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About Jo Firth Lacemaking

Jo Firth
Various crafts

Crafts
Exhibition

I (Jo) was a maths teacher in a high school and have always enjoyed sewing and crafts of all descriptions. At first, I taught myself to crochet whilst at college and in the 60's, all my family got funky purple (my favourite colour at the time) crocheted mats for presents... I can imagine they were really pleased!

After starting work I tried various crafts at night school, including basket weaving, and then settled on Bobbin Lacemaking. I enjoyed it very much but never had much time to perfect the art! I began to do embroidery and beading, which I must admit is my first love, although I also like needlelace and stumpwork, hardanger and canvas work.

A fellow student at the lace class was Jennifer Sutcliffe, who became our local teacher and is an expert on Honiton Lace. I still attend Jennifer's class each week and am laughed at because I am the slowest lacemaker there! I sometimes sneak in my canvas work or beading instead of my pillow!

I have done Torchon and Bucks Point lace and needlelace, but never have time to do any more! I  took my love of the crafts to a business level in 1986 when I could not even drive a car and flew around on a moped. I used to do the embroidery classes for Beckfoot Mill and take supplies, sale or return, from Ann Brook, a supplier who lived in Mirfield.

She was giving up the business and asked if I knew of any one who would like to take over. I said "Yes, me" and the rest is history!

Some of the Leeds ladies remember, before I learnt to drive a car, that I took as much stock as I could on my moped; large basket on the front and a box on the back. I also arrived like this in Huddersfield when I took classes there for  the University! Now, due to time restrictions, I only do one local class and workshops for lace groups around the country when Ash and I go with our supplies.

Ash has worked with yarn most of his working life. When he left school he went into a fine worsted mill. He did an apprenticeship, including night school and day-release to learn all about textiles in general, but yarn manufacture in particular. He went through each process in the mill and finally became a spinning overlooker.(The boss if you don't know mill terminology!) It was at this time we met and married.

When fine worsteds went into decline, Ash moved into a woollen mill which produced hand knitting yarn. Some of you might remember Argyle Wools. Ash eventually became mill manager and had approx 150 employees. He could still do "hands on" work and mend and service the machinery! We still meet "his ladies" around the area who speak fondly of the mill days!

When the knitting wool also went into decline Ash had already started to make lace bobbins for my business, he then decided to go into the lace business himself.

Our two daughters Rebecca and Emily were born in 1974 and 1977
respectively and remain the apples of our eyes! They can often be seen
helping us at various venues, especially when we ran the Pudsey Lace
Fair (20 years!)

You can see us "out and about" at lace days and lace fairs, which apart from the loading and unloading we really enjoy. We cannot say we enjoy the 4.00 a.m. starts which it is sometimes necessary to do, but as Ash says "work is work!" We have been in business for over 30 years and look forward to the next phase !



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