Mesmerized by Erica Wilson

erica wilson pbs show thinking bigger

Like most things domestic, my mother taught me the basics of embroidery when I was a kid, but it was all done in an applied way: She’d have me do some French knots on a set of napkins, or whipstitch the edge of a blanket. Some of my friends were into counted cross-stitch but I never took to it. And there’s really no chance you’ll find me sitting on my couch with a hoop and floss – I’ve got too much knitting to do. BUT, I’ve been collecting inspiring stitchery lately (which I’ll round up here at some point).

Anyway, blah blah blah. Embroidery. I’d never heard of Erica Wilson before I saw the New York Times obit flit by in my Twitter stream and feed reader back in mid-December. “The Julia Child of needlework.” Weeks later, the always charming Cathy of California posted a little tribute, noting that someone had posted a few episodes of “Erica” — Wilson’s 1970s PBS show — on YouTube. I starred the post and didn’t get back to it until now. And it happens that the one of three videos I clicked on has her doing oversized stitching, showing off a wall-hanging and a chair seat before demonstrating how to stitch a big ol’ owl out of heavy rug yarn. It’s ’70s week on Yarnover! Or maybe it’s always ’70s week. But seriously, watch her do this:

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5 thoughts on “Mesmerized by Erica Wilson

  1. Oh, Erica Wilson was IT in the embroidery world!
    I made that wall hanging that’s in the video. And remember being so apprehensive tacking something that size. But it was great fun and looked fabulous when I completed it. Heaven only knows where it is now.
    She also offered embroidery kits that I spent tons of money buying.
    Just checked and there are some of her kits available on ebay.

  2. It was because of Erica Wilson that I got so interested in embroidery when I was little. I made that owl, too! I was about 14 at the time. When I ‘grew up’ (!), I started my own embroidery kit business, and one day, at a trade show in Birmingham, Erica Wilson came to my stand, to buy stock for her New York shop. I was absolutely star struck. She was so lovely, and very keen on my designs – she bought one of everything. When she left the stand, I turned to my husband and said, ‘Do you know who THAT was?!!’ but he didn’t know about Erica Wilson ….. I think the embroidery world could do with another Erica Wilson – she had such a skill of making interesting stitches look really easy, and she was just so enthusiastic. Thanks for reminding me!

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