PieceWork Fall 2020

PieceWork is the only magazine for those who love all things made by hand and the history behind them. Every issue explores the life and work of traditional needleworkers, takes an in-depth look at historical needlework techniques, and gives instructions for making heirloom-quality projects of your own.

United States
Long Thread Media LLC
4 Issues

in this issue

1 min

What does “mending” mean to you? Hardship and never-ending socks with holes? Creative and artistic embellishment? Both? Whatever the task or textile, mending and remaking are based on the idea that cloth is a thing of value. And if you are reading this, I suspect you agree. The thread that runs through this issue is, to my mind, about preserving, or even adding value to, textiles. In that vein, Deirdre Carter discusses the Medieval demand for parchment and the creative needlework that embellished imperfections in lower-quality parchment. Chitra Balasubramaniam shares the story of how her mother’s sarees were transformed into a spectacular embroidered quilt that ties together generations. And Heather Vaughan Lee gives us social and cultural insight into the now-coveted flour-sack textiles of the Great Depression. Ideas and traditions can also…

2 min
by post

In the Spring 2020 issue of PieceWork, the article that most resonated with me was the one written by Dr. Mary Davis [“The Sewing Machines of Oradour-sur-Glane,” page 52]. By the time I had finished reading the article, I was in tears. Tears not only for the era but of the memories as a child watching my grandmother use her Singer treadle sewing machine. There is a deeper sense of appreciation for others who share a similar passion to my own, whether it is with two needles and yarn, or one needle with thread. Dr. Davis’s article brought me to the time and livelihood of the women there. Dr. Davis was so poignant, “I felt a kindred spirit to all the women who sat in front of these machines. They…

1 min

Classic Smock This medium-weight washed-linen coverall provides protection from crafty mishaps and spills. Not Perfect Linen’s Japanese-style aprons, shown in natural-grey stripes, are made in Lithuania by a family-run business and have generous pockets to keep frequently needed supplies and tools close at hand. www.notperfectlinen.com Colorwork Control Multicolor knitting need not lead to a tangled mess of frustration. The Knitting Colorwork Ring, handcrafted in Mexico by artist Corina Lunita, comes in sterling silver and can manage two, three, or more strands of yarn for stress-free knitting. www.corinalunita.com Versatile Spools From basketweaving to stitching upholstery, the numerous uses for waxed linen thread from Royalwood Ltd. make it a must-have in any needleworker’s toolbox. Available in two to twelve plies, the coat of wax makes the thread water-and mildew resistant. www.royalwoodltd.com Stitcher’s Essential Don’t accidentally prick your finger when…

5 min
the long thread

Joan Sheridan, Volunteer Conservator at The Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation How did you become a needleworker? I have had a lifelong passion for textiles. I don’t remember learning to sew. It is just something I learned at my mother’s knee. When I was seven, we moved from the farm to town, and then, my textile world became larger. The oldest of four children, I liked to escape from our small house and young children, and I often spent time with two different neighbors. Hilda taught me to embroider and crochet. I will never forget her words when I cut a yard-long piece of embroidery floss and tried to work with it. “The turtle won the race,” she told me. After that, the rule was eighteen inches of thread. Thelma introduced me…

5 min
a stitch in time norwich stitch

The Norwich, waffle, southern cross, or plaited interlaced stitch is a large, square, highly textured, modern-day canvas and needlepoint stitch. It is composed of a raised diamond superimposed upon a stitched square. Normally, it’s worked over an uneven number of background threads. I found this stitch to be called the Norwich or waffle stitch in equal frequency in the literature. This is somewhat unusual because one name usually predominates. Personally, I prefer the Norwich name because of less confusion; there is another embroidery stitch called a waffle stitch that consists of rows of small straight stitches. There are also waffle stitches in both knitting and crochet. How the “Norwich” appellation originated remains a mystery. The Norwich stitch always begins with a large crossed stitch with numerous legs stitched over the original crossed…

3 min
the egg and i: tools for darning

My grandmother’s darning egg was the foundation of my collection: the first vintage needlework tool I ever owned. She didn’t give it to me. I found it in a drawer after she died, half buried in a nest of promotional sewing kits. Nobody else knew or cared what it was, so I took it. I never saw her use it. She was a person for whom “make do and mend” was a lifelong necessity, but even she ceased to mend holes in socks. Flimsy, modern socks seldom stand up to darning, so she used them as dust cloths. With a worn-out sock over each hand, a person could get through dusting twice as fast. The darning egg is the humble emblem of needlework’s dreariest moment: mending. The tool is one small step…