“With Bold needle and thread” by Rosemary McLeod.
I loved this large, beautiful book that I recently borrowed from the library.
I will borrow it again so I can once again enjoy the gorgeous visual presentation but also the immense amount of information, history, and projects to dream about.
While it is a book about stitching and creating clothes and useful household objects it is also a book about social history/herstory in New Zealand.
Rosemary McLeod is a collector of textiles and fabrics as well as owning a vast library of patterns, designs, and magazines relating to handcrafts of every kind. She also likes creating things from fabric and textiles without using a pattern.
There are plenty of projects and instructions to follow in this substantial book (495pp) dating back from the 1920’s to more recent times. Bags, aprons (I remember my Gran having an apron made from sacking but embellished with colourful binding and pockets) cushions, tea cosies, adornments, are all included.
Rosemary is also a journalist and historian and has included some wonderful advertisements such as this one advocating a little gin to get you through.
Some fashions of the day – oh to have that svelte form! (Please click on the link below if this photo has not loaded correctly, for reasons best known to WP it will not behave for me!)
Snippets of the romantic stories so many of the magazines of those years included for their readers and tips and hints on good housekeeping.
If you are ironing and a visitor calls, Mrs Ainly, of Halifax, tells you what to do. Switch off the electric current, and cover the iron with a tea cosy. It will still be beautifully hot when you wish to resume work.”
From Untimely Visitors, Wife and Home, February 1944
My mother and her mother before her were great handcrafters so many of the photos of fabric, knitting patterns, wooden cotton reels, tea cosies, embroidery stitches remind me of my childhood and just how busy my Mum was as she sewed, knitted, mended, darned, “made do”, upcycled, recycled and budgeted for a growing family.
I have many embroidered cloths that my Mum created for her Glory Box and which, in the main, were never used when the realities of running a household and raising children overtook the ideal of everything looking beautiful and serene when food was served and shared together.
I particularly like Rosemary’s words …….” Home-made is not an embarrassing option or an anachronism. We may be better educated than the women of the past, and work rather than staying at home to raise families, but the nesting instinct is real, and the hand-made is a way of expressing how we feel about our homes and the people we care about.
Enjoy the slight wonkiness of the hand-made……..Use the things you make. It’s what they are for. Make more of them, enjoy them and give them away to the people you care about.”
This book was a wonderful reminder to me to keep to my creative pursuits as both a resting, almost meditative time, a small but satisfying stance against “throw-away” consumerism but also for continuing on some very strong, time-honoured traditions.
And in a delicious quirk the tapestry and footstool on which the book is resting were both handcrafted by my Dad!