History of Ayrshire White Work
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Maybole Historical Society’s next meeting will be held on Monday February 6 in The Castle at 7.30pm. Speaker will be Catherine Czerkawska who will be speaking about the “History of Ayrshire White Work”. In 1814 Lady Marie Montgomerie travelled from Europe to her family home in Ayrshire, bringing with her a French baby gown, beautifully embroidered. She lent it to her friend Mrs Jamieson, who was married to an Ayr cotton agent. Mrs Jamieson copied the stitches, and then began to teach this fine ‘sewed muslin’ with needlepoint fillings to women from the small towns and villages round Ayr, including Maybole. The work was sometimes known as spriggin from one of the characteristic stitches, which produced a decorative sprig, like a little leafy branch, or floo’erin because of the dense, but delicately floral nature of the embroidery.

 

By the 1830s there were many sewing agents, acting as middlemen between the embroiderers and their market. Whitework became a flourishing cottage industry in Ayrshire villages with women working at home on what were called floo’erin wabs, bolts of fine cloth, already stamped with patterns, ready for embroidering.

 

Playwright and novelist Catherine Czerkawska relates the history of this local craft, and how it affected the health and wellbeing of the women involved, bringing a selection of fascinating items from her own whitework collection for people to see, and examine for themselves.

Catherine Czerkawska released her book The Curiosity Cabinet in 2011 on the Kindle and now has two more books up on Kindle - a new novel - - called Bird of Passage, and a trio of ghost stories called Stained Glass:

Catherine's websites include www.wordarts.co.uk  and  http://wordarts.blogspot.com