Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Treasuring Family Textiles

I was a bit surprised to find one of my favourite books on antique textiles today heavily marked down in price at Dymocks Bookshop on Lambton Quay, Wellington. The wonderful "Thrift to Fantasy - Home Textiles of the 1930s to 1950s" by Rosemary McLeod (published in 2005) is marked down to NZ$29.95 - if you don't already have your own copy, or want to treat someone else - now is the time to race down there to grab one if you are in the neighbourhood.
Rosemary covers extensively the domestic textiles that featured in so many New Zealand homes. It's a great overview, tells the story of Rosemary's family and their connection to textiles which started her off on her now extensive collection. The book is a continuing joy to leaf through.

The cause for my greatest thanks to Rosemary in documenting this came quite unexpectedly to me though. I had bought a copy of this book for my mother as a birthday gift as I thought she'd be interested in it given her family stitching background. She really surprised me a few weeks later though when she told me that she thought that many of the pieces in the book were of disappointing quality and that she'd decided to contact Rosemary to give her some of the stitching done by her father, which she considered much better examples.
To say I was unhappy by the news would be to put it midly. I had always regarded the box of family stitching as the greatest treasure that I would one day inherit (I am the only daughter and granddaughter after all!) and told my mother so in no uncertain terms. She was taken aback - not realising how highly I valued it all!

All's well that ends well though. As a result of our converstaion all pieces in the family collection were freshly laundered and tagged to say who they were stitched by and roughly when. They will all be coming to me and not given away. I have told this story to Rosemary already and she said that it was surprising how many people have told her almost the same thing as a result of her book being published.

The moral of the story - speak up loud and clear before it is to late, and go out and grab yourself a bargin in Rosemary's book.

Who know what conversations it might start in your own family!

1 comment:

Gina E. said...

Philippa, that is a great story! I picked Rosemary's book up through word of mouth, and I was so pleased to get it. It's one of my favourite books, along with the Australian version "The Gentle Arts". Have you seen that one? It is by Jennifer Isaacs and describes the embroideries done by Australian women in the last 200 years.