ignore reflection of me in the glass in the frame...a gift from a friend
When we held the 1995 ANWG conference here, my co-chair very much wanted to include bobbin lace in our workshop line up. We engaged an instructor and when the time came to confirm or cancel workshops, I had only two people signed up for the workshop I was supposed to be teaching, and the lace workshop needed one more person.
"Cancel my workshop and I'll sign up for the lace. I'm not that interested so if I'm called out to deal with conference issues, it won't be a big deal."
At the end of the workshop, I walked out with $150 worth of lace supplies.
I enjoyed it. It was weaving where warps could turn into wefts and you built your loom as you built your textile. I wound up making quite a lot of Torchon lace. At one point I was trying to make a pattern out of a book and asked a question on a lace group, hoping for some insight into a difficulty I was having.
The next morning someone emailed me directly and offered help.
That person was Jacqui Southworth. She had lived for a time in Brunei and learned how to make lace from the Dutch ladies she got to know, then went on to take the City and Guilds lace program getting her certificate.
After that initial email, we settled into a daily correspondence. She was planning a trip to Vancouver Island and asked if she could come for a visit and we could meet in real life.
While she was here I got tips from her and we found we not only had lace in common but other things - jigsaw puzzles for one. Dorothy Dunnett's books. Travel.
A couple of years later I went to Sweden and she suggested I swing by to England to visit with her, so I did. She took me to Gawthorpe Hall, which has a pretty amazing textile collection, as well as other points of interest.
As we drove around England, Eric at the wheel, we talked about traveling and I suggested that next year, if they arrived in Calgary on such and such a date, I could pick them up when I was done at the conference in Olds (about an hour north of Calgary) and I would drive them through the Rocky Mountains and they could have a visit with Doug and me.
So they arranged to meet in Seattle (Eric was working in Singapore), then they flew to Calgary where I met them and drove them here.
After that we would meet in real life every few years, in Florida where they bought a house to get away from English winters. 2.5 years ago Doug and I both went to visit as he'd never been to England (other than a layover in Manchester on a trip to Greece). Again Eric drove us around to places of interest - like the textile mill in Styal, Hadrian's Wall, etc.
Just before we left Canada to visit with them, Jacqui got the news that her cancer was terminal. I offered to stay at a hotel instead of with them, but she said we would provide welcome diversion. Plus, since I have been dealing with cancer (different kind, similar dynamic) we found quiet time to talk about the experience. I hope I provided some support as she sought to find out what her treatment was going to look like and how to proceed.
Once home we continued our daily emails. We talked about what she was going through and although she wasn't one for expletives, she didn't seem to be offended at my routine 'Fuck Cancer' responses.
Yesterday she slipped the surly bonds of earth. She is no longer in pain.
I hope she is finding lots of lovely lace makers and supplies so she can make lace again while she keeps an eye on her family from above.
A couple of Jacqui's hand painted bobbins, turned by Eric.