Textile Ponderings.

Call me weird but I have never found silk to be my favourite texture. I prefer unbelievably soft wool or cotton - cashmere for example. Also love well worn denim, leather and I suppose, to a lesser extent, suede. I like something which you can run your finger across, which has slight variations of surface.  I have a cupboard into which I carefully fold and store lovingly collected pieces of fabric. I love my really old and darned at the elbow oyster coloured cashmere twin-set I bought for £25; my sari silk I bought in Greenwich market 25yrs ago; my suede handbag from the 60's bought in Haynes Lane Flea market, Crystal Palace 15 yrs ago, the beautiful French cotton pillowcases with lace trim; the linen also from France that I bought Mother to make yet another curtain. 

I rue the day I chucked out a Chinese dress which although handmade, was floor length on me and fitted like a glove. I have a dressing gown Mother bought me 26 yrs ago- its a Ghanaian style, batik, floor length, earthy tones and 100% cotton -  I love it. I took Mother to John Lewis to do a Trinny and Susannah on her for a birthday years ago.  That too is relegated to history because those of us of a certain age who remember the ladies will understand when I say they introduced me and a few others to the delights of a well fitting brassiere! 

Mother makes up her own knitting patterns based on her photos of the heather or dry stone walls. She owns copious jars, baskets and jugs of dried flower heads, fossils, shells, old brushes and skulls of wildlife. All these collections of things have decorated our family homes for decades, forever being added to. I have also sent her unique ceramic buttons, teeny brass and glass buttons, a pair of shorts I ordered but thought would suit her more. I am very much the same. Husband tolerates.

Granny did silk painting and watercolours - she was extremely good but lacked self confidence or an outlet. She would have loved an iPad. She would have been over the moon with Hockney's  "Bigger Picture "exhibition at the Royal Academy. I can't imagine how she would have reacted to the Alexander McQueen exhibition at the V&A recently but I suspect, again, she would have been in rapture. I certainly was.

Mother brought me and my brother up on a diet of Clothkits clothes. I am older by two years so we were in unisex from the get go.  It was the 1970's. I love a pair of ill-fitting jeans, clumpy shoes and quite frankly needlecord has never been better than in the early 1970's.  As long as rik-rak braid goes nowhere near my hems or cuffs we'll be fine. It has its place and the "make do and mend: resurgence has well and truly established that.

Here I am, I suppose, admitting I don't mind one bit that I am turning into my Mother or her Mother.

We love textiles. On the surface of it, of course we like to shop, even Granny when in her nursing home at the age of 93 still had catalogues delivered in case she saw a nice garment. Which she did, regularly. She would have been 100 yrs old this year.

We have now agreed though that we both enjoy shopping in places like Seasalt more now! We still tootle around looking in remnants piles oo-ing and ah-ing.

I have dyed and altered and lined all manner of  second hand garments, turned something unloved into something very much loved. I have a half made skirt out of the Cath Kidston Cowboy print fabric which Husband asked "where will you wear that then?" when I showed him - probably not with you then, was my reply!  I collect fabric just in case and am never shy of just cutting into it to make "stuff".  I love fabrics, what can I say....

I also introduced Mother to Selvedge magazine and the Knitting and Stitching show, Pinterest and forums for knitting on her tablet. She in turn, has taught me all I know on the sewing machine amongst very much more. She has taught me to stitch, to create, to look, to adjust patterns and wonder at the delicacy of fabrics and components - don't even mention the buttons. Jam jars of colour co-ordinated buttons following a rainbow of order and delight. All along her sewing desk at arms reach yet still pleasing to look at. We both love to watch Sewing Bee, Bake-Off and the Pottery one too. 

Mother has also tried to teach me to knit - I still can't, I'm 43. Its my fingers, they will not co-operate! 

From a young age, I knew there was something very special to me about fabrics; the feel, the drape, the lustre. The micro sensitive way you become aware of your finger tip sensations to ensure you can address the fabrics' characteristics well enough to identify it. Regardless of manufacturing technique or time period, fabric suggests and it caresses and it protects, adorns and comforts.

Granny had a work room, Mother has a work attic and I have a shed, all of these were and are covered in lovingly organised piles of possibility. I love my shed, it is my space but that, is another post.