A piece of work that holds particularly fond memories for me is a stained and worn potholder –
In the late 60’s and early 70’s, my sister and I threw ourselves completely into the embroidered clothing craze when all the cool hippie chicks were adding crewel work flowers, dogs, fish, feathers and every groovy motif to overalls, denim shirts, oxford shirts, jeans and everything else that was hanging in their closets.
Though I had never even threaded a needle before, my big sis patiently taught me how to get started on an old pink cotton camp shirt. For unremembered reasons, I decided to make a snarky looking black outline of an owl on the shirt, filling in parts of the body with red satin (like) stitches.
Although that first embroidered owl led to a lot of other embroidered clothing, I kept that shirt all through childhood moves, college and beyond, holding it as a talisman of my sisterly bond. Eventually, I cut the owl out and made it into a potholder, which I kept in the drawer by the stove, using it to pull hot pies and cakes from the oven and to grab pot handles when the pasta needed a stir.
Sadly, when the fashion for embroidered clothes died out at the end of the 70’s, so did our interest, so needles and hoops were put away and forgotten until, just a few years ago, I rediscovered the therapeutic value of stitching.
After I started seriously embroidering, I remembered my little owl, and went looking for it at the bottom of the kitchen drawer. It wasn’t there. I felt very sad when I couldn’t find my owl, but I figured it had gotten lost in a move or accidentally thrown away.
Then a year or so ago, while visiting my older son at his post college apartment, I opened a drawer to help him with something on the stove and there was my faded little owl embroidered on the shabby pink fabric. That silly little owl, sitting in a drawer in a Cambridge Bachelor Pad, had been actualized as a bona fide piece of art: it had been loved by another, and kept as a precious (though utilitarian) object.
Here is a photo of the potholder, stains and all:
Since picking up my needles again about 5 years ago, I have created hand embroidered work that has been shown all over the United States and the UK. I have won prizes for my work, sold many pieces to happy collectors, and have lectured and taught embroidery, just the same way my big sister taught me those many years ago.
You can find out more about Catherine at catherinehicksart.com.