Monday, 26 April 2010

Chip off the old block???

One of my Grannies was a dressmaker. She made beautiful clothes for people and of course her two daughters and then for her granddaughters. My mother inherited this talent and although she didn't have a stitchy career, she made almost all our clothes when we were small, way back in the seventies. She made suits for my dad, beautiful outfits for weddings and other big occasions, trousers. She made her own wedding dress and all the bridesmaids dresses. She made sofa covers, curtains and nearly all the costumes for The Big Show by Pat Brittans ballet group in horrible silky nylony fabric which she cursed A Lot because it didn't stay still in her Singer sewing machine. I have very vivid memories of having to stand still while she measured and pinned (often into me and they hurt MUCH more if you are tense and expecting them) and the anticipation of something new to wear was just so exciting and seeing it grow and evolve before your eyes was just fantastic. I have a really amazing memory of a little pinafore dress which was made using the offcut of some tweedy stuff Ma had used to make a pair of Jack Nicklaus flares for Dad. I just loved wearing that pinny- matching my tall Dad's legs- I was probably quite camouflaged aged 3.

Not only is my Mumma good at sewing ('cept she hasn't got the time any more- her social life is amazing) but she is Mrs Clicky Knitting Needles, too. She has in her day, knitted an Arran coat (COAT for goodness sake- just think of all that cable). I had a beautiful Fair Isle cardi, there were fishermans sweaters, Norweigan type jumpers, dolls clothes with the left overs; gorgeous gorgeous knitwear she clicked out in the evenings. And she still does. Mostly for the Small Beans and their cousins but the clicking goes on nonetheless.

Now. You may be wondering where all this reminiscing is all going. You may be thinking 'Good. There is a really strong gene for sewey, knitty creations here. I want to see what Magic Bean has made in her time.' Well. This gene. It is strong. But it is a tiny bit jumpy and it has missed me out! Yes, you did read that right. I am not a clicky sewey type. My sewing machine has palpitations when it sees me coming. It siezes up and the thread just says 'No'. My Ma dreads the days when she answers the phone and I am on the other end saying 'You know when you thread the machine and then...'

When I was pregnant with Small Bean I decided that this had to be addressed. I knitted him a scarf. It took me about 5 months. We still have it and Small Bean is actually very fond of it- he gets quite possessive if Smaller Bean wears it. When I was pregnant with her I wanted to make her something too. Just to be fair and equal. I found a monkey kit and started. Except I couldn't even cast on. Hormones? Not reading the instructions properly? Jumpy genes? I gave the kit to Ma and she polished it off in a couple of evenings. I sewed on the eyes. It took me about an hour. Smaller Bean is not all that keen on the monkey.

Then a few weeks ago, I was cycling past the wool shop on King Street in Cambridge and they were selling huge balls of wool for £1. A quid. And I thought one should be bought by me and made into something for someone else and after a bit of a juddery start, and a bit of unravelling and a bit of swearing, this is what I've made. And I am really pleased with myself. Just don't look too closely at the detail. Hope you like them Orla.

And yes, I do know they have no eyes, they are the Three Blind Mice.


  1. :-) Love your little reminiscing and those 3 blind mice.

  2. Squeek squeeeeek.

    I have only ever managed a scarf too. Oh no - I tell a lie, once I did a flower. Then I lost the pattern.

  3. Hello Mrs Bean! I wanted to say thank you for the lovely comment you left me earlier - and then I saw the lovely things you make and felt even happier!

    Your blog is making me smile a lot, and I'll certainly be back. Apart from anything else it's fun to see you describing places I go to all the time!

  4. Certainly made me smile. Thank you so much for sharing.

  5. Magic Bean,
    Thank you for your e mail. The message you left was posted.
    Thank you so much for coming by and repaying the compliment, it was really appreciated.

    Shame on burning the Dundee cake, but your day out enjoyable. I enjoyed the 'free ride'.