30 November 2010

sackcloth and ashes


Oooh, err.  Sorry.  I just don't know where the rest of this beautiful November went to. Misty mornings.  A sharp frost that finally saw off the leaves from the mulberry tree - we watched and listed to them fall into the garden with a slight shusshing sound.  The first snow, though not much.  There was a wonderful walk along the canals and the Greenway (more concrete than green, hideous barren looking rose bushes) to view the Olympic site with Felix.  A block of parsley growing along the canal path.  Hot chocolate at the Counter Cafe and beer in the The Camel.  An irresistible ball of Wensleydale wool bought here.  Another day, a chilly grey Sunday, there was a trip around the City of London to hear Susan Phillipsz's plaintive singing in almost empty and quiet streets, under London Bridge with the river lapping below, in soulless city squares.  The sound of Lachrymae in Milk Street was enough to squeeze your heart.  All this against a background of Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall which I didn't want to end.  At home, there were a couple of weekends of baking squash muffins to sell at local events - quick and easy if you skip the frosting, better with an added teaspoonful of ginger, and sunflower rather than olive oil.  Several soups.  Kale at the market. The first hot water bottles.

My sackcloth wasn't too punitive, unlike that of Thomas More.  This apron was my offering for a wee project we had at the WI to make a little something out of coffee sacks given to us by fairtrade coffee suppliers, Cafe Direct.  It was not exactly the easiest fabric to work with - I stuck it in the washing machine to get rid of the dust and it came out a little the worse for wear (the rosette is hiding a big hole that appeared) and still kept shedding bits of fibre.  I lined it with some unseasonal but jolly blue spotted fabric that at least keeps  my clothes from turning into hair shirts and I have to say I've grown rather fond of my sackcloth.  It's good for doing the dirtier jobs around the house - like cleaning out the ashes from the grate now we are having fires again - and I shall definitely be wearing it on the allotment.  I've even had a commission from John to make him one for work, though with a rather more subdued lining.

First day of Advent tomorrow - and I haven't even put up the curtains to keep out the winter draughts or baked the cakes and puddings yet.


knit nurse said...

Great apron - you look like you are about to sweep the chimney! Thanks for the reminder about Susan Phillipsz, I must make a note to get there before it finishes.

colleen said...

KN- Don't miss it. It's a wonderful way to spend a cold afternoon. You can get a guide from the tourist centre at St Paul's or the Guildhall Art Gallery if you need one - we had trouble finding one of the alleys from the map we downloaded from the Artangel website. Most of the songs are short with the exception of the instrumental Lachrymae which runs for 36 minutes. If you stay for all of that, the whole tour will take one and a half to two hours as you sometimes have a short wait for the recordings to kick off again. It stops at five in the evening. Hope you enjoy it.

Anonymous said...

Bet you could sell those aprons in 'Labour and Wait'!


colleen said...

That's just what John said - then put in an order. Havev to say it's jolly warm too.

60 going on 16 said...

Ah, sackcloth - a wonderful fabric. And very fetching you look.

My grandma used to use potato sacks as backing for her handmade rugs, especially during WWII when everything was in short supply. I inherited all her rug-making tools when she died in 1965 but they have languished unused at the bottom of my needlework box ever since. However, I recently met a wonderful 80-something rug-maker, who lives in a nearby village and she has offered to teach me the craft. (She also used potato sacking . . . )

(If you are enjoying Wolf Hall, do read Hilary Mantel's A Place of Greater Safety, if you haven't already done so. Best novel about the French revolution - ever!)

Liz said...

Your apron reminds me of the ones some women used to wear in these parts years ago. They would tie the sacks (from where I don't know) around their waists with string and I'd see them wearing them when they scrubbed their doorsteps. (After they'd scrubbed the steps, they'd put decorative white edges to them, with blocks of chalk, I think).

shandy said...

Yep, in Cumbria such aprons as Liz describes were known as "Coarse brats." But just a couple of weeks ago I was astonished to see old sacking made into shopping totes, edged with Liberty fabric, priced at £25 each, in Liberty's, of course.

Felix said...

Fantastic Apron!

Lovely to read this and remember all those details... beer in the camel and the random parsley and that awesome hot chocolate and everything.

I hope you are enjoying that Wensleydale and that your squash muffins went down well.

And thanks for reminding me about Susan Phillipsz's sound piece... I hope I can make it back into town before it ends.

x Felix x