The endangered crafts list has just been published for the 3rd year and there are new entries for 2019 of crafts that are in decline or very few people practising as a full time job. I would grab a coffee and find 10 minutes to read through the list of crafts that you never knew existed and dismay at the variety of skills and cultures are soon to lost if people do not take up the challenge to make something new .
There are a few on the list that caught my eye, Lacrosse Stick Making – I played this at school a long time ago and I am sure I still have some of the bruises.
A ‘Devon Maud’ not a lady from Devon but a basket, I had to look this on up on the interweb thing. This is a basket dating back to c1500 used in in markets for carrying produce.
The top 2 crafts remain knitting and crocheting ( I cannot do either justice) and yet there is a decline of skilled craftspeople who can make a spinning wheel.
Spinning wheels first appeared in India as early as 500 AD but now it is down to a handful of people keeping the skill alive, I still have a vision of Rumpelstiltskin and the spinning wheel…
A New Skill
So if I was going to pick something from the list – not that I have any spare time to do so, then it would have to be……….Smocking!. The time consuming but relaxing embroidery that for those old enough to remember had on their best dress or top. This craft is no longer taught at the Royal School of Needlework and yet has a place in history and could be so versatile when incorporated with other crafts. What would you choose?
So in my last post I mentioned that my husband had booked me onto a wet felted hat workshop. Last week we travelled up to Cheshire and I spent the day with Alison Rose from Rose Creations whilst my husband took my son to the Outlet Centre for a spot of retail therapy – think I got the better deal…
So thinking about the style of hat I wanted to create had me thinking about the ‘Mad Hatter’ from the Lewis Carroll’s 1865 novel “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” where the cheeky rabbit was famously featured.
However, contrary to believe the phrase “mad as a hatter,” used to describe someone who’s prone to unpredictable behaviour, didn’t originate with Carroll. So where did it originate?.
The expression is actually linked to the hat-making industry and mercury poisoning. In the 18th & 19th centuries, a toxic substance, mercury nitrate, was used as part of the process of turning the fur of small animals, such as rabbits, into felt for hats. I can confirm that I only used soap and water in my workshop and no small animals where harmed in the process either….
Workplace safety back in the day were lax and exposure to mercury caused employees to develop a variety of physical and mental ailments, including tremors (dubbed “hatter’s shakes”), speech problems, emotional instability and hallucinations, not the best working environment and glad to report that the use of mercury in hat making was banned for use in the early 1940’s.
Fitted and Felted
We spent the first hour measuring my head so we would get a good fit, preparing the template and choosing the wool which of course was my favourite colour – purple. Several hours later and after a lot of felting, fulling and shaping I had a hat to take home and dry.
Process and Practice
The process is long but enjoyable as you see the shape appearing. I shall make another hat in a different style as the more I practice the more I will learn about this great craft.
Over the last few years I have had a growing interest in felting and taken more interest in where our wool is coming from. At country shows one of my favourite areas besides the Poultry is the sheep and the breed to recently catch my eye has been the Leicester Longwool.
This breed is now listed on the Rare Breeds Survival Trust as Vulnerable along with the Lincoln Longwool. They are just so chic looking with their coat of curly hair that a lot of ladies would be pleased to have!.The breed produces a natural and white wool in colour but is also know to dye easily and great for felting projects.
Is it just me or do some sheep just give an aura of being chilled? The Leicester Longwool is known to have a docile nature and they always look to be calm and collected as they saunter around waiting for their twice yearly haircut.
Any way enough musing I am of to order some wool to add to my needlefelted sheep collection, might even make it a christmas hat..