Thursday, December 27, 2012

Blog Review 2012

Blog Review

With the end of the year I want to review several of 2012 blogs.  

April 13th Knitting and Crochet Work

   In this discussion I introduced Bernice Pearl and Ethel Trujillo 2 fellow volunteers at the Southside Branch of the Santa Fe Public Library.  These two ladies and their “sewing  circles” produce hats, afghans, scarves and shawls which are donated to the needy, not only in Santa Fe but throughout New Mexico and as far as Guatemala and China.  This year alone Bernice knitted nearly 1000 warm, colorful hats for anyone who needed or (as frequently happened) requested one.  Ethel and her colleagues have supplied newborn hats and afghans and prayer shawls, numbering in the hundreds of hand crochet articles.
I asked anyone who had yarn to donate to please do so and the response was very much appreciated.  However, the need for yarn is ongoing as is their dedication.  If you are able to help you can contact me at

July 6th Molas
At the TSA Biennial this Sept (Sept 28th blog) I met a most delightful woman, Diana Marks, from Sydney, Australia who had just finished her PhD thesis on, you guessed it..Molas!! She presented a most interesting paper on the political implications in the history of Mola production by the Kuna Indians of the San Blas Islands off the coast of Panama.
I just got a holiday greeting from Diana and she graduated with her doctorate degree on Dec. 12th..  What a great Christmas gift!!
If you have an interest in Mola textiles, I suggest you contact her at .

August 10th  Colcha Embroidery
There was a question posted regarding the motifs used by Santa Fe Colcherias regarding the prevalent use of floral designs.  According to Nina Wood, who was featured in the blog, Santa Feans are usually traditional (although some do create their own designs).  This tradition of florals came, of course, from the Spanish who had  historic connections with the Arab influence of the Ottoman Empire.  Stylized flowers dominated their art, and hence, can be seen in these elaborate embroideries.

  September 9th    Pirate Flags

   I had just posted this blog before attending TSA and you can image my delight at meeting ,at a session, a member who carried a crochet tote bag with a skull and crossbones design.  Needless to say this unique accessory created quite an interest.  Carol Ventura of Baxter, Tennessee has a business creating crochet patterns.  Carol’s work can be seen at

December 7th  Tenerrife lace

   Yesterday I met with friends to see a fantastic antique shop, Pegasus, way up in the Santa Fe hills…Way up!!! The day was bright and sunny and the view of the snowy mountains gave reason to why anyone would want to climb that dirt road.  The collection was nearly overwhelming with every type of antique and collectible imaginable.  Naturally I headed straight for the textiles.  Baskets of hankies and crochet work, bins of buttons and trims, drawers of lace.  There I found, right on top, this lovely Tenerrife doily.  I keep saying there are vintage textiles available, reasonably priced, you just have to look.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Holiday Traditions

Holiday Traditions

We are so very fortunate to be living in Santa Fe where there are many different cultures and traditions.  Especially around the holiday season there are concerts, ballet and dance performances.  The plaza is alight with decorated Christmas trees and a large menorah celebrating Hanukkah.  There are farolitos ( brown paper bags filled with sand and a lit candle, called lumenarias elsewhere) lighting roof tops and pathways.  This is also the time to celebrate Kwanzaa and the pueblos share their ritual dances and feast day traditions.

However you celebrate this season may your traditions bring you peace.


Thursday, December 13, 2012

A Christmas Cheater Cloth

A Christmas Cheater Cloth

Last night we had a snowfall in Santa Fe.  Not a lot, just enough to cover the ground.  Everyone was quite excited, firstly because we have had no moisture at all for months and secondly our weather has been unusually warm for this time of year, not very holiday-like to shop in tee shirts.

I was especially pleased because the topic for today is a piece of fabric over 150 years old that depicts the winter spirit.  This is a variation of what is termed “cheater cloth”.  In the mid to late 19thC there was a great interest in quilting.  Lovely fabric imported from England and France was readily available and piecework (patchwork, although strictly speaking the term “patchwork” refers to appliqué) replaced whole cloth quilts using small pieces of various printed fabrics.  Some fabric designers decided to replicate the look of piecework by printing a “pseudo” patchwork using different patterned and colored cloth in traditional quilt patterns.  This was, of course, just a variation of the whole cloth quilt, but quilters would use quilt stitches to make the pieces appear to have been separately sewn.

This is a beautiful example of a cheater, made even more impressive by the use of turkey red dye.

Popular, but short lived, was the use of luxurious fabrics such as velvet and silk to create what was termed “crazy quilting” which was embellished with ornate embroidery and the addition of small trinkets.  These textiles were never intended to be used for bedcovers as the fabrics were often too fragile for heavy wear and could not be cleaned.  Generally, they were for show, demonstrating the skills of the maker and draped over large pieces of furniture so popular at the time.

This winter cheater cloth, c 1840, shows various vignettes of outdoor activities, that are “patched” on a rich dark brown background with faux embroidered stitchery, and sprigs of holly as fillers. There is skating, tobogganing, ice hockey, ice sailing and a visit to the palace. My favorite is a patch of two men with kite-like sails on their backs skating over the ice.  I would imagine the wind filling the sails would result in their going backward rather than forward, but then what do I know of Victorian winter sports?

So maybe more snow is coming and skiers and skaters will rejoice

Friday, December 7, 2012

Tenerrife Lace

One class of textiles which exemplifies beauty and skill is lace.  Lace has a long history from the earliest forms of netting to the modern machine techniques which produce gossamer webs of threads.  Experts classify lace as either needle lace or bobbin lace but there are other textiles we consider as lace: knitted lace, Irish crochet lace, tatted lace edgings.  There are dozens and dozens of variations of lace, each with their unique characteristics.  This can be a bit confusing. 

The lace for today is known by several names: Tenerrife, spider, punta de Espana, and sol among others.  This lace is a Spanish handcraft from the 17th C for household use and was professionally produced in a 19thC revival. When used for ecclesiastical garments it was frequently embroidered with gold threads.  A form was also produced in Paraguay using silk threads.

In its simplest form these needle-woven circular patterns are formed by foundation threads that radiate from the center like a wheel with additional darning threads woven in different patterns around the circle.  These circles or spider webs are then joined together.

A pattern booklet issued by J. and P. Coats in Great Britain (date unknown) instructs making a circle out of cardboard and placing 32 pins at regular intervals around the circumference.  Thread is woven through the circle around the pins.  Additional threads are darned and knotted around the center of the web and the pattern radiates outward.

This kit for a “Polka Spider Web” was a product of the K & K Co., Chicago, Illinois, 1938 and included wooden forms (2 large and 2 small) onto which the thread is woven.  Note that there is also a pattern for making a square form (you can see this more clearly on the small forms).

Because pattern booklets and kits were very popular,  many of these handcrafted items
  can still be found in antique and thrift shops.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Holiday Shopping

OK, don’t hate me but I am finished with my holiday shopping!!! Of course I still have decorating and baking to do, cards to address, and a Post-Christmas Open House to plan but I enjoy all that.  I enjoy shopping too. No, I love shopping but I hate rushing around and then there is always that one person on the list who makes gift-giving an impossible mission.  Either he/she has everything (30 sets of salt and pepper shakers) or is a true minimalist who will probably re-gift anything they receive.  So I shop all year, especially when we travel.  To redeem myself let me give you a few suggestions in the event you are not finished with your gift list.

Naturally I’m talking textiles, especially vintage.  Look for anything monogrammed.  A set of initialed napkins for your god-daughter who just got married, an initialed pillow case with handmade crochet trim can become a sham cover for the bed, monogrammed hand towels for the guest bath. 

In the true spirit of the season, look for holiday linens.  If you are very lucky you may find a tablecloth from the 1940’s and 50’s.  Even if you find one with imperfections ( too many gravy stains) you can always use the good bits for placemats or napkin

Did you buy your mother-in-law a purse?  How about adding a Christmas handkerchief?

There are always lots of mats and doilies around.  Give one with a plate of cookies.

Look for vintage lace or crochet ornaments ( see my blog  Shadepulls and snowflakes Nov. 9th  ) and include them as a bookmark for that latest best seller.

Bobbin lace ornament

Short on time? Hit the nearest holiday craft fair.  They sprout up this time of year in nearly every school, church and community center.  They usually have an impressive array of unique, handmade items including small stocking stuffer ornaments.

So don’t stress!  Visit your nearest thrift store, consignment shop and school auditorium.