Tagged: hope

Jan 17

Persuasive labels


In my Etsy shop you’ll find Persuasion labels. These sew-in tags feature a searing line from Jane Austen’s book of the same name, plucked from the love-letter of Captain Wentworth to Anne Elliot. He’s explaining how he’s on tenterhooks. His old love for her continues, but is it still reciprocated…? As he waits for her reply, he writes:

I am half agony, half hope. 

If you’ve read the book and not bawled your eyes out at this point, your heart must be stonier than mine. Persuasion isn’t an easy read if you’ve been waiting for fortune (in love or anything else) to turn in your favour. Not to be recommended, possibly, if the powers-that-be appear to be conspiring against you. But do read it. It’s about endurance and stoicism and – eventually – joy. The moral of the story is that the good things in life are worth waiting for, with the stress very much on the waiting; Austen’s working title should have been Delayed Gratification.

So, who would use a label like this? And how? Well, late last year I got an order for some of these labels, all the way from Singapore. A while after I despatched them, a lovely message came in from the buyer, Lala, with a link to her blog, Girl with a Sewing Machine. And there was the label. Looking wonderful. Stitched inside the waistband of a skirt she’d made for the Yellow Skirt Project.

Persuasion label stitched inside waistband

Persuasion label stitched inside waistband


Doesn’t that red-green-yellow-pink combo just kerpow? And here’s a full-length shot of Lala wearing her cute skirt.


Lala in her yellow 'Persuasion' skirt. It persuades me!

Lala in her persuasive skirt


Lala calls her skirt ‘The Grapefruit Chardon’, based on the Deer and Doe pattern. She goes on to explain on her blog that she’d heard about the Persuasion labels here on Roobeedoo‘s blog. And here. I’d missed Roobeedoo’s mentions completely, so am really grateful that Lala pointed them out. It gives me a real kick to think that these labels are being worn inside real pieces of clothing, flying an invisible flag for persistence, endurance and (not least) sew-in labels.

At school in the 1970s, my drab grey and bottle-green school uniform was marked with Cash’s name tapes: my mother let me choose the lettering, and I went for the biggest, boldest font available: large red capitals on a white ground. I didn’t want my obscure Welsh name to be indecipherable. These labels were tremendously reassuring: they would be legible; they would withstand the laundry, they would stay on through the forlorn rummage of the lost-property bin. For me, they also signified how much I (as well as my uniform) was cared for. I don’t think there was an option to attend that school without sewn-in labels (that was how things worked back then) so presumably some of my peers had the same feeling. For me, those labels were like a talisman, a St Christopher ferrying me (in my uniquely named me-ness) safely through the world.  Once I had kids of my own, it had to be my guilty secret that I actually enjoyed the chore of sewing their labels into their first school uniforms. It felt as if I was nurturing their specialness too, in the way that mine had been. And, though I could not be with them as they took their first solo steps into the significant places beyond home, my stitches could touch their skin. For me, a Sharpie scrawl on a laundry tag is just not the same. I know, I know! My name is Eirlys and I’m a label purist.

Since then I’ve discovered old laundry marking labels, usually with a couple of elaborate embroidered initials only. These are mostly red thread on white cotton. Intricate. Delicate. Beautiful. Most of us don’t send our clothes out to laundries these days, so don’t have to mark our smalls and detachable collars with these dainty anachronisms. But they are still delightful, and add a touch of elegance to a making project. If you’re wanting antique labels with your own initials, they can be found – with a little persistence. Do drop a comment below if you happen to be an antique textiles dealer who sells them. 



Antique laundry labels


If you’d like some of these ultra-romantic Persuasion labels, you can buy them over here. I  also have some I love you labels which you might sew into a homemade garment or wearable vintage find for your beloved (or would-be beloved) on Valentine’s Day. I’m sure it’ll do the trick.



May 03


Forgive the high-brow title: I was trying to figure out how to combine ‘iris’ and ‘therapy’ there: a little play on that tulipomania idea. This continues the series of posts which feature gazing at my garden plants when I should probably be doing something else instead (like posting another My First Sewing Machine item – thanks Abby! – or thanking everyone who thronged to the Larkhall Festival on Saturday, including my very capable assistant, Polly).


Newly opened iris

I was really excited to get hold of these irises which came from a rather special ecclesiastical garden (purchased, not pilfered!). They’ve just opened and are truly glorious.

Our spring has been astonishingly lovely. There hasn’t been any rain: driest in 50 years, they said on Radio 4 this morning.  The iris likes this (look at those rhizomes basking in the sun there), and the vine behind isn’t much bothered either. The vine went in three or so years ago and has finally deigned to set fruit. Lots of it. And they’re edible grapes, so I’m looking forward to a great autumn crop, maybe eaten warm from the plant.

Garden irises

Iris rhizomes bask in the sun

Today I visit my brother. He has sadly been given notice to leave his current care home. It’s hard to contemplate what will happen to him next, and to face whatever that might be with optimism and not despair.

Happily, I’ve just discovered that irises were grown historically in Catholic Mary gardens, the sword-like leaves symbolising the sorrows which pierced Mary’s heart, the flowers denoting faith, wisdom, cherished friendship, hope and valour. I hope they will not only help to soothe my worries but to inspire me onward also. Maybe the sight of them will help you on your way today too. I hope so.


Feb 01


It’s been a long wait for snowdrops this year. I finally saw great clumps of them on my drive out to the Cotswolds today, but they’re still tightly furled in their pendulous buds, which is unusually immature for the start of February. In my recollection, they tend to be wide open by today, sometimes blooming as early as late December. But it’s been a hard winter, and spring has been an especially long time coming.

Snowdrops were brought to Britain by monks in the fifteenth century, or so the story goes. They are certainly found frequently in monastery gardens, apparently planted to celebrate today: Candlemas Day in the old Church calendar, a.k.a. the Feast of the Purification of the Virgin Mary. This gave rise to such folkloric names such as ‘Candlemas Bells’ and ‘February Fair-maids’.

The Latin for snowdrop comes from the Greek galanthus meaning ‘milkflower’ and nivalis meaning ‘snowy’. Testament that this brave little flower has to push its way up through the snow comes from the French name: perce-neige: ‘snow-piercer’, or (as I’ve seen elsewhere less charmingly) ‘snow-driller’.


Snowdrops in my lawn at home

Of course, my personal favourite version of the name must really be the Welsh: eirlys, a blend of eira meaning ‘snow’ and lys meaning ‘lily’. It always struck me, growing up with such a poetic Welsh name, that the English translation just didn’t quite match what the bardic residents the other side of Offa’s Dyke came up with.

So, I guess I’m not the only one eagerly awaiting the emphatic arrival of this year’s snowdrops. Wordsworth called them (in the singular, as sighting just one is surely enough reason for celebration) ‘venturous harbinger of Spring’. And Christina Rosetti wrote: ‘…Brother, joy to you!/I’ve brought some snowdrops; only just a few,/Cheerful and hopeful in the frosty dew/And for the pale sun’s sake.’ I’ve had an arduous couple of weeks, after a curious turn of events in my private life, but am currently gaining shedloads of sustenance from the optimism inherent in my name. For snowdrop, in the language of flowers, is quite simply ‘Hope’.

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