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Enjoying the crafts of 200 years ago today

After my aunt died, my brother and his wife and I, went through her belongings and keepsakes. It was quite revealing about my aunt. She liked fine clothing. She enjoyed jewelry. She read a great deal. And she had fine taste in painting.
She also had collected many needlepoint pictures, some dating back to the turn of the last century. In her drawers, she had many hand made tablecloths. Some were made by my grandmother Cumming. She had a collection of doilies. The doilies had been tatted by my other grandmother.
She had also quite a collection of needlepoint. One of her prized possessions, had been produced in a BC prison and the needlepoint appeared to have been done with single threads of silk.
The tatted doilies as I have since learned make for a fine durable lace. My grandmother Kleven used a tatting shuttle to make her pieces. I have a fine piece of her craft framed and hanging on my wall. Tatting goes back over 200 years and the pieces of lace were often made by sailors who brought home to their wives.

Georgina had several crocheted table cloths. I remember my grandmother Cumming would always have one on her table. It was ivory coloured. The craft also got its start some 200 years ago, and gained preference as a less costly way of producing lace.
Both crocheting and tatting gained great favour in the 1920’s. It was a skill learned by my grandmothers and is seldom passed on to later generations. It is a craft that seems to be disappearing, yet was very important in decorating homes.
Another craft that seems to be disappearing is both needlepoint and petite point. My aunt had several pieces in her possession with perhaps the biggest being a work of art of poppies sitting on a table. There was the “Pink Lady” and the “Blue Boy” needlepoint of my grandmother. And even much older piece was a deer that had been stitched by my great grandmother.
Many of those needlepoints were really copies of real paintings that hung in galleries, that women and occasionally men reproduced using thread.
Often they hung in prominent locations in homes and were treasured gifts given at weddings and special occasions.
Today, in our hurried up lives, the art of needlepoint, cross-stitching, tatting and crocheting seem to be disappearing. One can find many similar items in stores, imported from China, India and the far east. They are much less expensive, and can be thrown out should they become damaged.
The needle point picture is seldom seen today in homes. Those craft works have been replaced by copies of real paintings that often are hard to tell from the original.
Having those pieces of craft, has connected several generations together. Each piece is unique.
–Jim Cumming,