Friday, 3 May 2013

Stitching in Austerity - The Horrors!

Looking through my vintage collection of Embroidery Journals from the early 50s and 60s again, prior to cataloguing them for sale, I was struck by the number of advertisements for Art Needlework Industries run by the sometimes very controversial and curmudgeonly  needlework researcher Heinz Edgar Kiewe. I particularly love this advert, in which Mr Kiewe spares no punches (and presumably no punch needles either!) You can click on the image for a larger picture, but this is how the text reads: Specially selected to help enthusiasts to work an heirloom rather than rag rugs, quilts of sales remnants, flour bags embroidered with parachute linen, curtains from unravelled nylons, mats from bulrushes and other horrors of our pretentious Sham Austerity period (Anno 1945-1955). I wonder if anyone knows of any examples of unravelled nylon curtains or other horrors which are still around today? From the Journal of the Association for Jewish Refugees 1985, I read: A blow for craftsmen and women engaged in the textile crafts has come with the retirement of Mr. H. E. Kiewe and the closure of his shop. Art Needlework Industries, which opened its doors in Oxford 44 years ago. A native of Konigsberg, Heinz Edgar Kiewe was born into the family which owned the art needlework shop Kaufhaus Kiewe. His grandfather was a horse-breeder in Bromberg and Heinz can remember being driven in his smart carriage to visit the aristocracy of the area. But in 1933 the family, sensing trouble ahead, moved to England and set up the first Art Needlework Industries in London's Brompton Road. The fact that Queen Mary was one of his customers did not prevent Mr. Kiewe from being interned in 1940, together with his father. But he recalls internment as the "best time of my life", for he entered with zest into the Popular University set up by camp inmates on the Isle of Man. The shop in Kensington was bombed and after his release from internment he and his father enjoyed fishing. In the intervening years, Mr. Kiewe has written some ten books, one of them entitled "Civilisation on Loan" and another "The Sacred History of Knitting". Although forced by repeated rent increases to give up his business, he does not intend to slip into retirement, but will continue his writing and indulge his pleasure in travelling. At present, he is deeply interested in Ethiopian Jewish crafts and has donated part of his former shop's stock to help the Falashas in Israel.


  1. This is funny. I had this article in the same list of unread posts as your one...

    Its not austerity now, its ecological and environmentally friendly!!

  2. The austerity measures should still exist in some parts of the world, but yes they call it "freecycling" or "Upcycling"