Looking Back

Lost arts

By Mary Ellen Shaw

Not only do I qualify as an “oldie” but apparently my favorite hobby is classified by some as a “lost art.” I am told that numerous times as customers take a look at my items when I do a craft show.

My hobby began by doing cross-stitch items. My mother always had some project underway but hers was usually embroidery. When I expressed an interest in learning to do what she was doing she started me off with small projects. I was probably 10 years old when we went to Woolworth’s on Merchants Row and paid a visit to the craft section. They had many items to cross-stitch and after checking them all out I chose dish towels. The designs were stamped on cloth in tiny x’s in blue ink that came out when washed. There were seven towels in the kit and each of them had a cute cat and showed the various days of the week – Sunday through Saturday.

The cloth had to be stretched tightly on a wooden hoop. Threads came with the kit and also a chart telling me what color belonged on each “x.” I worked on them all winter and by spring they were ready to hang in the kitchen…all seven of them!

My mother was excellent at another “lost art”… crocheting. She tried to teach me numerous times but I found it frustrating instead of relaxing. I still have a doily that she made and I get to enjoy her “lost art” every day, as it sits on our dining room table with a flower arrangement on it. Her biggest undertaking was a crocheted tablecloth for the rectangular table that was in our dining room.

As I improved doing cross-stitch I found patterns that I liked better requiring embroidery. To this day I still need a “road map” so I look for designs that are stamped on the cloth. It’s easier on the eyes than counted-cross stitch and since the ink washes out, why not make my life easier?

Pillow cases are a good starting project for embroidery. Local stores used to carry them but no longer do. Herrschner’s is one of the best places to find a variety of items suitable for all levels of stitching.

After running out of people to “gift’ with my creations I realized that my “hobby” would create a very large accumulation of embroidery items. That was the start of doing one craft show a year. My choice was the Rutland County Farmers’ Market held at the College of St. Joseph. That is where I hear comments about my “lost art” as people stop to check out my table.

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