From rug makers who wove while caring for babies, to shepherdesses who embroidered lace while tending to sheep, throughout time industrious people have been able to elevate their standard of living by the humble work of their hands.
Nimble needleworkers produced much-needed clothing and salable items while working other jobs or tending to the home, herd, family, or flock. The textiles they crafted were not only a testament to their resourcefulness (and often the need to take advantage of precious daylight hours) but also to their creative abilities.
Many of these multitasking workers were women, some of whom used training and education in handwork as a means to assist the impoverished, such as the nineteenth-century Carmelite nuns who launched an Irish-lace industry described by Gene O’Sullivan in the issue. However, a peek at Karen Brock’s glimpse into the centuries-old knitting culture of Taquile Island in Peru—or at Mimi Seyferth’s story about the knitters of World War I—will remind you that throughout history, men and women alike have wielded their needles for a purpose.
Twenty-first century multitaskers will enjoy the portability of Deanna Hall West’s silk-ribbon forget-me-nots project, and Katrina King’s remake of a late Victorian crocheted wrist bag/yarn holder is an ideal gift for stitchers on the go.
Whether you stitch for passion or provision, I am confident that you will find something in this issue that will inspire you to pick up a ball of yarn or a spool of thread, and if you choose to craft while you are at work, I promise that I won’t tell.
Pat Olski is the editor of PieceWork magazine.
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