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This is one of the suitcases retrieved from my Dad’s loft a few weeks ago. It was originally his youngest sister’s who died of breast cancer more than 30 years ago. She also had Multiple Sclerosis for many years, but was a great advocate of positive thinking and looking on the bright side. She was very dependant on her siblings and friends for her basic needs towards the end, which must have been very frustrating for her, but remained cheerful and appreciative  of the support they willingly gave her. I often felt very humble in her company, and ashamed of moaning about the little things that ailed or irritated me. She was always more interested in what others were doing, rather than talking about herself.

So I will treasure this, along with the tiny passport photo of her and a gift card written by her in a very shaky hand a few weeks before she died. It would have taken her a huge amount of time and effort to write those few words.

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cleaned up

The case was full of paper and plastic bags filled with fabric, a few dresses and many memories. The things on the top are not familiar to me, and I’m not sure where some of the things came from, but it does reinforce my “learnt” hoarding tendencies! Some of the things I have no idea why my mum kept them when they down-sized from a largish mainly Georgian house (one end was 400 hundred years old) to a small lodge.

top of case

top of case

heaps of things out of case

heaps of things out of case

final emptied and cleaned out

final emptied and cleaned out

Some of the fabric is like looking at old photographs, they evoke as many memories. The two pieces below were used to make my sister and I ponchos in the early to mid seventies. They had a high rolled collar fastened with two hooks and eyes, mine the pink fabric had a black fringe and the other a brown fringe. I can recall the impatience for it to be finished so I could wear it.

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This red was made into capes, both the same this time, with a red, silky lining. There’s an old photo somewhere of us both sitting on the stone lions at the front of Blenheim place wearing them.

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It seems that there was a theme with these four blue, flowery prints. The “Wee Willie Winkie” was a nightie-case I made for my little cousin, there was also a “Wee Wendy Winkie” I made in pink, but no sign of the scraps from that.

When I peeked in the case last week I spotted what I thought were the scraps from this “nightie” I made in  needlework at school in 1972. The teacher was “scary” and very strict. Only 4 out of 200 girls were brave or stupid enough  to take needlework “O” level, me being one of them. I was the worst in the class (somebody had to be), and often told that I would fail, in the end it was the best grade I got (B). She certainly knew her stuff  and taught us well, I still occasionally refer back to my books to find how to do a particular stitch or method of doing something, and feel her breathing down my neck when I take a short cut!

We were supposed to make nightwear and use french seams, having looked inside at them this afternoon, I would be happy to make such good seams now. I thought it was much too good to wear to sleep in and used to wear it with my jeans.

vintage 1970's top

vintage 1970s top

But the cherry on the top of the cake must be this beautiful tablecloth which is just the right green to go in our dining room. I don’t recall seeing it before and don’t think it was one my nanna made (the back is not as good as the front). It has a couple of signs of wear and tear, but nothing a strategically placed plate won’t hide.

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I don’t know what I shall do with most of things but, for the moment I have put them all back in the case once I had cleaned out the bottom.

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Woods near Berkswell, Warwickshire

I haven’t touched any sewing for what seems like weeks. By the time I’ve run out of daylight in the garden I’ve also run out of steam. I’ve taken loads of photos though; just to capture the moment, for later inspiration, and to look back at when I need a fix of green. I just love this time of year. The fresh green of the beech coming out just fills me with joy and energy somehow. I’ve walked loads too, several times with our son in woodland. He handed in his dissertation a couple of weeks ago (he’s studied forestry and woodland ecology) and it feels good to be able to walk and talk with him now he’s not totally preoccupied with that.

I’ve also had a few days out with friends. One to Quarry Bank at Styal, (National Trust), wonderful scented azaleas in the garden, too much to see in a day – anther visit sometime. A couple of embroidery exhibitions, loads of things I want to try. A great garden centre at Reighton (lots of plants to keep me busy, rained off today, hence time to write).

Loads of inspiration, just need to start some work.

Just a few photos for you to have a peep at my green obsession.

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Eckington Woods, Derbyshire

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Eckington Woods, Derbyshire

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?, Quarry Bank, Styal

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Underside of Gunnera, Quarry Bank, Styal