Connecting threads in a new issue of PieceWork!

A note from Kathleen: A new issue of PieceWork has arrived, and it's all about thread.

Excuse the pun, but thread ties my world together. I've been working with thread in some way almost all of my life. As a child I used it in school art projects all the time, in fact, my mom still hangs an ornament I made in kindergarten on the Christmas tree every year. It's a jumble of painted string stiffened in glue. (Mom also hangs an ornament my brother made, which is a real beaut: Styrofoam pieces strung on a piece of yarn.)

Between cross-stitching, embroidering, sewing, crocheting, and knitting, thread could be considered the fabric of my life. At the very least it holds that fabric together!

Here's editor Jeane Hutchins to tell you more about the November/December issue of PieceWork.

The "Fancy Silk Mittens" to knit. (Photo by Joe Coca)
Pillowcases with crocheted edgings made by Rosemarie Salemi Hoeh's maternal grandmother, Mary Rebecca Spagnola. (Photo by Ann Swanson)

Can you even imagine a world without thread?

I can't. I think I'm safe in stating that anyone who is reading this is "connected by threads" in some fashion. And that's why the November/December 2010 issue of PieceWork is our tribute to all manner of thread.

The history of silk is long and intriguing. "The Story of Silk" provides the background for this glorious fiber. The ways in which it reflects light provide a magical quality not lost on centuries of kings and queens, emperors, sultans, and other wealthy patrons.

Did you know that America had her own Silk Road on which "silk trains" sped from West to East? From late 1800s to the 1930s, silk was the third most-valued commodity in America, right behind gold and silver bullion. The Corticelli Silk Company in Florence, Massachusetts, was a major manufacturer, supplying 100% silk yarn and thread for knitting and needlework. The pattern for our "Fancy Silk Mittens to Knit" is adapted from a booklet published by the company in 1882.

A Herdwick sheep shown in a competition; its back has been dusted with red powder to make the face appear whiter. Cumbria, England. 2010. (Photo by Deborah Robson)

I'm a huge fan of Beatrix Potter. I gave my niece a Beatrix Potter book with the appropriate stuffed animal for each of her first seven or eight Christmases. But I was unaware of Beatrix's other life—her efforts to preserve England's Lake District, including saving a breed of sheep, the Herdwick, essential to the area's landscape. Of course, Beatrix also championed the wool that the Herdwick sheep produce.

In the early 1930s and 1940s in Chicago, the needlework skills of Mary Rebecca Spagnola, a mother of five, helped support her family. Although she died, far too young, at thirty-seven, some of her work has survived. Her granddaughter's article "Connected by Threads: A Mother's Crocheted Fan Edging" poignantly illustrates the importance of threads in one family's life.

To the multitude of you who left comments about PieceWork's September/October Needlework in Literature issue, thank you! We have been extremely pleased with the response, and your answers to my request to learn about other books with needlework references has increased my list by leaps and bounds. I am delighted to announce that the next literary issue will appear in the September/October 2011 issue. It's not too late to share your favorites (post your comments below).

As we begin to look forward to the holidays, I send my very best wishes to you and yours for a season filled with magic, laughter, and an abundance of connecting threads.

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