Our last Embroiderers’ Guild meeting was a workshop looking at Traditional Canal Embroidery, led by one of our members. The English canal boatmen and their families led a nomadic existence and as a result, the children’s schooling was patchy. But one thing that teachers found they could do, with the girls at least, was set them to embroidering with odds and ends of threads on large squared tea towels. This lent itself to simple bold and very brightly coloured patterns often edged in chain stitch and with big back stitched spiders webs in the centre. These were often used as wide belts for the men.
We started working our own Canal Embroidery designs on big checked black white and grey gingham. First I outlined a set of nine squares in a slightly variegated red perle.
I forgot to put a hoop into my sewing kit, so keeping the tension through two layers of fabric was quite a challenge. Then I added a back stitched spiders web to the middle square. I’m not into bright random colours and I had a variegated black grey and purple perle that toned in with the gingham which I couldn’t resist.
What I really like is that Penny designed the piece to be made up into a coin purse, so once I’ve done the embroidery, it will become something, very much in that tradition of usefulness. No room on a narrow boat for anything that didn’t earn its keep!