Butterflies, Lace, and Sailor’s Pants
I have issues of PieceWork dating back to March 1993 sitting on my shelf. They take up more than five feet of shelf space. Sometimes I shuffle through them trying to find a favorite story that I vaguely remember, but I invariably get sidetracked. I can spend hours. It makes me happy that now we can put a year's worth of issues on a searchable disk, so that even long out-of-print issues are there for anyone to enjoy. I was recently chatting with founding publisher Linda Ligon, and we were reminiscing about a particular year, 2001. Here's how that conversation went.
LL. In 2001, you'd been editor of PieceWork for more than two years, and you'd sent more than a dozen issues to press. Vast amounts of needlework had passed across your desk. What do you remember as your favorite of 2001?
JH. Oh, that's hard! You know I'm a sucker for lace of almost any kind, and we had a lot of lace that year. Knitted, crocheted, tatted, filet crochet, and more obscure techniques such as Mountmellick. I've always thought bobbin lace was for ambidextrous maniacs, but we had a lovely little pendant worked in fine wire, of all things, that I could actually imagine mastering myself.
JH. Maybe, but I really love butterflies, and I think other people must love them, too. Every time we put a butterfly on the cover, we sell a lot of magazines! That one was worked in Romanian Point Lace, which isn't as intimidating as it sounds. The instructions are very clear. There was a beaded butterfly on one of the later covers that year, too. Lovely.
LL. There was a story in one issue about a pair of pants that had been embroidered stem to stern by a bored, anonymous tall-ship sailor. I want those!
JH. Well, you don't get them, because they're in the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts! They really are terrific, but so are all the other examples in that story of embroidery done by bored sailors. And best of all are the stories that go with them. Actually, that's what I love most about PieceWork—the stories. Real people from bygone generations, making things that are beautiful and interesting, even in the most harrowing circumstances.
LL. In all, I count 438 pages of neat stories, pictures, techniques, and projects that you sent to press in 2001. Now you can get them all on one little CD, to browse through or download or print out. As someone who has been the editor of printed magazines for eons, does that seem strange to you?
JH. Eons might be a bit of a stretch. Let's call it decades. But aside from the fact that I still love to feel paper with my fingers, I love the CD collections of back issues that are no longer in print. It gives the stories a longer life, and that's a very good thing!