Our hope is that the old home, so very dearly loved, may soon become a centre for education, crafts knowledge and beauty, a joy and benefit to many people.
Those were the words of Miss Rachel Kay-Shuttleworth who lived at Gawthorpe Hall in Padiham and is the founder of the Hall’s world renowned textiles collection.
Now, 128 years after her birth, staff at the historic Hall are eagerly preparing the collection to open to visitors on March 29th.
This year there are some contemporary additions to the collection, which contains around 30,000 items, and Hall staff hope that a series of textile workshops will encourage more people to take up a craft.
Learning officer Jenny Waterson said: “This year we’ve dedicated the workshops to beginners and improvers, we’re trying to get more people sewing, knitting and crocheting.
“We had some similar events last year and we had a really healthy percentage of new people and people who had been before.
“The thing we would like to see is more young people taking up crafts and attending the workshops.”
Gawthorpe is preparing to launch an exclusive range of downloadable knit and crochet patterns, under the newly created brand Miss Rachel’s Craft House Patterns. The designs have been inspired by Miss Kay-Shuttleworth’s lifetime passion for needlecraft including embroidery, lace and costume gathered from across the globe.
The first patterns have been created by a group of five of the country’s most prolific and influential designers and makers, who were invited to spend a day at Gawthorpe Hall, with unlimited access to the collection.
Taking personal inspiration from a day spent in the archives and in Miss Kay-Shuttleworth’s library, handling some of the lesser known items, designers Debbie Bliss, Kate Davies, Jane Ellison, Claire Montgomerie and Emma Varnam created a new garment or accessory of their own. The items have now been translated into patterns, which will be sold to support the ongoing work of the charitable trust.
Jennie Pitceathly, director of Gawthorpe Textiles Collection, said: “These incredible designers were introduced to the collection and like so many of our visitors came away inspired and brimming with ideas, enthused by the enduring philosophy and passion of Miss Rachel.
“She believed that creating something beautiful, through the mastery of a craft or skill was life enhancing, as well as practical and educational. The sale of these contemporary patterns will help secure this remarkable collection for generations to come.”
Debbie Bliss has created a knitting needle case, Kate Davies has created a Tam o’Shanter hat, Jane Ellison has created a hat and mittens and a scarf, Claire Montgomerie has created a spring shawl and Emma Varnam has created a cushion cover.
Debbie added: “It was a tremendous privilege to be asked to be part of the Gawthorpe Hall project, to see and handle some of this amazing collection.”
The patterns can be downloaded from www.gawthorpetextiles.org.uk and cost £3.25 per pattern or £15 for the collection for a limited time.