Sunday, September 15, 2013

Spring Frolics

First of all I must apologise for having been a neglectful poster, I have been having too much of a good time to direct any attention to blog posting but now will make up for lost time with a hurried message. 

The first exciting thing of recent weeks was the two yearly trip to Tarnished Frocks and Divas in Tauranga with a dear friend who manages to whip us all into a frenzy of excitement and this year we all got dressed up in sixties gear because we could tell from advance publicity that there was a bit of a sixties look about the show. 

 I won’t embarrass any of my fellow attendees with a photo of us in case they don’t care to have their shenanigans made public, but I can tell you that we turned a few heads and made something of a spectacle of ourselves.  We had a couple of flower children and a couple of beatle boot wearers (and I sported a fantastical black beehive hairdo also which was surprisingly comfortable).  The event has various categories and the entrants use recycled fabrics and clothes for their garments.  

I was thrilled to notice a dress (complete with bustle) made out of an old blanket and festooned with doilies.  All the models have to be over 40 which was very refreshing and dare I say inspirational, and the audience thoroughly enjoyed the whole show which included a lot of singing and dancing and told a story of its own. 

The next morning (after a very late night and a lot of carousing by us all) we discovered that the local embroiderers guild was hosting a show of their work, which we attended on the spur of the moment.  The work was of a very high quality and wide variety but what really thrilled me was that there was included a crazy quilt from 1880s which completely transfixed me.  (I suspect my friends were ready to leave long before I finally trailed out of the building glassy eyed and sighing.)  It was created by Euphemia Ballingall Maxwell, who was born in Scotland in 1929 and was such an accomplished needlewoman that she made her father's shirts for him when she was only nine years old.  I was so pleased with my last rainbow crazy quilt but the workmanship in this old beauty put me to shame.  The pieces were so tiny and the workmanship so fine.  Included were a wide variety of simple hand embroidered pieces including some very curious subjects which presumably must have had special significance for the worker of this wonderful crazy quilt.

 In this photo you can make out a boot, an elephant and part of a pair of scissors
 A magnificent green beetle
 A bright yellow crab - and notice the fabric with swastikas printed into the silk.  This was before swastikas came to have the present connotations, and were a symbol of good luck or good fortune in many cultures.

 A very healthy rat
Caterpillars, or possibly centipedes - and note the swastika motif reversed to give another colour effect.

 Upside down, black embroidery on yellow silk, a very grumpy looking man.

There was also one of a grumpy faced man, a rat, a pig, a couple of guitars, a harp and so on.  The border was a beautiful moss green velvet which set the whole thing off to perfection.  (Madame La Poste and I have divergent ideas about colour and I know she would disagree with me here.)  For me this was the icing on the cake of a wonderful weekend and I came home vowing to be more creative and use more techniques in my next crazy quilt.  What an inspiration.  I was allowed to take some photos so I have included some for you to see.  What small pieces and what attention to detail.  Every person has their own technique and approach to crazy quilting, which is one of the things I find so interesting about it.  Probably everybody has their own unique style which would make it relatively easy to recognise the work of different crazy quilters but it is good to try to keep developing and adding new techniques and try different effects on each quilt.  You might be able to see that this quilt includes a fabric with swastikas, which were a symbol of good luck in ancient cultures and did not have the connotations we ascribe to them now.  In fact the fabric has been used in several different places in the quilt, reversed for a different effect at times, so we obviously weren’t the first generation of crazy quilters to think of this trick.  I know I have included an awful lot of photos of this quilt but it is worth poring over to see the use of stitches and colour.  It is quite well preserved but the backing is deteriorating quite badly, fortunately the front shows less sign of the ravages of passing time.

In the same exhibition was displayed another "crazy".  This one appears to be a runner, perhaps for the top of a piano.  The colours are more subdued and it includes a lot of beading which has withstood the ravages of time remarkably well. 

When I returned exhausted but happy to Shoestring Cottage, Mr Shoestring had had the honour of being promoted to the exalted position of going out in one of the boats for the annual opening of scallop season and was thrilled when the effort entered by Farmer Peaceable won!  It was scallop on black pudding, with a bed of potato/pea/spinach mass and a garnish of lime mayonnaise.  Astonishingly we had a repeat of last year's events, where a very similar recipe was entered by another team.  You can imagine how proud Farmer Peaceable was when presented with the trophy.  This year the silver cup has been embellished further by the addition of a handsome wooden base and back board, and the addition of a magnificent scallop shell.  We all had such a feast that even the poor unfortunates who have yet to win the cup must have been happy.  (I hope so, or they may have gone to plot our downfall next year.  I can imagine that the cookbooks and knives are already out.  Gulp.)  

Last weekend there was another highlight in store for me.  By chance the local Anglican Church was displaying a collection of dresses and hats , particularly wedding gowns, from the 1880s until the 1970s.  The proud owner had divested herself of most of her extensive collection of clothing and accessories but put the remaining ones on display as a fund raiser.  Yet again it was an inspiration.  The workmanship in these garments was mind boggling.  Included were some fans from the 1920s, an ostrich feather one with mother of pearl "ribs"

 and one with ebony ribs which were most intricately carved or
possibly machine turned.

  The lace in particular in the gowns was beautiful and in very good repair.  

This hat was of a later vintage, possibly 1950s, but I thought it was heavenly and wish I could wear such a confection on a daily basis.  Bring back hats I say, we would all be in a better way!  

Also last weekend Madame La Poste called around for a visit.  I hadn't seen her for weeks and she treated me to some more treasures from her collection, including a book about pansy crafts - heaven. There was the most fetching tin with swallows on it, a pretty glass bowl with painted pansies and turned wooden container with pansies painted on the lid.  A veritable cache of treasure, and I am still trying what to do with the canvaswork vase of flowers.  I think they would make an excellent pocket on the side of a tote for marketing, or perhaps adorn the back of a jacket.  The possibilities are endless really!   

Despite neglect the garden is thriving.  After all this socialising and gadding about some serious work will have to be done there in the next little while.  Here's hoping all is good in your patch of the universe!  


  1. That crazy quilt is gorgeous. I must tell you my experience with Swastikas. When I was small, in the mid 40's, German measles were going around and I asked my brother what happened to one if one got them. He replied that Swastikas appeared all over your body. I was scared to death!!Fortunately none appeared on me although I looked daily for weeks.

  2. Oh Egretta, that is hilarious! But it must have been very frightening at the time of course. I hope you got your revenge on your brother in some suitable way!