Thursday, August 02, 2007

The Charleston Muesum.

There's been an exhibit at the Charleston Museum since May that I've been trying to get to. I didn't want to take the Baby along, so I had to wait until an evening where the husbeast was home and I didn't feel like death and wasn't working out, and blah blah blah. Today was the day.

I walked into the place, and right inside the door was a small exhibit of glass and ceramics.

Everything from Ming Dynasty to Spode to some glass from Tiffany. Happy day.

Apparently the museum here is the oldest one in the country. And like many small, old, regional museums, it's a place where generations of 'important' (read 'rich') local folks have emptied their closets and attics. Which can make for a fun jumble of artifacts in the place, but they usually feel kind of schizophrenic. The Charleston Museum is doing better than most at focusing on local history... but then they've had since 1774 (before the country was founded) to put together their collection.

Most of the upstairs is devoted to a collection on the local history. I figured that since the local history involved a lot of cotton and indigo (see photo of antique cotton bale at left), there would be a lot of fun textile stuff. I was right.

There were a couple cute little sewing kits, of fabulous workmanship and probably significant resale value.

There was also a nice pile of knitting needles, and some lasts for baby shoes, and that little book in the front was of knitting patterns, from the 1800s. (I didn't recognize the name of the author - a guy - from Victorian Lace Today.)

There was something labeled a sewing basket that made me want to shriek:

There were two things I am nearly positive were miser's purses.

They were knitted of what looked an awful lot like silk (and they were from the 1800s, so the unfaded bright color also leans toward the silk idea), and had two silver rings on them, each. If they weren't miser's purses, I don't want to know what they were. (There was also a miser's purse in another exhibit, but I think I forgot to take a photo of it. Oops. Sorry, Alwen.)

And there was some amazing crocheted lace, done with thin sewing thread.

Down in what I thought of as the 'jumble sale' section of the museum, I found a "Polynesian textile"

which was probably aquired on someone's cruise around the world in the 1930's and after it sat on the back of their couch for 50 years, their great-grandkids donated it to the museum. (I always cook up all kinds of fun stories for how these things wound up in museums I visit. "It was dug up in the midden by college students" ruins my whole day.)

So there you go. Textiles at the museum.

Tomorrow, I'll show photos of what I was actually there for. But here's a hint.


kitchen hand said...

Fascinating. I love museums of all kinds, irrespective of the subject. The only problem is I spend hours in them.

Amy Lane said...

That's so cool... knitting with silk on piano wire...that sort of stuff can make dilletantes like me feel positively inferior... (but very captivated...)

Bells said...

Great exhibition. I think stories around old stuff are fabulous. I LOVE making them up.

Yep, Polynesia's a long way from Charleston. Fascinating to think of how it got there.

Will be intriguing to see what you've got to show from the To Dye For exhibit.

Alwen said...

I love you, too: thanks for the miser's purse pics!

I love old sewing boxes. I always want to rifle through them.

Google books has a downloadable 1.9M pdf of The Ladies' Knitting & Netting Book, 1840, published by John Miland, by "Watts" (Miss Watts). Is this the book?

(Which I can't get to download -- it keeps loading about 100k and then saying "Done". Load the whole thing, you @#$%!)

Meanwhile, that overwound tatting shuttle attached to the tatted edging reminds me of a woman in my lace group who winds her shuttles just like that, and that edging is the only tatting she ever does.

Waiting for tomorrow!

Alwen said...

Okay. I finally got both versions to download, after trying over and over. Here's what I got:
is "Second series, 2nd edition 1840"
is "First series, 5th edition with additions 1840".

The two covers are almost exactly the same, and both say "The Ladies Knitting & Netting Book" on the cover (plus either "First Series" or "Second Series").

Both by Miss Watts, published by John Miland, London.

I yub the internet sometimes.

Dana said...

Dude... going to the natural yarn dye workshop tomorrow there. My friend went last week, and dyed a gorgeous mauve-ish skein from BUGS! So stoked.

kathleen said...

I love museums. Did you see any Hall China in the ceramics display? Hall china is one of my favorites.

I'm not even sure what a miser's purse is. The colors are beautiful, though.

Fancy Pants said...

Those are indeed miser's purses. You are 100% correct. I tried my hand at designing handbags after I was a vintage clothing dealer for awhile and I read all about handbags through history,etc., so I can confirm, for whatever it's worth. I hope you are having a beautiful day.