I have been a lifetime crafter and was first introduced to the world of needle-crafts at a young age through the guidance of my Oma, Mother and Saturday morning craft classes. I think of the homes of my childhood and have vivid memories of intricate crewel and embroidered pieces adorning walls, filling couch corners and laying on Christmas tables. Not until the last few years did I pick embroidery back up and have let it take over my creative obsessions to the point that I now live and breathe it for my shop Merrily Yours.
While I had an early education it was really just the basics for kids so my work is purely instinctive. I am not trained professionally, I do not know the proper names of stitches, nor do I know if I’ve invented a new stitch or somehow figured out a traditional stitch naturally. I have but one book for embroidery and I have not yet tried any lessons but rather have glanced through all of the fine stitch opportunities with awe. Yet despite my lack of book smarts needle crafting comes natural to me, the stitches seem to fall as if I’m drawing onto the fabric. Recently I’ve become incredibly curious as to how this ability is possible and I think I’ve found my answer in Erica Wilson. Sadly, it’s because of her recent death that I’ve had the opportunity to learn about her through the boundless articles doting on her.
Erica Wilson was a graduate of the Royal School of Needlework in London, born in the UK in 1928 she came to NYC in 1954 to teach. (Erica would have been the same age as my Oma who came to us the US from Germany in 1956). What was supposed to be a yearlong stint turned into an accomplished life as America’s First Lady of Stitchery. As I look through her repertoire I can begin to piece together the reach that she has had on the public, the bountiful library of books, articles, television shows and photos giving everyday people the chance to master needlework for themselves. Suddenly I realize that Erica isn’t just another successful craft artisan, she’s not just another Martha Stewart. To me Erica is a long lost relative that I never had the fortune to meet but instinctively know that she is a kindred spirit to me, just as those family needlework pieces that fill my memories are. Without a doubt my life and my work have been greatly influenced by Erica just as I’m sure many of the family pieces I cherish were, many are likely to even be of her designs. I may have just been introduced to Erica but her I know that her spirit has already been woven into the threads of my life, my family and now my future. As I continue my education within needle-crafts and learn about its leading lady I have a feeling I will find myself creating a deep connected admiration for Erica, I look forward to being awed and inspired by her life’s work and am excited to see how it influences my own work in the years to come.
A couple of family pieces that I am lucky to call my own.