Wednesday, 11 November 2009
I love poppies. The very sight of them has the ability to evoke a myriad of emotions. In the warmer months, we have bright red ones dotted around our garden and with their huge silk-like heads and velvet black stamens, they are stunning. They herald the start of Summer which is a happy time; holidays beckoning and promises of blue skies, visits to the beach and swimming in the sea.
But the thought of them at this time of year means something very different. It's about those poor brave souls who fell to the earth, in the sea, on the beach, never to get up again.
I'm not really sure why but after getting my paper poppy the other day I thought I'd check my fabric stash for pieces with yet more. They are cottage garden plants after all so there ought to be a few. If it was a rose I was chasing for I could fill several books with photos but poppies, sadly not so many. Mental note to do better!
I did truffle out these lovely vintage pieces - a bold Liberty print with the large red opium poppies mentioned earlier and an old American feedsack with a much daintier variety,
a 1950's hand embroidered peg apron I bought from Ebay a few years ago,
and my favourite of favourites - this amazing 19th Century French hand-stitched quilt, sadly in desperate need of the TLC I've not yet been able to afford it. I bought it quite some time ago but I suspect it came across the Channel with a few friends, namely carpet beetles (or should I say attagene des tapis, given it's a French quilt). It was either that or the Mother-in-Law's antique rug we acquired at about the same time, but that's a whole different story. Thankfully they're no longer but the poor quilt spent several months in and out of the freezer as a result! It survived the big freeze all right but it does pong a bit I have to say, so now it lives in the conservatory whilst I think about a Plan B. Any ideas gratefully received!
So I thought I would have a first attempt at embroidering my own poppy and immediately reached for this book for help. Originally bought for my children, I'm embarrassed to admit I've now got it on a "long loan" as I love the drawings so much!
Anyway, I decided to make it into a lavender pillow and give it to my mother. She lived through the second World War as a young girl and I remember the stories she and my father used to tell me when I was growing up myself. She said we all needed to live through a war in order to be a better person and although there's no doubt she would have had it a good deal harder than my own children do now, on this day I think I can imagine what she meant.