Thrift to Fantasy

4 Mar 2008


My lunch time reading today was another of my old favourites Thrift to Fantasy by Rosemary McLeod.

I just love reading through this book as it the traces the history and lives of the women of her family in particular and New Zealand women ( and Australian women) in general through their needlework and textile crafts in the period from the 1930s to the 1950s.

It's such a lovely book if you get the chance to read it and devour its beautiful pictures make the most of it.


I find it amazing that some of the tea cosies in my collection are pictured in the pages of this book. My tea cosies are mostly inherited from my mother and her sisters and sisters-in-law, a couple of them were found at the op shop.


This one was made by my Auntie Beatrice( I think). Look at this lovely fine knitting for the lining layer.


And this one with a rough garter stitch lining using two different shades of green, what ever was at hand I guess.


The sugar bowl and spoon belonged to my Grannie. She died more than twenty five years ago in her nineties. My mum was the second youngest of eight children and Grannie was about 40 when mum was born. I inherited a beautiful bedroom dresser with a bevel edged mirror. The dresser originally belonged to my great grandmother and will go to my daughter when the time comes. Apart from the dresser and sugar bowl I also have some of Grannie's crocheted lace work which she continued to produce until she was a very old lady using her own mother's very old steel rimmed glasses to help her.

My grandmother was a great recycler and always kept string and brown paper in a special old huon pine trunk in the spare room. The room had it's own special fragrance as it was also where Grandpop kept the onions he grew in vast amounts each year. Grannie made beautiful pickled onions, very nice with the Pyengana cheese she had eaten all her life since she lived most of her life in the north east of Tasmania being born in Derby and raising her family in Pioneer. Grandpop owned a tin mine and ran it until the 1960s I think.

This happens every time I read this book. I find it fascinating that just reading about someone else's ordinary life and ordinary family can give such strong feelings about my own ordinary family. The shared history through the home crafts made by these women, by so many women through those years, gives a greater weight to the significance of their ordinary lives.

11 Responses to “Thrift to Fantasy”

  1. Hi Jenny,
    You have feelings from reading and I have them from smell. The senses are very important other than just for every day living. I enjoyed reading about your grandparents.


  2. Hi Jenny, so enjoyed reading today's's lovely to have special items that can bring back memories of our loved ones. Your words made me think of my Gran, she passed away in 2001 aged 97. Gran arrived in Broken Hill, NSW from England aged 3, then came to Melbourne to work when she was 16. I have fond memories of Gran knitting socks and she knitted my sisters & I jumpers & cardigans. I still have a lovely cabled jumper she knitted when I was in my teens. Gran was not a fancy cook but provided very well for her family and in later years looked after her 2 mentally handicaped Grandsons. A truly wonderful & giving woman. Hope I have not rambled for too long. Loved the cover of the book. PS. thank you for sharing the Bareroots site, they do have lovely patterns. Good night from Jenny

  3. I love those tea cosies. They are beautiful and what a treasure, to have something like that from the past.


  4. What a lovely post...thank you for sharing. I love your teacosy collection! I feel inspired to knit one now!

    Love, Tina :)

  5. Treasure your tea cosy collection. They are beautiful and most importantly still useful.
    Bev C

  6. A lovely post. Thank you. I didn't get to know my grandparents really due to distance and age, but I do have a few things they left me...they do have their own special resonance.

    Best wishes,

    Anna Marie

  7. Lovely pictures. I thought I'd finished with tea cosies (sent all but one on) but now I feel I must make more.
    I've been reading some of your old posts. Very interesting, thank you.

  8. It's a great book which I made my parents send me from New Zealand my birthday the year it was released.

    You've read the Australian version (The Gentle Arts)?

  9. Oh, that's a splendid book.
    I was going to faff on about it. But nothing I could say would do it justice.

  10. Hi Shopping Sherpa, I have read the Gentle Arts and loved it too.

  11. Hi Sue, I'm so pleased you like it too.I wish you had faffed, I like a good faff.


Thanks so much for taking the time to chat. I don't always have time to reply but I do read every message you leave.