Friday, January 08, 2010

I blame the books, especially Therese

It is true, I am a craft junkie, a craftaholic. A craft shop is an Aladdin's Cave, and I can hardly wait to try new things. Some people are passionate knitters (like my daughter.) Some people spend their lives doing cross stitch. Not me - I have to try new things.

The title of this blog reveals two major pastimes - knitting and tatting. However it does not cover the episodes of Berlin woolwork, cross-stitch, hardanger, lacework with bobbins, filet lace, macrame and more. I realised a long time ago that I am fascinated by what one can do with a single thread. While I've experimented with sewing clothes (I can do it, but I don't love it) and other hobbies (soapmaking is another story altogether), I love what one can do with a single thread. (That extends to string games/cats cradle, but that too is another story.)

Why am I such a junkie?

It is time to examine the origins, and I have two people to blame. The first is my father, whose mantra was "read the instructions." You can do anything if you have good instructions, and if you read them carefully. The second is Therese de Dillmont. Therese and I are old friends. Her Encyclopedia of Needlwork was first published in 1884, and when I was a child we had an edition - the New Edition, Revised and Enlarged. I still have that copy. You'll find the complete text and some information about the work at

It was a small compact book, with gold edging along the top, and coloured plates. I have no idea where it came from. It is battered, the spine is broken, the gold has worn off, it has a rubber band keeping it together.

Maybe it came from a school fete? My mother sewed clothes but she was not an embroiderer. She was a knitter and had done fine crochet work in her youth, but was not passionate about either. I loved that book, and spent hours poring over the instructions, the line drawings, and the coloured plates.

Not only do I have the original little book, not only do I have web access to the fulltext (I wonder could I download that to my Kindle?), I have a paperback version so I can use it for reference while venerating the little old copy as an object.

The book is a goldmine of technique. Just casting one's eyes over the table of contents is enough to start me rummaging through craft shops for tatting shuttles, old knitting needles, lace making bobbins, whatever.

Having recently watched Julie & Julia, I wondered about doing a series of blogposts taking me through Therese's book, and reporting on my adventures. The idea has festered long enough.

I don't intend making everything in the book, but I do intend looking at it chapter-by-chapter and looking into it in some depth. I will talk about what I have done from it and when, and what I would like to do. Perhaps I will find a new technique in here. Get ready, Katie & Therese are about to begin.

1 comment:

  1. Great idea. Looking forward to more posts. But shouldn't you be changing your name to Teresa - so much more catchy for the film?