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Name: knitabulous
Location: Mt Keira, New South Wales, Australia

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Wonderful Nut

3 Apr 2006

Really when you think about it, there's no such thing as a bad nut is there? The macadamia, the pecan, even the ubiquitous peanut - all good nuts.

On our trip to Sydney we went fossicking in the wonderful shops in Newtown. When I was young and single with short burgundy hair and skin like milk I used to trudge this street every hungover Saturday to return the video, get a haircut, buy some bread and cheese or look at clothes. And every week it used to make me feel the same way. Liberated.

I'm pleased to say that in spite of now being an overweight, bleached blonde, fake tanned, overly madeup suburban middle-aged housewife mother of two, King St can still make me feel that way.

One of the shops we looked in was a vintage dress shop. They had some fabulous hats from the thirties which were like pillbox hats wrapped in turbans in lurid colours. There were frocks and coats - proper ones with pintucks and pleats with nipped waists.

There was also a basket of linen stuff. I sifted through it, and picked this up.

It's a square table centrepiece, hand embroidered and crocheted around the outside. It's very soft, like it has been washed hundreds of times. It's possible the embroidery and crochet is newer than the fabric itself.

Closer inspection reveals that it may have been embroidered on an old sheet and in the centre it has been patched and darned in two places. It was this part, the repairing that got to me, not the embroidery. Someone has darned and patched this fabric because either they loved it and didn't want to lose it or because they couldn't abide the waste of throwing it away.

And, here it was, sitting there cheap as chips in a second hand store waiting for me to find it. I felt quite strongly about this old rag, so I took it to the counter to buy it.

While I was there I struck up a conversation with the store owner, we talked about how this piece of material had such mystery, because the original fabric may have been a sheet that was slept on (by whom I wonder?), and then it was hand-darned when it got holes in it (mother? grandmother?), and then someone cut it up and embroidered on it (did they deliberately want to keep the sheet for some sentimental reason?). This thing could have gone from place to place, from woman to woman, maybe for generations. Or maybe it was just a remnant. Who knows? And the mystery to me was all about the darned bits in the middle, the bit that others considered a flaw and the very reason it was so cheap and in the basket in the first place.

The darned bits proved to me that there was sentimental value in this old sheet, and I had to take it home and preserve the power this sentiment had given it. I couldn't leave it there in the basket unloved and unwanted.

The shop owner looked me in the eye and said to me "Well, aren't you a wonderful nut?"

I took it as a great compliment, for reaaly, there is no other kind.

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