Lavender blue

15Nov11
A fat-lunged ache-fest has been in residence for the last week and a half. I have been roosting puffily at home, alternating floppy self-pity with don’t-kid-yerself overactivity in the sweet spot when the medicaments are peaking. This has meant patchily frantic housework, spurred on by the apparently VAST amount of stimulants they put into cold cures. You could plot a route around the house, wherever’s clean is where I hit a high.
A couple of years ago, I left some lavender to dry on newspapers under a chest of drawers. I don’t know if you’ve ever lain under a chest of drawers for two (mebbe three) years, but nothing comes out improved. The angle of deployment means that every single time I walk into my room – that’s every single time – I have been aware of a reproachful corner of the Guardian peeking out. Last week, we hit a wall: either use it or chuck it out. And so I gingerly took a look. It was like Miss Haversham’s knicker drawer, but once the dust bunnies had been blown away, the flowers were in fairly good nick. And there’s pretty much only one thing to be done with lavender, and that’s make lavender bags.
Not far away there’s a needlework/craft shop that is a palace of dreams. I’ve always loved cookshops and bookshops, and this temple gives me the same delight. At the front it’s all spangles, feathers, flowers, Pritt Sticks and fancy-dress things. There’s an embroidery section of jewel-bright threads that remind me of the Tailor of Gloucester and his twist of cherry silk. And the button box! God, I love the button box. Over in knitting there are big baskets of bouffey wools, further back are the pattern books and then of course, bolts and bolts of fabric. I wandered about in a narco-haze wordlessly touching the materials – everything from crunchy tulle to slithery artificial silks to bolts of bobbly boiled wool. The colours! The textures! It’s a full-on, multisensory emporium. I forgot about my six-day-old headache and looked instead at all the different women, browsing patterns, discussing bridesmaids’ outfits, passing on knowledge to their saucer-eyed daughters.
Feeling a bit of a fraud among all these accomplished needlewomen (and under the clock before the drugs wore off) I had a rummage through the remnants basket to find something suitable for lavender bags. Have you ever heard of ‘fat quarters’? Me neither,  but it seems a fat quarter is a square of material measuring 50cm x 50cm, which, since you ask, is perfect for cutting into squares and sewing into lavender bags while watching, I dunno, something like Iron Man and then Garrow’s Law of a chilly Sunday evening.
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