Sunday 2 December 2012

Bedspread, 1837

Because I'm dealing with the publications collection at Lee Mills, I don't usually see much of the collection of knitted and crocheted items that is gradually being recorded.  But occasionally, the volunteers working on the inventory let me know that there is something I ought to see.   The week before last, they called me over to see a bedspread.  It is knitted in white cotton, in diagonal strips in a variety of stitches,  and is in very good condition.  And the maker included a panel with her name and the date:  Hannah Smith - 1837.

It is about 7 feet by 9 feet, and the yarn seems to be about 4-ply/fingering thickness, so must have taken a lot of work.    It is one of the oldest items in the collection (as well as one of the biggest).   Finding it was thrilling - it makes the hard work at Lee Mills worthwhile when things like this turn up.   There are a few more photos of it on the Guild's web site here, though they don't really convey any idea of its size, or how stunning it is to see it in reality. 

No-one working at Lee Mills currently had seen the bedspread before, or was aware of its existence. Although there was a brief record of it, in the old files at Lee Mills, things were lost following the flood in December 2010 and we don't know whether any item has survived until it actually appears as the contents of the boxes are recorded.  So finding something like this feels like excavating buried treasure.      

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