Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Textile Tuesdays : #1 History

First I have to say a word about my interest in textiles. I have been working/playing with textiles since early childhood. We were a large, thrifty and creative family. We made our own play things out of scraps. We played with tins filled with buttons. When I was 6, my grandmother taught me how to knit. When I was 7, my brother showed me how to use a foot treadle sewing machine and I made my first doll dress. I got crewel embroidery kits for Christmas and I embroidered on my OshKosh bib overalls. When I was twelve, I sold my first dolls that I had made with my older sister. We were at a craft fair somewhere in Pennsylvania. It was the early 70's and everyone was into handwork. I thought it was normal to make my own clothes and home decor.

In the late 70's, 80's, and early 90's, it was not so cool. Some feminist philosophy saw freedom from "women's work" as the goal of liberation. New Wave styles were more glossy and sharp. If I explained to people that I liked to stitch and sew, they would either be disapproving, confused, or they would regard it as a quaint, old-fashioned hobby. I always stuck with it though. I knit my own sweaters. I sewed my own skirts. I learned how to weave. Little by little, I saw the resurgence of the popularity of textile and fiber arts. I studied the history of various crafts and researched current trends.

When I was in England, I realized that I could actually get a degree in textile arts if I wanted to. I could get a certificate of expertise in embroidery. I realized that I was going to embrace my inner stitcher and commit to textile arts in any and every way that I could. There are so many wonderful art forms involving fibers and textiles. There are so many super stars - past and current. There are cultural, environmental, and even political aspects of textile arts. I can't wait to jump in and start writing about a few of them that I know. I will leave it for now though because this is a blog and the material is meant to be digestible. I hope you will come back next tuesday when I will be writing about Embroidery.

(The picture above is what is left of one of the dolls that I made when I was 12. His name is Patrick and he used to have a sailor shirt and pants. Also, one of our dogs tore his body so I had to perform surgery. I didn't know how to hide knots but I still think he has a sweet face!)


  1. I dig your blog Sheco! Keep it up.

  2. Thanks so much for the compliment! I am glad you like it.