Catherine Barley

In the late 1960's I saw a demonstration of bobbin lace in a Church Hall in Crowthorne, Berks where I used to live. I stood for some considerable time totally fascinated by the bobbins and intricate patterns being worked and wondered where I could learn. The lady demonstrating was non other than Nenia Lovesey and that chance meeting totally changed my life. I enrolled in Nenia's class at The Old Brewery in Wokingham and caught 'the lace fever' for which there is no cure. I took to bobbin lace like a duck to water and it was not long before Nenia asked me to take over the class at Wokingham as she had been invited to South Hill Park Arts Centre in Bracknell, Berks to take up the position of Craft Co-ordinator and once again I was asked to teach the bobbin lace.

Nenia was invited to tutor a City & Guilds Creative Textile course at Windsor and Maidenhead College and I enrolled in 1978 on a two year course which encompassed everything that made a textile; tatting, spinning, weaving, knitting, crochet, sprang, bobbin lace, netting, tapestry weaving and needlelace . I also learned how to do tablet weaving, how to card a fleece, which was then knitted and woven into cloth, tambour work, sans blas and many other things now long forgotten. Jan Beaney was our tutor for the design work and it was an intensive two year course with a written exam at the end of it. I successfully gained my certificate in 1980 and this course was my introduction to needlelace.

I excelled in needlework at school and would love to have attended The Royal school of Needlelwork as an apprentice but my teacher told my parents that it was hard work and poorly paid, so I had to drop needlework and do the Commercial course ( shorthand and typing). You can imagine how honoured I felt several decades later to be invited by Joan Field who was then Principal of The Royal school ( then at Princes Gate in London), to teach the apprentices one day a week for six weeks.

I went on to teach needlelace at The English Lace School, Devon, The British College of Lace, Rugby, workshops for The Lace Guild including Summer School at Ford Castle, several times to Northern & Southern Ireland, twice to Denver , Los Angeles, Ithaca, Puerto Rico and a Caribbean Cruise, Indianapolis, San Diego, OIDFA Nottingham University, Southern France, C & G at Knuston Hall and the very first intake of C & G students in the 1980's, along with our President Ann Day, Ros Hills, Sheila York and Denise watts, all of whom were at the time, members of North Downs. In 2007 I was invited to teach in Perth, Melbourne and Sydney, Australia.

I was commissioned to write a book on Needlelace by B. T Batsford which was first published in October 1993 and has been re-printed four times. Having been out of print for eleven years, Needlelace Designs & Techniques is once again available as a spiral bound, Print On Demand edition from Details on how to order can be found under 'Sales/Orders'. I dedicated the book entitled Needlelace Designs & Techniques - Classic & Contemporary' to Nenia Lovesey my teacher and friend, whom I could never repay for giving so generously over the years, of her time, knowledge, enthusiasm , encouragement and for enhancing my life.

With the help of colleagues and friends, many of whom are members of North Downs Lacemakers, I was able to donate the sum of £1,512 to Breast Cancer Campaign in memory of Iris Wallbank who was sadly a victim of breast cancer, from money raised from the sale of blank greeting cards I had printed of my 'Parasol for Iris'.

money raised for the Breast Cancer Campaign from the sale of blank greeting cards I had printed of my Parasol for Iris
Demonstrating bobbin lace at South Hill Park late 1970s by Catherine Barley
Grandpas garden by Catherine Barley
Joining final section of Point de Gaze fan worked in 1993 by Catherine Barley
My interpretation of the Poppy design which is worked in Point de Gaze style needlelace by Catherine Barley
Snow Queen panel awarded a silver medal and Diploma in 1998 at the Sansepolcro biennale by Catherine Barley
Three little swans by Catherine Barley
'Parasol For Iris' - awarded a Medal of Excellence 2007 at The Lace Guild Exhibition 'Seven' by Catherine Barley

Updated: April 2018

Member Profiles

Ann Day
Anne H
Mary Hocking
Jean Rooke
Sue Martin
Pauline McLeod
Jane Rowton-Lee
Catherine Barley