I have this blanket. It doesn’t have a family history of emotional attachment; I found it in an op shop. I can’t say what made me bring it home, it’s quite a strong shade of orange which isn’t entirely lovely. It’s not in good repair. It has fade lines from being left out in the sun too long on a washing line. Some of its stitching had come undone when I brought it home. Moths (well, moth larvae) had nibbled on it before it came to my house.
In a way, it is even more odd that I feel driven to mend this thing. The holes are small enough they they will not lead to unravelling or any serious consequence. I want to mend them anyway. My beloved offered me a robust critique of this project one night recently, and there wasn’t a thing she said, that I didn’t accept. Yet, I started mending it in 2015. I notice in that post I think the blanket is rather lovely! Apparently I have been less sure of its loveliness recently… but no less attached to it.
These holidays, I sat the sewing kit on my bed and mended a few more holes each day until I had a big evening session and finally mended all the little holes the moths left. Things I’ve noticed: how lovely it is working with the silk embroidery thread from Beautiful Silks, and in colours I’ve dyed with plants. That I have settled on the number of strands I like using best. That my sense of how to use thread, and how to work with colour, has changed. How comfortable I feel with these odd little grids in mismatched colours sprinkled over my blanket. How confident I feel that this blanket and I will spend many more years together, and maybe in that time, there will be more mends, or simply more stitching. So I guess the reality is that this blanket from the op shop now does hold emotional resonance of some kind, even if it’s hard to say exactly what or why. It’s a blanket, after all. I don’t really feel like there has to be an accounting for these things. Though I like its warmth very much when the season calls for it.
While I was on holiday, I finished sewing a batch of needle books made from scraps of blanket dyed with various plants. Now they are waiting to become part of mending kits!
The old ironing board cover was made from a lovely but pre-loved piece of bark cloth that had begun to wear right through to the previous cover. It was time. I might be taking this ironing board to a workshop, so I want it to be in good shape! I had a big piece of stout orange and white striped cotton fabric my daughter gave me for a birthday. It bears an IKEA label but she has begun to give me only second hand gifts, which I just love! It makes me feel… that she sees me somehow. So this item, perhaps a table cloth, has passed from hand to hand a few times in its lifetime with apparently little use, and in the right hand image I’m tracing around the ironing board before cutting out.
Next steps: finishing the edge and creating a casing, discovering a tool for threading cord through a very long casing in my sewing table, and inserting recycled cotton yarn into the casing.
Then, fitting damp cover over ironing board, tightening cord, and massaging into position. Ta-da!
I’ve been busily dyeing fabric, making plans and piecing examples for the leafy log cabin workshop coming up in only a very few weeks’ time.
There are still places for anyone able to join us. We’ll be exploring using eco prints in patchwork as well as doing a little dyeing and making a bag featuring a leafy log cabin design. All in a lovely, friendly setting at the Aldinga Eco-Village. For details or to sign up… click here.
In December, I’ll be running a workshop hosted by the lovely Susan Schuller. Perhaps some of you would like to come?
Local readers may like to come along to a mending circle at the Sustainable Communities SA One Planet Market in November. Please do bring your mending and get some of it sorted out–and by all means bring mending questions for me to help you problem-solve. This won’t be a speech so much as a hands on session–and look at all the other fun things that will be going on to attract you…
Some time ago, I bought two pieces of tapestry (the embroidery kind, not the woven kind) at the Guild trading table, where the cast offs of members go to find happy new homes. It’s one of my failings in the acquisition stakes. There are some things I look at and think–someone dedicated many hours of their life to creating that, and here it is in a thrift store or a garage sale, discarded completely. Sometimes that is enough, they have to come home with me. Finally I had an idea, and I acquired enough $2 pairs of jeans to make it happen–because woollen tapestry is heavy stuff! I made denim surrounds for the tapestries, which, judging by their shapes, might have been intended to cover a seat back and perhaps a stool. Then I worked out some linings, and sewed on patch pockets!
Once I started actually figuring out how to convert them to bags I think I understood how they came to be discarded. They had biased in some way that meant they could not possibly have worked out in their intended applications. the rectangular one was a trapezoid. The one designed for a shaped seat back was not symmetrical. I can only imagine the heartbreak of having stitched these only to discover they were not going to work.
It’s a bit odd even in this context–but unquestionably, it can work as a bag.
In the end I realised I had a third tapestry. It had been reduced from $5 to 40c in an op shop in Warrnambool (country Victoria). I bought it thinking the frame could be re-used. But the badgers? I am not going to hang them on my wall. So I deconstructed the frame ready for its new life and here is the new destination of the badgers. Where will they go next?
On my little holiday in Allansford, I dyed up some knit silk and some silky merino from the Beautiful Silks odds and ends department–much better fun than the remnants at a big chain store.
I had to do some creative work to find this entire garment from the pieces. In the end, I settled on silk sleeves and a silky merino body.
A friend agreed to take some pictures for me one day but she evidently couldn’t do anything about my embarrassment! And she offered the view that this top would work better if it were a little longer. She may well be right.
You can see I’ve got leaves running in one direction up my back and down the other… I just couldn’t get the pattern to fit any other way. And–I’ve enjoyed wearing this most of the winter.
In our house, one of us likes to hang onto things as long as possible and mend them as needed. The other one is less enthusiastic about mending and naturally holds different opinions about which things are so special they should be mended rather than thrown away or repurposed. This towel had lots of pile left on it but the selvedges had given way and frayed. A lot. That was good enough for me! I happened to have some binding left over from a previous such project and it was just the right amount for the job. And now–no more frayed edges… and quite a pretty edge.
A while ago I went to The Drapery to buy zippers, and The Drapery is far more tempting to me than the chain alternatives, so I came away with a fat quarter (or something like that) of Liberty lawn. My Mother-Out-Law loves Liberty prints, so I tried to inhabit her aesthetic and chose this one. She is a rather petite woman, so I made four small handkerchieves and I am reliably informed that she loves them! Naturally (in her case–the other gift she enjoys is stationery) she sent me a lovely card, and observed that only another sewer would recognise the rolled hems as a special achievement. I feel so lucky to have out-laws who are so kind and lovely.
Then there was the very last of these bags.
This time I chose madder and indigo dyed threads.
The madder dyed silk in the centre of this circle was dyed at my house, (the madder and indigo purple by Beautiful Silks), and it is SO red!
There have been other small projects piling up, but there has also been a development. We went to the Royal Show again this year and Suffolks were the featured sheep breed. This beauty evidently didn’t stand still (or perhaps it was me who did the wriggling).
I tried to speak with breeders in hopes of acquiring a fleece and discovered again that I’m really quite shy. My beloved was much better at it. We spoke to breeders from WA and Tasmania who did not bring fleece, and then found one from Kangaroo Island who was happy enough to sell me a fleece if I was sure I wanted to spin from a meat sheep and did I realise this is sold as carpet wool? It’s so sad to think that the long history of this breed as a source of wool for specific uses such as socks, has been all but lost even among lovers of the breed.
Malcolm called me on the weekend and we had a chat. We agreed on one fleece and a price that I thought was too low, and what do you know? I put one and a half times the price in an envelope and he delivered two fleeces, or is it three? He threw in a “black” fleece because these sell for even less than the $3 or $4 per kilo that Malcolm gets for white Suffolk fleece. Last night I skirted it at the Guild Hall and it is grey and dark brown, cream and white (I suspect, under the dirt). I can only confirm that I won’t need another delivery in October: this is a LOT of wool. I’ve never raised a sheep, and it’s entirely possible Malcolm doesn’t know how long it takes to spin sock yarn! However, the fleece I skirted last night is lovely. I’ve had little access to Suffolk to date and spun what I had suspected was poor quality fleece with a very short staple. This has a high crimp staple of at least 8-10 cm in places, and while the coloration lowers its value for industrial processing, for me it is a real asset. I washed a small quantity before work this morning, I’m so keen to get spinning…