From the 1,000th Hill No. 4 Make do and mend – a childhood legacy.
May 1st always makes me think of Maypoles and childhood things.
We are a family of ‘just in case’-ers. Are you ?
We have three cabins in the garden full of ‘we might need that’ things, as well as all the props we have made for the shows. There is wood, fabric, wool, metal, you name it !!
John, as I told you, is a real handyman, so we have a workshop for him full of tools of all shapes and sizes, and he is constantly busy with something or other, either on the roof, in the garden or round the house.
Many of John’s relations lived on farms, and the culture of ‘n Boer maak ‘n plan
( A Boer / farmer makes a plan ) has always served them well.
My side of things is fabrics, wool, sewing machine, knitting needles and all the paraphernalia that goes with those crafts.
We grew up in the ‘50s, me in England, and John in South Africa, when everyone in the family was capable of crafting something. Basic handiwork skills were passed down and encouraged. Like many of my era, I still have my little ‘stitch sampler’ from Wallands Primary School, where Lyn and I were friends.
I even have Nana Thorpe’s sampler from 1894. – see header photo.
She taught me to make hairpin lace and I just loved it – watching her fingers blur, as she created miles of it for pillow cases and table doilies, fascinated me.
Her lace is on the edgings and lying on the top. My effort is the orange one !
Mummy loved sewing and made many curtains and clothes – including pretty little dresses for us, bless her, some by hand. John’s mother loved knitting.
Daddy taught my sister and I to knit when I was about 5 – kitchen swabs with big needles and string. I wish I had kept one, as it was so uneven and knotty !!
Many of the men in our street had workshops or tools in their garages, and weekends were filled with the smell of oil being changed or the cursings as fingers were grazed under car bonnets or hit by varying tools !! Even us girls learned basic car mechanics.
John’s father would often be seen just standing in his garage – “scheming” as he called it, then something wonderful would emerge days later. Like a beautiful cowrie shell lamp.
That ethos of creating for oneself has been ingrained in our consciousnesses I reckon. My father even made my first Wedding Dress !!
He also made a motor boat for Sid when we visited the UK in 1986. We went to the lake near Watford. Sid was delighted to see remotely controlled boats, so, no problem, home we go – and Daddy gets bits and bobs out of his garage, and made him one in two twos. Here it is, still treasured, 36 years later !!
Even now, I still darn socks ( some I have knitted ) with my Mother-in-laws’ cowrie shell to hold the shape. Patching, and resewing seams is the order of the day.
Photo 5 Patch and darn pic.
I have always taken great pleasure in making clothes for my family, and still do.
This ‘make do and mend’ habit has brought us much joy, and we are grateful for it.