xmlns:fb='http://ogp.me/ns/fb#' OriginalStitch: Squashed tomatoes and stew...

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Squashed tomatoes and stew...

Well. Her birthday was mid-August. It's now mid-September. And voila! Here’s my mother's pressie! My time keeping is phenomenal, no? To be fair though, she was on holiday for it, which gave me a fair crack at the whip for getting it done in time for her return two weeks later. She was going to come to Hetty's birthday party, but my father's acquisition of a revolting gastric bug put paid to that; and with my father's continuing delicacy of the tum, we did not see her as planned the following week either. So this is a circumstantially but I think fashionably late pressie.
Now, my folks recently moved out of the family home (where I and my three siblings were thrown up), into a lovely house down on the South Coast. The house is a 1920’s period property and they are faithfully restoring and decorating and renovating and rebuilding and renewing and disconbluberating and de-wallpaperifying it in the Arts and Crafts style, which inspired its architectural design. So, anything I make for my mother’s birthday has to be in keeping with the colours and patterns of the period.
Gulp. No pressure there then.
Add to this the fact that my folks are obviously quite ancient by now, like at least, ooh, sixty something-or-other, and have everything they need, and I’m beginning to get a bit hot under the collar trying to think of what I can make. A tea-cosy? Nah – she’s just got that Battle of Hastings Bayeux Tapestry one which has taken ownership of the tea-pot. A peg-bag? Nope – spotted one she’d already made last time we were there. A knitting bag? No no, I tried to steal the one she has, it’s so cool.

You can add to this that my mother either is or has been a (deep breath) spinner weaver dyer lace-maker quilter dressmaker stitcher costumier knitter crocheter and curtain-maker extraordinaire, as well as an expert definer and knower of all things haberdashery, fabric, notion and thread. She has made umpteen thousand quilts, millions of garments, including both my and my sister’s wedding dresses, which were full-on rouleau loop, froo-froo, button, lace and boning overdoses. And I bet you 87 pence I’ve forgotten some craft thing she's turned her hand to. She is not, let’s say, exactly a beginner stitcher....she knows quality, and she can spot lack of quality at twenty paces. Many a time has my mother tutted whilst embarrassingly examining a garment in a small clothes shop and loudly proclaimed that the stitching is ‘absolutely bloody awful’. My sister walks off and disowns her; I can by seen trying to drag her away by the coat sleeve.
So, do you see?
I was beginning to get tiny pangs of performance anxiety. I am thinking to myself, blimey, I’m going to have nervous palpitations as I insert my fabric into the sewing machine, and shaky-fingered, begin to sew a line of shoddy zig-zag...

Now look, I realise she’s my mother and she must have uttered the words “Oh Catherine, that’s lovely! Well done!” many a time, when presented proudly with some bit of craft for my Brownie badge or some bizarre attempt at a little bit of dolly clothe; but she’s my mother, which means that she also says things like “What the devil cack-handed way of going about a thing is that?” or “I have no idea what on earth you have done there I’m afraid. We’re just going to have to unpick it. Don’t argue. You can’t leave it like that” or such gems as “Yes, rotary cutters do go blunt, but don’t worry, it can still cut your fingers off perfectly fine” or “Don’t you dare get blood on that dress” when she’s pricked me with pins during a fitting. [I can hear my mother shouting her defence here, which is, “If you didn’t bloody fidget so much you wouldn’t get pricked with pins”. True, all true.]
When anxiously enquiring of my father what he considered their colour scheme in the dining room would be, he said “Erm, well, I don’t think it will be blue. Or green. Or it might be green. But I don’t know. It definitely won’t be yellow. There might be some red. Or maybe orange of some kind. Maybe. I don’t know really, your mother hasn’t decided.” So you see, I’m a little bit all of a dither when choosing what to make. But I do land eventually upon placemats, napkins and napkin rings, because you don’t only need one set do you – have a few; they will dress up a newly stripped, painted, papered and be-fireplaced dining room beautifully.
Amongst my stash of goodies I found some lovely classic bits of furnishing fabric, and these placemats were born. Look at that little lovely in the middle – isn’t it luscious fabric? It is courtesy of a bag of leftover fabric goodies from ‘Er Nextdoor, whose mum made her some delicious enormous cushions resplendent in the stuff, topped and interspliced with reds and turquoises. Yum. The placemats are very stiff and starchy, because they have heavyweight interfacing in them, so once the guests have eaten their meal they could use them as wobble-boards for a bit of post-prandial musical entertainment; someone on spoons, someone on placemats, voices oiled by booze.
Anyway, so my mother has now received her goodies, and luckily thinks they're lovely. Of course that could just be a big fat lie, and she's actually grimaced and shoved them down the back of the dresser with the enamelled butterfly brooch made at a Brownie Jamboree, the clay egg-cup, and the varnished clothes peg mini rocking chair. But she said they were lovely, so I'm going with that. Happy Birthday, Mum!

1 comment:

Things Hand Made said...

I think you just decscirbed my mother perecftly!
I only got my staple gun last week but already over the weekend it was amazing how a couple of little jobs popped up that needed a staple gun!