Today has been so exciting: in between the normal sewing and cutting, I finally took a photo of my great-grandmother’s (or her mother’s – I don’t know which) hand woven, narrow loom pillowcase which I found in my grandmother’s linen closet, while clearing the family house in Scotland after sixty-seven years of occupation.

Traumatic  - my aunt was in a nursing home, and after I visited her and realised she was never coming home, I started going through her things, since we had to sell the house.

The treasures in that place!  Family fortunes had gone up and down, but domestic items were kept, and valued – blue and white china, books, linens… fine kid gloves, furs, my grandfather’s tools.

Since my mother and siblings were all in Australia, I asked them what they wanted.  My mother wanted her father’s blackthorn walking stick, which he cut for himself before he went to Florida, before he was married  -  my elder brother wanted his tools and books, my younger brother fancied the heavy, carved barometer which hung in the hall.  My sister got a blue and white china basin and pitcher, jug and soap dish, (and my grandmother’s Paisley shawl, in a roundabout way…)

I set out for Australia with a suitcase clanking with all this stuff – I had to go naked while there to compensate for the weight.  The walking stick wouldn’t fit, and I was in dread of leaving it in an overhead locker on a series of planes.  When I arrived in Sydney late at night the customs men were tired, I was tired and the whole thing was fraught.

Well, they didn’t boggle at the hammers, planes, files and gauges, or the books, barometer or china, but the walking stick was a problem – the only thing my mother wanted.  Australia has strict quarantine laws about living things, and because the wood on the stick was only peeled, not finished, it was at risk.  As they looked up their books one of them said to me, “We can’t allow bark into the country”, at which something swam to the top of my mind from Biology 1 and I stated confidently, “It isn’t bark, it’s the cambium layer!”

Relief all round, and they let me through.

How personal value is!  And as I grow this Rough Linen business from my great-grandmother’s homespun, handwoven linen pillowcase become lavender bag, here in California, a bit north of Silicon Valley –  I am hearing from people all over the world who value what I value in this elemental, humble fabric which has somehow become a luxury in a world gone upside down.


About Tricia Rose

Not distracted by shiny objects.
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16 Responses to Heritage

  1. Kerry says:

    My grandma had no house full of treasures but I have a satin and crochet pocket for want of a better description she kept her compact in. Valued indeed. Thank you for your comment on Cecil Beaton. I really enjoyed looking at it from that perspective.

  2. decdiva1 says:

    hi tricia, thanks for visiting my blog, cottage romance and for your kind words! how lovely to be able to sew w/ that as your view!

  3. decdiva1 says:

    thank goodness, they let it go with you! treasures indeed!

  4. brismod says:

    So true, how personal value is!

  5. la Brocanteuse says:

    Hello Tricia,
    I have just discovered your blog and are enjoying it as I read it through..going back right to the beginning. I loved your post you shared with us about what sentiment to whom..and it makes me think…
    Have a lovely weekend. I joined as follower and will add you to my blog list, for I will surely visit here often. kind regards Colette

  6. La Maison Reid says:

    Hi there…interesting to read what sparked you into building a business. Was this something recent? Love the part about the walking stick…good job!

  7. Burlap Luxe says:

    Hello Tricia,
    Thank you for your visit to me I just love your view of creating. I would just love to sew in that setting. That header of yours is inspiring, and an inspiring place to create.

    please visit again, so I can feed off your inspiration.

  8. Maya says:

    That's a wonderful use of that heirloom! And I certainly love the concept of Rough Linen…, the kind of fabric that is close to nature.

    Maya @ Completely Coastal

  9. Lenore says:

    What a fabulous story, Tricia…I am extremely interested in genealogy and your story of cleaning out you aunt's home and your great grandmothers hand woven pillow case is precious…the walking stick part of it is fabulous…love your whole blog and so I'm going to become a follower.
    Thanks for the comment on my hummingbird post…this AM I was sitting outside having my 1st cup of tea and I counted 20 hummingbirds flying about close to me and the feeders.
    Oh, and I live in CA too…San Diego.

  10. Struggler says:

    You did well to get the walking stick through customs (I recently had a close call with a Harrods Christmas Pudding at SFO so I can imagine how the conversation went!).
    But, I was fascinated to read which of your family members wanted what. As you rightly say, value is so personal. I would rather have my mother's (broken) watch than a perfect 1 carat diamond, for sure.

  11. Sandra says:

    I love your blog header…sewing on the water…it made me smile. So glad you could bring home some family heirlooms…they are the most precious things in life next to family. Thanks for stopping by my blog and I will be back…becoming a follower too.

  12. Mélanie A. says:

    rough linen looks gorgeous

  13. Chari at Happy To Design says:

    Hi Tricia…

    What a lovely post, my friend! I too have many family treasure…I adore them all! Such sweet memories these things hold for us! Your Grandmother's spun linen really looks like a beautiful piece! I think it will make lovely lavender bags!

    I just wanted to come by to say thank you for stopping in and taking a peek at my birthday teacup and for the sweet birthday well wishes! I really enjoyed your visit, my friend! This is the first time that I have been to your delightful blog and I plan on doing a little looking around! Hehe!

    It's so very nice to meet you, Tricia!

    Warmest wishes,
    Chari @Happy To Design

  14. A Room For Everyone says:

    What a funny story about Australian Customs..And what a lovely story about family treasures..Rachaelxx

  15. Deer Baby says:

    Beautiful story about family treasures and heirlooms and what matters to which members. How lovely that you're making new things from old.

    I lived above an elderly lady in Peckham South London once and we did her shopping for her – Woodbines, Birds Eye custard and the like. When she died, they found hundreds and hundreds of pairs of curtains in wardrobes and drawers she was keeping. They were beautiful.

  16. Kristine at The Painted Hive says:

    What sweet sentiments. I often think on the passing of elderly people and what happens to the possessions they treasured so much whilst alive. If none of their relatives see any value in them they just get thrown or given away. It seems sad to me.
    Thanks for commenting on my cabinet makeover. It was so sweet of you to offer the pattern for your adorable bee. I'm afraid I'm not patient enough for cross-stich though I greatly admire all who are. I hope to have more patience one day.

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