Valuing the past by preserving it
I was recently honoured by the request to repair a crochet granny square blanket. Although repairs aren’t the core focus of my business, on a personal level, I can never resist the opportunity to view sentimental family heirlooms and have an opportunity to admire craft done by (usually) women who did this is as part of their daily lives.
Roy Emmett, a café customer, told me that he was the custodian of a granny square blanket made by his Nana Florence Levey, who migrated to Australia in the 1920’s. It was well loved and in need of some repairs and he was finding it was difficult to have it repaired, he wanted to know if he could bring it in and show me. I do not view myself as a skilled crafter, more of constantly curious experimenter, so I made no promises but welcomed the opportunity to view it.
This blanket was beyond my expectations. Rich and colourful, made with love and, to my absolute delight, clearly made with a variety of wool left over from other projects, different weights, qualities and colours. It was an absolute time-capsule and evoked a strong sense of her thrift and skill, and her devotion to her family as she pieced it together. I asked Roy how old the blanket was, his Nana passed in 1974, so it predates the 70’s.
Isn’t it glorious? And isn’t it wonderful that this ladies work is being so valued and appreciated by her family?
I agreed to try and preserve as much of it as I could.
I made some sample squares for Roy to assess my colour choices and reflect on whether he wanted to commit it to my care.
To my honour and delight, Roy agreed to let me work on the blanket. On assessment of the blanket, I estimated that around 50 of the 312 squares needed repair of replacement and that it would take around 20 hours to complete. I am about 5 squares in to date, I think I may have underestimated the time it will take!
Please see below the story of Florence Levey’s blanket in the words of her Grandson Roy Emmett.
Check out my next blog for progress on the repairs.
Florence and Harry Levey – Their Story
Florence and Roy’s grandfather Harry were married as young adults in England after World War I. Florence and Harry were pen pals (organised by Red Cross) during the later stages of World War I while Harry recovered from being wounded. They later met, became engaged and the married and then began their life adventure together by emigrating to Australia in the early 1920’s. They had four children, my Mum Kathleen, then my uncles Roy, Geoff and Jack. My Uncle Roy died before I was born, and as a testament to his memory, I was named after him.
My grandfather Harry commenced a career with the railways which took him and his family to all parts of Victoria including the Mallee, Seymour and my home town Stanhope where my mum Kathleen met her husband to be Mervyn Emmett on a train trip home during World War II.
Harry rose through the ranks of the railways to be a superintendent till he retired in the mid 1960’s and Florence volunteered with the Salvation Army and filled in many hours with her skills as shown and playing card games such as 500 and euchre with her grandchildren.
Nan and Pop lived out their years in their family home in Moorabbin, which as children, was the source of many delightful holiday destinations to spend time with my Nana and Pop
Sadly, but as part of life, Florence passed away in 1974 at the age of 73 and Harry passed away at the age of 85 in 1985.
My Nana and Pop were lovely people from an old world rarely remembered these days. I was fortunate enough to be gifted Nana’s throw rug when Pop passed away. But with the passage of time, the throw rug had fallen into a fragile state of disrepair.
I was delighted when I had the opportunity recently to discuss the repair of my Nana’s throw rug with Bindi at her shop, A Good Place to Start. I could see the throw rug was in good hands as I could see how excited Bindi was to have the chance to work on something that is a very special heirloom.
I am really looking forward to seeing the outcome of Bindi’s TLC during the repair process of a much-loved part of my family history.
Roy Emmett (Grandson of Florence and Harry Levey) 15 January 2019