Tuesday, October 12, 2021

A day of happy surprises and nice memories

Yesterday a new commenter said a picture by Carl Larsson reminded her of me, but, darn, she could not figure out how to post the picture in the comment section. I googled Carl Larsson.  He is a Swedish painter in the Arts & Crafts movement. His painting, especially water color, is prolific, and in a general search for young weaver and her work, I went through hundreds of paintings, well worth the look, but not what I wanted. I asked Ann to send a link, and here it is:


The young weaver, hemming towels. Her costume is very working class. I wore such a skirt, blouse and jacket as costume to a costume show, and was rather miffed that the judges did not recognize the real deal when they saw it. The loom behind her probably is a counter marche; it already has the next run of towels on it. 

The weaver is hemming her current run of towels by hand, of course. Treadle sewing machines were available then, but no doubt completely unaffordable.  The furnishings of this room are a large table, a dry sink, a cupboard, probably a bed, plenty of common house plants and a bottle of garden jonquils.

This picture took me straight to 1988. Jan and I set up our studio and wove some towels. Our mother asked how we intended to hem them and of course we said "On the sewing machine of course." "You just give them to me," was her immediate response. And for the next several years our work that required hemming had hand felled hems. 

Some people recognized what they were holding; most said "Twelve dollars!  Who would pay that for a towel?!" This is a towel Jan wove. It's an overshot pattern called Dogwood, with Mom's rolled, hand sewn hem. You cannot see the hem. You can see all my sewing machine hems!


Today's mail included a little gift from a recent towel customer. It's name is Flat Rat, and it is a bookmark.


I turned Flat Rat over a few times, admiring all the knitting and crocheting involved in its construction. Its tail is I-cord. I didn't come on I-cord until late in life. So versatile, and far easier than spool knitting.

One interesting result of a brain injury and the memory hole it can leave behind, is the search for the memory. Looking at Flat Rat I remembered I knew a Flat Somebody once. Who? I thought I'd call my sister. My Sister! That's it. It was her Flat Somebody. But who? Sue? Kathy? No, Flat Carol! If that's not right, she'll tell us.

Jan and a guild of quilting friends were going to a mid-western quilting show, one of the largest in the nation. And then Jan's best friend in the guild, Carol, with whom she was rooming, broke her leg, and very reluctantly decided not to go. Jan and the rest of the gang decided they needed a Flat Carol, to go in her place, and show Carol all she missed. 

It indeed was Carol, Flat, red hair and all. She had a blue jean outfit for travelling, a practical denim dress to wear to classes and work on projects, and a lovely outfit for the final banquet, with black pumps peeping from the hem. Flat Carol came back with a stuffed satchel of hand outs and freebies, hotel soap and lotion, more pictures than anyone, and definitely less exhausted than anyone.


53 comments:

  1. nice story of how a comment can end up with a refreshed memory for you. Hand craft vs. machine craft - it is not even a contest. Hand wins.

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  2. This is a lovely post and has me smiling broadly. Thank you - and I love the Flat Rat.

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  3. That is a beautiful painting. Love it.

    And those towels...just so good. I like yours too.

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  4. Are you thinking of Flat Stanley? That's a cut-out drawing of a boy, who is mailed to all parts of the world, with a photo taken of the Flat Stanley at each location.
    That was nice that Flat Carol could enjoy the show and all the goodies.
    We had a family wedding, and one of the 6 grown grandkids couldn't attend, so we made a Flat Annie with just her head from a photo on a stick. The kids gathered for the official photo, and held Flat Annie between their heads. You have to look real hard at the photo to see that Annie's skin color is a little "flat."
    That's a cute no-problem rat. Linda in Kansas

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    1. Flat Annie is so ingenious. My grandkids were in school when Flat Stanley came around. Their Flat Stanleys went some amazing places.

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    2. I should have known Linda would know about Flat Stanley. A long time ago, my granddaughter asked us to take Flat Stanley with us on our trip to Europe and we took photos with him in Greece, Turkey, etc. I hope her class enjoyed the photos.

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  5. Flat Carol sounds like an interesting lady. and I too like the art and the towels.

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  6. Love the flat rat. I also love the work of Carl Larson. I used to have a book of his painting but I have lost it somewhere over the years - your picture here reminded me. Thank you.

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  7. That's a great painting, thanks for letting us see it. And for the knowledgeable commentary about it. I can tell your mother's expertise, hand rolling hems! A skill that's hard to find now. I wondered how you did your hemming.

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  8. Oh, goodness, your story reminds me of the photo of a monkey I packed in my suitcase when we flew to the U.K. I took photos of that monkey everywhere we went! LOL Of course, I can't find a single one now, all these many years later. Love your sister's towel design, but yours are just heaven to touch. They are truly the softest towels I've ever owned. Thank you for being you! Carol (aka Tehachap)

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    1. Hers are all plain weave, except the dogwood border. They dry dishes well, until wet and must hang to dry. Mine are a textured weave, with more thread surface to catch water, which is why they absorb better than a flat towel.

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  9. What a wonderful post, full of memories and fascinating tidbits! I didn't know that the Flat So-and-Sos had a name. The Flat Rat is great! If I tried to hand stitch a hem it would be VERY noticeable. :)

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  10. Hari OM
    Nothing beats getting a full post out of a passing comment! Lovely. YAM xx

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  11. The Larson painting showing a a weaver at work is a very nice work of art. The picture could be you Joanne. It also brought back many very nice memories for you. Your mother must have also been very skilled including the ability to sew invisible hems. Family businesses where product quality and dedication to the art is paramount is rare today.

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  12. What a great painting! I love Carl Larsson's work but I've never seen that one before. Flat Rat is a hoot, and useful too! Your Flat Carol story is great!

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  13. Nice post. That painting is just wonderful. Thank you for showing it to us.

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  14. That is a cute story about your Flat Carol, and I recognize the painter, I like his work and the weaver painting is special for you.

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  15. I love that painting. Thank you for introducing me to Carl Larsson. It's too bad Carol had to miss the trip but how nice that Flat Carol could go in her place and return with goodies.

    Love,
    Janie

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  16. All your talk of Flat this are Flat that is reminding me of Flat Cat……a thing from the 1980s, there were lots of ‘ornaments and paraphernalia’ in the shape of a flat cat similar to the way lots of cats lie spread out on the floor
    That painting has such a soft realistic look to it - makes me want to reach out and touch the material in her hands…..

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  17. I like the Dogwood pattern, very nice. I remember Flat Cat, but only vaguely.

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  18. We have lots of Swedes in the family, so Carl Larsson paintings have always been around either as book illustrations or reproductions. A wonderful painter.

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  19. The painting is wonderful and it does remind me of you. I love Flat Rat too! What a fun bookmark. Don't you love it when a picture or mention of something brings back happy memories that have been forgotten!

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  20. What a lovely post about memories. I really like paintings with people working and all the things inside a home.

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  21. The painting is so beautiful and really reminds me of you.

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  22. Lovely painting, Joanne, but you are so much better looking.

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  23. I have often wanted to post a photo with a comment, but of course Google doesn't allow it.

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  24. In the painting, there is a Singer sewing machine right at the back.

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    1. Thanks, I see it now. I enjoyed looking around the room.
      I carry my towels to shows in those large bags available for groceries. This girl's towels are ready to be put into a great long sack when she is done.

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    2. PS-the Singer operated by a hand crank on the wheel.

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  25. You were overdue for a happy day, Joanne.

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  26. Yeah, you can only post links in comments. That is probably a good thing, so blogging doesn't get too facebooky.

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  27. Love Carl Larsson's paintings. Flat Rat makes an excellent bookmark.

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  28. A picture to get lost in...
    Isn't it lovely how our blog communities enrich our lives?

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  29. Wonderful post, Joanne! and it ended (for me anyways) at Flat Jean with us at the demonstration for Stonewall Douglas school that freezing cold morning at the corner of Riverview & 303.

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  30. I always wanted a Flatsy Doll when I was young. I love that Flat Rat, what a fun gift! I enjoyed your memories very much. I LOVE that Dogwood pattern, it's just beautiful!

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  31. You shared some lovely memories. I enjoyed them.

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  32. I love the painting. And yes, it is you. I was trying to find a pattern for bookmarks without getting into the tiny lacy thingies. This one looks fun! And I love your mother's towels.

    XO
    WWW

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  33. That's the delight of blogging...opens up new adventures all the time.

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  34. Are you sure that's not you in the painting? Lovely memory. Thanks for sharing.

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  35. For a moment, I thought that watercolor was you.
    I like the towels Jan and your mom did. I love the towels you did and have them every where but the living room. LOL

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  36. Love the bookmark and the memory you shared, Joanne. Take care of yourself.

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  37. so how how did they make Flat Carol? quilted?

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  38. Re the picture (which is very atmospheric), I can also see a gun hanging on the wall I wonder what that was a precaution against?

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    1. Bold as brass, isn't it. I have to read more about Larsson and his subjects to form an opinion on its presence.

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  39. Dear Joanne, thank you for sharing this story about your early weaving days with your sister and with your mother doing the hemming. I wonder if the three of you, as you worked, sang or reminisced about family memories or shared heart-wishes.

    As to Carl Larsson: I lived in Minnesota for 38 years and many of the state's inhabitants had Swedish backgrounds. So Larsson's name and art is quite familiar to me. Watercolors are my favorite medium and his are so warm, homey, with the watercolor truly giving off the feeling of light within. I'm so glad you posted this one, which I'd never seen, because it really does give me an idea of what a weaver's day is like. Thank you. Peace.

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    1. The weaver must pay close attention to the work, so we didn't talk much among ourselves. Work generally stopped if one of us had something to say.
      Mom was the daughter of a self employed man, worked in his shop and kept his books. She often looked around and mused how at home her family would feel here; how proud all of them would be, especially her mother.
      My father's sister, who was a weaver, came to visit us in her final months, and went all over the studio saying "I must see all of this little piece of heaven on earth!"

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  40. I can certainly see how someone would think that painting would remind them of you. I'm so amazed at all you do. And I'm so sorry you're still in pain.

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  41. We carried a picture of my niece, Haley, when we went to Paris before the covid started. Flat Haley was fun.

    I love my green towel & have used it everyday since receiving it! Thank you!

    Stormy in Texas

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  42. Flat Carol flew for free, too.

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  43. Flat Carol flew for free, too. I gave Carol her flat Carol (which I had laminated so it would withstand our adventures)when I got home, and her husband made her a tin pin that looked just like the flat Carol. She wore it all the time. She LOVED it.

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