clara and nellie
Perhaps you noticed the “”110 Crocheted Edgings” book on my tray the other day? It belonged to my other Nanny (that is, not the one who is married to dear old Grandad, but my father’s mother). Mum passed it on to me a few years back now. It was in this bundle of goodies …
… that appeared during the great wool tidy up. Oh yes! The number of treasures that were unearthed during those days of wool untangling and winding made the tedium of it all well worth while!
This is only a small bundle of books, pamphlets and loose notes – collected and written by both my Nanny – Clara, and her mum – Nellie. Nanny adored her mother and I remember her home being stuffed to the brim with all sorts of books, linen, clothes, fabric, furniture (including the piano her mother taught on), and bric-a-brac that had been her mum’s. Her mum died when Nanny was only a young mother herself – I have a letter that Nanny wrote her Mum just after the birth of my dad and just before Nanny Nellie died – I have tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat just thinking about it – it was so touching and vulnerable. She must have missed her mum terrible. Very soon after her dad remarried a woman with two daughters who, whilst happy to move into the family home, did not want most of Nellie’s belongings – so Nanny promptly removed them, carefully stored them, and spent the next 40 years carting them about. I clearly inherited her genes – I’m dreadfully sentimental and cannot bear to throw anything out – as our jam-packed garage, shed, sewing shed, and Julian will testify.
The crocheted edgings book is particularly lovely. Even Julian thinks that page above with its illustrated stitches is quite a prize. And I’m finding the little book especially useful for my crocheted face flannels. I stumbled upon these via the talented Kristin at her lovely blog Cozy Made Things and just knew, as soon as I saw them, that they were my cup of tea.
So, whilst in Brisbane, I slipped off one afternoon to visit my old favourite fabric shopping haunt – The Quilters’ and Embroiderers’ Store with Karen and Leah – and bought several fat quarters. That was a mistake. Clearly a fat quarter is much too big to be a useful face flannel. But a quarter of a fat quarter is a little miserly. So I ended up cutting a square – 13 x 13 inches – from each of the fat quarters which left quite a bit of waste. Ugh. If I’d just bought 35 cm I’d have had two face flannels for a little more than the price of one fat quarter – and still a bit of leftover that could go in the scrap bag for a future scrappy flannel quilt. And that would have worked very nicely because Mum, Auntie Anne and Nanny have all claimed the first round of face flannels I’ve made! I may need to indulge in a little mail ordering – ohh look at that, they have 616 to choose from – and I won’t be making the same mistake next time.
Now I’m not sure whether Kristen doubled hers. I didn’t – Mum wondered whether I should, but it would have made it very bulky and they would take ages to dry. So, I simply overlocked the edges, then ironed 1 inch hems on each side with mitred corners. Then, using my 4 ply Paton’s cotton crochet yarn, I blanket stitched around the edge. This makes for a super easy first round of crochet. For this flannel, I used edging number 26!
I will add here – Nanny Clara would be alarmed at the use of such thick cotton. She used crochet hooks that were so fine, I cannot even SEE the hook. As for her crochet thread – it’s almost the weight of regular sewing thread! Extraordinary. Also – her local haberdashery had a very fine service to offer their crochet customers – a machine that you ran your fabric through and it evenly perforated a quarter inch in from the edge – which allowed for very elegant work indeed. When I was in Taree recently – their home town – Mum and I did look for this shop – but it had gone. Funny that.
Just writing “edging number 26″ makes me think of a rather crazy but awfully fun idea. Another book I inherited from Nanny Clara included delicate pieces of lawn that she had practiced different sewing techniques on – different seams, hems, collars, inserts etc. One of the pieces had several horizontal folds in it which she had finished in a variety of ways. Can you imagine a lovely big piece of cotton/linen (don’t want plain linen, it’s too stretchy) that I iron neat horizontal folds into – and stitch them, like big pinch pleats. The I could “divide” the piece of fabric into five even columns, and crochet each of the 110 edgings, so that it becomes a sampler! Then I could back it, bind the edges and hang it on the wall. Oh my goodness! I’m so excited at the thought, I’m twitching. It would be so beautiful. I would do them in a selection of soft, gentle, antiquey colours. Nothing bright. It would have “old world charm” :-) Oh my goodness! I’ll have to run up the road to Darn Cheap again tomorrow! ’Cause you know, I was thinking, that’s a lot of face flannels to use all 110 edgings.
Mind you, I am planning to crochet around the edge of my latest quilt. In red. I think it will look fetching – we’ll have to see ;-)
Now the rest of the post is taken up with photos of my favourite pages from the bundle … there are so many wonderful projects in here that I will be occupied for the rest of my life. Take a peek …
:: this is treasure of a book – so much goodness inside
:: the advertisements are just brilliant. And I love the advice “to just write to us” should you need anything. Can’t you imagine ladies sitting down at their writing desks after breakfast and elegantly penning a quick note to the wool store in time for the morning mail. Goodness, the wool would probably be delivered the very next day.
:: I love that these are “useful” (others were handsome – not that Julian thought so) and that they’re spelt D’Oyleys. Intriguing – I shall have to look that up.
:: I love this picture – their hair, the chairs, the properness of it all.
:: oh my goodness – this little girl – isn’t she a darling and so cosy! She most likely couldn’t hear anything either.
:: I don’t know about you, but I definitely want a Wendy the WAAAF!!! Truly, I shall make her – and she shall sit on my dresser.
:: I’ve not heard of stiletto work, let alone tried it – have you?
:: a memento from the coronation of our current Elizabeth. Shows all the places the processioned passed. So sweet.
:: I was a bit puzzled by a whole bundle of “beauty tips” – both Nanny Clara and Nanny Nellie were so against this kind of frippery – they were good Presbyterian women who did not have time for fancies – they would have thought it positively outrageous that a good moral woman had TIME to fret about wrinkles.
:: then I realised that on the back of each carefully saved beauty page, was a crochet pattern. Aha.
:: Nanny Nellie’s cook book – her writing is so curly and ornate I can barely read some of it …
… but Jam Drops and Bible Cake sound good.
:: Nanny Clara’s recipes. I love that people wrote down recipes and saved them. Yet another thing we’ve lost – what with our plethora of lavishly produced cookbooks and internet recipe sites. I keep meaning to start keeping hand written copies of our favourite recipes – but never seem to find them time.
So there you go – a wee glimpse of a face flannel – I’d better take some photos of the rest before they’re all parcelled up and sent away. And a little wander through the past.
You see, I HAVE to carefully keep all of my things so that women, three or four generations from now, will sort through my boxes of funny old things with a laugh of delight and awe. :-)