This is the cloth I made in Jude’s spirit cloth class that began on 15th June, made as a birthday gift for my mother. The cloth was safely delivered – and warmly received – into its new home today. It began as a very old lace-edged linen cloth, a generous gift from Dee, which I hand-dyed. The cloth traces our family ancestry on the female side only: mothers, daughters and sisters, stretching back in a long line to my great-great-great grandmother Emma, born in 1807.
The cloth had a large hole in it when I received it, and had obviously been used to patch and mend something else. I ‘mended’ the hole by darning it, weaving cloth strips, and then planted a garden over the top of this patched area.
The names of the women are all stitched on pieces of fabric expertly dyed with avocado by HG Handmade. I liked the fact that all the fabrics were slightly different in shade and texture, but all came from the same dye pot, just like the women. It was a profoundly moving experience to embroider the names of my ancestors, one by one, and to stitch them to the cloth. I wondered about their lives; how different and how similar life was for women many years ago compared with now. I wondered whether they stitched.
The back of the cloth is also hand-pieced:
The cloth measures about 50″ square, and took just over a month to complete – stitching many hours a day, every day. It occurred to me that it might be good to make a cloth book – a story book – about the making of the cloth, with photographs (printed on silk and cotton) documenting it as a work in progress.
The book measures about 9″ square and has (I think) 22 pages, all cloth, all hand stitched. It took a little longer to make than the cloth.
(Above) I made a pull-out page including swatches and samples of the fabrics used in the border.