Monday, 5 September 2011

Past And Present

Wow, so I managed a whopping total of one post in August - must try harder! Thank you for the comments on there, sorry I didn't reply to them. To be honest I had a bit of a break from blogging in general, not just from writing mine, but from reading them too, although I've since caught up with everyone! I can't stay away for long!

So you're probably thinking, if she hasn't been blogging, she must've had loads of time to finish the crochet bag or start a new blanket or something else, but... erm, no. The bag is still ongoing. I am not quick at crochet, and I like to do it whilst watching tv/a film, which slows me down even more because I'm not giving it my full attention. I could probably do it quicker with no other distractions. As mentioned in the-only-thing-I-wrote-in-August, I did watch Gormenghast (while crocheting), which was as brilliant as I remember. How can you not love characters with names like Steerpike, Barquentine, Flay, Dr Prunesquallor, Nanny Slagg and Swelter?? I have read the trilogy too, and it's probably in my Top 5 favourite reads. If you've ever been to Morecambe on the West Coast, there's a book shop on the front* which is so crammed with books, they appear to be holding up the ceiling. Several years ago, on a day out with my mum and dad, I found the three novels, all separate rather than one volume, in that book shop and couldn't believe my luck. They were in really good condition, and I liked the artwork on the covers, so I snapped them up. And thankfully the ceiling didn't fall down.

Anyway, I digress. Crochet-wise, there hasn't been much progress. However, the other week I was sorting out my stash, and found I had loads of little bits of yarn left, balls not much bigger than a ping-pong ball, that kind of thing, and I wondered what to do with them. I decided to randomly tie them all together and make one giant ball with which I would crochet - you guessed it! - another cat blanket!! In the end I also used some whole balls of yarn that I had, which I didn't really like and couldn't see me using for anything else, but they were only those (I think) 25g size, or maybe 50g. So the random ball of yarn actually became quite big. I've made a start on the blanket, it's just going to be another granny square, and let me tell you, it's not going to be pretty! There's loads of red and blue in there, but also some yucky brown and cream flecked stuff, and a dark brown with a kind of metallic blue and gold thread running through it. I know! But I'm sure the cats won't mind, and once they've slept on it for a while it will become a kind of uniform black and cream fur shade anyway. Plus it made a bit of room in my stash box, which can only be a good thing.

I just wanted to mention a couple of other things I've watched lately. Finally got around to seeing Bridesmaids, which was really funny, especially the bit in the wedding dress shop. Then the other day I found a dvd of The Notebook and realised I'd never watched it. So I watched it! Reading reviews on t'internet, there seems to be a general love-hate attitude towards this film, it's unbelievable characters, flimsy plot and predictability. I wouldn't know, I was too busy swooning over Ryan Gosling!!

Well, hello!

Hello again!

I'll even forgive you for the facial hair!

Sorry, just had to get that out of my system!! Seriously, it's not the greatest film ever made**, but it's a nice soppy, romantic story if you like that sort of thing, and even though you could see the ending coming a mile off, I still bawled my eyes out, cos I cry at everything!! But did I mention that Ryan Gosling is a bit cute?? By the way, I've never read the novel, and I don't know if I will now. I once read an interview with Jodi Picoult and she was asked what's the worst book she's ever read, and she said The Notebook, although didn't explain why. I wish she had, I'd love to know!

I went to my mum's on Sunday, and as always, came back with more than I went with! She's on a mission to clear her house of as much clutter as possible, while she still can. My grandma (mum's mum) was a hoarder, and basically my mum doesn't want to end up like that, so instead she gives everything away. Trouble is, she gives it to me, so it's looking like the hoarding gene might've skipped a generation! Actually, I'm not that bad, I've been giving away old cassettes and cd's and books that I'm not bothered about. The things I'd rather keep are family stuff, with sentimental value. For example, she's been sorting through a lot of my grandad's things, from when he was in the army, and I was horrified to learn that she'd burned a lot of it. She says it was just things like army papers with his name on; I think she was planning on taking everything to the charity shop so she disposed of the personal stuff, but I told her that that's exactly the kind of thing that she should be keeping! There's no point worrying about it now, it's gone, but I told her that anything else like that, I'd rather keep it and bring it here, even if all I do with it is stick it in my attic. So I came back with some old photos and some things from his army regiment, like buttons and badges etc. There was also a white handkerchief, in the middle of which he'd embroidered the emblem from his regiment. All around this are signatures, and my mum says they are the names of the men he was with when he was a prisoner of war. There are a lot of names. Every time I look at it it makes me cry. Just thinking about the friendships that were made in such difficult, awful circumstances, and the fact that he made the effort to do such a simple thing as get all those men to sign a piece of material. And wondering what happened to them all. I feel like I want to do something with it, so I'm thinking of starting another blog, basically just to record what I know, which isn't much really. But I'll take photos of what I've got, before I store them in the attic, and I can always add to it if I find out any new information. I don't know if I'll make it public or keep it private, I suppose it depends on how much personal info I put on there. I just thought it would be a good way of keeping a record of my family's past.

All those names...

I also brought some other things back, which I want to show you. One of my great-aunts was a bit of a demon crocheter, and there are some lace doilies which I think are crocheted. I don't know what kind of thread she used, but it's got a lovely, soft silky feel to it, but it's kind of heavy and floppy too, if you know what I mean. As you can see, they are a gorgeous purpley-lilac and white swirly pattern. What do you think? Is it a type of crochet? I tried to get some close-up shots of the stitches, but they didn't really work, if you click on the pics though you can make them a bit bigger, and you may be able to zoom in even more:

There is also a tablecloth and napkins which have a print on them that looks like the kind of thing you'd embroider over, but I'm not sure if it is, as it also looks good enough as it is in it's current state.

I think it probably is meant to be embroidered over, don't you?

The tablecloth, which covered the double bed!

And another amazing (to me) item which my mum let me have is my grandmother's wedding dress. It's really badly creased, and I don't know if I dare iron it - I might have a go, using a towel as protection (edited to add: I had a go, but mainly just the skirt part and the sleeves). My grandma was about 4' 11"; I have a photo of her in the dress, which touched the floor and had a short train (if my mum will let me, I'll post the photo). A few years ago I actually managed to squeeze into it (and it was a squeeze!), but as I'm around 5' 8"-ish, it came to just past my knees! I probably couldn't get a leg in it now! It's mostly plain satin, with some embroidery around the neckline. My mum says the sleeves, which are long and full, were made up of loads of fine pleats, but they're not now, and even if I do iron it, I obviously won't be attempting anything like that. There's also a veil which is made up of the finest netting, but it's been really badly tangled over the years, and I think it's almost disintegrating in places. But it's still soooo soft to the touch, it's like putting your hand into cotton wool or something, I can't describe how soft it is. So I'm going to do something with the dress and the veil - try and tidy them up the best I can, and then maybe buy a nice storage box and a load of tissue paper to sit them in.

The dress, looking more like lingerie! The longer part at the back was the train.
The bodice, which I'm afraid I didn't attempt to iron
Showing the full sleeves
The head-dress of the veil, looking a bit worse for wear...

I don't know if you can see how fine the netting is, it's almost like a spider's web

As well as the above, I also brought back a load of old books, most of which had also belonged to my grandma. She was an avid reader, and she especially seemed to love books about plants (she loved gardening) and nature and animals. I think she was also into 'natural remedies' as there were a few hand-written notes in one book, such as for "Rheumatism - Use the water potatoes have been boiled in, bathe your feet in the water" and for a bowlegged child "bathe the legs with rock salt, it strengthens the bones"! The books are fascinating, so I think I'm going to do a separate post about them.

So yesterday was interesting, and a bit emotional. When I got home I started trying to find out about the camp where my grandad had been a POW, and as you can imagine, once you start reading all the stories, it's pretty horrific. I think he was only a prisoner for a few months though, and then I think he may have escaped (I have a handwritten account by him, which unfortunately finishes mid-sentence so we'll never know exactly what happened), but he was certainly one of the lucky ones in that he came back home and lived a good long life, so at least his story had a happy ending.

I'm writing this post in a bit of a hurry because we're going to a car auction soon, as I want a new motor. We won't be buying anything, just having a look at the kind of vehicles going through, and what sort of money they're making. So I think I'm going to post this now, but come back to it later and add a few more photos. Bye for now!

(Edited to add: I came back and posted some photos!)

* Whenever I say that, it always reminds me of a bit in 'Notes From A Small Island' by Bill Bryson. It's his first visit to the UK, and late at night in some seaside town he's trying to find a B&B. He knocks on one door, and a grumpy old lady opens an upstairs window and asks what he wants. He tells her, and she tells him to try so-and-so's on the front, then shuts the window. He's left standing there, bemused, thinking "on the front of what?" Hee hee! He tells it much better than me, by the way, which is why he's a bestselling writer, and I'm not...

** If you haven't already noticed by now, I'm not great when it comes to reviewing books or films. I can really enjoy something, or really hate it, but when I have to say what I thought of it I usually manage no more than "it was really good" or "it wasn't very good". I really wish I could think of more interesting ways to describe my thoughts about something. I think it's probably down to some deep fear of getting it totally wrong and completely missing the point, or something like that. And didn't I just say 'really' a lot??


  1. Wow, your grandpa did some embroidery and what a good job he did too. That other piece that you thought should be cross stitch and yes it needs to be done, it is lovely. Now your grandma's wedding dress and head piece is devine, I have a few of my grandma's clothes, a beautiful purple velvet coat and a black velvet dress that has hand painted flowers all over it to name a couple. I have worn both and felt like a princess when I did, must put them on my blog.
    I have watched The Notebook and liked it for its sweetness, haven't seen Bridesmaids as yet but want to.
    x Sandi

  2. Hi Sandi, I did think the tablecloth and napkins looked a bit like cross-stitch, but the material is slightly different to what I'm used to, having only ever stitched on aida. I don't know if I dare do anything with it, for fear of spoiling it!


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