Thursday, 26 July 2012

13 children, top and tail

Lois writes: As part of the project working memories, I've been working with The Stroke Support Group, at New Mills Volunteer Centre. I never know quite what form the visual work will take until I meet the people I'm working with, and hear their stories. Last week we were reminiscing about textiles in all their forms: blankets for warmth, aprons for protection, clothes for fashion and practicalities.... memories of rag rugs and patchwork; recycling enforced by poverty, inspired my own visual response. 

Members of the group helped to select lines from their reminiscence, and wrote them onto stripes of fabric, which I took away to embroider. The pieces illustrated here are works in progress, I will quilt them, to make them more tactile, for handling materials in the 'memory boxes' that I am creating for the project.

'13 children, top and tail' © Lois Blackburn 2012
Used the rugs on top of the bed for extra warmth, as well as coats. If you had lots of beds you didn’t always have enough blankets, and lucky if you had a sheet. 

Grandma lived in a two bedroom house, 13 children top and tail. A lot of people had blankets from the mills, they were like felt. To cheer them up some people did herringbone round the edge, they were heavy but not very warm. They wore well and lasted for ever. Lots of people had them for drafts on the door.

'13 children, top and tail' © Lois Blackburn 2012
We wore pinafores, the coveralls used to cross over with a couple of strings, or a pinny. We used to make them, mother made them from an old frock. One for cooking and one for cleaning.  

'13 children, top and tail' © Lois Blackburn 2012
Spent many happy hours cutting up old coats, 6inc by 1inc, through Hessian. My Grandma used to cut up old coats, it was very colourful, used to help when I was young. They harbored muck though, didn’t have hoovers or ewbanks. We used to hang them on the line and hit it with a longbrush or carpet brush.   

'wore well and lasted forever' © Lois Blackburn 2012

On your hands and knees cleaning. Mop it and polish it maybe. Me mother used a dolly tub and dolly pegs, all the white things had to be boiling in a bucket on the fire, everything had to be rinsed 5 times then starched, spent a whole day Monday. Tuesday we ironed on the table on old sheets, Wednesday was baking day.

Dolly Blue, all them coal fires, and they were white. Hard labour in those days. My mother could use those dolly pegs better than any washing machine to day. A mangle, big rollers a handle to get the water out of them.

To dry the clothes, had strings all round the kitchen,  some people had an airing rack over the fire place. A very damp atmosphere on a Monday. A fine day the washing would go out. Cold meat and bubble and squeak on a Monday.

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