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Inside the Ribbon Tin: September

September 14, 2014

It is time to open the Ribbon Tin again and see what is inside.

IMG_1078Inside 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.

First out…a simmering Pineapple Stacks Hat.

Sweatyknitter PineappleImage by permission of Karen Berthine

Karen from The Sweaty Knitter blog, sent me this pic recently.  She has been knitting up my Pineapple Stacks Hat design for various members of her family.  If that isn’t thrill enough for me, Karen also dyes or over dyes yarns she doesn’t like the colour of, into favourite colours for her family.  She dyed up some yarn in hot pink for her granddaughter, then overdyed the remaining yarn for a hat for her grandson.  In this dye pot, you can see an adult-sized Pineapple Stacks in the process of being transformed.  I love that Karen uses the yarn she has to hand, using dye to transform an unappealing colour into a personal favourite.

Next is something exciting for Victorians, Cheryl Crosbie from Granite Haven is having an open day on Wednesday 12th of November near Euroa, Central Victoria.  You can meet the Gotland sheep, a rare breed sheep in Australia, and llamas she raises and purchase fleece, fibre and yarn all processed in Australia.  Gotland is just lovely to knit with.  This is the Maldon Made shawl I knit up with Cheryl’s yarn a few months ago.  If you can’t go, you can buy from the website.

IMG_3403If that wasn’t exciting enough, how about this?  A group of women are recreating the Eureka Flag, our other national flag.  It was made famous by the Eureka Stockade and infamous by the Builders Labourers Federation.

800px-Union_Jack_at_the_Eureka_StockadeImage of the Union Jack and the Eureka Flag flying at the Eureka Stockade, 3 December 1854, taken from a series of illustrated history resources found in some Australian schools in the 1950s, from WikiCommons

This whopping big flag, 2m x 4.5m was stitched up in 1854 by a small group of women who were living on the goldfields, Anastasia Hayes, Anastasia Withers, Anne Duke and probably Eliza D’Arcy. Underneath it, most of Ballarat swore to stand by each other and fight for their rights against onerous government imposed mining licences. The original flag was taken by one of the troopers after the rebellion was put down and before folks knew better, about 40 per cent was cut up for souvenirs.  Click here for a look at the original.  The replica is being made for the 160th anniversary of the Stockade and has already taken 3 stitchers, 45 hours and they haven’t got to the stars yet!

They were tough, resourceful women in 19C Australia. I have been reading about Pru Arber (1852 – 1932) and she was as tough as barbed wire. Pru was born in Western Australia of immigrant parents.  She had no formal education and learned bush skills from the Aboriginal children living nearby. She acquired her first flock of sheep through hand rearing orphan lambs and by sixteen was living away from her family with her sheep, sleeping in a possum-skin cloak. She raised and bred more sheep and sold their fleeces. By the time she died as a very wealthy woman, she held multiple freehold properties and pastoral leases of over 13,000 acres.

IMG_4121I read about Pru in a beautiful book called Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Sailor: 100 women, 100 brooches, 100 stories. It is the book of an exhibition held earlier this year in Sydney where 100 jewellers were commissioned to make brooches celebrating the lives of 100 notable Australian women. Rachaeldaisy knows how much I love both historical anecdote and things hand made and sent me a copy.

IMG_4126This is the brooch designed by Nicola Bannerman for Pru Arber. It represents wool fibre, the stars of the night sky and the wealth she made from land and wool.

Another notable woman featured in the exhibition was Margaret Ann Field (1842-1936).  Margaret came to Australia from Scotland and married a mining engineer.  The whole family would travel with him on his expeditions to remote parts of Australia.  Whilst travelling and living rough and raising children, Margaret became a self taught astronomer, publishing a guide to the southern constellations and a crochet pattern book of designs based on stars and constellations.  Australian Lace-Crochet: Easy and Artistic (1909) was endorsed by Queen Alexandra and can still be purchased here.

Margaret Field laceThis is a pic from the Powerhouse collection of one of her lace samples.

IMG_4125Alice Whish designed this silver brooch for Margaret. It is based on the above design.

And that’s all folks!



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  1. That Pru is my kind of girl!! I love it that jewelry is being made to celebrate these 100 women’s lives. I’m very fond of all this historical stuff.

  2. I always enjoy these posts, Rebecca. The shawl is great! (I know the lace pattern.)

    As you know, I often think about my own pioneer ancestors and how resourceful they must have been. I am especially struck by my great-grandmother’s great-grandmother, who was more or less stuck alone in the Canadian bush by herself all winter, before there was any settlement where they lived, while her husband was off in the forests in a lumber camp. She probably had supplies and a rifle and some timber and that was about it. It’s amazing, really! I wonder what she did to entertain herself, now that I think of it, although in some respects I think it must have been thrilling to be a pioneer, in spite of the hardships – the whole world wide open and to be explored by an open nature. My ancestors certainly were in contact with the many indigenous people in the area, too. Thinking about what they did to entertain themselves, I’m especially struck by the self-taught astronomer in your post. The jewellery made for both women mentioned is lovely.

  3. Another fabulous post! I always feel I’ve soaked up a bit of culture from the Ribbon Tin. The astronomer lace maker story is beautiful. I’m really into lace at the moment (not making it!) – the patterns and particularly Australian lace. I have found some lovely Art Nouveau lace designs. xo

  4. How wonderful and rich is that purple dye for Karen’s simmering pineapple hat!
    I hope you make it to Eurora, Cheryl’s open day sounds like a great day out.
    I LOVE the Eureka Flag. When I was growing up in Ballarat I would pop into the Art Gallery where it hung for many years and marvel not only at it huge size but at the stories it held.I take my hat off to all the resourceful pioneering women. The mind boggles at what they went through.

  5. Phew……..that took a few minutes to ‘plow’ thru 🙂 Riot or Rights.
    Quite a read, surprising the nationalities of the 13 ‘diggers’ brought to trial. Interesting the speculation as to where the Eureka Flag was made………….Catholic Church haha
    The story of Val D’Angri’s dedication to this flag was heart warming.
    The book looks very interesting and what a piece of jewelry! The lace work is just gorgeous. Thank you very much again for a history lesson and MORE!

  6. History, I love thee. I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again: there are so many interesting things you mention and/or write about. A treasure trove/ribbon box indeed. I shall explore your links/hints one beautiful day (snotty child in the house at the moment) but popped in to mention Clare Wright’s Forgotten Rebels of Eureka. She is such a clever lady and I’m looking forward to reading it myself once I unearth it from a cardboard box or another.

  7. Wow! A complete, unabashed gush of a wow to the stories of Pru and Margaret. Resourceful women. Let’s keep them to our hearts and ever on our minds.

    Thank you for this post, Rebecca. Delighted to have your words to start the day.

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