Retrieving the spencers, part 1

In the large quantity of threadbare fabric that came into the house from a friend’s family home in the last year, there were some once-fabulous woollen undergarments. All kinds, but with a generous amount of tops my mother would call “spencers”. Now I have written that down, as often happens I’m wondering why they are called spencers and if it is something to do with Marks and Spencer and… evidently it is not, or it’s just that my research is cursory. But evidently this is an expression for thermal underwear specific to Australia, New Zealand and South Africa–go figure.

The wooliness of these garments, many very much worn–some threadbare–all having been feasted upon by m*th larvae, had me thinking of leaf printing. Eventually they made it into bundles and came out much improved but still holey. In the end I decided on two paths of action. Two of the spencers had a fair amount of integrity, so I patched them generously and they have gone to warm the friend whose family they came from.

I do not know why I persist in dyeing first and sewing later, when it would be so much more sensible to take India Flint’s excellent counsel and sew first, then dye. I can’t figure out whether it is just a failure to plan ahead, or perhaps being a bit excitable… or sometimes just preferring to sew the dyed fabric. But I do it over and over!

Anyway–I like the outcome, and more importantly, so does the recipient. No one else needs to!

And here is the second spencer.

And from the back…


Filed under Natural dyeing

6 responses to “Retrieving the spencers, part 1

  1. Yes, we always call them Spencer’s in our family too.😄

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pen

    My mum wears a spencer at all times, sometimes two.

    There was a pattern for a spencer in the Shetland Wool Annual about five years ago; Rebecca used it for her spinning certification project. (I am extremely covetous of the pattern, which is out of print and cannot be had!)

    Liked by 1 person

  3. As far as I know, the same term is/was used in the uk


  4. I do love India Flint’s books. They look lovely.


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