My thanks to the men who commented yesterday. It was really great to hear your opinions and learn a little about how you work.
As I waited for a meeting to start on Monday, I browsed through some blogs I'd never seen before. It made me really happy and optimistic about the future to see so many people making gifts and food hampers from scratch. Hand made and home baking has become part of our lives again. After a history of doing things this way, and a brief fifty year glitch, we're coming back to it. It feels good to me.
These above and below were made by my sister, Tricia. Above was going to be part of a quilt but ended up not wanted and left here after a visit. I use it all the time on my kitchen table. Below is a linen cushion cover Tricia sent to me yesterday. I have a sneaking suspicion that it's a hand sewn portrait of the two of us. I am in the red striped stockings, she has my polka dot stockings on. I will have to talk to her about it. ; - )
I came to hand making more from necessity than the beauty of it, although there is an abundance of that. I sometimes wonder what a shop assistant would say if I asked for a cloth for draining yoghurt or cheese, or a set of small to larger cotton circles or squares to cover my fermenting ginger beer and sour dough. But in the end nothing did better than the little open weave cloths I made. Table mats, runners and napkins were the same. Not only did they serve my purpose, they used up the scraps I had left over from larger projects. I think it's a bit quaint to use doilies alone to protect a precious wooden surface, but I'm much more open to sewing a doily into something more substantial that I've made from scraps. My doilies are sometimes from my mother so I'm also sewing memories into items I use on a daily basis. It's the best of both worlds and I smile when I see them.
This charming bird, in my favourite polka dots, was made by Sarndra. It guards our front door.
This make-it-yourself ideology comes into play in the garden too. Instead of buying stakes and fancy climbing trellises, Hanno makes do with what we have, recycling old pieces of steel and iron and using ancient timber stakes, bamboo canes and small raw branches for small climbing frames. I wanted a large stone vessel to place under the palm tree to hold clean water for the chooks when they were free ranging. I knew a stone vessel would be out of our price range if I bought one but when our old stone bird bath was too damaged to use in the front garden, it became that stone drinking vessel. The chooks use it every day.
Very early on in my simple life, I decided that instead of buying products all the time, I would be productive and make them myself, and that has stood me in good stead. I make aprons, napkins, small curtains, table runners, covering cloths, dish cloths, face cloths, rugs for our pets and many other household soft furnishings and woollie wearables like mittens, scarves and socks that allow me to use scrap fabric and wool while I'm producing something I need. Home production feels right and honest to me. I feel I'm doing what I should be doing and that I'm getting the full value of what we have here.
Do you know what this is? I found it inside something I bought at an antique shop about a year ago. It's hand stitched in red and green cottons and features a horse, church, Christmas tree, birds, a woman and several other things. It's made of open weave cotton and measures about 130 cm (50 inches).
When I need something new in my home, I don't think of getting it at the shop anymore, I start looking through my stash. Usually I have exactly what I need or something I can modify. It's a great feeling to be self-reliant and not to have to rely on what's in the shops to supply our needs. I think I've become a lot more confident since I've lived this way; I'm sure I'm better for it. So while I browse around the blog neighbourhood and see others doing what I'm doing here, but in different ways and often with much more ability and finesse, I smile and feel like I'm part of a soft and beautiful revolution. Those of us who make do with what we have are showing how simply made cotton, linen and woollen items are not only be utilitarian but also make a meaningful contribution to a unique home.