In her luscious book The Gentle Art of Domesticity, Jane Brocket highly recommends the book Thrift to Fantasy (2005) by Rosemary McLeod. Jane describes it as:
"The book of the exhibition in New Zealand in 2005. Fabulously illustrated and well-researched text about the gentle arts in New Zealand during the heyday of homemaking. Beg, steal or borrow a copy".
With second hand copies for sale on Amazon from US$118 (!), I was lucky enough to borrow a copy from the BCC library. I've just started reading it, and already feel like it's a window into the lives of my matriarchal lineage here in Australia during that time. I was particularly touched by these two paragraphs on p. 27-8:
"My mother eventually left for the city, and ceased to be a small town and country woman. She embarked on many new and sometimes outrageous adventures. yet throughout her short life she never ceased to make textile objects in the tradition of her mother, and her mother before that. She expressed something profound about her belief in her own self-worth in this way, as I see it, and it was the one area of her life where she met with nothing but success and pleasure.
"I should this think is still common to keen practitioners of these crafts. Their skill is an island in their lives, a solace and an avenue to self-expression that might otherwise have no opportunity to surface. But it's also a skill that ties them to other people, a kind of sharing that weaves stories within families and communities. A textile object is history you can touch, which may become threadbare, but which can survive, given the chance. It may survive longer than you do".
In a nutshell, this is exactly why I am currently so enamoured with quiltmaking, sewing and creating - and feel so drawn to sharing my experience of this online while reading about those of others. Anyone else feel the same?