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!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

How's this for an almost perfect day?

A small spot of gardening... (friends who know the real state of my garden - please stop giggling!)
A play on the rope swing with the kids...(actually this was on Good Friday)

Some delicious Easter baking (receipe coutesy of Alison and Simon Holst - doyens of NZ cooking - from the Dominion Post newspaper)

And one Easter bunny (Herman) caught red handed trying to get away with my new necklace, after delivering the eggs...

And still to come a BBQ with close friends - what more could you ask for!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

What fun was had today!

As promised here is a shot of the Japanese quilt that I've been working on. Finished the quilting on it today so now it is just waiting for a nice red binding and a label and it will be complete. This quilt has been a while in the making - many of the pieces of fabric were sent to me by a friend who was living in Tokyo about five years ago. Some of my favourites are in this photo - the indigo with dragonflies and the indigo woven fabric to the right in particular.

It's been a real textile day as my daughter and I went out to Craft 2 at the New Dowse and were very tempted, and inspired, by all the creations out there. I came back with a fabulous necklace made by Art Divine featuring a 1955 Auckland Centenary stamp (so the ex-stamp collecting husband was able to tell me!) My daughter could not leave behind a rabbit from Scrappers who has since been named Herman - well it is Easter! This caused envy with one of her brothers and lengthy discussion on whether she could make him something similar for his birthday. We'll all have to wait for that great event.

Thought you might also like to see my treasured apron that I found a few weeks ago. All hand made, I think its fabulous and keep causing great consternation among the children by telling them I am planning to wear it out of the house one day. They are starting to dread me coming to school to pick them up. It even had an outing in the office last week as I discovered it was in my handbag from an earlier show and tell. The cause of much laughter - and what more could you want from such a thing of beauty.
There are new peg aprons made to this exact pattern in one of the local shops - and this original cost me a fraction of the price of the new one. To my mind there is no competition at all. Some of my friends were very taken with this one though - I'm thinking that they may become a fabulous new line in gifts for a lucky few.... They are definately the sort of thing that could only go to a special home where they'd be fully appreciated. In the meantime I'll just keeping wearing it around the house and winding up the children - what fun!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Thank goodness for friends!

It's been a busy few days here at Sustaining Stitches with book club this week as well as evening gatherings with the two stitching groups I meet with - lots of talking but not much blogging! Thank heavens though for the friends that I did tell about this venture into the blogging world - they were able to point out the spelling and grammatical errors, help me find the spell check function and give me tips for photographs so I don't look like the complete novice that I am! It's all a sharp learning curve for me, hopefully you'll be patient with me on this one...

One of my stitching groups has a fortnightly challenge where someone nominates a theme and we then make a small "journal" size quilt for sharing between us. This week the theme was red and here is my effort...

Just loving using linen to sew with at the moment. There are few tricks to manage it but the texture and feel of it is wonderful. This quilt was inspired by my recent trip to Napier to see an old friend visiting from London. I found a new gallery which was just in the throes of setting up and hanging their first exhibition - the Red Cross Gallery. It had an wrought iron guard over the front windows which I particularly liked and drew on for the piece. If you look closely at the photo of the gallery, you can even see me!

It's wonderful to have Easter stretching out ahead of us - time to stitch and time to reflect. I've been busy at the sewing machine today finishing the quilting on a Japanese quilt in time for my brother and new sister-in-law when they come to visit next month - photos to come over the weekend once the light is right. I'm hoping that every day over Easter will see me up there for at least a few hours.

I hope Easter brings you lots of time for indulgence - of the textile and chocolate kind!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Lets start at the very beginning...

Well here we go - my first blog!

I've been enjoying reading and seeing the work of other people out in the vapours of the Internet and decided that it was time to have a go myself and join the fun.

I've been sewing for almost as long as I can remember - embroidery and quilts are my thing. As I tell people who ask about sewing, I only sew flat things! Trying to make clothes to fit real bodies is not my thing at all. My quilts are mostly domestic pieces, made for those I love, but I hanker after being wildly creative and doing my own thing. This is a small piece on the roots of a fig tree against sandstone. I just love the gentle curving lines and want to play with these a lot more.

As for embroidery, I love vintage stitching. Domestic textiles are something I find hard to walk past and I have a growing collection. Both my maternal grandparents were prolific stitchers, particularly my grandfather. His stitching was the family secret - so I guess this is outing him. He was a wonderful embroiderer and I would love to have half his talent.

This is a piece of his stitching which I put into a quilt I have made in his memory.
Why sustaining stitches? Stitching is my great passion - and I always feel a nicer person when I've had some time with textiles.... More soon....