Resumed pillow lace making at 84
Eighty-four on Thursday, Mrs. Eliza Houghton, of 76, Queen Street, is probably Rushden’s only active pillow-lace worker. Trained to the craft in her childhood, she resumed the work some six months ago as a hobby and now spends hours every day deftly handling her bone bobbins and pins.
Born at Knotting Green in Bedfordshire Mrs Houghton was taught to make pillow lace by her mother when she was eight years of age. The village was renowned then for its pillow lace workers, and she can recall how the women worked at it unceasingly in order to sell it by the yard to the shopkeepers who would travel out to Knotting.
“I’d not touched a bobbin for 25 years until about six months ago,” Mrs. Houghton told our reporter. “I was surprised how easily it came back to me just as if it was yesterday,” she added, while her fingers wove an intricate pattern of lace on her pillow by way of a demonstration.
Quickly as her fingers move though, pillow-lace making is a painstakingly slow process, and Mrs. Houghton readily owns that she doesn’t think she would have the patience to teach it to anyone. But she spends hours by the window every day and has turned out yards of delicate half-inch and inch wide lace which now borders a number of handkerchiefs.
A widow with three daughters and two sons, it was the family who rallied round to find her the necessary equipment when she stated her intention of resuming the work. They actually managed to find a pillow last used by Mrs. Houghton’s mother and a number of parchment patterns, and friends contributed the bone and wood bobbins with their colourful engraved family names.
Mrs. Houghton also delights in knitting socks. She is a member of Rushden Darby and Joan Club.