Updated: May 26
It’s been awhile! We’re taking a moment (during this very strange time of lockdown) to reach out to everyone and say hello and update you on what we’ve been doing. Primarily, we have both been busy with our academic work, focusing on our graduate studies and attending conferences
Our busy streak started last summer when we were invited to present a paper at a conference at the University of Cambridge. Our paper, "The Presence of the Needle," examined how very pervasive the needlearts were for women in England in the 1600s and 1700s. From the time they could hold a needle, all women, at every level of society, plied her needle.
We were immersed in the medieval beauty and history of the campus. And, naturally, we took an afternoon to go punting on the Cam. After the conference we attended the Medieval Dress and Textiles conference, and took the opportunity to visit needlework collections at The Fitzwilliam Museum, the British Library, the V&A, and Hampton Court Palace.
We were then invited to present another paper, “A Woman’s Communion” at the Ecclesiatical History Conference in Birmingham in January. This paper examined how women used embroidered book bindings as a way to personalize their worship during the English Reformation in the 1600s. Of course, we couldn’t make that long trans-Atlantic trip without doing more research at the Bodelian Library at University of Oxford, the British Library, University of London, the Ashmolean Museum, and the Embroiderers’ Guild. And we were so happy to be invited to tea by our friends Jane and Ninya from Tudor Tailor. It was a very busy trip!
These trips gave us an enormous amount of information and material to process. We’ve been exploring how best to write about and share our research, thinking through book, lecture, class, and article ideas.
In February, as we were gearing up to attend another round of conferences to present papers in March, June, and August, coronavirus happened and these conferences were cancelled! So no more working on papers for now. Which is fine since it has given us the opportunity to refocus on our business. We’ve redesigned our website (long overdue), created a range of new crewel and silk sets (coming to our Etsy site soon), and plan some new blog posts (sorry for the delay). We’ve also looked at this stay-at-home order as an opportunity to go online with a series of lectures that we can share while still honoring social distancing measures (again, coming soon). In fact, we’re turning our Cambridge paper into an online lecture and will hopefully be sharing that in early June.
We will admit that while this seems like a lot of productivity, we have both been struggling with the difficulties and lack of focus that everyone is experiencing right now. Having each other to encourage our work, and all of you to share with, is extremely inspirational -- so thank you for sticking with us on our journey to the past.
Stay safe and healthy and happy stitching,
Christy and Erin
Relics in Situ