Sunday, 17 March 2013

There was a trestle table

in the meeting hall. It was loaded with the sort of "might be useful" things that only people with an all consuming interest in creating things can collect over their life time.
One of the members of the knitting guild had received a phone call earlier in the week. An old man had finally packed the craft materials  belonging to his late and much beloved wife. She would, he had told the stranger at the other end of the phone, want them used. He had found the contact number in the phone book. Would the guild be interested in having them?
That sort of thing happens from time to time. Sometimes what is passed on is of very little actual value. It is sorted. If it can be sold it will be sold to guild members and the money passed to charity. Sometimes it is passed to charity. People will finish half knitted garments and pass them on too. The rule is that, unless stated by the donor, no money must be made for the guild. The guild is a not for profit organisation but it is not a charity.
So the guild member went off a considerable distance and picked up the bags and boxes the old man had packed and brought them back. She brought them to the guild yesterday and they were put out on a trestle table.
She had been an old woman and she had preserved a great many things. There were things there that had belonged to her mother and that she had also kept carefully.
          "Come and have a look Cat," I was told as I went in. Other people were hovering around. They were picking up items, turning them over, exclaiming at the fine nature of some of the half finished work.
Knowing what was expected of me I looked through the books and patterns which were there to see if there was anything suitable for the guild's library. There rarely is but this time there was one book, a little out of date but one of those useful reference books when someone asks for information on how to do something. I passed it over to someone else who also knows something about books. Yes, it would be an idea to keep that one.
There were patterns too. We do not keep individual patterns or pattern booklets in the guild library. There is no space for that sort of thing. There was a thick pile of patterns from the sixties and the seventies that nobody was likely to use.
There were also some pre-war patterns, some dating back to the twenties. They were seen by most as objects of curiosity rather than anything else. I find them fascinating as historical documents. There was a pattern for a knitted "corset cover" in one. My grandmothers wore corsets but even they did not have knitted corset covers. I rescued some of those. On my way home I dropped them into a young student who is working on a fine arts thesis in pre-WWII pattern writing.
People went on poking around in bags of zippers and lace and old "ric-rac" braid, cotton and crochet cotton, half finished pieces of tatting and crochet, needles and a pair of folding scissors. There were neat twists of left over embroidery cotton and two unfinished book marks. There was some cheap fluffy yellow yarn which someone took saying "Just the thing for Easter chicks".
And so it went on.
Someone passed me a commercially produced folder of press studs, hooks and eyes, needles and the like.  Could we pop that in the cupboard with the spare knitting needles? I can remember both my grandmothers owning such things and perhaps my mother did as well. I opened it to see how much was left.
Something fell out. I picked it up. It was a small photograph of a young woman. She is smiling. I turned it over and there is a name on the back, the name of the woman to whom this all belonged. We will post it back to the old man with our thanks to him - and to her.

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