I hope everyone is having a nice Thanksgiving day (all 3 of you, my loyal readers). I am at my parents and my son, the chef, is cooking up a storm.
The Chanterelle mushrooms he wanted to add to the stuffing were vetoed by my Okie husband, the original meat n’ taters guy. Son also baked a totally from scratch apple pie.
I dn’t think I ever, in my whole long life, have made a pie crust from scratch. Of course, this is all Betty Crocker’s fault.
When I was listing a copy of Elsa William’s classic Bargello Needlepoint book, subtitled Florentine Canvas Work, I got to thinking about Elsa Williams.
She has become maybe the best known name in not only needlepoint but needlework of many kinds.
The list of products and canvases & kits that bear her name is almost endless. I wondered who she was.
Elsa Williams was surprisingly hard to research. Every search brought up her products, products, products.
As you might have guess by now, I do not give up easily so….I kept researching her.
Unfortunately, I am at my folks house with my tiny little travel mac and all my research is on my other (real) computer. Go figure. So here I go again, re-doing it.
The Elsa Williams School of Needlework used to be housed in Homer House in West Townsend, MA.
Oddly enough, I know West Townsend well. We lived not too far from there for many years, when we lived in Massachusetts (you would know I am a MA native because I can spell it). We had friends in Townsend (not good friends but friends) and my niece lives there now.
Without knowing it, I have been to the old Elsa Williams warehouse. It now houses the Hobart Antiques Mall. I have an extraordinary deep purple carnival glass vase in a fluted ripple pattern I bought there, it is a lovely thing.
Elsa Williams bought the old Homer House, which had also previously been the old Ronchen Inn, in 1971 and restored it. She then opened the Elsa Williams School of Needlework there.
Elsa Williams was born in 1912, she was a talented needle artist and a keen businesswoman.
She established Needlecraft House, The Williams Manufacturing Co. and the Elsa Williams School of Needlework, all in West Townsend, MA.
Local women were employed to produce needlepoint & crewel kits for her nationwide wholesale, mail order and local retail business.
The school was closed in the early 1980′s when Mrs Williams retired and sold her company to Johnson Creative Arts, which is still going strong in Townsend as JCA Co, As well the Elsa Williams products, they sell the wonderful Paternayan Persian Needlepoint Wool I use on NewNeedlepoint.com (had to get at least one link in here)
I learned that on completion of courses at the school students were given a beautiful Sterling Silver & Emerald Thimble in a Velvet Presentation Bags. I understand these thimbles are fairly rare now.
In searching the web I found that many of today’s *needlepoint experts* are graduates of the Elsa Williams School.
It was Elsa Williams mission to bring the Art of Needlepoint to Townsend.
It seems that she did more than that, she made needlepoint available & accessible to everyone.
I was completely unable to find any further information on Elsa Williams.
I can tell you, that the Bargello Book she published in 1967 is still *current* . The colors and the designs seem fresh and modern.
Many of the other older Bargello and Needlepoint books I have, while useful and wonderful, sometimes the colors used in them can seem dated. These do not, not all all.
This only downside to this book is there are no graphs, but oddly enough, the stitching is so precise and the pictures are taken so close-up, that I have stitched a few of these patterns without a graph.
Anyway, it interests me there is not more Elsa Williams info out there, I thought there would be.
So, everybody enjoy this wonderful day. I am thankful for many things (MANY) including this blog. I still can’t believe *they* let me do this.