivered this lecture, with good humor and disarming frankness.  We were in good hands!  She gave her time and expertise as a gift to the chapter, and it was very much a highlight of our program year.

Often used as a teaching tool for young children, as well as a quilt form for adult stitchers, redwork motifs have followed the fashion of the day up to the present time, varying  from animals to nature, to political references and state birds and nursery rhymes, going in and out of fashion as art forms do.

In Lyna's own collection of antique and vintage textiles redwork is  substantially represented, and she brought in many quilt squares to pass around and handle. Some of the small squares were done by children, and are charming, as they learned the intricacies of navigating needle and thread around animal and flower motifs, then signed their own names.  Others, executed by skilled adult stitchers are fine artworks. 
We also got to enjoy quilts. No lack of volunteers to help hold up and show them! 

The last quilt is the piece de resistance of her presentation, an antique quilt, signed and dated and truly a skilled work to see and admire. 

Above is Lyna talking about the importance of this piece, one of her favorites in her extensive collection, then posing happily beside it as the finale of her lecture.

After her talk, she distributed kits she had created, for participants to take home and try their hands at this art form, redwork just in time for Valentine's Day! 

Even those of us who are not quilters are now inspired to embark on redwork.  And to thank Lyna for an outstanding afternoon.

The Embroiderers stitch in public and celebrate our fortieth anniversary

We had a good turnout of about ten stitchers, all bringing work in progress, to celebrate National Stitch in Public Day and our fortieth anniversary as a chapter. Our current work ranged from counted cross stitch to needlepoint, to crewel, to goldwork, in many designs.

Displayed on our work tables was a wonderful array of finished projects, ranging from hardanger, to freeform, to cross stitch, to embroidery on dyed silk, in addition to the two cabinets of work on display until the end of March.

Here Ginny, Carol, Tom and Cynthia discuss their work with visitors

You see some of the finished works on the table in front of Carol G. as she discusses our activities.

Eve Mandel, Director of Programs and Visitor Services of the Historical Society of Princeton, came by to meet us, with a view to some future cooperative ventures with the Historical Society in their new location.

Among the array of great work displayed was this hardanger cloth by Carol P., now in the collection of her daughter.

We had a great afternoon with a steady stream of interested visitors, many of them expert stitchers themselves, a great way to celebrate our fortieth anniversary as a chapter!