Thursday, November 29, 2007

Flora MacDonald

"Flora MacDonald will almost invariably feature in any discussion on Skye's history. A South Uist girl, she moved to Skye on her mother's remarriage and seems to have been taken under the wing of Lady Margaret MacDonald who arranged for Flora to complete her schooling in Edinburgh. In 1746, during a visit to South Uist, she learned that the fugitive Charles Edward Stuart, otherwise known as Bonnie Prince Charlie or the Young Pretender, was in hiding on the island and wanted to get over to Skye. So, as everyone now knows, Flora took him over in a small boat, the Prince being disguised (in flowered calico gown, quilted petticoat, cap, hood, mantle and gloves) as Betty Burke, an Irish maid. Flora's part in the Prince's escape became known and she was duly arrested and even imprisoned for a short time in the Tower of London, but she was released in 1747, subsequently emigrating to America with her husband. Even then, Flora's travels were not over; the call of the Hebrides proved too strong and in 1779 she returned, eventually dying peacefully in Skye in 1790. As a reward for her troubles Charles gave Flora a locket containing his portrait, but he never tried to communicate with her again, an apparent ingratitude that did not go down well on the island."


Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Decisions: canary or paisley?

"Although we don't often notice this, our little voice chatters away in the preceding situations. I stare into my closet on Friday morning and my little inner voice commences: Paisley shirt or the canary one? Canary. But got to dress up on Monday so canary today means doing laundry over the weekend. Paisley! And I reach for the paisley (or is it: As I reach for the paisley? Or even after I've begun reaching for the paisley?...)."

Bickle, John (2003), Empirical Evidence for a Narrative Concept of Self, in Fireman, Gary D., McVay, Ted. E. Jr. & Flanagan, Owen J. (eds) (2003), Narrative and Consciousness: Literature, Psychology and the Brain, Oxford University Pres, Oxford, New York, p. 199

Yellow and White - "her clothes are the weather"

"Tamara has flung open her closet door; just to see her standing there is to feel a squeeze of the heart. She loves her clothes. She knows her clothes. Her favourite moment of the day is this moment, standing at the closet door, still a little dizzy from her long night of tumbled sleep, biting her lip, thinking hard, moving the busy hangers along the rod, about to make up her mind.

Yes! The yellow cotton skirt with the big patch pockets and the hand detail around the hem. How fortunate to own such a skirt. And the white blouse. What a blouse! Those sleeves, that neckline with its buttoned flap, the fullness in the yoke that reminds her of the Morris dances she and her boyfriend Bruce saw at the Exhibition last year.
She never checks the weather before she dresses; her clothes are the weather, as powerful in their sunniness as the strong, muzzy early morning light pouring into the narrow street by the bus stop, warming the combed crown of her hair and fuelling her with imagination."

Shields, Carol (2000), Dressing up for the carnival, QPD London, p. 1 & 2

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Beach Buttons

At the art & craft group at Eastbourne Blind Society we do a lot of work with donated materials. Looking through tins full of buttons some of us get talking about our fascination with mother-of-pearl buttons. |She still has her mother's buttons, one lady tells me, among them buttons her mother collected on the beach in Pevensey Bay in 1940 when a merchant ship, the Barn Hill, was bombed by the Germans near Eastbourne and the cargo washed ashore. People went to the beach to collect what they could: tins of tomatoes and other food and buttons. The buttons were difficult to spot among the pebbles and shells - many might have been carried by the tides to far-away shores, others still buried in the sand.

Next time I go to the beach I will look for pearl buttons.

Pair of stackable crochet hooks

"As I knit I hear the faint echo of another pair of needles clicking away in the back of my mind. As I link chain to chain in my crochet I see my grandmother sitting in her armchair by the fire, screwing up her eyes to catch the last of the daylight because 'the electric' was never bright enough for her to work by. As I cut out patterns I hear her scissors pulling across the table in the dining-room where she worked. By these memories and by my craftwork I am inextricably bound to my grandmother."

Sue Scott, Countless Hours: Grandmother's Crochet
in: Elinor, Gillian, Richardson, Su, Scott, Sue, Thomas, Angharad, Walker, Kate (eds) (1987), Women and Craft, Virago, London, p. 23

Sunday, November 18, 2007


"With the presence of lavender the history of the seasons enters into the wardrobe. Indeed, lavender alone introduces a Bergsonian duree into the hierachy of the sheets. Should we not wait for them to be, as they say in France, sufficiently 'lavendered'? What dreams are reserved for us if we can recall, if we can return to, the land of tranquility! Memories come crowding when we look back upon the shelf on which the lace trimmed batiste and muslin pieces lay on top of the heavier materials..."

Bachelard, Gaston (1994), The Poetics of Space, translated by Maria Jolas, Beacon Press, Boston, p.79

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Personalisierte Textilien aus der Schweiz - Personalized textiles from Switzerland

"Ich habe gerade zum Frühstück BBC gehört. Da musste ich an dich und deine Arbeit über Textilien und ihre Geschichten Denken. Die haben da nämlich von einem online shop aus der Schweiz berichtet, wo man Socken bestellen kann. Aber etwas besondere Socken. Man weiß nämlich, welche 'grannie' sie gestrickt hat und kann sich dies aussuchen. Den Socken soll so eine persönliche Geschichte gegeben werden...Ich fand ganz schön, was die da über die Notwendigkeit gesagt haben, in der entindividualisierten globalen Welt den Textilien wieder Persönlichkeit geben zu müssen."

"I was just listening to the BBC while having my breakfast and had to think of you and your work on textiles and their stories. They were talking about a Swiss on-line shop where you can order socks - special sock because you know which 'grannie' has knitted them and can choose one. This way the socks are given a personal history... I quite liked what they were saying about the need to give textiles personality again in our de-individualized global world."

E-mail from Sebastian Ruppel (Berlin), 5.11.2007

Monday, November 12, 2007

Silly needlework

"She's played all types of women - from a high class hooker in Pretty Woman to wannabe lawyer in Erin Brockovich. But now, at 40, what Julia Roberts really wants is domestic bliss. 'My dream is to be a highly fulfilled and productive stay-at-home mum and wife,' said the Oscar-winning actress. 'The highest high would be growing our own food that I then make and then composting and growing more - that kind of circle.' But Roberts still wants 'my own creative outlet, even if it's silly needlework and stuff like that.' she told Vanity Fair Magazine."

Metro, London,6 November 2007, p.13

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Kiefernnadeln fuers Kopfkissen - pine needles for the pillow

"Schon in der Vergangenheit wurde die Kiefer gerne genutzt. Die Nadeln wurden als Befuellungsmaterial fuer Polster, Kissen und sogar Matratzen verwendet. heute ueberlaesst man anderen Materialien, fuer einen weichen Schlaf zu sorgen und setzt das Holz gerne zum Herstellen von Fenstern, Tueren und Moebeln ein."

["Already in the past the pine was made good use of. The needles were used as stuffing for upholstery, in cushions and even mattresses. Nowadays we leave it to other materials to ensure a soft sleep and use the wood to make windows, doors and furniture."]

Wolfgang Teloeken, Kiefernnadeln fuers Kopfkissen,
WAZ, Kirchhellen, 1 August 2007

Friday, November 02, 2007


"Pulling off my t-shirt to play outside, realising that I had started to grow breasts and that I would never again be able to run around with a bare top in normal circumstances. I felt profoundly sad."

BBC Radio 4 Memory Experience

Talking about bras

S: Can you think of any everyday textile items of special significance to you?

J: Well, I thought of bras, I suppose because of my changing body and the different bras I need. And also restriction of price because they are very expensive to buy, so the bras I used to buy are different from the bras I buy now.
When I first had a bra, they were very different, very sort of restrictive things, they were stitched in such a way that your breasts got turned into cones, like on Star Track type TV shows, asexual bloody things, weren’t they, and thick straps, always white, they were never very pretty.

From a conversation with J. (UK 2006)