Tuesday, 27 January 2015

NEW YEAR, NEW POST, NEW ME?.....................

New year, new post, new me and a new commitment to be able to write a blog post without deleting it.  How many of you out there, have done exactly that and spent what seems like ages, writing and editing a post only not to save it! URGH.

Annoying beyond words......so what did I write.  In a concise form back on track with PhD and am fortunate to have attentive, thorough and also very nice supervisors, Dr Linda Sandino and Elizabeth Dawson both of whom read, edit and give me feedback on my research.  How lucky am I?

I have been attending courses at The School of Historical Dress which have been inspirational and informative.  The wonderful Jenny Tiramani holds them in her house which, fittingly is small but beautiful 18th century lodge near Old Street.  My first weekend course was draping on the stand comme Madeleine Vionnet.  We made a half size toile of the a summer dress (1921) which although looked simple (Golbin, 2009, p. 98) was complicated and gave me a concrete understanding to exactly how skillful Vionnet was with her pattern cutting.  We were also shown several fabulous bias cut dresses from the school's collection.  What the teachers, Jenny Tiramani and Claire Thornton don't know about historic dress is quite frankly not worth knowing.  I learnt so much over that weekend and I followed it with a further course in 18th century tailoring techniques.  Another great experience, this time taught by Melanie Braun and again Claire Thornton.  We were given the opportunity to examine a number of wonderful 18th century men's coats and we created a sampler which show cased a variety of stitches from button holes, to eyelets, half back stitch and pad stitch.

Vionnet sample toile

This hands on practice based approach to dress history is an excellent way to understanding not only how the garments were created but also to comprehend an aspect of the culture of the society that made them. In as much as we worked with materials as close as possible to those used in the 18th century.  Furthermore, increasingly, as the day wore on and the sun went down I found it harder and hard to thread my needle using the thick linen thread.  Had I been living and sewing in that time period, I am sure I would have been out of a job as my eyesight is just not good enough for that type of precision sewing.   The tailoring techniques were tricky and required a good deal of skill. The end result was a sampler that I have to say was my own personal triumph even though it was incomplete.  I have always had reverence for my past sisters and brothers craftsmen but the course gave me the space to experience how the garments that I analyze, theorize, investigate are actually cut and constructed.

Doing a practice led PhD has been a wonderful opportunity to not only take my research interest to another level but also the practice side of it has allowed me to explore and push the boundaries of my work within the parameters of an institution which is safe but also freeing.  I am fortunate to be able to combine dress history with contemporary design and construction.  My latest project is based on a Parisienne redingote that was once a men's 18th century court coat and is now a 19th century women's jacquette. I visited the said garment in Paris where it is in the collection of Musée Galliera.  It is a good example of imaginative historical refashioning techniques.  The garment is in a bad state of conservation and the lining which covers the original 18th century silk lining is completely shot and so brittle that it virtually disintegrated in my gloved fingers.  However, it has provided me countless inspirational ideas for the practice element of my research.

I have been working not only with digital embroidery machine but also the laser cutter both of which produce such interesting effects and are quick.  The lazer cutter, in a very short space of time can cut through silk in such a way as to produce a pinking effect not to dissimilar to those produced on an 18th century gown.  Amazing.  I particularly like the effect of a laser machine on fabric as it almost burns the edges of the fabric cutting it with a fine and precise line that doesn't fray.  However, in order to produce these pieces, I have had to use Adobe Illustrator and for me that is a challenge.

To change the subject completely, I have been helping designer, Flavia Amadeu with her PhD thesis.  It tackles an interesting area of 'sustainability' in as much as she is devising a methodology for practioners who work with indigenous people to follow using the capability approach.   Her interest lies with rubber tappers in the Amazon rain forest.  Fascinating.  Look out for Flavia Amadeu as she designs original and quite beautiful jewelry made from organic rubber tapped from the Amazon www.flaviaamadeu.com

Digital machine embroidery based on a my design inspired by daisies growing in the Musee de Albertt Khan and 18th century embroidery

Shall I change the title of this blog site?  I'm bored with it - any suggestions?

Friday, 30 November 2012

Five Days in Florence

At the beginning of November, I was funded by Chelsea to attend the bi-annual costume colloquium in Florence.  The conference was entitled 'Past Dress - Future Fashion'.  Unfortunately, there was a lot of talk on past dress but not much on future fashion (within the context that I would have liked).  However, that didn't really matter as what I heard was illuminating with the highlight of the whole event being Thessy Schoenholzer Nichols speaking of her project and the funeral robes of the 'mummies' of Monsampolo del Tronto.

The conference was extremely well organised with a trip at the end of each day.  On the first day was a vintage clothing shopping crawl.  Amazing - I bought myself a Jacques Fathes grey silk shirt in immaculate condition.  It's gorgeous.   On the second day we were taken to the Gucci Museum and treated to alsorts of delicious Gucci canopes, chocolates and drinks in the Museum cafe.  The conference organisers had made sure that all the places that we visited were closed to the general public meaning we had exclusive viewing.

The Gucci Museum was amazing; a bit like visiting a rather fancy shop.  A Gucci shop even.  I liked it.  Others didn't.  The conservators in the group complained that the shelves were dusty!  I didn't spot that.  I rather enjoyed the luxury of it all and really appreciated the photos from the  '50s, '60s and '70s of people like Sophia Lauren, Tony Curtis, Ursula Andress all looking fabulous in Gucci.   Sneakily I took a photo which was completely forbidden but I could resist.

"Quality is remembered long after price is forgotten".

Good old Aldo Gucci!  He was right as his brand lives on long and hard.

As my trip continued and got better,  my ice cream consumption increased profoundly.  The ice cream in Florence is absolutely delicious.  Worth a mention even!

I think one of my highlights will be seeing Mr and Mrs Medici's clothing.  So evocative!  Really, I think my true passion is clothing from the Renaissance as viewed from paintings so to see the real thing is for me one of life's moments and it really didn't matter that they were stained and in a state of degradation.

However,  what has sparked my interest, was a vintage shop named  'Ceri Vintage'.  It was the most unusual store.  This shop was unlike any other vintage store I have visited.  Everything they sold was very well worn, patched, darned and many of the items were full of holes.  The whole aesthetic of the look that they were promoting was that of 'wear and tear'.

The clothing was displayed in a tasteful, almost minimalistic way. The shop was big and open (think All Saints - wooden floors, metal rails but much better).  Some of the clothing was so damaged that in another setting I am sure they would have been binned.  It was very clever.  What fascinated me was that this store saw the tears, the patches and the darning as a form of decoration which of course, in its own way it is.

What was slightly unnerving was that these clothes hadn't been customised.  This is how they were.  This is how they were worn when they were in use.  "People were very, very poor" commented the woman who was in charge of the shop.  I got the impression that even she (sorry, I didn't get her name),  who was very involved in the display and running of the shop also found it slightly spooky.   A conscious, design, aesthetic decision was made to sell clothes  which probably due to poverty and circumstance the original wearers might have felt ashamed to have been wearing.  They may have been there only clothes.

She relayed me a story.  A few weeks ago she had assembled a display of about 20 items of children's clothing.  The shop did sell children's coats, dresses and hats.  The ones that  I viewed, were possibly the most patched and darned of all the items in the shop.  She said she created  the display, by pinning rows of children's and baby wear on the side wall of the shop.   She said that she was not sure of display as there was something rather eerie or creepy about it;  three rows of empty, old kids clothing.

No long after,  a visiting gent from LA walked in shop.  He was so taken with her, let's say 'visual merchandising' that he bought every single item that she had pinned on the wall.  Not only did he buy it he had each piece individually framed to be shipped back to the US.  He was going to decorate his shop with these framed tattered, patched, worn, stained children's garments.   It certainly gets one thinking.  The journey of these items, anthropologically speaking is worthy of study.   Clothing from the desperately poor  being turned into art?

It is an interesting turn of events. Clothing that is stained, worn, torn and patched is now desirable.  Here's an example...... A friend of mine went to APC to buy some jeans.  He liked them so much he wanted to buy another pair but in black.  Sadly, at  £118 per pair he could afford two.  Being canny, his girlfriend asked the sales assistant if APC would buy back her boyfriend's old jeans (they were APC but were very worn, faded and torn).  Yes, they would be delighted to purchase his old jeans!  He sold them back  for £60!  And he got his pair of black jeans.  They loved the way the jeans had been basically worn to death.  His old  jeans will go back into APC system and be revamped-sold as unique bespoke jeans.   The parameters are shifting.

I need to now to work on my PhD.

Next week I will post Florence part II.

Books I am reading.
For my PhD
Small is Beautiful - A Study of Economics as if People Mattered by EF Schumacher
Approaches to Social Enquiry by Norman Blaikie

Doing a PhD is hard and you have to be very disciplined but for pleasure I've just started reading
Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel.  Lots of references to the wool trade and silk which always adds and interesting dimension for me.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Textile Toolbox

Textile Toolbox

You can read it her first!  My first paid bit of writing. Hurrah!  It's a start......

This was commissioned by TED and Mistra (Sweden).  It is a platform for designers and experts to engage with new ideas for the fashion industry.  It is a really good website and well worth a look.  Other than me, Emma Rigby has written a piece  along with Dr Jonathan Chapman and Sandy MacLennan.

Designs That Look at Models From History and Nature

Whilst working in a dress archive with the opportunity to examine countless historic pieces, I realised that the majority of the garments that I was viewing had been altered, mended or totally refashioned.  I soon became transfixed with a question.  Why and for what reason did these people want, need or take the trouble to go to such great lengths to increase the life span of the garment?

As a society, in need of solutions to reduce waste, it occurred to me that there is a possibility that these past examples could inspire answers to this problem.  Could contemporary clothing be designed and constructed (not too dissimilar to their historic forebears) with the notion of durability incorporated into the very seams of their structure. Garments could be designed to be reconstructed into another pre-determined style.  The idea of unpicking and adapting could be integral to the design aesthetic.  Maybe this could be considered a realistic sustainable design model?  I believe so.

There is a lot of information hidden away in these historic garments.  A few months ago, I was introduced to the ‘auto chrome’ collection of Albert Kahn. This vast collection of images provides a fascinating archive of visual information of a time before cultural globalization and the homogenization of much of the world’s dress.  One extraordinary image taken in 1913 caught my eye.  It is of an Afghan man.  Staring directly at the camera, he wears a rather stylish but tatty tartan coat.  On closer inspection, the coat appears to be constructed from individual pieces of tartan.  Where, in 1913 did our Afghan acquire his traditional Scottish Tartan coat?  It has been documented that towards the end of the 19th century two Scottish regiments were stationed in Afghanistan.  It gets cold in the winter in Afghanistan so it would seem sensible to construct a warm wool coat out of redundant tartan military kilts.   What a brilliant use of a superfluous wool cloth!  Similarly, the case of Mrs Guiney, who in 1954 accepted £5 from the Museum of London for a silk gown that had been in her family for several generations.  The letters say the dress belonged to Queen Charlotte however; it no longer resembles the 18th century gown that Queen Charlotte might have worn.  It is constructed in the style of a fashionable 1890s day dress.  The material evidence suggests that the gown had been meticulously reconstructed twice, to more fashionable styles suitable to the dates of women who later went on to wear it.

Two entirely different garments from opposite parts of the globe.   Both created from deconstructed garments to then be reconstructed to form other in a different style.  What can we learn from these two examples?  It is possible to deconstruct one garment and for it to morph into another.  If the textile quality is good and the skills are there, why waste valued fabric? Possibly there was an emotional attachment to these pieces that kept them in service for so many years. We can’t know but this interesting question fascinates me.

There are a number of contemporary designers who embrace the concept of transformation.  Swedish fashion designer, Anja Hynynen designs to make her garments more durable. She describes her ethically produced clothing as having a ‘timeless quality hopefully spanning generations’ and positively encourages her customers to hold on to their clothes. Furthermore, she runs workshops enabling them to learn skills to give them the confidence to work with their clothing; to mend, restyle and upcycle.  In contrast, Bea Szenfield constructed her 2010 collection, ‘Sur La Plage’ by hand from paper.  The paper was cut and folded into tiny shapes that assembled to create a series of stunning garments. She selected a material not generally associated with clothing and used it as the foundation for her collection.  Her clothing is obviously not durable but a creative and imaginative exploration of material reinvention.  Conversely, paper used to be predominately made from old from rags with many people selling their old clothing to merchants only to be shredded and reconstructed as paper.

It could be suggested that these designers are looking at ways of allowing the consumer to interact with their clothing and have the opportunity to engage with the material structure of the garment. Any interactive experience is likely to evoke some sort of emotional response, which could potentially be positive design tool for increasing the life span of our clothing. The research I am conducting examines historic garments like our Afghan’s coat and Mrs Guiney’s dress to assess and evaluate some of the reconstruction techniques and motivations that historically were routinely used to lengthen the use life of garments.  Through my investigative research I hope to create a link with these historical refashioning techniques and introduce some as a model within the contemporary sustainable clothing industry.   

Figure 1.
Gardien Afghan d’un tombeau musulman
Copy of auto chrome taken in December 1913.  The auto chrome resides in Musee Albert Kahn within the collection Archives de la Planete.  The Afghan man guards a Muslim tomb in his coat probably constructed from upcycled Scottish Military Uniform.

Figure 2.
An altered arm hole in the inside of an 18th century bodice located in the archives of the Museum of London.   The bodice was constructed from Spitalfields silk and lined with linen.  Note the contrasting textures of the two hand woven linens.  The stitching, also linen, is not uniform or neat.  Often stitching was done in this way to allow for ease in unpicking for future alteration.

Figure 3.
From the 2010 collection ‘Sur La Plage’ by Bea Szenfeld.  This garment has been hand constructed from individually cut discs of paper.

Figure 4.
A rag market in Liverpool in 1895.  Women took their rags to the market to be sold on to paper merchants.

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Transformational Thinking and Practise Field Day

Long time no blog...... however, I'm now back!

Piece of 16th century velvet.  Photo taken at an exhibition in Spitalfields, May 2012

Last week I attended a day long event run by the Centre for Sustainable Fashion .  It was so enjoyable.  The sun shone and I even learnt to knit.  We meditated and relaxed.  The relevant academics were there and Dr Kate Fletcher sent us out into the environs of Lime Grove to forage.  We were to forage for 'stuff' that society discards, that society believes is unwanted and no longer values.  Interesting. I walked past my Dad's old house, where I lived as a little girl.  I found some rubbish in the front garden and it reminded me of when I used to sit on the front steps watching the boy a few houses down play out. I really wanted to join in but was too shy to ask. The sunny weather reminded me of the ice cream van that used to come by that sold real chocolate ice cream.  You could even buy banana ice cream which Mary (my beloved step mother always loved).  Objects and memory are very evocative which takes me on to Jan  Brockmeier's work on memory and the archive.  But before I go there I will post a short film of a teenager's bedroom.  It links in the with waste, rubbish and what society believes as acceptable.

I've been reading the work of Jan Brockmeier.  He writes with such clarity and to start with I can recommend the paper 'After the Archive:  Remapping Memory'.  I found it in the e-library through Sage. http://cap.sagepub.com/.  What interests me, in relation to the historic clothing that I am examining, is the link between re-appropriation and practises of remembrance that can be carried  out in 'processes of intergenerational transmission'.  Basically, in some instances (Nancy Pawsey's gown), what is it about the emotional connection and memory that keeps these garments in use?

My practise has taken a new turn in as much I am making shirts again.  This is nothing to do with my PhD work just a way of making some money.  They will be under the label 'Gussie Still Loved' and will be made entirely from waste stream cotton, wool mixes and silk.  I am very lucky to have access to all the waste fabric from a successful bespoke shirt makers in the West End of London.  I have made them for myself in the past and they are all much admired.  So there we have it.  Each shirt will be unique and constructed from the finest fabrics, beautifully sewn and made here in London by people paid a decent living wage.  5% of all profits will be donated to Meningitis Research.  This little project is to help me fund my PhD and hopefully raise some money for charity.

Exhibitions I have visited.
Bauhaus at the Barbican - fantastic, brilliant, a must see and I even bought the catalogue (£32!!!!!)
The Stuff that Matter - fabulous look at the textile collection of Seth Siegelaub.
What I am reading
Cotton - Beverly Lemire
New Realities, New Roles for Designers - Essay Competition Design Academy Eindhoven April 2011

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Sunny Weather

What beautiful weather we are having.  How lovely to see all the spring flowers and to feel the sun on my face but what I haven't been doing is any work!

Brief run through for my own sake!  I have started writing up my research on the Nancy Pawsey's dress and have realised that I haven't been as thorough as I should have been in examining and writing up my study information.  I suppose that is how one learns.  I have missed some really obvious things.  Why did I count the stitching on the 18th century bodice but not the 1840s bodice or even 1880s dress?   Arghh!  I despair at my self.

Whilst at the Museum of London, Hilary Davidson, who incidentally, is speaking at York University, CECS study day entitled, Desiring Fashion:  The Consumption and Dissemination of Dress 1750-1850 this 23rd June, gave me a paper written by Jules David Prown to read  It was published quite some time ago,  1982,  but it has been very helpful in re-enforcing my methodological practise.  The title of the paper is 'Mind in Matter:  An Introduction to Material Culture Theory and Method' and is published in Winterthur Portfolio, Vol.17.

From reading this, I have realised that I am probably too biased in the examination of my garments.  I take the garment out of the box with the anticipation and knowledge that it has been re-fashioned or altered.   Therefore with a sense of urgency, I am expecting and wanting to see what I hope to be there.   In my case,  a major altering or customisation of the original garment.

 The bibliography was most informative and I have highlighted various books to read.  First on my list is a classic, Flugel, The Psychology of Clothes (1930).

I participated in a work shop on memory with Dr Jen Brockmeir which was fascinating and I need to read more on this subject.  I might even join the 'Memory' reading group that another student is planning to set up.  Dr Linda Sandino has given us all a reading list.

Lovely section of cotton lace from the petticoat of Nancy's the 1880s dress 
Last Thursday, I thought that I would learn how to adapt the print from Nancy Pawsey's dress.  My intention is to design a contemporary dress and adapt the print from her silk into my own textile design.  A sort of 18th century silk modification.    I thought I would have a go in Illustrator.  Well, I spent three hours trying to teach myself using the book 'Digital Textile Design' by Melanie Bowles.    I only got through half of the first tutorial.  It just kept going wrong.  My ineptitude with technology drives me insane.   I am such a dummy around computer programmes.  It's so frustrating!

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Nancy Pawsey

I spent my third day at the Museum of London photographing the dress of Nancy Pawsey.  I managed to get some really great photos owing to the fact I took along a tripod and a macro lens.  It was a wonderful day and as per usual Hilary Davidson was very helpful and gave me some information that she had found out about my dress.  This dress seems to have captured her imagination as well as mine.  Nancy Pawsey, the dress's first owner appears quite a character.

Whilst researching Nancy's dress,  I saw some 17th century sailor's slops.  Hilary was showing them to some experts so  I was able to have a look too.  Amazing.  They were rather large and brown in colour. They were very patched with numerous repairs and what looked like a big button made from bone on the front opening.  The experts were impressive.  I wish that I had got their names.  They are part of the Living History movement and specialise in the ordinary clothing of the 17th century.  These two people were amateur historians yet are classed as specialists (which of course they are). Many years have been spent studying material culture, old documents and what ever they can lay their hands on to inform themselves.

Nancy Pawsey was born Anne (Nancy) Wilton on November 6th, 1747 and died September 27th, 1814.  She was a very skilled embroideress and apparently taught Queen Charlotte and her court ladies to embroider.  The dress was given by Queen Charlotte to Nancy who re-sized it for herself.  It was altered and re-fashioned twice by members of her family in the 19th century.  The 1880s alteration was done by her grandson's wife Helen Deare who died in Hove, Brighton in 1891.  I think from there it was kept in storage until it was sold to the Museum for £5 in the 1950s.

What is interesting is that in 1788,  Nancy was a witness in a trial at the Old Bailey in London.  Two gentlemen Thomas Dudfield and Hart Levy

 'were indicted for feloniously stealing on the 17th December, one hair trunk, value 3 s. the goods of Sarah Wilton, spinster, one silk gown and coat, value 4 l. one pair of satin slippers, value 4 s. one linen handkerchief, value 8 d, one paire of stays, value 20 s. one silk cloak, value 12 s and one pair of silk stockings, value 6 s. the goods of Joseph Pawsey'.  

The goods actually belonged to Nancy's sister.  The trial is fun reading.  The two poor men were found guilty and were transported for seven years!  Let's hope they made it!

I am about to start my writing up procedure so more will be revealed.

This photo shows the arm hole of the 18th century bodice.  Note the  different linens used.  The linen in the sleeve itself has such a fabulous weave.  It is much thicker.  Note all the 18th century hand stitching

This is the inside of the 1840s bodice.  These are three bone channels .

Work Shop at TED
I went to a workshop at TED run by 'Red Jotter' http://www.redjotter.wordpress.com.  She was very impressive and I learnt a lot from her about presenting and interactive workshops .  Very importantly I now know what 'blue sky' thinking is and where I can find a 'hash' tag.  She is suggesting maybe I should learn how to tweet or twitter.  I think I should but can I be bothered.  Is it just another thing to do?

I also met a woman, Sian Weston ( www.sianweston.org.uk ).  She has written two very interesting papers which can be viewed on her blog, one about heritage branding and another about Burberry.  I found them extremely interesting and really poked interest in British manufacturing.
Additionally, I went to hear Lucy Kimble talk on 'design thinking' which was inspiring.  She's an academic who works at the Young Foundation.  Really need to explore her work further.

Books That I am Reading
Still the same ones as last week.  But for fun I 'No such thing as Society' by Andy McSmith.  It's a general overview of Thatcher's Britain both politically and culturally.  It's an easy read and is filling me in on all the necessary bits as although I was alive then I was a teenager and to be honest it all passed me by.

Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Changing the Paradigm

I am very tired and feel that I haven't done enough work this week.  I never seem to do enough.  How much is enough?  No practise either.  Oh well.  Haven't progressed any further with Ms Rothstein.  Where does the time go?  Went to the British Library to renew my membership and they would not accept my passport as proof of address (I'd left my driving license in Hotel Saxelhus on my trip to Copenhagen and haven't got it together to get another)!  Argghhh what a waste of time.  So my plan to read Bourdieu in peace has been thwarted.  Can't say I am that disappointed.

This week has been very interesting as I read the most fascinating essay by Kate Fletcher.  I've read it before but like with so many things this time I thought about it differently.    'System change for sustainability in textiles' and it is part of a group of essays in the book,  'Sustainable Textiles:  life cycle and environmental impact'.  Basically, there are many ways to reduce energy, oil, water, packaging but what would really help would be to change our relationship with the whole system.  It is very interesting but where it led me was that I have decided to try and understand historically the system of manufacturing textiles.  How is it that the system of manufacturing textiles and fashion has got to this place?  

I have begun reading a series of essay on 'Textile History and Economic History' edited by N B Harte and K G Ponting. Of course I love it.  Immediately what strikes me is that textiles have always been created  using a variety of different structures in order to pull the final product together.  Silk, the fibre was imported before weaving likewise with cotton.  Even in the period before the industrial revolution when yarn was 'put out' and weaving was a domestic industry, the end product was created from a whole series of processes.  Here we are now in our current situation which appears to be a cumulative extension of what originally started many centuries before.  

The Englishman's clothes, Thomas Dekker claimed (writer of the Seuen Deadly Sinnes of London (1606), The Non Dramatic Works of Thomas Dekker, ed.  Alexander Grosard (privately printed in 1885) vol. 2 29-60)  claimed

"An English-man's suite is like a traitors bodie that hath beene hanged, drawne and quartered, and set up in seuerall places:  the collar of his doublet and the belly in France; the wing and narrow sleeue in Italy; the short waist hangs over a Dutch bothers stall in Utrich; his huge sloppes speakes Spanish;  Polonia gives him his bottes; the blocke for his head alters faster than the feltmaker can fit him".

How fabulous is that depiction!  That illustrates fashion but what I am beginning to comprehend is that even before the clothes were made up the fibres very likely were imported, and piece work was everywhere so how can we change a system that has been with us since the beginning of time?  

Beautiful old label, sadly out of focus as it was snapped on my phone 

The interesting aspect is that in my research I am realising that the garments where altered and restructured generally in the home or a work place.  Maybe it is possible to shift the paradigm albeit at a final stage - maybe it was always there but has just been lost in the last 30 years.

And as for bring the manufacturing process back to 'Great Britain'.  I believe so strongly in having a textile manufacturing system in Britain.  About a year ago I watched a documentary on catch up telly (BBC Wales) about the women who had worked at the Burberry factory which  before it was closed was  situated in Wales.  The programme documented what they are now doing 2 years after it was shut down.   Some are employed, some have retired and some were still out of work but what these women missed as much as the money was the camaraderie, friendship, chats, the Christmas lunch. etc  We have now got vast pockets of unemployment in this country but I really do believe that the free market has  left so many people standing in the cold.  The loss of skills, mental and physical health and dare I say it, the 'cultural capital' is being stripped from our society.  That's just me babbling but I really do believe very strongly that we need to support our own people.  There's an interesting article in Eco Textile News this month about the production of outdoor clothing and it being made outside of the US and the lack of control regulations for the workers.  I just skimmed the article but the writer was basically saying what I think but from a US angle.

Man's shoes - photo snapped on the train

Finally, before I sign off, on my way back from CSM the other day, I was sitting on the Met line and this old boy got on the train.  He was in his 70s or even 80s and he had these fantastic shoes on.  They really curled up at the toes and had brass (probably composite) buckles.  He was a very natty dresser and even had stripy socks on.  He didn't look eccentric or over the top you could just tell that in his time he really had loved his clothes and still did.  The shoes are probably from the 70s.

Books that I am Reading.
Harte, N.B. Ponting, K.G (1973) Textile History and Economic History, Essays in Honour of Miss Julia de Lacy Mann.  Manchester University Press
And For Fun
Pidgeon English by Stephen Kelman.  In the end I loved this book.  I think it could possibly have been edited down a bit but it was so well crafted and I loved all the characters.  A really good read.