Inspiring stitchers:Myra Mogg of Mudgee

 

 

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One of Myra’s hand made shoes. This one is made of her knitted fabric and part of the ensemble below.

MYra-green

1932-36 Green ensemble, including jumper, shoes, gloves and hat.

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The pattern on these needlepoint shoes perfectly matches the sleeves of the knitted jumper.

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Floral jumper with waist ties. the pattern on the sleeves are reproduced on the shoes.

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Intricate details help demonstrate Myra’s exquisite knitting skills

On a recent visit to the Powerhouse Museum Sydney, I was thrilled to discover Myra Mogg, an inspiring stitcher and woman.

Myra lived in Mudgee, rural NSW and produced exquisite examples of needlecraft through the 1930’s.

Finding Myra

It was as I wandered through the exhibition of the museum’s shoe collection, “Recollect: Shoes”  that I found three pairs of particularly stunning shoes. What drew me to them was that they were hand made and had clearly been embellished by an expert stitcher.

Myra’s shoes

The first were a pair of elegant heels covered in a knitted fabric of green with black and white stripes across the toes. The next, a pair of maroon needlepoint slippers embellished with a floral pattern and what seemed to be glass beads.

The third pair were again heels but this time covered in black needlepoint fabric.

The heels and the toe featured a pattern of delicate pink flowers and green leaves. All three were by Myra Mogg of Mudgee.

An inspiring craftswoman

After a little investigation on the Powerhouse website I soon learnt that Myra was a prodigious and highly skilled needlewoman.

The three shoes in the collection were only a small part of a body of work she produced during the 1930’s.

The Powerhouse Museum have a number of beautiful pieces in mint condition donated by her family. These were works she designed for competitions, and given their mint condition we can assume they were never worn.

An expert knitter

Myra is reported to have been an enthusiastic knitter from the age of seven.

In the 1930’s she was the first woman to have a paid job in Mudgee. She worked as the President Secretary of Cudgegong Shire. As she lived on a farm seven miles away with no public transport Myra walked to work and while she walked she knitted!

Myra Mogg invented the knitted hem and submitted an example in the British Empire Knitting Competition held in Melbourne. The judges are reported to have doubted that her beautiful hem was handmade and wanted to cut the hem to make sure! For this invention and other achievements Ms Mogg won various competitions including from the many agricultural shows in the district and the Country Women’s Associations.

Hand painted faces finish off this delightful belt.

Hand painted faces finish off this delightful belt.

Tools of her trade

Myra needed extra fine needles for her intricate designs. The black ensemble is knitted in spider web fine 1 ply wool using extra fine needles. It is reported that Myra was given a set of super fine needles by a local lace maker, Mrs Kellett.

So fine was her knitting that she averaged 17 stitches and 24 rows to the inch!

Coloured wool was difficult to get in the 1930’s so Myra and her sister Nina dyed wool and un-plyed thicker wool to make her intricate 1 ply creations.

An inspiring woman

I wish I’d met the marvellous Myra. She must have been quite a woman.

Tiny knitted buttons are an extra detail along the sleeves.

Tiny knitted buttons are an extra detail along the sleeves.

I have been to Mudgee but it is hard to image her life there in the 1930.  I’d love to talk to her about her life, inspiration and collaborations with other crafts people, for example the shoe maker, the lace maker, pattern maker she must have worked with to produce her inventive creations.

She also seems to have been quite a pioneer in her own community championing environmental and feminist issues.

I am always interested in what motivates us to “make”. All the complex skills, which Myra must have worked so hard to develop, refine and master in order to make her creations and yet she seems to have not even worn the garments! Clearly her motivation and satisfaction was in the process of making not in the end result, which is so often the case.

Perhaps as you think about your next needlework project you may be inspired by Myra to think beyond the norm and create that something extra special. Perhaps one day someone will find your needlework in a museum and marvel at your innovation, creativity and skills and be inspired.

Happy stitching!

Barbara

For more information I encourage you to visit the Powerhouse Museum, and or visit the website www.powerhousemuseum.com.au and search the Myra Mogg collection.

 

 

 

 

 

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