Thursday, December 24, 2009

Best came

Today it is Christmas and I am at home with my favourite people. We have had a lovely quiet day. The day is warm and sunny. Ken Oath! is cooking a divine meal wearing his new apron, TheShortFolk have picked roses and are now shelling peas. I'm on beautifying duty.

When I was collecting donations for Stash reHash a lovely elderly lady quite unsettled me. We chatted for about an hour about all sorts of things. Then she hauled a tablecloth out of her bag of donated goods and said, "This is not for the market. This is for you. Never save things for best dear, because best might never come." It was a tablecloth she had made and embroidered in the 1940s before she was married. She had "saved it for best" but had never used it.

Well today best came. That tablecloth (and two others!) is on my Christmas dinner table because I can't imagine it gets better than this. Merry Christmas.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Chez Golden Hands

Last weekend my family went away for a little holiday. We had things that needed to be done (Dolphin watch cruise voucher with looming expiry date) and big things to discuss. What better place than Akaroa.

Ken Oath! booked the holiday home via the amazing McCrosties website based on his criteria of availability, number of beds (sleeps four plus an emergency snoring bed), proximity to the action so that Corolla (or is it a Corona, who cares, obviously not me!) could have a holiday too, and of course, price.

But when we got there we found that his chosen house was accidentally an extra special treat for me. It was a shrine to 1970s handicrafts! I immediately dubbed it Chez Golden Hands! All the things in this house had been made with care and great skill and no doubt told the history of the family who owned the house. A huge effort had been put in to decorate and furnish this house in the 1970s, then it had been perfectly preserved as if in a time capsule. Even the piles of magazines contained nothing later than 1988. Given that that was the year I started fashion school, I had a kind of morbid fascination with the hideousness of them.

It made me think about home decor fashion, which of the currently "in" items will give sniggery joy to people in thirty years time, and about the macrame owl that proudly perched in my family's holiday bach for decades.

The owl-making sister recently gave me a bound four volume set of Golden Hands magazines from the 1970s. Since then I've had many happy hours reading them. No matter how hard I try, I can't resist renaming the various regular chapters. So I end up with Clothes for the Wannabe Eternal Virgin, Man-Repelling Home Decor and Torture Your Children in Style (the numerous all-in-one scratchy wool knitted outfits and all those high-necked tops edged with nylon lace. In white. Handwash only. For wee boys!) My favourite chapter though is the one Golden Hands calls "Collectibles". These are elaborate and extremely time-consuming "textile art" projects, usually in natural colours, quite big, sometimes incorporating found materials such as bark, driftwood and feathers. Hmmmm, tasty. If you can't quite visualise what I mean just go to any op-shop and you'll find a whole pile of these beauties. Maybe I should rename this chapter Future Op-Shop classics or Your family won't fight over these in your will.

So what did my family decide. Our knitting is well and truly back on our needles. We have plans! Ken Oath! is working his magic again, making the world a more interesting place for those who appreciate the performing arts - though not in Christchurch, now or possibly ever again.

TheShortFolk and I are going to stay in Christchurch long enough to run Stash reHash at least one more time. I need to have a chat to the nice old bloke who hires out the hall but I'm hoping for early May. I'll send out a message to previous stall-holders and the mailing list as soon as I have a date sorted. Soon after I'll put information up here.

All the pictures above (OK, except for the dolls) are from Chez Golden Hands. The dolls are from the real Golden Hands and they and their whanau live again on gorgeous greeting cards at the fabulous Pug Design Store.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Admirable qualities, or, why I love linen

I know someone who has recently been subjected to some very rough and unpleasant treatment. I'll call him TheFallGuy. The way he has behaved throughout and changed as a result of this treatment reminds me of a textile experiment I once did.

In this experiment we subjected a variety of fabric samples to an extremely long, hot and rough machine wash then we hung the samples out to dry. Later we carefully examined them and compared them to control samples to identify how they had coped with our mistreatment.

Many fabrics came through seriously worse for wear: some completely disintegrated; some were shrunken and misshapen; others were frayed, threadbare or holey; some had bled angry blotches of colour or shed fluff; a few pilled unattractively; others were faded or greyed; many emerged from the machine twisted and knotted like rope.

In contrast, the pure linen sample coped superbly with our nasty treatment. This amazing fabric is incredibly strong, durable and resilient; linen emerges from a tough day in the laundry softer and more absorbent, so when used for tea towels, it becomes even more useful than before. Linen ages beautifully and is amazingly long-lasting. It does not pill or shed lint. In hot climates linen clothing it is valued for its exceptional coolness.

So while just observing TheFallGuy's mistreatment has left me ragged and twisted, remarkably he has come though it like the best quality pure linen tea towel: even more fit for purpose and ready to put in many more years of excellent service.

Plenty of other fabrics are more prestigious, expensive, fashionable or outwardly impressive, but I for one recognise and value the admirable qualities of linen (and TheFallGuy).

TheFallGuy needs to live where quality goods made from honest, hard-working and rare stuff are valued and treated with respect. Any ideas where that might be?

Sunday, December 6, 2009

The money or the bag?

Up until last week, I've been in a frenzy of making stuff for sale. Given that Christmas gift-buying madness is still upon the world, it would make economic sense for me to continue down this path for at least a few more weeks.

However I've decided to temporarily retire from making stuff for sale. I'll stock-up my Felt shop then leave it to slowly deflate. The making won't stop, but I'm just getting back into making for other reasons for a while.

Ken Oath! desperately needs new loud shirts. I need some practical clothes. I'm starting a new job soon out in Realworldland and, given that my wardrobe mostly contains fancy party clothes, mental retro dresses, gardening clothes and clothes suitable for wearing while doing my Interwebland job,(OK, that's my pyjamas) I really do have nothing to wear there.

But the thing I'm going to enjoy making the most is a bag. On hearing that I was starting a new job soon, my daughter said she was keen to spend some time with me, just us two doing something together. Great, I said, and asked what she would like to do. "Make something together" she replied. Many times I've tried to suck her into my orbit of makingness but with limited success, so this was music to my ears.

So while I got all excited and sent her off to look through my stash to select the fabric, she had quite a different approach. It seems the practicalities are far more important than the look, so first we wrote up a design brief!

Apparently the perfect bag for a non-girly-girl must:
  • have lots of pockets and compartments for compass, fossil-digging tools, library books, wallet and high-bounce ball,
  • have secret hidey-holes for squirreling away Miscellaneous Useful Things found in ditches (springs, ball bearings, screws, shoeless high heels etc),
  • open the correct way for a left-hander,
  • have a comfortable padded shoulder strap,
  • be adjustable so that she can use it "forever",
  • have pockets and compartments that close securely so that precious goods do not fall out when the wearer is running, pogo-sticking or dangling upside down in a tree,
  • hold its shape when empty,
  • not be too heavy,
  • be robust so that getting it dirty and cleaning it again is not a drama.

Who knew!

My son came by, saw what we were up to, said "Cool!" and now we are probably making two bags.

We are currently making the pattern. I'm trying to behave myself and teach her how to do a fabric lay so we know exactly how much fabric we'll need, when really I can't wait for the bit when I say "Let's go stash-diving!" or better still, "Let's go fabric shopping!"

So this week my choice was "The money or the bag?" Bag wins. An economist would probably call me crazy, but to me, making something with my daughter is worth more than any amount of money I can think of.

The bag pictured above is from the Miscellaneous Mental Things section of my wardrobe. Yup, those are shells, rhinestones and poodles. I wonder if I can squeeze "Must make me laugh every time I use it" on my daughter's design brief!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Governors Bay Garage Sale Trail - But will there be fabric??

The Governors Bay Garage Sale Trail will be held on Sunday December 6th from 8.30 am to 12.30pm. Yes, tomorrow!

This very special event gives you the opportunity to stroll around this lovely community, browse and shop in the garages of many participating families and in the community hall.

This list and map shows all houses with a garage sale together with sales categories and special items for sale. So my obvious and immediate question is, could the categories "Hotchpotch" and "Other Hobby Items" potentially mean fabric, yarn, haberdashery, possibly a wheelbarrow full of vintage buttons???? I am so not cured... Further copies of this list are available at the She Cafe / Community Centre corner on the day.

Given that this event is a fundraiser event for The Clown Doctors New Zealand Trust, is being held in one of my favourite places, enables me to indulge in one of my favourite past-times for a good cause and then hopefully still have enough cash left over for the most delicious hot chocolate ever at She Cafe, then I'll be there with bells on. Just don't get between me and the fabric OK?

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Florence Broadhurst Pop up store

I know I've banged on about Florence Broadhurst before. I own books about her, have watched movies about her, have cyberstalked Signature Prints' website and have excitedly collected wee morsels of her prints.

And if you know me in Realworldland you'll have also heard me banging on about how I love the whole pop-up shop concept.

Well now lucky Auckland people can go to the Florence Broadhurst Pop up store and, for a short time only, roll around in a whole shop full of fabulousness! December 5th - 13th, weekdays 10am - 6.30pm, weekends 9am - 4pm at 1:4 Axis building, 91 Lower St Georges Bay Rd, Parnell, Auckland.

Go on, go mad, then tell me all about it (while I'm stuck here in the frozen south dressed head to toe in merino) and make me green with envy.