Wednesday, October 11, 2006

11 October: A thread or two

The other day some friends and I were discussing school lessons in cookery and needlework .

Several people had positive memories of learning to sew through their clumsy primary school efforts. Others had learnt to sew and knit before they started school. I don't remember sewing at infant/junior school, but the Grammar School had Domestic Science on the schedule. There was even a 'state of the art' equipped kitchen, installed in one of the temporary huts that mushroomed all round the main building, and were still there for decades. Actually, I don't think the kitchen was much used - with 35 or 40 minute lessons, there wasn't actually enough time to cook anything. But we did take ingredients to classes (provided with difficulty from some homes, and grudgingly from others), and sometimes take "dishes" home.

The one I remember so vividly was Summer Soup. This was chopped up vegetables cooked in a milky, slightly viscous liquid. Carried home in a screw-top jar, it actually looked too much like sick to be consumed, and it was flushed away.

The mention of sick (sorry, folks) reminds me that when the children and I used to go to orienteering on a Sunday morning, we used to take instant Cup-a-Soup with us for a hot snack afterwards. This would be usually mushroom or tomato, brought to life with hot water from a thermos flask. And the question asked when choosing the variety was always "Red sick or white sick?", often to the surprise of neighbours in the car park.

But I digress.
Well, it is "threads from my life".

Learning to sew and knit - I think I learnt in spite of the school lessons. Certainly my Mum taught me to knit, and I was well able to knit a sweater (with fancy stitches) while I was still at school. School sewing lessons were a real trial, as the teacher was a bit of a perfectionist. All my running stitches had to be pulled out and re-done umpteen times, and were mocked by the teacher, and even held up to demonstrate how not to do it.

Meanwhile, at home I had the use of my mother's sewing machine, and was making clothes from patterns, and even altering and adapting the patterns. It was the real world, while the school lessons were artificial. And I quite enjoyed getting a laugh from the class.

And I have continued sewing and knitting, and any other textile type craft, ever since. For several years I made quilts, and a couple of years ago took up spinning, as it was impossible to find knitting wool in the thickness and range of colours I wanted. Braiding, basket-making, rug hooking, simple weaving, and now felt-making have been added to the range of interests. And I do it for my own enjoyment, not to sell or to teach others. And I hope to go on doing so for many more years.


Z said...

I'm not sure what it was about school sewing lessons, but I hated them and once got 34% in a written exam - my lowest mark in anything ever. I don't know what the exam was for, as we only had practical lessons.

Eventually, I sneaked up to the sewing room, removed my work-bag from the cupboard and never went to another lesson. Nothing was ever said. Maybe the teacher though I'd left, maybe she was relieved.

I liked sewing at home.

KAZ said...

Like you , I learned to sew from the Simplicity patterns. I could whip up the most fabulous mini dresses in no time at all.
This was necessity as there was no Primark in the sixties.
Cooking? We did Latin instead - let's just say it's a good thing they iventes stir fry.

KAZ said...

I think iventes must have been the word verification.