Sunday, August 30, 2009

Searching for Jewels in the Junk

A few months ago an elderly family friend passed away and my parents (who are almost 80, so hardly young themselves) were left as advisory trustees to her estate. Since Nola had no relatives what this meant in practice was that my parents and a few other friends were left with the task of largely cleaning out her house. This has had a big impact on all involved - we all now know where hoarding leads to and frankly it isn't pretty.

We all had some good laughs along the way (Why would anyone need to have 26 black skirts in her wardrobe? Is there any good reason to hold onto hats that have not been worn since WWII?) but without exception all of us who have worked on her home have come to look at our own with fresh eyes. There has been much intensive cleaning in my own home and many, many loads of things we no longer needed have been moved onto local charities in the hope that these items will be of use elsewhere.

For my parents they have taken to their lifetime of possessions and collections with unexpected vigour. I have long thought that I would have quite a job on my hands, in due course, but they have taken it as a challenge to deal to as much of it as they can now rather than leaving it for me. I have lost count of the number of times my mother has told me that she is determined not to leave me a mess like we were faced with earlier this year. We will see.

There has been a small downside to their activities - they seem to weekly turn up at my door with another box of "treasures" that they are planning to relocate from their house to mine. It's like a giant merry-go-round of "stuff". Many things I would have been happy to have never seen again. However there have also been some real treasures which I have been delighted to welcome into my life and home. I'm not sure my husband feels quite the same, but this is the real nub of the issue - one man's trash is truly anothers treasure.

One of the jewels I am delighted to be reunited with is the blanket that was knitted for me as a newborn my one of my aunts. It was knitted into squares so in no time at all I've been able to transform it into a new scarf for myself - aforementioned husband rolled his eyes, but my more textile inclined friends have been more impressed and not a little envious. I can still feel the love knitted into every stitch.
Having mentioned in my last post that the crocheted doilies appear to be breeding in my sewing room I can now offer potitive evidence, as this week my mother gave me every piece of crochet that her father had made. As you can see from the photo, he was reasonably prolific.
I'm trying to come up with a project to keep these all together so I know exactly which were his - perhaps stitched together to form a long table runner or maybe stitched onto a blanket. This would probably result in open rebellion from certain family members! But for me, it's lovely to have these links to my past - truly jewels to be treasured, hopefully for many years to come.


Jacky said...

These really are treasures...I think they would look beautiful stitched together as a table runner (thats what I thought they were...a very innovative/contemporary table runner). certainly have me thinking...I desperately need a clean up...I am a self processed hoarder.

Glad you sorted out the *fickle* blogger. My post this morning was quite uneventful - for a change!

Love your treasures.

Jacky xox

kreachr said...

What Jacky said - absolute treasures. I love your blanket scarf!! You're an amazingly creative and talented woman, and it shows where you got that creative talent from. Family can be useful for some things...

AL said...

I love the banners and I love the baby blanket scarf! One idea for the doilies is a skirt. Saw a 3 year old in a A line sleeveless dress - dark gray - with doilies sewn onto it in rows. Thought it looked fantastic and wondered if it would suit the over 40s.

Clearing up clutter is a great thing. We did so much work to leave NZ. I remember you and Jill and Marilyn sitting in our front room as Colin threw almost the entire contents of his garage into a giant burke bin - bit silly but we were getting stressed and desparate. But now we are still accumulating clutter and I'm not going there again. Need to dedicate some sewing time to decluttering. Good for the soul.

supplies overflowing! said...

How wonderful to have these treasures.
My parents have a houseful of items- some of which I love, other things I wonder what I will do with knowing that my mother loved them all...
My dad used to wonder why they held onto al;l their photos, and who would want them when they were gone- he suggested that we throw them out!
When he passed away last summer, the gradnchildren went through some of those (probably thousands of) photos to put onto boards for the wake and funeral, and they saw a grandpa that they hadn't known before. No one has been able to take apart the boards now, and we still look at them!
Looking around their house though, and dealing with his belongings, has helped me to see my home with different eyes. I feel the need to lighten up.
My girlfriend just suggested looking around and saying- would you run to save that in the event of a fire? If not, is it really needed?
But back to your post. I love what you did with your blanket, and how sweet to have items that your father made. Quite unusual, I would think, for a man to crochet, though my dad was quite adept with the needle and thread. His father had been a tailor, so he'd learned early. I doubt he knew how to crochet though!

Ahipara Girl said...

Hey Phillipa, that's an awesome post. It's interesting that its not just the collecting of textiles but the stories behind them, that is when they become significant. I love how you are looking to breathe new life into these treasures. How amazing that your grandfather crocheted doileys. Can you imagine men sitting around now crocehting doilies. I'd love to live in that place. It's interesting what you say about having to clear out someone elses lifetime accumulation. I struggle with stuff, everything has a story. Maybe I need an experience such as yours. x

Gina E. said...

I worked as a carer for ten years, looking after old folk in their homes, and I saw stash like you wouldn't believe! It certainly made me think again about what I've hoarded, and I've had some decent clean ups over the years, and even encouraged the MOTH to get rid of the clothes he can't fit into any longer! But his garage is sacrosanct...if I outlive him, it will go into a dumpmuster like your friend Colin did with his garage contents!
Did you ever think of making a quilt using all those crocheted doilies? I've seen some fabulous quilts/wall hangings using doilies which have been attached to a backing of some kind. Great way to preserve a family heritage.
Love what you did with the baby blanket - that is very clever!

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