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AS A WORKING MOTHER with too few hours in the day one of the things I really miss doing is a thorough spring clean. If cleanliness is next to godliness then I'm a terrible sinner but I do acknowledge that a clean house has an almost purifying effect on the soul. I love the smell of wax polish and lemon and the soft touch of yellow cotton dusters. I even find ironing and folding sweet smelling linen has a therapeutic quality. But maybe if I really had the time I wouldn’t want to; it’s an ongoing dilemma that Sarah James charts in Household Security pg 28, the loss of domestic skills and the rise of the commercial domestic goddess. If you are embarking on a quest to make your home sparkle we have some of the best products to help you, Spick and Span pg 11.
So throw open your windows and sweep the cobwebs away, for our thoughts are turning to spring and summer. We take a closer look at linen, the crispest of cloth, and highlight those produced by Vittorio Solbiati and used to stunning effect in the work of Shirin Guild, pg 24. We investigate the reasons for the phenomenal growth in the Italian textile industry and admire the exquisite tailoring of Giorgio Armani pg 20. Mansel Fletcher finds out just what gives Italian men that groomed look that we in Britain, despite being home to some of the best designers in the world, find so hard to achieve.
Closer to home Sarah Jane Downing uncovers the diverse history of the Jute industry pg 42 and we also look at the meteoric rise of Turkey red dye pg 44, a dazzling colour that had worldwide significance in the 18th century but died out as quickly as it emerged.
Finally, why not take advantage of our subscribers offers? Whether you are a homebody or a dedicated traveller we have an offer that will appeal. All new subscribers will receive a Teresa Green tea towel worth £12 – or you might win a luxury weekend in Paris.
Polly Leonard Editor
CONGRATULATIONS TO THESE WINNERS: Celia Birtwell Scarves: Philippa Swann, PERTHSHIRE, Ms S Heslop, CO DURHAM. Persephone Books: Beryl Ragless, BEDS, Janet Oliver, KIDDERMINSTER, Allison Smith, SUFFOLK, Tracey Pereira, HANTS, Mary Parry, READING. Clarissa Hulse Lavender Bags: Judi Brown, WILTSHIRE, Catherine Barnard, S. GLOUCESTERSHIRE, Patti Lean, DUMFRIES, Jenny Booth, POWYS, Patricia Delford, CHESHIRE. Helsinki Holiday, Lucy Goffin, LAUGHTON. Lithuania Holiday, Jane Rodgers, HARTLEPOOL. Pia Wallén Felt Slippers: Jennifer Birchall, WIGAN, Eileen White, WINCHESTER, Natasha Edmonds, SWANSEA, Josephine Steed, STONEHAVEN, Hannah Buckley, BRIGHTON, Linda Litchfield, LONDON, Liz O'Donnell, SCOTLAND, Maggie Giraud, DEVON, June Swindell, LONDON, Jane Rattenbury, LONDON. Cirque Du Soleil tickets: Wendy Potts, E. SUSSEX. Khadi bags: Our sincere apologies for the delay. The bags are in production and we will notify readers of the expected date of delivery in the next issue.
We asked this month’s contributors for their domestic tips and rituals.
STEPHEN SZCZEPANEK pg 46
FREDDIE ROBINS pg 62
SARAH JAMES pg 28
Never strong in chemistry or the natural sciences, I tend to leave stain removal to the professionals. However, an alternative that I find rather engaging is to follow Japanese mending practice and stitch an interesting patch over an indelible stain. It's artful – and less messy than sponging out the problem.
I love buying cleaning products. For anything that can be washed I use “Vanish Pre-Wash Spray”. It comes in a fantastic pink bottle. For grease stains on fabric such as woven carpets and upholstery I use a strange little product called “Janie”. It has the same name as my childhood ragdoll!
Typically mine is for red wine removal on carpet! Mop up the spill and pour a large quantity of salt – basic table salt is fine – all over the stain until no red shows or seeps through. Leave to dry and vacuum. You do have to be sober enough to act quickly, as it only works if you do it the minute you spill your drink. Correspond & enquire
Dear Editor, In the January issue of Selvedge you asked for readers' comments, saying 'it is your magazine'; well, here are mine. I would like to see more profiles of textile makers, designers and artists, without the repetition seen in other craft magazines. UK textile makers have been marginalised and a whole generation has been lost through poor promotion. This is why readers have been crying out for a magazine like Selvedge and I am sure that any practitioner would like to be seen within its pages.
A while ago, I applied for the post of head of dept at a leading art school and proposed to use the new position to host the European Textile Network conference in London. Beatrijs Sterk from the Textile Network replied that she had spoken with colleagues across Europe and would love to come to London. But sadly, they also had reservations, commenting on the poor coordination and lack of organisation in the UK's textile community.
I find myself agreeing. There is no recognition nor celebration of makers and little to assist them in the marketplace. Most makers are philosophical. We do not have a tradition of being forthright and those of us who have been outspoken in the past – myself included – have found themselves marginalised. Most have given up trying to engage the system such as it is. I now take the view that we must do what we can. So now I make and if anyone who curates, writes, buys or commissions takes an interest, I am delighted: but is it right that I must be a delighted but 'silent' Englishwoman? Annie Sherbourne
Ed: Thank you for your comments. I agree that there is a need to promote new artists. The lack of coverage for the generation of artists you are talking about was one of my reasons for launching Selvedge. I wanted a place where these artists could promote and advertise their work to potential customers and gain the recognition I think they deserve.
We try at Selvedge to profile the work of international artists and try as far as we can, as a UK based magazine with an international audience, not to be too UK centric. We have included Australia in our listings for the first time this issue and are keen to receive listings from any of our readers.
As for the UK's textile community's lack of co-ordination, this is also something I feel passionate about. I agree with Beatrijs Sterk and feel it is a result of the splintered structure of our many small guilds and amateur societies. Merged or even just working together as a single group they would be a powerful body with the potential to make a difference: but with no central focus that power dissipates ineffectually. In Selvedge I wanted to bring together the disparate disciplines of fashion and interior design, of fine art and craft, of weave, embroidery and print, of historic and contemporary textiles under one umbrella. I know of prominent figures in the textile community who also hold strong views but are reluctant to air them for fear of offending people whom they depend upon for their living. It is a difficult issue but if we have any other silent Englishwomen or men amongst our readers I would love to hear their views.
Dear Editor, I needed a break but never in my wildest dreams did I imagine winning your holiday to the Baltic. When I asked my daughter to accompany me, she jumped at the chance. Vilnius was wonderful – a surprise around every corner. As much of the city as possible was explored; there was a fantastic exhibition of icons in the Art Gallery. Art previously found only in reference books was a rare treat and there was so much inspiration. Jane Rodgers
Dear Editor, I stumbled across Selvedge yesterday and have been in heaven ever since! I had almost lost hope of ever finding a publication like this, something truly fine, enthralling and aesthetically pleasing, thank you. If only it had been around while I was in college. I have an insatiable appetite for printed textiles and as I currently have no studio space Selvedge shall be my inspiration and stimulation spurring me on. I shall be waiting with bated breath for the next publication. I'm hooked! From an extremely happy person. Siriol Miller
Dear Editor, Thank you for the greetings card and yarn. The pom-pom instructions immediately brought to mind my schooldays in Inverness during the Second World War. Each day every child was given one third of a pint of milk to drink. The small bottles were sealed by round cardboard discs and each disc had a smaller circle perforated in it. Afterwards, the discs were salvaged and carefully washed. We used them to make pom-poms! Wool was scarce in wartime but we scrounged what we could. Yellow yarns made chickens at Easter, red and green were saved for Christmas, other colours made decorative trims for scarves and drawstring cords were often finished with pom-poms. Over the intervening years I have taught dozens, maybe even hundreds, of people to do the same. Thank you for the surprise! Val Shields
We are happy to publish letters, unusual queries and undertake research that will be of interest to our readers. Please send intriguing questions or answers to Polly Leonard, Selvedge Magazine, P.O Box 40038, N6 5UW, email@example.com. Please mark clearly any letters not intended for publication.
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