Keeping Glasgow in Stitches

Keeping Glasgow in Stitches was published in 1991 by Glasgow Museums, it was edited by Liz Arthur and there’s an introduction by Clare Higney. You can see the banners here.

The title is obviously a sort of pun on the fact that Glasgow had/has a ‘hard man’ reputation, supposedly a dark and violent place where you might be expected to need your face stitched up – in times gone past anyway! Come to Glasgow for a laugh, go away in stitches, supposedly a joke, possibly put around by those Edinbuggers!

The stitches referred to in the book are in the shape of a huge embroidery consisting of 12 banners, one representing each month of the year and they were stitched by all sorts of people from the communities of Glasgow. Hundreds of Glaswegians were involved in the project which charts the social and political history of the city. The designs were inspired by Malcolm Lochead’s work and stitched by all sorts of people , in fact anyone who wanted to contribute, including special needs schoolchildren.

The end result is a thing of beauty and I just wonder where it is now as I would love to go and see it, I hope it is displayed somewhere, and isn’t mouldering in a series of boxes in a basement.

Of course in 1990 Glasgow was the European City of Culture and the place was even more ‘jumping’ than usual. It’s incredible to think that that was nearly 25 years ago and this whole embroidery went completely past me unnoticed at the time. It must have been in the news but I was obviously too engulfed by small boys to notice much of what was happening in the outside world. I was in an Oxfam bookshop recently when the word ‘Glasgow’ caught my eye – and it was this book which turned out to be a really interesting read, not only about the making of the banners but it also has lots of old photographs of Glasgow from the 1900s on, lots of social history which is really my favourite sort.

More Creative Stitches

The quilts below are more traditional than the Song of the Clyde quilts I think but there’s still loads of work in them as you can see. I’m just sorry that my photos aren’t great, I had to quickly snap them while there were no people standing in front of the quilts, it was so crowded.

Patchwork Quilts

So pretty and girly.

Flower Patchwork Quilt

I don’t know about you, but I would love to have this as the view out of my window, rainbow and all.

Window Quilt

I should have gone around taking notes. This one has a poem on it but I haven’t a clue what it says. The collage/quilt makes me think of “granny’s hielan’ hame” though. It looks like Loch Lomond with all the wee islands. Deceptively naive looking and it’s another location I would like to live in.


I just have a few more photos of the Creative Stitches exhibition at Glasgow to show – but I’ll leave them for another post!

Creative Stitches – at Glasgow

I went to the Creative Stitches Exhibition at the SECC in Glasgow on Sunday, it was the first time I had been so I didn’t really know what to expect. It was hoaching/heaving with women and just a few men (not mine)! All sorts of crafts were featured and there were plenty of knitters and crochet folks about but I was a wee bit disappointed by the knitted things which were on display. As far as I could see there didn’t seem to be much in the way of traditional knitting nor anything really innovative. Thinking back to the 1980s which was when there was a last big resurgence in the craft I remember it as being more exciting somehow – yes knitting can be exciting!

It was quite difficult to get photos but I did just manage to snap some of the Downton Abbey costumes – as you can see.

Downton Abbey costumes

Downton Abbey costumes

Downton Abbey costumes

I took lots of photos of quilts and embroideries as that’s mainly what I’m interested in and I thought I’d start off with this one, a tribute to Jane Austen. It’s about a metre square I think and although this was part of the Quilter’s Guild Exhibition it also has a lot of embroidery on it.

Jane Austen Tribute

In fact I think it’s often quite difficult to figure out what is meant to be embroidery or quilting. The two crafts seem to cross over into each other’s territory a lot. I would call quite a lot of the exhibits collages, but whatever they’re called I’m just awestruck by the beauty of some of them. I’ll be posting some real crackers soon!

Another 1950s embroidery

1950s cushion cover 1

I bought a job lot of 1950s embroidery projects from Ebay a while ago and this is the second one which I’ve tackled. The design is very traditional and old fashioned this time and none of the work had been started, it had obviously spent the last 60 years or so folded away in a drawer. When we move I’m hoping to get a house with a conservatory this time as I want a place for my cactus plants which will be safe for them. I’ve been keeping them in the greenhouse for years with no problems but the last two years I’ve had cactus fatalities when my aluminium greenhouse door froze up for weeks on end, so I couldn’t even rescue them. I digress – the cushions are for a conservatory which doesn’t exist as yet – except in my imagination.

As you can see from the first photo I should have done a lot (18 to be exact) of satin stitch circles but I thought the boredom of that might kill me. My solution was to rake through my mum’s old button tin and it came up trumps, as usual. Of course I’ve added buttons to the tin over the years but about half of them were mum’s. I found two sets of buttons of a similar rusty colour, I think they were originally on shirts which wore out. As luck would have it I had exactly nine of each set – perfect and they were very quickly sewn on. I think they look better than the satin stitching would have looked anyway. The flowers are going to be filled in yellow like buttercups and the others will be daisies. I’m hoping to get it finished soon because I have another Jacobean embroidery project which I’m chewing at the bit to start.

1950s cushion cover 2

The bottom left hand button looks strange but in reality it looks like the others, it must have been the flash or angle or something!

Jacobean Embroidery Updated

 Jacobean Embroidery

As you can see I’ve finished embroidering the linen cushion cover which I started some weeks ago and I’m quite pleased with it. I like the really bright colours which are a feature of this sort of 1930s Jacobean design. It should brighten up a grey day and we certainly get plenty of them!

It was absolutely yonks since I had done any embroidering like this. I’ve been doing cross stitch and tapestry/needlepoint projects more recently but I must admit that I really enjoyed doing this kind of embroidery again and I now have a few more similar projects that I’m dying to get stuck into.

At first my stitching was quite dodgy really but I think that I improved as I progressed with it and I hope that the next thing I do will be better. I’m going to try using a finer needle with the hope that I’ll be able to manage more delicate stitching then.

Updated Jacobean Embroidery

Jacobean Pattern embroidery

It’s years since I did any needlework which wasn’t either needlepoint or cross stitch, but I’ve been thinking of doing some designs of my own, loosely based on some lovely Honiton Jacobean design pottery which I have. So when I saw this old cushion cover going really cheaply on that auction site I had to bid for it. Well nobody else did!

A wee bit of the top flower had already been embroidered but the rest of it is my work and it has been really quick and enjoyable to do. I just wanted to get some practice in before embarking on my own variation on the theme. I was never very great at satin stitch but I am improving with practice and I’m quite pleased with the effect so far. As you can see I still have about half of it to stitch but it shouldn’t take long to complete.

This sort of design became very popular in the 1930s and it was still being done in the 1950s. Design sort of stagnated during the war. I don’t think people could get the material for doing fripperies, it was all knitting socks and mufflers for the troops. The original Jacobean designs were not quite as outrageously coloured, but it’s the bright, crazy colour combinations which I love.

Elsewhere on the craft front I’ve finished off the pansies needlepoint. I managed to get to grips with my sewing machine which for some reason behaved perfectly, it must just have needed a rest. I even managed to do a button hole on trousers and I put a new pocket in a pair of my husband’s trousers. If only he wouldn’t carry so much junk around in them they wouldn’t wear into holes. It was a nightmare to do and the next time they are going in the bin if he can’t put up with not using the pocket. The trouble is his mother was a sewing teacher, in fact she was MY sewing teacher, and he tends to think that all women can do what she could do. I’ve told him that she went to college for three years to learn how to make clothes and learn about all aspects of sewing, but I don’t think he believes me!

Cross stitch embroidery

55 Flower Designs cover

I’ve been sewing and knitting for donkey’s years and I think my favourite kind of stitching is needlepoint/tapestry, probably because it isn’t so hard on the eyes. Cross stitch often has me just about going cross-eyed but I couldn’t resist buying this book a few years back.

As you can see, I’ve just about finished the strawberry design which will be a reminder of summer for me. I have the teeniest wee alpine strawberries in my garden which grow all over the place. They taste lovely, that is if you can find them before the blackbirds do. The flavour is better than that of normal sized strawberries but I always think that they would be just perfect as a snack for a Borrower from the books by Mary Norton.

Band Sampler

This blog is supposed to have some craft content in it but I haven’t had the time recently for crafting. I had thought that I was going to be reduced to blogging about “one which I did earlier”, but then I decided that it might be more interesting to show this band sampler.

It was passed on to me by Great Aunt Jenny, who was an aunt through marriage. She had had it rolled up in a drawer for absolutely years but thought that I might like it as I do embroidery. Jean Barclay wasn’t actually related to me, she was Aunt Jenny’s great grandmother and I think she was probably about 10 years old when she did this sampler. Just imagine how annoyed she must have been when the date wouldn’t fit into the space which she had left for it!

Band samplers weren’t meant to be framed. They were rolled up and kept in your sewing box for reference. But I wanted to be able to see it so I had it framed and it hangs on my living-room wall. I’m careful to keep it out of strong light though, so that it doesn’t fade.

I can’t make up my mind whether the date is meant to be 1823 or 1832.