I found an outsized wooden clothes peg this week in a charity shop, alongside various old linens marked with blue embroidery transfers. One of the latter also carried a World War II utility mark which is always exciting to see. Both of these methods of marking were designed to wash out so their survival is a time-capsule treat.
I’m collecting references to the humble clothes peg, and happening across this very big peg reminded me of one of my favourites. It’s a recollection about historian and political philosopher Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881) taken from Conversations with Carlyle (1892) by Charles Gavan Duffy:
Speaking of his method of work, he said he found the little wooden pegs, which washerwomen employ to fasten their clothes to a line, highly convenient for keeping together bits of notes and agenda on the same special point.
The sprung clothes peg was invented in the US in 1853, so it’s possible that this was what was being referred to, but don’t quote me.
The prop ship from the Aardman movieThe Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists is currently docked at the M Shed, Bristol. We had a chance to peek at it last weekend after my fortunate youngest attended a free Watershed stop-motion animation workshop with someone from Aardman. I know! How cool is that? I have been touching the hem of his robe all week.
The detail on the sails was perfect: the faux rips…
…the roped edging, doing absolutely nothing functional but looking the part.
And I liked the humorous laundry line rigged on deck too.
And the wonderfully grotesque figure-head, apparently beheaded and then re-headed with Neptune’s.
The ship will remain at the M Shed for 6 months. Here’s some behind-the-scenes footage of the making of the film which (in spite of the presenter’s efforts) is fascinating and utterly breathtaking. These Aardman guys and gals go beyond the painstaking. Enjoy your weekend!
I had a busy time at the It’s Darling! Vintage & Artisan Fair on Saturday in Bath’s Guildhall. It was good to see so many ID! regulars and old friends, both stallholders and visitors alike (includingFaith of Something Fabulous, and Shirley who generously donated me various old sewing bits & bobs which she doesn’t need any longer). It was also a pleasure to meet new people (such as Susi, who kindly featured me there on the Brunel Broderers blog, helpfully mentioning my stitcher’s beeswax – it works, by the way!). I was very happy to see that Abby Harris of Bubs Bears made it (despite feeling very poorly indeed last week) and that she brought this ticking peg bag with her…
…which I made sure she didn’t have to take home with her again. I’d eyed it up at the spring It’s Darling! and admired Abby’s meticulous workmanship, then kicked myself for not buying it. Incidentally, you might be interested to read Abby’s My First Sewing Machine interview over here. Sorry about the quality of that picture; when it hasn’t actually been raining it’s been dull and overcast in Bath today. There were many other lovely things at the fair too, some of which I hope to mention another day.
It’s been a frustrating week of half-term and half-completed to-do lists. But in between the chores and the childcare I’ve had glimpses like this.
Roses & laundry
Rather appropriate in the week that DH & I celebrated twenty years of marriage. Passing that particular milestone makes our relationship vintage — at least by Etsy‘s criteria — roses, thorns, laundry and all. What a thought! Have a good weekend. I do hope the sun shines on you.
Made in the 1950s – I think, though employing older fabrics – it has been well worn (dare I say abused?) and is terribly shredded but retains much its pinwheel charm.
I washed it yesterday using a delicate soap, gently agitating it by hand in the bathtub (just prodding it, really) before letting it drain (boy, that water was satisfyingly yellow!), rinsing it, draining it again, rolling it carefully and putting it in the washing machine to spin. Then I let it dry flat and supported before hanging it (just damp) on the line to finish drying in the fresh air. All in the name of work avoidance, of course.
You might see it as a cutter, but I think I will drape it somewhere and watch it gently deteriorate.
I’m sorry if you’ve arrived here under false pretences, because this blog post is only about laundry.
Last week’s news of Jane Russell‘s demise prompted me to dig out this unused card of 1940s clothes pins (or pegs to British readers) from my small collection of similar. The laundress there, in her fetching apron, reminds me a teeny bit of a demure, daytime version of Jane.
Hollywood Pin-ups produced by Del E. Webb Products Co, California
Aren’t they wonderful? Such a brave attempt to glamorise the subject. The big claims were that they would fit any clothes line, would not rust nor leave marks on your laundry, all achieved with a modern streamlined beauty. And so versatile! The reverse of the card suggested that you could also use these as money-, paper-, hair- or tie-clips, napkin-holders or skirt-hangers.
A quick internet search (peeking through my fingers) revealed that these were designed by a couple of California neighbours who were tired of hearing their wives groan about the inadequacies of normal clothes-pins. The product was featured in Time magazine in December 1945, and 80,000 pins were then being shipped daily, so I guess you can call them a success. If you have a memory of this wonderful product, I’d love to hear about it.
Another scrap so soon? I’m trying to stick to posting these on Mondays in future, so this week begins as I mean to go on.
Here’s is an object lesson in how to shrink a garment before upcycling. Or possibly how not to shrink a garment before upcycling. Let’s just say I was a little vigorous in my approach.
Originally a long 100% lambswool Dorothy Perkins skirt from my local charity shop, this item was bought purely for the pleasure of shrinking to make into something else. I had absolutely no intention of wearing it, and – knowing what wool skirts do to the average backside – I really didn’t think anyone else should be wearing it either. So that’s my excuse for indulging in a little garment genocide. Here it is before I got to work with my evil plan.
Innocent skirt, minding its own business
And here’s a closer shot of its rather nice back-to-front texture (the right side of the garment looked like the wrong side, if you get me).
And this is what happened when I put it through a hot wash in my unopenable-during-its-wash-cycle front-loading washing machine.
Oh, the horror!
Yes, a little more shrinkage than I’d anticipated; about a third of it just disappeared. Nevermind. Let that be a lesson to you. On the plus side, I have a reasonably big piece of very dense felt to play with.
This textile vandalism happened a while ago but I dug it out when I was looking for something to use for Mimi Kirchner‘s wonderful Fresh Fish pattern. I’m not sure it’s what I’ll use for my first effort, but it’s there in my fish pending tray for now. It’s certainly big enough to make up the body of the fish. By the way, I’d been toying with getting hold of Mimi’s fish pattern for months and was finally inspired to reel it in by this adorable version made by the reigning queen of garment-felting, Betz White.
I hope you’re enjoying a wonderful Christmas in the bosom of your family.
However, if it’s not going so idyllically, here’s a thought. Someone I don’t know sent me these dryer sheets – without my asking, and without any obvious benefit to herself.
They are utterly lovely. I remain very grateful, as they eclipse anything equivalent that I’ve located closer to home, though I try not to use my tumble-dryer (but this is England in bleak midwinter, for goodness’ sake…).
Wow! What a weekend! I had an amazing time at the fair, despite the best sabotaging efforts of my cold virus. The Guildhall makes a wonderfully sedate, genteel, rather wedding-cakey backdrop (I’ve attended a wedding in that very room, now I come to think of it), and Becky and Catherine did a great job organising everything – as well as their own stalls. I tip my imaginary bonnet to them both. My experience of fairs isn’t vast, but this seems to be an extremely good-natured and genial one.
The view from my stall
I had the same spot as in July, which was somehow reassuring, and found myself next to Faith Barber of Something Fabulousagain, and her luscious display of jewel-coloured capelets, purses, corsages and slips.
I was trying to get some height into my display and also leave some air between my items (I have the same problem when I put together a publication – the urge to inform tends to crowd every corner) . The fake goose-feather trees were perfect for that. Something possessed me to obtain two sets – a green one and a white one, so I decided (rashly) that a change of colour between the Saturday and the Sunday would be a good idea. I went from trad Christmas green/red Saturday to more girly pink/pearly white on the Sunday. You’re obviously looking at my pinky-white Sunday garb above.
I wanted a banner, and possibly something bunting-ish. I didn’t have time to make the latter, but did my Make Do & Mend version of the former with plain printed letters on thin card pegged to an impromptu laundry line slung from some old wooden stepladders (handy for displaying vintage scarves and eiderdowns). A friend laughed like a drain when I pointed out what might have happened if the S and final four letters (i, a, n & a) had slipped from their pegs… Happily, I was spared such a Ratner moment. It was possibly just a bit too Steptoe & Son, or Open All Hours (especially the paint-spattered platform of my taller ladder), but no matter. I even had a Granville turning up periodically (i.e. my ten-year-old son) to “help” me (i.e. look bored and pester me for money to buy vintage garb from the other stallholders).
Lots of friendly faces turned up to grace me with their custom (you know who you are – thank you heartily!), and virtual friends came too – I was surprised how many times the phrase “I follow you on Twitter!” was uttered. One of the most gratifying compliments was the blog-reader who said: “Your stuff looks just like it does in the pictures!” – i.e. just as good. I do love to meet new people and natter, usually about the current state of darning, or what was in their grandma’s button box, or the beauty and tactile pleasure of wooden cotton reels, or almost anything else, really. So I was in my element.
I’m having trouble loading pictures onto my blog today – perhaps my server has a cold too – but more pictures of my stall (and Faith’s adorable capelets) can be found amongst my Flickr pics here. Becky’s Flickr photos have quite a few shots of my stall too.
PS To the gentleman who, I think, bought a packet of buffalo buttons but left them behind, do get in touch and I’ll mail them to you.
I’ve found the perfect clothes pegs for misfits! Just supply your own round holes (aherm).
But srsly, these flat pegs are the business. I have a small collection of clothes pegs (or pins, if you’re reading this in North America), have tested them all, and must say that these ones have more grip and spring than your standard dolly peg, but still ooze oodles of charm. And the crafting possibilities are legion. They’re scarce as hen’s teeth over here, but more commonplace in the US. I’m selling these bundles of nine at my Christmas fairs, but I don’t have many so get there early!