Erica's Magical World of Needlwork
Copyright Vladimir Kagan, February 17, 2012
Erica Wilson at home with flowers and wool - her favorite pallet for colors
If you’ve ever done needlework… If your mother did… If the name Erica Wilson kindles fond memories…if you’ve ever loved Erica …. (never mind that this adorable woman is also the mother of my children and my late wife).
I HAVE A TREAT FOR YOU!
Erica was the Doyenne of Needlework; she was to Needlework what Julia Childs was to cooking. She took Needlework out of the attic, the pastime of grandmothers and made it fun, fashionable and acceptable to everyone. Her groundbreaking first book, Crewel Embroidery sold over a million copies. She followed it with sixteen other books on a diverse subject of needlecrafts… all intended to demystify the art and make it popular for young and old. Books were followed by easy to do kits that were sold in every department store and boutique around the country… Erica traveled to every nook and cranny of America spreading the gospel. I walked in her shadow. On rare occasions I was invited to share a microphone or TV interview. She was The Star. She was recognized in the tinniest backwater in America, the Hebrides, Queensland… wherever we traveled.
In the 1970’s she created her own TV series for WGBH and PBS. It was the most popular series after Julia Childs… Erica’s studio was next to Julia’s. Her shows were seen all over the English-speaking world… the BBC picked it up for all of England, Scotland, Wales, Australia and New Zealand.
Each segment is filled with wonderful techniques and lovely “Erica-isms”.
“It’s like eating peanuts, you can’t stop once you begin. The kettle will boil over… the children will murder each other… but never mind, we must finish our Bargello”
“ Shisha. It’s not what you think…. It’s nothing to do with sneezing!”
Erica’s greatest wish over the years was to re-issue her PBS series. She preserved the shows in every available format – ¾” Professional tapes, Beta Max, VHS, and finally CD.
She fretted over this for neigh forty years… it just never happened. Cost excesses, distribution issues and alas, my lack of support and concern about cost effectiveness got in the way of moving her wish forward.
Then came YouTube and her eyes widened – “this was the media!” We all agreed but it took time – finding someone to convert to digital, then getting them to do the work! Two months after her death, miraculously, we finally got it done! The response has been instant. HOW SHE WOULD HAVE LOVED IT - her dream come true!
She is smiling down on each and every one of us as we watch them!
Give yourself a treat and log onto the link: