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My aha moment was staring at the magnificent array of textiles from Rosemary McLeod’s collection at Lower Hutt’s Dowse Gallery. Initial thoughts of dreary linen were quickly replaced by total entrancement in the exquisite detailing. Raving later to my mother about these textile treasures, I was delighted when she gave me various family pieces.
The first example was embroidered by my maternal great-grandmother during the 1940s. It was later displayed near my desk in the futile attempt to imbibe the cheery “Good Morning” message as a new workplace mantra. While this thought didn’t last, there is still something special about holding a piece of linen that has been worked on by past generations. I’m grateful to my maternal grandmother for retrieving this and other pieces that could have easily been thrown out.
The above tea cosy was embroidered by my paternal grandmother. I remember her as a fantastic knitter but never knew about her other needlework talents. She also did the tatting for these two 1940s doilies embroidered by my great-aunt. Destined for the op shop, a random conversation about recent linen purchases lead to them being presented to me instead. It makes me wonder what other textiles are lurking around in family cupboards!
The last piece is part of a tablecloth embroidered by my mother who for many years has rescued unfinished pieces dumped in op shop material bins. Now completed, the tatting was done by an elderly neighbour who has since passed away.
I’m very appreciative to all of these women who have created such lovely work and memories.