Connecting threads in a new issue of PieceWork!

A note from Kathleen: A new issue of PieceWork has arrived, and it's all about thread.

Excuse the pun, but thread ties my world together. I've been working with thread in some way almost all of my life. As a child I used it in school art projects all the time, in fact, my mom still hangs an ornament I made in kindergarten on the Christmas tree every year. It's a jumble of painted string stiffened in glue. (Mom also hangs an ornament my brother made, which is a real beaut: Styrofoam pieces strung on a piece of yarn.)

Between cross-stitching, embroidering, sewing, crocheting, and knitting, thread could be considered the fabric of my life. At the very least it holds that fabric together!

Here's editor Jeane Hutchins to tell you more about the November/December issue of PieceWork.

The "Fancy Silk Mittens" to knit. (Photo by Joe Coca)
Pillowcases with crocheted edgings made by Rosemarie Salemi Hoeh's maternal grandmother, Mary Rebecca Spagnola. (Photo by Ann Swanson)

Can you even imagine a world without thread?

I can't. I think I'm safe in stating that anyone who is reading this is "connected by threads" in some fashion. And that's why the November/December 2010 issue of PieceWork is our tribute to all manner of thread.

The history of silk is long and intriguing. "The Story of Silk" provides the background for this glorious fiber. The ways in which it reflects light provide a magical quality not lost on centuries of kings and queens, emperors, sultans, and other wealthy patrons.

Did you know that America had her own Silk Road on which "silk trains" sped from West to East? From late 1800s to the 1930s, silk was the third most-valued commodity in America, right behind gold and silver bullion. The Corticelli Silk Company in Florence, Massachusetts, was a major manufacturer, supplying 100% silk yarn and thread for knitting and needlework. The pattern for our "Fancy Silk Mittens to Knit" is adapted from a booklet published by the company in 1882.

A Herdwick sheep shown in a competition; its back has been dusted with red powder to make the face appear whiter. Cumbria, England. 2010. (Photo by Deborah Robson)

I'm a huge fan of Beatrix Potter. I gave my niece a Beatrix Potter book with the appropriate stuffed animal for each of her first seven or eight Christmases. But I was unaware of Beatrix's other life—her efforts to preserve England's Lake District, including saving a breed of sheep, the Herdwick, essential to the area's landscape. Of course, Beatrix also championed the wool that the Herdwick sheep produce.

In the early 1930s and 1940s in Chicago, the needlework skills of Mary Rebecca Spagnola, a mother of five, helped support her family. Although she died, far too young, at thirty-seven, some of her work has survived. Her granddaughter's article "Connected by Threads: A Mother's Crocheted Fan Edging" poignantly illustrates the importance of threads in one family's life.

To the multitude of you who left comments about PieceWork's September/October Needlework in Literature issue, thank you! We have been extremely pleased with the response, and your answers to my request to learn about other books with needlework references has increased my list by leaps and bounds. I am delighted to announce that the next literary issue will appear in the September/October 2011 issue. It's not too late to share your favorites (post your comments below).

As we begin to look forward to the holidays, I send my very best wishes to you and yours for a season filled with magic, laughter, and an abundance of connecting threads.

Other Things You May Like to Check Out:


Knitting Daily Blog
Kathleen Cubley

About Kathleen Cubley

Hello daily knitters! I'm the editor of Knitting Daily. I've been obsessed with knitting for about ten years now and my favorite projects are sweaters. I like the occasional smaller project, but there's nothing like yards of stockinette with a well-placed cable or a subtle stitch pattern here and there. I crochet a bit now and then—especially when I need to produce a baby blanket in time for the baby shower. I've been in publishing for 20 years and I'm finally exactly where I want to be: at the crossroads of knitting and communication. I live in Spokane, Washington and when I'm not knitting I enjoy gardening, snuggling with my dogs, swimming, reading, and playing in the snow in the winter. But, really, I'm pretty much always knitting!

11 thoughts on “Connecting threads in a new issue of PieceWork!

  1. I’m glad I subscribed to ‘Piecework’!!

    Even if I never make anything in the magazine, it’s joyful to read and look at, page by page, and dream. 😉

    Thank you!

  2. If my Comments show up twice, I’m sorry!

    I am very glad that I subscribe to ‘Piecework’ … it’s a joy to read and look at pictures, even if I never make anything!

    Most items keep me dreaming!!

    Gentle as you go,

  3. When I was nine years old (1959), I watched my sweet grandmother work on a set of embroidered pillow cases that were to be a wedding shower gift for a friend’s daughter. Her hands were crippled with rheumatoid arthritis from a very early age, but that never stopped her from creating beautiful embroidered, knitted, tatted and crocheted pieces. I asked if she would make pillow cases for me when I got married, but I didn’t remember that until my own wedding shower in 1971when I opened a gift containing the loveliest pair of pillow cases with a note stating “To Debbie From Grandma Gogola April 1959”. Thankfully, my grandma was still alive to share that precious moment with me. She passed all those “thread” skills on to me and she was the most powerful woman in my life.

  4. I recently read a book called ” FAMILY TREE” by Barbara Delinsky. The start of the book made me laugh regarding the decisions of yarnaholic heading off to have her baby. Her bag was full of different yarns, colors and needles and her husband is looking at it in horror saying “honey, you promised” and is saying “how can I know what yarn I will want to knit with until I get there” Been there…done that!

  5. Kathleen, I’m sure I’m more your mom’s age than yours…therefore I have the “right” to chide you! ;- } Until your child brings you that ornament to hang on the tree, made by their own hands, their eyes sparkling with pride and joy, you can never understand why mothers continue to hang those ornaments year after year, even when those children have flown the nest. Those ornaments are our touchstones to our ‘little children’ for the rest of our lives, no less dear to us than Debbie’s grandmother-made pillowcases are to her. I’m willing to wager that, to your mom, those ornaments are more precious than gold and diamonds! Yes, my sons groan when I put their handmades on the tree each year, but I will never, ever stop doing that!

    PS: I like Pieceworks, too. Learning about our fibery past is a fun and interesting thing.

  6. I wonder who enjoyed it more. When reading the Beatrix Potter stories. My “baby doll” daughter and I would find a cozy spot and open the large book onto our laps. As I would read to her, I watched her eyes getting big and an expression of delight on her face. I enjoyed observing her expressions so much that for me it was a double pleasure. As a child I loved these stories and I especially would have to examine the details of the characters’ little clothing they would be dressed in or whatever they would carry. It was a total enjoyment pointing these little details out to my daughter. For example, “Oh! Look at little Mrs. Tiggy Winkles’ apron or what does she have in her hands?
    I will always treasure my memories of my grandmother as I observed her hand wash, and starch the lace on her handkerchiefs before carefully ironing the delicate layers of lace I had watched her crochet by hand. Then she would put them in a box, layered with tissue paper. These were the gifts she had ready for weddings & showers at a moment’s notice. Each day she made sure I had a nice handkerchief for myself to carry with me to school. I am sure there are many wonderful “little” stories we can recall. For me, it’s the little things that count.

  7. Regarding favorite books, I’d like to mention the Anne of Green Gables series. There are numerous mentions of needlework and sewing, characters learning patterns for knitted lace, doing embroidery and plain sewing, and etc. One episode that stands out is Anne’s longing for a dress with the puffed sleeves which were in fashion at the time. Marilla vetoes them, but Matthew has Mrs. Lynde make a puffed-sleeve dress for Anne’s Christmas present.

    Also, Villette (by Charlotte Bronte) has a whole chapter entitled “The Watchguard”. That and the following chapter follow Lucy making a watch-chain for M. Paul’s fete-day, falling out with M. Paul, and then finally presenting it to him.

  8. If they’ve not been mentioned, the Patricia Wentworth detective stories always have Miss Maud Silver knitting “hands held low in the continental manner” creating vests, stockings and other garments for her vast array of nephews and nieces.

  9. Kathleen — I am hoping you can help me with my question about Piecework Magazine. I want to order this as a gift for someone. Most magazine orders have a place where you can designate that you’re giving the magazine as a gift so that the bill comes to the buyers address but the gift goes to the friend’s address but I didn’t see that anywhere on the order form. Did I miss something? Thanks!