|Teacher-trainees in the Lao project I was managing wear |
beanies knitted by my mother just as her eyesight was failing
|My sister's bowl of crocheted fruit|
In that period of my life, I seemed best able to unwind by dumbly following a pattern, usually working on items for my work wardrobe, at a time when my teenage daughter was more interested in store-bought clothes. I did spend several months fabricating a fabulous black and pink silk ball gown for her high school formal – complete with boning, lining, organza underskirt and more than a dozen bound buttonholes and silk-covered buttons making up a false front... well, it's difficult to describe. I'll scan an old photo instead.
Eventually I came to use nothing but Vogue patterns. What appealed about them, I think, was the attention to tailoring detail and the challenges they presented – unusual ways of setting in sleeves, shaping yokes, and those sorts of things. Now my wardrobe needs are greatly reduced, I'm getting to an age when clothes don't wear out and what I mostly wear are garden togs that are the remnants of an earlier, classier casual life. But I'm still addicted to sewing and knitting.
I could afford the luxury of daytime sewing these days, but I still prefer to do my needling in the evening. My sewing machine is almost permanently set up at the 6ft long huon pine dining table. These days we take most of our meals in armchairs by the TV, or at a small cedar table nearer the kitchen. What was formerly our main dining table is now only used for meals with visitors. So for most of the time it makes a wonderful sewing centre, with all my trimmings stored away in one section of the Philippine sideboard nearby.
What is it about my and my sister's fingers that they need to keep busy! Arthritis may take its toll with me eventually, as it did with my mother. But until then my hands will keep dancing to well-known rhythms that by now must have become imprinted somewhere in my tailor's brain. I mainly choose simpler projects nowadays, and just as often sew for others (my son-in-law would like another pair of my board shorts, and my new grand-daughter opens up a whole world of opportunities).
|One last square to knit, then blocking, joining the squares|
and knitting a red edging and this Peruvian wool afghan
will be ready for my grand-daughter's pram or cot.