Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Golden Hands

I got a bit of cabin fever being stuck inside all day on Saturday so in the afternoon my sister and I went to visit our two great aunts on my Dad's side. They live together in a house they had built which has a big room solely to hold their loom, sewing machines, spinning wheel, embroidery and craft supplies etc. They also have a huge garden with fruit trees, glass house, and vegetable patch.

I wish I had taken more interest in what they did when I was younger but I didn't see them very often as they lived in Auckland for a long time and only moved to the Wairarapa a few years ago. And of course, when I was young I thought all their weaving and spinning and embroidery was a bit boring. Now I realise just how skilled they are - one of them wove all the curtains in their house, their bedspreads and rugs are handmade, their embroidery adorns the walls, and a lot of their clothes are handmade including their 'for best' woven two-piece suits.

They are very patient though and now that I AM showing an interest in all things crafty, they are very helpful and supportive. I showed them my hat and they were very pleased that I was continuing my knitting. One of them had a bag full of things she thought I might like including patterns for dolls' dresses (following the dolls' cot blanket at Christmas), magazines about patchwork (from when I had said I wanted to get into quilting) and more but I had to be strong and say maybe I would take them another day as I really don't have room for more books until I get another bookshelf (it's on my 'to-do' list). I did however take this amazing book:

I say amazing not purely because of the content (although it does have some very useful things like an invisible cast-on method and instructions for all sorts of needlework and dressmaking) but also because of the blast-from-the-past 1970s nature of the photos and writing. For example:
7o's decor anyone? Matching brown and white curtains and tablecloth with little tassles, mmmm.

They certainly didn't sugar coat it in the dressmaking section 40 years ago...

'Coming to grips with your figure; Which type are you?; What is your problem?'

I think these days in magazines they phrase it a bit more like, 'How to dress best for your body shape' as opposed to the blunt 'Figure Problems' and give the shapes a friendly fruity spin - pear shaped, apple shaped - and of course, the classic 'hour glass curves' label.

But back in the 70s there was no time to be offended, you were too eager to suss out your figure problem, learn to adjust patterns to suit your body type, and rush off to make outfits such as these:
I love the fact that the woman who is standing by the fireplace is drinking sherry or something equally classy.

I can only dream that one day I too will have the skills to look like the women above and if I work hard on learning to read a pattern and get the basics right, I'll be able to knit one of these in beautiful cream, brown, and tan:
The blonde woman has to be wearing a wig, right? It has that lovely acrylic shimmer...

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