Sew Engaging! The first 'man stitch'

In this week’s Sew Engaging! project update, Jane visits Cotswold Woollen Weavers at Filkins and gets the first ‘man stitch’

It was dark. I got up this morning and lit the wood burner, glad of my sweater, the brown one I was wearing to launch the ‘Sew Engaging’ project at the Riverside Inn on Valentine’s Day. It has a hole under one arm. I bought my sweater in Filkins two years ago, and have worn it practically every day since. I put another log on the fire and wash the soot off my hands; ‘Real stuff for real people’, time to search for a new sweater.

Filkins lies just off the A361 between Lechlade and Burford and is home of the Cotswold Woollen Weavers. The village is of Saxon origin, now with a population of about 450, two churches built 800 years apart, a public swimming pool given by a Chancellor of the Exchequer, a village lock-up and a very fine pub. The area is home of the ‘Cotswold Lions’ or their modern descendants– flocks of woolly sheep.

Cross the threshold of the Cotswold Woollen Weavers (mind your head) to feel the warmth of natural fibres and feast your eyes on their beautiful colours. The Main Shop is full of garments, accessories and knitwear; a visitor from Oxford adds a stitch to the needlework in the Weaving Shed. She has not heard of the Museum of English Rural Life but will visit when we re-open in 2016.

Sew engaging last loom
‘The last of the looms’ – the fabric is now woven off site.

Director, Richard Martin, at his desk in the Design Studio, is surrounded by the ephemera of the textile industry. ‘What do you love or hate about the countryside?’ I ask. We talk about the project while he puts the first ‘man stitch’ in the ‘tapestry’. I make my purchase, leaving Richard making history, but there is no time to work more than a few stitches. I steal away via the coffee shop and come home.

Sew engaging first man stitch
Making the first ‘man stitch’

What do you love or hate about the countryside? Some people are ‘Sew Engaged’, they have spent hours working on the canvas at home. Elaine and Bambi show off their ‘pet hate’ at Woolstone Farm Livery in Vale of White Horse:

Sew Engaging horse
Sew engaging pet hate

The ‘Sew Engaging’ project, funded by The Ashley Family Foundation, is giving people an opportunity to enjoy working with the ‘real stuff’- up-cycled needlework kits and a rainbow of tapestry yarn. Please contact Rob Davies at the Museum of English Rural Life if you belong to a group that would like to take part in the project. Previous sewing skills are not needed and we supply all the materials free of charge.

Next time, Jane goes to a Community Craft Fair in Slough.

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2 thoughts on “Sew Engaging! The first 'man stitch'”

    1. Hello Daisy,

      Thanks for your comment, please circulate the Blog to family and friends. I am looking for keen stitchers to help prepare the up-cycled kits for less-experienced sewers to finish. I was helping the ladies in the Aman Group in Slough ‘finish’ a project and will be writing about that next time. Please get back to me if you would like to be involved – I can send materials in the post. The help I need includes choosing colours and getting the needlepoint kit started … otherwise some of my groups find a new canvas daunting.

      Jane
      Dr Jane McCutchan
      MERL

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