Inside the Ribbon Tin: June

June 19, 2014

IMG_1078Welcome to the June opening of the Ribbon Tin. Inside the Ribbon Tin is a monthly series featuring a miscellany of bits and bobs, odds and sods, knicks and knacks, all sorts of interesting things related to textiles and making.

IMG_3050Look at these beauties from Shanghai Lil and the Scarlet Fez. Aren’t they luffley… all stacked up in a sweet smelling tower of hand made soap.  In the stack are Riviera Escapade, Smokey Joe, Evening Star, The Emperor’s Chai, The Fez No.1 and Madame X.

Greenwood coverI have been listening to Death and Mendelssohn by Kerry Greenwood, one of the Phryne Fisher mysteries.  I delight in these novels, they are my favourite companions when I am spinning or sewing.  The novels are all set in 1927, mostly in Melbourne and they overflow with historical detail that makes you feel as if you are reading about something that just happened. Phryne is a heroine of magnificence: confident, intelligent, fearless and wicked. In this adventure, there is a lovely scene where Phyrne realises the soft, elderly receptionist busy knitting at her desk is a crack decoder for the secret service. Of course she is. It reminded me of the Belgian grannies knitting train times in code for the Resistance on the Craftivism blog which featured in an earlier Ribbon Tin.

And because all things historical and textiles seem to me to be inherently interesting, I have also been exploring the Great Tapestry of Scotland as seen through eyes of Kate Davies, the Scottish knitwear designer.  Kate has curated the most wonderful images of a work that many of us are unlikely ever to see in situ. If you look on her blog and scroll through the Tapestry series of posts, you will be amazed.

Scotland tapestryThis image is from the Scottish Parliament’s Facebook page.

The tapestry is a historical narrative work in the vein of the Bayeux Tapestry. It is the greatest act of needlework I have ever seen. 1000 needleworkers took 65,000 hours to make this. The subject matter is breathtaking, from famous battles to the model factory town of New Lanark and knitting in the Shetland Islands.  This is everyday history, full of stories and colour, workers and soldiers, mums and dads, great people, fish, kilts and factories.

The work itself is extraordinary. Everything from geological formations to the wrong side of knitted garments have been rendered in joyful, skilful stitches. The Tapestry website documents all the stitches used in the work. The needleworkers have their names stitched into their panels so unlike the anonymous nuns of the Bayeux, these folks, mostly women can be acknowledged for their great skills and contribution.

Brooklyn Tweed has just released its first children’s collection of knitwear.  Beautiful stuff as always but I think roll necks on kids are ill conceived. Don’t they just pull it and say it’s choking me and then refuse to wear it ever again?

And finally, the construction of Neuschwanstein Castle in paperboard.  We hope it will be some time in the making.



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  1. Treasures and treats, all. I love Phryne Fischer too. T’would be wonderful to have her panache, audacity and not to mention her disposable income. Q1- Have you been to the Auld Lang Syne exhibition at the Ballarat Art Gallery – a celebration of everything Scottish? Q2- Do I recognise that paper castle or do my eyes deceive me (from a birthday a while ago) ?

  2. Definitely going to the library for a new PILE of books! Thank you.
    The wrapping on the soaps are lovely and triggered a memory…I told you of the Fantastic form fitting dress I bought that was stunning…except I couldn’t SIT in it. haha and my mother called it my Madame X dress 🙂 It was my favourite ‘obscene’ yellow green with lots of small swirling small flowers and a Mandarin collar. Wonder where that went? Nice patterns in the Tweed book.
    After reading in wikipedia re that castle…….it could go on for years 🙂

  3. I, too, would like to source the Kerry Greenwood Novels. Perhaps Amazon has them.
    We seem to like the same blogs–I also subscribe to Kate Davies9Simply Amazing) and Brooklyn Tweed.

    1. Dear Elaine,

      I am sure they would be on Amazon. They are also on Book Depository or I am sure your local library or bricks and mortar bookshop would get them in. The first book in the series is Cocaine Blues. There is also a beautifully rendered Australia TV series called Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries that you might be able to find in the interwebs somewhere.

  4. The tapestry is indeed breathtaking. I’ve always thought it sad, though, that the names of the people who actually made it are not stitched on its reverse side! (“Anonymous was a woman.”)

  5. I’ve already decided those gorgeous soaps are colleagues Christmas presents this year. I love reading the sumptuous descriptions, the packaging is so sylish and I like that they’re made by a real person. I love Phryne Fisher and I like the sound of a code cracking knitter! I know I’ll enjoy reading about the Great Tapestry of Scotland, thanks to the Ribbon Tin for bringing it to my attention.

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