Thursday, July 07, 2011

Old Roses in Books and in Reality

There are so many books in this house that they tend to migrate all over the place, and there are even a few in the bathroom. The book propped up here is all about Victorian gardens. I love this picture of old roses. I have something similar in my own garden and here they are, in a little vase, echoing the picture behind. I'm not sure what the deep pink rose is - one of David Austen's wonderful scented old roses whose name I now forget -  but the beautiful white rose (also scented) is from a cutting, given to me by my next-door-neighbour, and she calls it the Jacobite Rose - a very old Scottish rose, very hardy and prolific. Far from minding our last cold winter, this one seems to have loved the weather, and is full of gorgeous blooms this year.

Monday, July 04, 2011

Old Crochet Lace from Ireland

I've blogged about traditional Irish Crochet before, but from time to time, another form of Irish crochet lace comes along, usually in a box of old linens, bought at auction. The very pretty tea tablecloth on the left is one such, consisting of a small Irish linen centre, with a deep and dense trim of what looks, at first glance, like old needlelace. It is, in fact, incredibly neat and beautiful crochet, and I suspect that like many of the linens I find here in the West of Scotland, this one may have originated in Ireland, or at least may have been made by somebody working in an Irish tradition. People migrated to Scotland, and brought these wonderful skills with them. Often women were taught to do this kind of work in convents, or at school, where they may have been taught by nuns. This latest batch of linens, a huge boxful, were in very grubby condition. I think they had been stored away in an attic, perhaps in an old chest. Fortunately, the moths hadn't got to them, but they smelled stale, not so much dirty as just incredibly dusty. It's a joy to wash linens like this, since it transforms them in every way and their true beauty shines through. They are not particularly valued or appreciated here in Scotland, although when you consider the amount of hard work and skill which went into the making of them, you have to wonder why, but I sometimes think it's just that the skills of women are consistently underrated. Fortunately, there's a wider market out there, and it's a joy to 'rehome' some of these fabulous old pieces with an appreciative new owner.