Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Gentle Domesticity - style...

In today's continuance of The Gentle Art of Domesticity book study we're completing the chapter on Style.


It's a funny thing, but as I began reading this section I was transported way back to my teenage years and my favourite way to dress. I wonder if you can remember what your favourite outfit or style was when you were in those early to mid teenage years?
I always wore a white t-shirt with a sleeveless cotton vest over the top and I partnered them with blue jeans or shorts. 
When I began watching Rosemary and Thyme quite a few years back I was always taken with the character Rosemary because she often wore 'my' favourite outfit of vest over t-shirt and a longing to fill my wardrobe with that style again would stir in my heart.

Jane begins the next section of the chapter with her own ruminating over vests, or 'slipovers' as she calls them. She's specifically concerned with the knitted kind, and I admit to once having owned a few of them as well. I also knitted some for my eldest son who begrudgingly wore them for the shortest amount of time before hiding them away in hope I'd never find them.

Jane draws our attention to author Enid Blyton's love of the slipover ...

"It' coincidence that Enid Blyton made sure that her adventurers were well-dressed for outdoor pursuits in slipovers that their invisible mothers and nannies no doubt whipped up for them while they were busy apprehending villains and foiling both criminal gangs and the police." (page 148)

Jane also equates slipovers with bookish domestic style and points out the Prince of Wales (before becoming King Edward V11) as a style icon, portrayed in this painting below wearing a Fair Isle slipover...


"There's a lot to be said for fogey slipover style: the faintly shabby and eccentric air it carries makes the wearer look as if he or she has just emerged from some time-warp where they were having a very pleasant time." (page 149)

Nana used to knit vests for Pop. Perhaps that's where I got my love for them?


Questioned by her young daughter Phoebe as to why she chose to embroider an iron-on-transfer pattern instead of creating her own, Jane pondered the art of stitching by numbers before championing her love for collecting and embroidering crinoline ladies.

"Crinoline lady embroidery was despised by 'art' embroiderers as dull and lifeless, and a waste of good skills, but these dainty designs remind you just how few people can embroider beautifully these days." (page 150)

Jane considered retracing an old graphic of one of these ladies and 'updating' it to the twenty-first century with lime green hair and tattoos, surrounding the modern lady with plants, blue leaves and sequins. But this idea diminished quickly and she decided to embroider the traced crinoline lady in colours and stitches of her own choosing (rather than stitching by numbers or a pattern).

"It made me realise just how many variables there are in this sort of filling-in....every chosen stitch requires concentration, every new colour can make or break the effect, every space can be filled or left empty." (page 150)

I can't tell you how much I loved reading her words here, because as a designer of embroideries, it is indeed a huge investment of my time and planning (after the initial design process) to choose the fabrics, thread and stitches which will bring to life a sketch and breathe life and beauty into every finished piece.  Thank you Jane for so eloquently noticing that.


Just wandering through the Tate Gallery one day Jane's attention was captured by a Terry Frost painting "June, Red and Black" (1965) because it made her think of particular fabrics waiting in her cupboard for a great quilt idea to form.

Heading off to the gallery shop she purchased a range of postcards depicting various paintings which featured red, black and white; paintings in a mix of styles from post-impressionism right through to Tudor and photo-montage. 

"My fabrics had initially appeared quite difficult to work with, but these paintings helped me to see them in a more manageable light." (page 152)

The result was to become Jane's "Tate Postcard Quilt".


"Although like most people, I can only be a patron on a very small scale, I enjoy the opportunity to practice what I preach in regards to buying directly from makers. I think we should support independent craftspeople whenever possible." (page 154)

"Even when I have had little or no spare cash, it has always been worth investing in something from a maker whose work I may never come across again." (page 154)

Being a designer means I need to 'sell my wares' to earn a living, so again, I deeply appreciated Jane's words here. And I also agree that even if we only have a few dollars it blesses the maker when we purchase of their hand made wares.

About five years ago Mr E and I were travelling down south and stopped to wander a market in a town we'd never been to before and probably would not visit again. I came across a maker of the most beautiful pottery and wished dearly to have been able to afford a bowl or mug or vase but my purse was not equipped for that kind of outlay. 
So I turned my attention to the maker's small pieces, determined to purchase a trinket to treasure in my home and in doing so acknowledging my admiration for the work of her hands. 

This beautiful tree embossed hanging pear came home with me that day and has been displayed somewhere on the large bookcase ever since...

"I think that anyone who is interested in the gentle arts should become a patron saint of craftspeople." (page 154)

Our next reading will open the chapter on Comfort and we'll be studying pages 156 - 167 which I'll share after Mr E's school holidays on July 16th.

* How has your personal style changed between your teenage years and today? Or do you still follow the same basics today?

* What do you find challenging about embroidery? Are you confident making changes to a pattern or do you prefer to follow it the way it's written?

* With regards to quilt making, have you been inspired to create a quilt from difficult fabrics in your stash?  What was the source of inspiration and were you happy with the end result?

* What have you purchased direct from a maker that has become a treasure?

Leave your comments below because I find them very interesting and so do thousands of women who visit my blog each day. 

May your blessings be many, your challenges few, and your day sprinkled from heaven with laughter and joy...



Kay said...

I love buying from independent craftmakers. There is a shop in my called With Love From Lincolnshire, it has three rooms filled with beautiful handmade gifts. Designers pay a small monthly fee for a corner, a shelf, a cupboard , a hanging rail to display their goods and there is no commission taken. I have bought many lovely gifts from there. The designers sometimes stay for only a month or two although some have been using it for a long time. I know I can always find something unique. Presents that I have bought include crocheted blankets, painted glassware, and jewellery. If I am not able to make a gift for someone then I like to buy handmade.
Just last weekend we were away for an overnight stay and visited some designers at a flower stall and bought two lovely mounted photographs for our dining room. I also like to frequently buy cards from artists. You get something beautiful for a small cost and help keep a business running. x

Beth said...

My 21 year quilt is an example of changing tastes. It still isn't made, but the plans have changed since I first had the idea during my teens. Originally it was going to be a 9-patch sampler quilt. Now, I have a feature hand-pieced mini quilt picture of a lighthouse in the middle with the rest of the quilt being zigzags representing the waves of the ocean. I'm at the point where I think I've collected enough fabric and just need to plan what goes where.

I don't do much embroidery - mostly cross stitch; so I generally follow the pattern. I did design and stitch a garden embroidery for my Mum several years ago, using Diana Lampe's book 'Embroidery for all Seasons' to know how to stitch the flowers etc.

Still haven't made a quilt, although I have assisted in the making of a few. Some with fabric/colour choices and a couple I help sew a small part of.

There is a hair clip that I bought from a stall at a school fete when I was 10. I still wear it today! Actually, it is in my hair as I type this!!

Thanks for keeping on sharing, Jenny!

Maureen said...

My favorite outfit is still jeans and a tshirt/sweatshirt. But taste in quilting fabric has broadened. I love civilwar prints, but have also learned to enjoy some bright, more modern fabrics. I watched all of the episodes of Rosemary and Thyme and thoroughly enjoyed the series.

Debby in Kansas, USA said...

Loved this reading segment! It triggered memories from all over and all ages! Those knitted vests took me right back to my college days of the Preppy! I was a committed preppy for sure, with oxfords, penny loafers, & argyle socks! Part of those outfits regularly included knitted vests (with a tie sticking out!!). I feel sad that I never thought of wearing pins like those on my vests because I had several!! Loved it so much that I never parted with several of my plaid wool skirts....and no, they don't fit AT ALL!! I should really make something with them. I still love that look.

In clothing, I still prefer long skirts and tights. And I've always been a more traditional house decorator. I love the old stuff in furnishings & linens.

I've embroidered much of my life. As with all art projects, I'm a copier, not a creator! I'll try any stitch, pattern, etc. but will rarely change much of it. I frowned when I read the comments from her daughter!! I consider myself HIGHLY creative when I'm responsible for coloring in an iron on pattern on my own! That's a challenge to me. I'm currently embroidering a dozen of the same pattern squares to be made into a quilt for a charge fundraiser. I changed a couple of colors and feel like a complete rebel lol. No, I'm not a risk taker. I'm a chicken!

On the other hand, I'll try any colors/patterns of fabrics for quilts. Scrappy quilts are my favorite. The more, the merrier. I think that goes back to my mom/grandma's old quilts when they used every scrap they had. They speak a love language to me. It seems to be more of an act of love to make the quilt than an art of impressing someone. It's hard to explain.

I've purchased all kinds of little treasures from art faires in my lifetime. I have wood carved animals, dolls, pendants, blown glass, birdhouses, frames, a giant metal yard daisy, quilts, pins, & even a jumper (denim dress with bib) that was hand painted on. I could go on. As for treasuring something, I think it's a hand woven serving tray. The maker was a deaf/blind gentleman that was supporting himself with his weaving. We bought two for us and then about a dozen to give as gifts that Christmas! I also bought a basket/key holder that I really love.

Tammy said...

I used to love to dress in dressy blouses and wear ladies colored kaki type pants but as I have gotten older I love blue jeans and t shirts. I am tired of dressing to please others and now I dress to please only myself so I can be comfortable at most all times. So yeas I have definitely changed my tastes over the years. I love comfy casual not dressy stuffy ...I am not a collector of items. I have bought a few hand crafted things over the years to gift to others mostly. I I love scrappy quilts too ....

Margaret said...

Jenny, I had to laugh when I read "How has your personal style changed between your teenage years and today?". As a teenager I made my own clothes ... I loved the flared pants worn with a tunic with swishy hem; I wore short shifts or mumus ... some had cut out pieces in the front and the small triangular headscarf was in fashion. When I became pregnant in my early 20's maxi dresses were in ... I felt very comfortable with that style. Later on when I married my husband who was Indian, I would often wear saris every day as they were very comfortable. I also bought "hippy" style clothing from a shop in Hunter St, Newcastle (I'm sure you know the one!) Having said this, I think it was somewhat expected that the local country doctor's wife looked "respectable" so I did adopt a skirt and jacket for the winter ... can you imagine a 20 something adding about 40 years to her life? I shudder to think of it now. With regards to embroidery, I tend to stitch exactly as designed as it is the whole design that initially attracts me. Sometimes I may change things a little but I prefer not to. With quilting, I have made a bold red, black and white quilt in the spider web design, a simple one using the same fabrics for two of my grandsons, and another making a sampler quilt in a class, but these are way out of my comfort zone. I love pastels, flowers and "homely" designs. Something I use every day that I have purchased direct from the maker is a beautiful wooden rosewood fruit bowl purchased in Port Macquarie in 1977. I also love the cheese platter I purchased from a friend ... it has the names of cheeses on it and the cutest little mouse. Many of my handmade treasures have been gifted by friends and I really treasure them because of the whole process of the conception of the idea, the planning and the making with love and care. Ha ha ... certainly have delved into the past today! Thanks for the memories ...

Susan said...

hehehe We all change and grow up. Wearing high heels and mini dresses are not for me anymore. Live in denims and flats and love it. Even reading about the aprons made me make one for me to match my kitchen and have fun. hehehe I never cooked and was not interested in cooking in my young days but now I enjoy it very much as my grandkids enjoy every crumb. Also thanks for sharing these daily moments with me.

KingsailK said...

I love charity shops ,redesign ing stuff,using colourful buttobs,I alsdye clothes ,I love colour

Susan said...

Good thoughts on this chapter, Jenny. The little pear is wonderful. I have a smooth beautiful carved wooden bowl, very small, bought on the same kind of trip, and I absolutely love it still. The big pieces would be nice, but it's a wonderful reminder of a wonderful day with my longest-held friend, my college roommate.