Monday, 5 August 2013

I am about to embark on a rather odd

project. It has been twirling and whizzing and zipping around in my head like a nightmare ever since last September. I need to get it out of the way.
Last September I was given a sheaf of pages which were the designs for two Chronicle quilts. I need to do something with them. Let it hastily be said, I do not make quilts. I am not a sewer. I have a severe allergy to sewing needles. I knit in ways that do not require me to do the minimum amount of putting together.
I am also aware that there are "chronicle" quilts and then there are the "Chronicle" quilts.
"The Chronicle" was a weekly newspaper that served the rural areas of this state for years. It was, if I remember correctly, printed or partially printed on pink newsprint. It was the only paper that many people in rural areas bothered to buy. After all, the daily paper simply did not reach them and there was no internet or television. Even the wireless coverage was poor.
This newspaper carried a little major state news but a good deal more rural news. It kept farmers up to date and provided everyone with social news.
It also had pages for children and pages for women. Before the war these pages carried a series of "Chronicle Quilt" designs. I had never seen one until last September. At the Royal Agricultural and Horticultural Society Show I was shown one and then I was given the sheets of designs for two of them. They have been scanned from the papers of the day and they are not that clear. There were vague plans by the organisers of the show to "do something" with them. I don't know if they have but I was given my copies on the understanding that I would.
There were, as far as I can work out, four Chronicle Quilts. The two I have are the ones labelled "Farm Life" and "Wildflower". There was also one of birds and another of international landmarks.
The one I saw was the "Farm Life" quilt. It now looks very old fashioned, indeed it would have been "quaint" even then.
But, I have the designs. The challenge for me was to turn them into some sort of knitting project.
Few people will be prepared to knit a blanket. Quite apart from the cost of buying enough yarn there is the time and skill involved in knitting what is generally called "intarsia" - the making of multi-coloured fabric in geometric, abstract or pictorial designs. But, might people be prepared to try one square and turn it into a bag or a tea cosy? It is possible. Just one square might be achievable for many people.
So, I have the plans there ready to chart out something once used by women and girls in the 1930s - and yes it was aimed at women and girls. Men and boys did not get a look in. It might be different this time round. 
I won't use the original designs in their entirety even though copyright is not an issue. What I will try and do is design something that will honour the work of those women who, after a day of hard physical labour on the farm, still found time to create something useful but beautiful - one square at a time.  


Jan said...

That sounds fascinating. I have some old stuff and somewhere I have, although I can't put my hands on it now, a booklet of patterns for a quilt with Australian emblems on it. I am almost sure it was put out by NSW Knitters Guild and there used to be a link. I can't see it now. Will hunt properly when i have more time.

I have some old cookbooks too, including one compiled by Mary Gilmore who proudly asserts that Australian women do not need to be told what constitutes a hot oven etc., as they use their common sense.

The corresponding newspaper over here was The Land, which is still around but the tone has changed. Then again, I suppose agriculture has also changed.

Have you checked whether the publication you now have is on Trove at National Library? It may be a bit clearer a copy if it's there.

Jan said...

Just another thought. I once worked for Tax Office and we often had sunbleached vouchers presented to us in a return. Left up the back of a ute etc. It was amazing often how photocopying made those legible when staff could hardly read them. Turn up the blackness on photocopier several notches and it just may be that your copies re legible.

catdownunder said...

Ah, I have that Knitters Guild book too Jan. I have not used it but I have encouraged the young teens to try a couple of the patterns.
I remember Nancy Cato talking about that Mary Gilmore book!
I looked at Trove - there is a bit of information there.
As I said I have the scans - from the old papers. They are quite clear but not very clean. I think the only answer will be to get them redrawn - should not be too difficult. If you would like any of it when it is done let me know. I'll chart them from the line drawings.

Anonymous said...

I could trace them into EQ to get clean copies too ... and as a quilter I am interested. Have seen some of the originals and copies.

However, I look forward to seeing what a knitter would do with the designs!