Paging Peg Utting!

Back in March of 1941, the Powers That Be [ in Aus at least ] decided that the time had come to allow women to enter the armed forces. My mother [ Noreen Williams as she was then ] and Auntie Billee [ otherwise known as Mildred Williams ] were among the girls who signed up for the Women’s Auxilliary Australian Air Force, or WAAAFs, on that very first day, March 15. Mum was number [900]24, and Billee, number [900]13.

Mum had just turned 21, Billee would have been one of the youngest at 18, and she passed away last year at almost ninety, so I’m not sure how many of the so-called ‘Old Originals’ are still with us.

One who is, is the lovely Peggy Utting, follower and frequent commenter on this ‘ere blog, and last year when I finally got to meet her at Billee’s funeral, I asked her if she might be able to identify the following photos … which I was subsequently unable to locate again until a week ago. So much for my vaunted organisational skills,eh!

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The first two appear to have been taken on the same occasion as the women filing up the steps of [ if I remember correctly ] Saint Paul’s Cathedral in Melbourne, are in the same order as those nearest the camera in the other shot. Billee is 7th from the front, with mum behind her. I’m hoping Ms Peg is in there too.

… and I think that’s Blackie [ Dame Margaret Blackwood ] at the front, Peg?

And then there’s this newspaper clipping, found amongst Mum’s stuff after her death, which shows Billee 2nd from right in the front row.

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It has had all identifying markers cut off, and I never got around to asking Billee what it was about. It may have absolutely no connection to the WAAAFS, but I’m thinking the lady in the striped dress second from left just MIGHT be the same one that’s in the middle of the front row in the second picture. Maybe Peg will know.

Edited to add : see Peg’s comments regarding the identity of these young ladies. Peg herself is in the striped dress, third from right and next to my aunt.

Fragile Treasure

Oh I’m on a roll here. Two posts on consecutive days.

So

Some of my cousins and I have been posting old family photos on FB and trying to document as much as we know of the history because we’ve already lost so much of that. In my case, I need to double and triple check anything that I THINK I know of family history, because little mum was rather fond of ’embroidering’ family history, when she wasn’t just making it up out of whole cloth.

So in a sense, what I and my cousins know of our shared antecedents could be regarded as the fragile treasure of the title. Each previously unseen photo. Each tentative date or skeleton of a story.

Nadie is always saying to me ” I hope you’ve got that labelled” or “I hope you’re writing this down”

so Nadie, this is for you:

My gorgeous maternal grandfather, Roy Williams, had a twin sister Elsie. They were born on Christmas Day, 1890, and there doesn’t seem to be many photos that we can be sure are Elsie, mostly because she died as a very young woman. I’m thinking 1915, but I need to check that… and this is one of those bits where I have to question what I think I know, because Mum always said that Elsie died in childbirth, having her son Edwin McLaughlin.

Maybe one of my cousins knows whether this is correct, but certainly what I do know, is that the photos of Edwin as a toddler all show him with either his father, or with his Nannie, my Great Grandma Gertrude Henrietta Adams Williams. No signs of Elsie. So maybe Mum was correct.576286_10200863080927628_1583406655_n

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That’s Elsie on the left, with my great aunts, Gertrude Alice in the middle and Doreen Constance on the right , taken at the family home in East Camberwell, we’re guessing around 1900-1902, as Do was born in 1894. Tell me you don’t just love the cabbage-tree hats, pinafores, lisle stockings and button-up boots!

and this is Elsie on the day of her wedding to Roy Edwin McLaughlin in 1914

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541617_10200863081447641_1594588875_nwhich is what leads me to the title of the post.

Elsie’s wedding veil.

My treasure.

It’s unbelievably fragile and foxed, thanks to its being stored in plastic for goodness knows how many years before I got my mitts on it.

In fact, though I hate remembering this, the very first time I picked it up, my finger went right through the netting which is so brittle I’m not sure how it is holding together.

You may all be assured that since 1994 it has been living in archival tissue, in a labelled box, and rarely ever coming out into the clear light of day. [ and did I just hear a collective sigh of relief from all my embroiderer/quilter friends ? ]

This week it did, because I wanted to photograph the embroidery for my cousins

and I thought some of you might like to see it as well.

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Each corner is different: the net embroidered in fairly heavy cream thread,

542765_10200863726663771_545099070_n which has a slight sheen and is probably equivalent to modern 6-strand embroidery cotton.

and so I continue to preserve this whisp of century old embroidered lace, the tangible expression of the fact that Elsie was a living breathing woman, who loved, was loved in return, and then lost.

A few finishes

Okay I’ve been really lousy the last few weeks/ months at actually getting the blog posts written. As has happened before, I write bits of them in my head under the shower, but somehow this long, hot Aussie Summer [ hottest since they began keeping records ] which is now continuing into Autumn, just saps my ability to put a coherent thought together by the time I actually get to the keyboard. Currently in our third week of temps above [ often well above ] 30C, with several more days in this current spell.

So, while there are momentous family things to show-n-tell, like a double baptism, a new great-nephew [ yesterday, to Rebecca and Nick, a boy, Edward, no other deets yet ] and loads of baby cuteness, as well as the usual round of ‘life in the country’, I’m just going to settle for photos of a bunch of finished bits and pieces that I largely forgot to document.

These aren’t necessarily in order either.

So first, a crochet blanket in 4ply/fingering cotton, made to fit Abby’s big girl cot [crib] so 106cm / 42 inches square. Mostly BWM Cotton from the stash with a border of a variegated yarn that you can’t see in the pics, so you’ll have to trust me that Maz gave me 3 balls of this pink/jade/mint/magenta colourway a few years ago and this just seemed like the perfect project for it. There’s a shot of the yarn in this post if you can be bothered going back to look.

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Now, this next piece is the fault of my friend Alex from ZigoZago who has recently been bitten by the crochet bug. In addition to all sorts of throws and table mats and so on, she’s been making little crochet covers for empty jars.  I know that sounds perhaps a bit insane, but they make really cute little containers for hooks, needles, pencils, or in my case, spindles.

Alex has them scattered around her shop, and I thought … well … okay, maybe just one

So this is vintage cream wool, about 6ply/sport weight, and playing with faux-cables,

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which were then fulled/felted to fit an empty container.

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I really like how the ‘cables’ pop after a bit of soap, hot HOT water and elbow grease.

This next blankie, I mainly constructed back before Abby was born, in fact most of it was done before we even knew that she was a she, and only the final mauve was added once we knew that she was ABBY.

Anyway, I didn’t originally block the blanket, so when Nadie decided that she wanted a wool one big enough for the cot, I only needed to add the turquoise and cobalt, and then to block it out, for it to transform from bassinet to big girl cot.

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and speaking of cots, I needed to make a fitted sheet for the Portacot that stays at Nannie’s, so a quick dip into the humungous stash of suitable 100% cotton quilt fabrics produced a couple of metres of this happy print of suns, that  suits the red cot.

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and a cotton blankie for same, which happily – and totally coincidentally  – contains many of the other colours in the fabric that I used for the sheet [ and, surprise, surprise, this blankie somehow ended up down at Nadie’s with all the others, so either this, or the one earlier in the post, will eventually have to make the trip back up here, once someone decides which one suits  which bedroom best ]

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By now, you’re probably getting a bit glazed around the eyes, and hoping this post is finis.

Nope

Not finished yet.

One of the little tops I made before Abby arrived, proved to be a little too tight at the hem, so I unpicked it and added a couple of rows of ruffles [ this one is also in BWM’s 4ply cotton ]008

Converted a onsie into a little sundress 019

and finally this week, did a quick test knit for Madeleine of YarnMadness for this new pattern she’s designed. It was going to be called ‘Spik’ which is Swedish for Spike, but someone objected to an imagined ethnic slur, so now it will be named ‘Tagg’ instead, which means thorn. I’m sure that you can all work out why she’s given it that name. Cute pattern, easy knit in DK or light worsted, so keep an eye out for the pattern release.

Mine’s in the 3 month size – for Abigail obviously – and in BWM cotton yet again but this time the 8ply.

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So there we are all caught up on the ‘making-things’ front .

Now if I can just catch you up on all that other stuff.

Maybe if the temp drops a bit later in the week.