Understandably, my head's been a little distracted these past few days, and jumping from one thought to another, I found myself digging out my lace bobbins yesterday, and going through old photos.
On occasion I've mentioned that I've made lace, and it's always been my intention to sit down and talk about it, or more specifically, talk about the bobbins.
Getting them all out and looking through them yesterday was wonderful. I've counted them all, and I've 152 spangled (i.e. with their beads and ready to use) and a further 22 ish waiting for spangling. That might sound like a lot, but if you want to make any lace with any detail then it really isn't many at all.
Lace bobbins are rather special objects in and of themselves. Mine are all hand-made, and the art of wood turning real comes into itself with these fine, detailed tools. I have so many usual pieces (of course!) but I don't think I got them out yesterday to look at those, I got them out to look at the commemorative bobbins.
Commemorative bobbins are a big part of the bobbin collection. There's way too much history to them and I'll recommend the book 'The Romance of the Lace Pillow' by Thomas Wright for anyone wanting to look further into it. Bobbins would be hand carved or hand painted, or their spangles would have special beads to denote anniversaries or other occasions. They're not only beautiful pieces of craftsmanship, they're also personal tokens, imbeud with memories.
In my collection I've a number of bobbins I'd had hand-painted by Sallie Reason, an artist who sadly passed away a few years ago. I briefly met her once, at a Lace Makers fair at the NEC, but we communicated by letter a lot, as she painted my many requests. Her work was beautiful, and the detail at such fine scale was amazing. I've never known who to get in touch with since she passed away, and I've a mental list of all the memories I'd like painted should I ever find another artist.
The gloss finish made these very hard to photograph, but I hope you can see some of the details!
These were the bobbins I wanted to touch when I went looking through them all.
I had these two bobbins commissioned when I lost my cat Twiggy in 2001. She wasn't my first cat, but she was the cat that I've shared more of my life with than any other. She saw me through some of the very worst periods of my life, too.
After going through all my bobbins, I went through all my old photographs. Like any black cat, Twiggy was notoriously hard to photograph.
She came from a rescue centre in Hadleigh, Southend. As every other cat came to the front of their pen to meow for attention, she sat at the back of hers, watching. I didn't see her at first, my then boyfriend did, but I didn't need any persuading that I'd found my cat as soon as I saw her.
She was docile in nature, lap and cuddle friendly, and she went pretty much everywhere with me. She lived with me in at least 5 different homes, and was always by my side as I lived through studying, travelling, and survived emotional abuse, domestic violence and an attempted rape. She saw me go from leaving home to becoming a teacher. And just as I was coming out the other side of it all, I lost her to lymphatic cancer.
I'd never felt so alone. But I knew she must have been ill for some time without my knowing, and had stayed with me as long as she could, until I was better able to cope on my own.
I cried myself to sleep the other night, thinking about her. I wanted to feel the warmth of fond memories but found myself heartbroken as my memories were not as clear as I'd hoped. This is what having a nervous breakdown or two does for you. My memory has never been all that great since the first major breakdown and the sadness at having lost the good memories as well as the bad is almost too much. So I went looking for the memories, and this is where I am now. They're not all with me yet, and I don't know how much I will be able to recover, but it'll be worth all the tears.
We're planning on decorating the stairwell wall in the bus with photos, printed and wall-papered on, and this special lady will be up there with all our other memories. And this couldn't make me happier. After spending time yesterday going through all of these photos, I woke feeling a little lighter today. The relief of not having lost her for good.
This hasn't been the easiest of blog posts to write, and I'm sorry if I've made you cry. Crying is a release, it's good. And as much as I try not to look back in life, sometimes we have to, to remember the good parts amongst the bad.