Tuesday, October 4, 2022
Sunday, October 2, 2022
|The Fabric of Civilization / Virginia Postrel|
NY: Basic Books, c2020
This book is an overview of fabric and the ways in which it has shaped the development of civilization, whether that's related to trade, economics, social classes, gender relations, arts, history or another facet of life.
It reminds me of both Kassia St. Clair's The Golden Thread and Elizabeth Wayland Barber's Women's Work: The First 20,000 Years Women, Cloth, and Society in Early Times. She is taking a look at textiles across history, as the original tech, and notes that because textiles are so abundant we have "textile amnesia", forgetting their vital role in so many areas of life. She aims to change that.
The book is broken up into thematic sections: Fiber, Thread, Cloth, Dye, Traders, Consumers & Innovators. It's mostly told in a conversational tone, with lots of illustrative anecdotes that make it a fun read. Some of the sections are a little technical/dry (especially the weaving ones) but overall it's informative and engaging reading.
She illustrates how textiles, and the artisans who made and worked with textiles, shaped the world in many ways. I knew about binary code's source in weaving, but didn't know about the other elements of arcane mathematics that were created by weavers designing patterns. It was fascinating! There was discussion of the cloth trade across Europe and how those traders developed into some of the first banks and introduced techniques of book-keeping, also something new for me to learn. And the discussion of Italian silk manufacture and all the people involved in it -- including women as masters -- was really memorable.
I enjoyed the stories, and the commentary on textile words that are a part of our languages now. There are a few caveats about the book; it is really Europe focused, and some of the more distasteful aspects of textile history are skimmed over without much commentary -- ie: the use of slavery in the textile world, or aspects of cultural theft when looking at silk and weaving. However, it does give a wide view across many centuries of many other elements of textile history, manufacture, and its potential for the future. Recommended for anyone interested in how textiles have a core role in world history and in the tech world in many ways. It's a readable look at this topic, a great starter for further deep dives into any of the specific chapters or subjects that really speak to you.
The author has even made a playlist to go along with this book on youtube, featuring 12 short videos on various themes from the book. Some are very short, so it's easy to view a few!
Sunday, September 25, 2022
|Clothes-Pegs / Susan Scarlett|
London: Dean Street Press, 2022, c1939.
This is a reprint of the first romance by Susan Scarlett, the pen name of well known author Noel Streatfield. She wrote a dozen romances under this name, and I was obviously drawn to this one!
Tuesday, September 20, 2022
Sunday, September 18, 2022
|Finding Myself in Fashion / Jeanne Beker|
TO: Penguin, c2011
Canadian readers will recognize this author immediately! Jeanne Beker is an icon in the Canadian fashion scene, as the long-time host of FashionTelevision among many other roles.
Friday, September 16, 2022
This came about because I was in the fabric store and my eye fell upon this very cheery blue and yellow knit print. It's so bright and fits right in to the blue and yellow sewing I've been doing over the past few months. I knew I could whip up this top and wear it almost immediately. This is a light stretchy poly knit, and there is plenty left over to make a matching Drew headband also!
I chose to make this with mid-length sleeves so that I could wear it alone into fall, or under a jacket later on as well. Many of my jackets have 3/4 sleeves so this had to have shorter sleeves to work with them.
Because I wanted to make this one quickly, I just turned under and stitched the neckline and the hems. After a quick press they all looked fine and I'm sure they'll last as long as this fabric does. I did notice, however, that the many times I've used this pattern has resulted in tattered pattern paper (I was using gift wrap tissue paper for tracing back then). So before I put it away this time, I think it's time for a retrace using the proper tracing paper I use now (medical paper). That way I won't be guessing and pinning rips together as I go ;)
Have you ever worn out a favourite pattern with multiple making? If so, which one?
Tuesday, September 13, 2022
Today's element of the #PeaceForUkraineSAL is the pink mallow flower. It's a big bloom, and adds some shiny pinks to the mix. There are quite a few different bits to this one: from the little bud done in satin stitch to the central stamen in french knots to the 3 layer long-and-short stitch that makes up the flower itself. And then all the outlines and little details.
But somehow this one didn't feel like it took that long to me. I really enjoyed the repetitive nature of the stitching that makes up the flower. Like always, when you're at the first layer of stitching it doesn't look like much. But as you add in the colours and the petals fill up it starts to look really great.
I probably could have extended the medium pink a bit further out into the petals, but I am happy with how this turned out. I like the mix of colours and think that the little details like the central cream and green streaks around the stamen add so much. The pale pink split stitch outline on the petals really makes it pop as well. I think it has a sense of a cupped flower with those details.
I've really been following along with the pattern and not deviating much, and I enjoy the design and all the thoughtfulness put into the smallest bits to make them just so. All of the shading really makes the design, to my eye. Among the traceable patterns in the instructions there is also one with directional guide lines drawn in, and I've been using that one for this week's and last week's work in particular. To make the petal edges look distinct, it's useful to change the direction of your stitches, and seeing them sketched out in the pattern is so helpful. It saves time when someone else has already thought about and worked out the best placement for the effect you want!