Welcome to 2012 on the EAC Blog.  I wonder what this year has in store for each of us.  I'm hoping for more stitching and creating time, but I think I should put the emphasis on  product-finishing this year.

In 2011, I stitched a lot — usually an hour every day.  I started off finishing some UFO's, and then got eager to start some new projects.  Somehow, the UFO's have increased.  So, apart from the postcard challenge and the Logo Challenge, I'd better concentrate on those UFO's.

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Ann Bernard sent me this piece about Erica Wilson, who passed away on December 13, 2011.  I think all of us have been inspired or influenced by Erica's work, and we have many of her books in the Leonida Leatherdale Library:


Remembering Erica Wilson October 8, 1928 – December 13, 2011

Erica Wilson died suddenly of a stroke while visiting with her family in New York. She had been in good health and lived an exciting and enriched life with her husband, Vladimir Kagan, furniture designer. In October, they travelled in Europe and Istanbul for three weeks, celebrated Thanksgiving on Nantucket and were in New York for Christmas.


Erica Wilson led the rebirth of Needlework in North America and has been called the Julia Child of Embroidery. Her life started in Tidworth in England but she also lived in Scotland and Bermuda. After finishing school and thinking that she would be a lousy secretary, her mother suggested that she attend the Royal School of Needlework in London. This is where we met and I remember her vividly though she admits to not remembering me.


In 1950 she was a second or third year student at RSN when I started at age 17. She was tall, blonde, confident and competent. Our similarities were only in height. I remember her stitching the Rooster (Plate 19 in Erica Wilson's Embroidery Book). It glowed with the sheen of the real silk thread. It is a stunning piece of work. She researched the design at the Natural History Museum. The Victoria and Albert museum provided the inspiration for the Elizabethan Girl, stitched in blackwork, whitework, stumpwork and silk and gold threads in the same book. Research was a large part of our training. On graduating she began teaching her skills privately in London.


In 1954, a wealthy American lady approached RSN seeking a teacher to start a school in the U.S.A. Erica emigrated with a one year contract and soon found herself teaching classes in Manhattan.

Mimeographed instruction sheets grew to correspondence courses and then to books. Her skills grew to include writing, publishing and business acumen. Her name became synonymous with traditional skills and quality products. She wrote 16 books, and opened three stores. The remaining store is on Nantucket and is now managed by her daughter. She wrote a syndicated column and was the host of two Public Television series on embroidery.


Our reacquaintance occurred over one year ago when I was researching facts and pictures for a presentation on the development of embroidery subsequent to World War Two and my experiences at RSN. We had several good long phone conversations and I had hoped that we might meet again somewhere, somehow. Our memories of RSN were positive with particular admiration and fondness for our teachers. We jointly remembered other things too, such as the dark and dismal and foggy state of London at the time, and the long walk to RSN at the north end of Cromwell Road, just east of the Royal Albert Hall. We reminisced about those great treats, bangers and mash or fish and chips. Food supplies in England were still limited at that time.


Although Erica received the best training in embroidery possible her 'larger than life' career has facilitated the development of the many types of textile art that have sprung up. Her influence has been spectacular. I refer to her books when I need to check information about stitches, threads and fabric. The diagrams in her books are clear and correct.


A celebration of her life was held at St. Thomas Church on Fifth Avenue in New York and was attended by 800 people. A piper played her favourite Scottish music as her family roots were in Scotland.


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Kim Beamish, a great stitching friend, sent Christmas ornaments to the Queen, Prince William and Kate, the Governor General, and the Prime Minister.  She received notes of thanks from all of them; here is the one from Prince William and Kate received earlier this week.  The photo is from their Canadian tour.




Way to go, Kim!

I wonder who's on Kim's ornament list for 2012?

Happy New Year,
Sue.






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The Embroiderers' Association of Canada (EAC) is a national non-profit educational organization whose purpose is to have a fellowship of persons who enjoy needlework and wish to learn and share their knowledge; and thereby to work towards maintaining higher standards of design, colour and workmanship.

Our aim is to preserve traditional techniques and promote new challenges in the Art of Embroidery through education and networking.
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