Although it seems that all stations north and west of here are having a wet summer, unfortunately the rain is not wending itself our way. I say 'unfortunately' because our garden is gasping for a drink. No amount of watering can compensate for a good soaking shower of rain, and I begin to wonder what we will have to eat this winter. The runner beans are positively tough, and in spite of the Head Chef’s valiant attempts at watering, many of the plants look stressed. But if you, too, are feeling slightly stressed, due to the weather or otherwise, can I recommend a little soothing needlework?
The anonymous author of the Handbook of Plain and Fancy Needlework, published in 1882, tells the reader that ‘There is a peculiarly soothing influence about needlework, which is, perhaps, rather similar to that experienced by lovers of ‘the weed’ when under the influence of tobacco.’ I think that she means the common or garden sort of tobacco, rather than anything more exotic, in case you had begun to wonder how this Victorian lady spent her time.
And if you are any doubt about the morality of her advice, she asserts that ‘Needlework is a sweetener of women’s lives – and a wholesome sweetener.’ I am glad to know that sitting at my stitching is not a vice, but in the manner of a smoker on a street corner, I do rather like sewing outside.
And yesterday, in our dry eastern summer, I could sit on my holiday sofa, in the morning, with a clear conscience – I had a gratifyingly huge pile of clothes which needed name tapes.
Now, this might seem a boring job, but they weren’t for school uniform in all its Teflon and polycotton unloveliness – all shades of grey. These were clothes for Princess Bunchy to take on her first children’s adventure holiday away from home. Since her usual mode of operation is to leave a trail of clothes and belongings around the house on the floor, I felt that to ensure the majority of the clothes returned home, they must all be named.
So I had fun matching the thread colour to the garment colour, felt a warm glow of thrift as I reused name tapes which I had carefully removed from outgrown clothes, and an even warmer glow of contentment as I became absorbed in the rhythm of oversewing. I only wished that I could just sew on one gigantic nametape in order to keep that rhythm going on unbroken for longer.
And when I had finished it was the afternoon, so I said to myself ‘Forget the housework – housework is for mornings only,’ and took up my knitting. But that is a tale for another day, and another day I shall tell it.