“With Bold Needle and Thread” by Rosemary McLeod

“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.
“Pesky Interruptions”
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!

14 thoughts on ““With Bold Needle and Thread” by Rosemary McLeod

  1. Gallivanta

    Oh how brilliant. Did you see this book was in my post yesterday, too? I didn’t do a wonderful review like this but the book is sitting on my table and I keep dipping in to its delights. Love the tapestry stool. My mother has two like that. She did the tapestries but I don’t know who made the frames. I was fascinated with them as a child. I was wondering if I could reblog your post. I have never done a reblog before but I am very excited by your review.

    1. ordinarygood Post author

      I did see your post yesterday which included this very book I had just had to return to the Library. No renewals due to a long list of reserves on it. My mind has been elsewhere in the past three weeks – lots of grandchildren minding, then a strange virus that has left me with a hacking cough (have wondered about Whooping Cough as the earlier parts of the virus were not that vicious), a birthday in the family, the recent earthquakes and now someone has backed into my car so that needs an insurance claim. My book review seems very inadequate in capturing the huge resource this book is across so many themes and topics.
      I have a second foot-stool that had a tapestry cover stitched by Dad. The stool was made by Dad’s father and lived in my childhood home after my grandmother down-sized. I don’t remember a cover on it before Dad’s one. I still have that tapestry here and often wonder how I could upcycle it in some way….hmmm lots of material here for future posts I am thinking.
      Please reblog!! I did that on this post as I wanted my OG readers to know about this book. I’m pleased that you find the book delightful too.
      I hope the dust is going to settle here very soon and I can regain my blogging focus.

      1. Gallivanta

        Would love to see more of the tapestries when time permits. Sounds like we have both had the same sort of cough/cold virus. It is debilitating. I am delighted to reblog your post; have to figure out how to do that though. I am still dealing with builders and insurance issues relating to the flood in my upstairs bathroom in March, would you believe! Hope your car repairs go more smoothly than that.

      2. ordinarygood Post author

        I can imagine the protracted repair matters. Feeling depleted does not help stay on top of such things. Fingers crossed over the car as you say. The driver who reversed into my wee car has stated that it was her error so that should help things along.

  2. Gallivanta

    Reblogged this on silkannthreades and commented:
    In my post yesterday I mentioned ‘With Bold Needle and Thread” by Rosemary McLeod. This morning I read this wonderful review of the book by fellow New Zealand blogger Ordinary Good. Enjoy her good words and her blogs as well.

      1. Gallivanta

        I am sure they will. I had a look at buying a copy for myself and for such a big book it is quite well priced. However, still a lot for my income. If I had the spare cash I think I would give the money to a library to get another copy because it is the kind of book that needs to be shared.

    1. ordinarygood Post author

      Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. There is so much detail woven through the book about women and how life was for them across time. Some that makes us laugh now, some that makes us sad and realise how stymied we were in our lives. But always acknowledgement of the thrift and creativity women bought to their handwork of any type.


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