Last weekend we had a Jordanian adventure holiday meet-up at the beautiful home of Bridget and Julian in Mile End, East London. What fun.
On our trip to the River Jordan, we sat behind the couple, who amused us as they were so well prepared for the long coach journey. They had detailed, specialist map of the area! They had crosswords and various other well thought through and relevant reading material. And Bridget had some knitting. She was making a complicated Kate Davies design. I found it, and the knitter, quite fascinating: “Inspired by the dusk flight of a huge flock of starlings shortly before they roost, the scarf features a Turkish cast-on and is knitted using stranded colourwork.” The scarf is knitted in the round in two halves which are cleverly joined together so that you have a gorgeous graduated pattern, a double thickness scarf and no visible joins. She showed me the finished piece which is almost as good as Kate’s original, and features the same colour scheme.
Bridget had produced a wonderful array of Middle Eastern Meze, plus lamb. Nick made a huge Couronne loaf and some sweet pastries. Around 10 of us enjoyed sharing what the expedition had inspired – two amazing books of photographs, plus some beautiful camels. Professional artist and sculptor Charlotte Morton had joined the trip and sketched and sculpted during our week away, so we were really excited to see some of the work it had inspired.
In addition we got to see Bridget’s home and some of the art works she had made herself. A life-long textile enthusiast she worked on the costumes for opening and closing ceremonies of the London Olympics.”Most of the volunteers were recruited from the colleges and it was a real treat to be shown the latest project that the various students were working on and wanting help/advice encouragement. One of the sadnesses is that none of us took photos as we were all keeping it secret!”
As well as being an ace knitter Bridget weaves.
She showed me a lovely green and blue scarf she had woven as well as the gorgeous orange and navy wall hanging (below). She even gave me a glimpse of her loom behind a screen in her marvellous second floor workroom, but she needs some help with threading it up. She took us around the bedrooms, complete with quilts. As you can see she likes colour (so do I). The stories are nice too. The quilt in the blue walled room is made from a large collection of gorgeous handkerchiefs, most from the 1930s and 1940s I would say. Bridget inherited these from a neighbour, backed each one, and mounted it on a complementary silk background. Unfortunately the handkerchiefs are not the same size so putting the jigsaw together was rather challenging. I loved this quilt. I remember getting a few old handkerchiefs when my great aunts died and they were just like this. Although many of Bridgets were made from silk whereas most of mine were cotton. My Mum said that a silk handkerchief will not make your nose sore if you have a cold, whereas cotton makes it red. I am not sure if this is true. Then Bridget took me to have a look at her other quilt made mainly from leftover fabrics, most of which are Liberty prints, and most of which had a story associated with them.
Inspired by Bridget and bloggers like Stephanie and Sue Stoney, one day I will learn to
- machine knit (Bridget says it is terribly boring),
- knit complicated patterns and garments (again Bridget says its fine to watch TV but avoid the Scando detectives as there is a lot of reading involved), and
- make patchwork quilts.
But at the moment I am too busy. Bridget feels the same as me but the other way round – she used to make clothes but hasn’t for years. She pulled out a pair of trousers her mother was making before she died (a decade ago). She gave them to me to think about finishing. I didn’t commit in advance, but will examine them closely. Also I borrowed a paper pattern Bridget had in her store. Her dressmaking had more or less stopped by the 1980s but she had some real classics from that decade. I took a liking to this one. I traced over the three pieces and made it up very quickly. I like this look, but I also liked the button finish and the sleeves. So I may make it again – perhaps in a sandwashed silk.
I have experimented with block printing, screen printing, digital and painting on fabric. But the yarn crafts are another story. Do you fear getting interested in another craft, or do you embrace the diversity of creating textiles as well as garments?