Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Tangible Memories

Two books I have read recently have had me thinking about fabric and the past. The first, Rosalie Ham's The Dressmaker tells the story of an outcast with incredible talents with fabric and the second Stephanie Lacava's The Extraordinary Theory of Objects tells of her real life growing up in France during the grunge era.

These two books have had me thinking about  the clothes that I have worn in my life, some long discarded and now regretted, others thankfully thrown out or left behind when forced to travel light. One item that sticks in my mind that is evoked by both books is a brown chenille cardigan I wore during my own grunge phase.
I wore it over Op. Shop silk slips, with torn jeans and band t-shirts, with navy converse and possibly even with a pair of stove pipe tartan pants that I wore which were probably more punk than grunge. At the time, all I knew was no one looked like me and that was what I wanted.
Now I can't even look at chenille let alone touch it or wear it but hen I thought it was divine. It was thoroughly NOT cool. I'm sure the fabric itself had a lot to do with that but it may have also been the milk chocolate colour of it too. I can't think of anyone then or now who would wear such a garment.
The funny thing was, it was new, not second hand. My mother hated anything second had and when I did manage to sneak into an Op. Shop (usually illicitly with girlfriends) and buy something she would immediately wash and sterilise it the moment she caught sight of it.
I eventually upgraded from the chocolate brown chenille cardigan to a woollen jumper the colour and texture of an old teddy bear. When my mother saw it she informed that some old man had probably died in it. Even that did not deter me from wearing it although the spilt food on the front and sleeve did so I happily handed it over for it's ritual carbolising (picked up at nurses training). and from then on wore it lovingly.
Only some years later when I went to get rid of it did I discover the label 'Pringle' a name that had meant nothing at the time of purchase but adds to its resale value at the flea market I sold it at. That jumper was amazing. It made me more than it cost me, it kept me warm, it made me grungetastic, it replaced CHENILLE for God's sake and it taught me what to look for in an Op. Shop and where to go for the best thrift stores in town.
I am pleased and disappointed I don't have a photo of either the cardigan or jumper to accompany this piece for you. But I will always remember the feel and look of both and each in their own way make me smile.

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