Thursday, 10 April 2014

The Gawthorpe Collection

I am really late in letting you all know about this, but one of the most exciting things I did last year was take an inspirational visit to Gawthorpe Hall's amazing textiles collection. I was asked to contribute a pattern to the collection as part of the "Miss Rachel's Crafthouse Patterns" brand, which would become part of the permanent collection and help to raise money through pattern sales for the collection's upkeep - how exciting can you get? Well, it gets better, as I was in illustrious company, the other designers were Debbie Bliss, Kate Davies, Jane Ellison and Emma Varnam and I got to spend a day in their company looking at the most beautiful old textiles. 

I cannot emphasise enough how inspirational a trip to this collection is, if you get the chance, grab it - the house is wonderful, the collection extensive and interesting and the story behind the collector, Rachel Kay Shuttleworth, is both inspiring and fascinating.
My pattern was a capelet inspired by some crochet fragments labelled as ‘poor designs’, by Shuttleworth which reinforced my attractive for them further, especially as they are really very intricate compared to many modern designs. These scraps were from scrapbooks used instead of pattern ‘recipe’ books by whole villages. I liked the idea that I would be using one of the first crochet stitch compilation books to create my design! I could easily have chosen any one of many fragments as a starting point (and will no doubt use some others in future designs) but I settled on a stitch with very noticeable and striking ribs and geometric lace using what looked like a crocheted ‘X’ stitch, which seemed to suggest a shape and structure from their strong lines.
Taking this as a starting point, I thought that the ribs would lend themselves perfectly to a cape or shawl worked in short rows from side to side, rather than working the piece bottom to top, to utilise the structure of the stitch.
I wanted to crochet with a very special yarn with a luxury feel and beautiful drape and handle, as a capelet speaks to me of special occasion-wear. The vintage feel to the garment also seemed relevant to the time in which the original, inspirational fragment was made. I finished off the sample with some lace ribbon from my own collection of vintage haberdashery and textiles, which I felt finished the whole circle of the Gawthorpe experience extremely neatly.

All the other patterns are so amazing, I still cannot believe that mine is amongst them, go take a look at the others - I must make Kate Davies stunning beret, I love her post about it here.

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