Thursday, 27 September 2007

A world wrapped up in a thread.

It is late - well, late by my standards; 11pm on a chilly Thursday night and yet here I sit thinking thoughts of tablecloths and napkins (thanks Jane and Milla!) I have been musing on the finer points of the topic: What size is best? Should the shape be rectangular or square, straight or scalloped of edge, plain or patterned? What about fabric? The choices are many from oilcloth to linen (ooh and yet ouch because of the HUGE cost of fine linen), lightweight cotton which falls into such pretty pleats as it drifts in the breeze or heavier cottons which lie crisp where they are placed, forming neatly angled corners.....I'm getting carried away.

During my fevered musings on the ins and outs of table dressing I remembered something I have been planning to do since I was a teenager (well, I always was a bit odd)and made a mental note to at least start it before the year is out...I have always meant to make a memory cloth. The idea is that you have a plain cloth of some wonderful natural material that will last forever (such as linen) and everytime you have an occasion the people present at the meal write their names on the cloth in pencil. I then embroider these names onto the cloth as a permanent reminder of the people who have shared our table, though no-one write their name more than once.

I love this idea; I love the notion that everytime the cloth is used friends and family are brought to mind as your eye wanders over the delicate stitches and each meal, each gathering, is recalled once again. Of course, over the years there will be some who are no longer of this earth and perhaps a tear or two would be shed at the memories wrought, but for me that is an important part of life... to remember and acknowledge the good times and bad that have passed along the way, to not forget the people who have shaped our past and therefore left a footprint on our future. I am determined to start my own cloth and sooner rather than later as so many of my dear family can already no longer leave their signature for me to weave, winding their memory into the warp and weft for future generations to ponder over. Perhaps I may cheat a little and sew an honourary name for each anyway.

It is now morning and I have just read Pondside's wonderful news - Congratulations on the birth of a beautiful baby grandson Pondside and maybe this is the time to start a cloth of your own?!!

Have a lovely day everyone xx


  1. But will you unpick the names of htose who after a coupel of years you really cannot stand the thougth of!! Re table clothes, no scalloped edges go for square or rectangular and you could be very French and do mathcing cushions for the kitchen chairs or make those funny fabric fold adn tie up bread baskets they have oh and french bread bags and.....!!!

  2. Funnily enough I think even those you cannot stand should stay as a reminder to avoid similar sorts/problems in the future! Thanks for the cloth suggestions UPL x

  3. A memory cloth, what a lovely idea!

  4. Gorgeous idea Pipany, I've never heard of that. I want to do it now - pity I'm so hamfisted and can't sew! You are lucky to be so talented.

  5. Pipany, you could do it as a patchwork quilt, with all the names on different coloured patches.

  6. I had a cloth made of lots of sections of HL's Father's ties, a palm tree effect.

  7. Lovely idea about the signatures.... though I'm far too lazy and usually too drunk to remember who was there (ah, that's why they sign....duh).
    Ah now, there's a second business string - kits. You send them a tablecloth - they sign it and send it back to be embroidered at huge cost..... People would buy them for friends (and for weddings/christenings blah) would wear your fingers out though but could always use the indigenous workforce in your new home, Afghanistan.
    Re tablecloths yes to Un Peu, though maybe a circular one too (why not have a look at websites for places like Habitat, John Lewis etc and see what the standard sizes are). For the record mine is 90 x 184cms (the table, not the cloth) so please PLEASE include one that would fit that.
    re the cloth, tough call. I'd say no to the linen ones for now (could offer those as a bespoke option maybe)....eek, crisp cotton or oiled would be my choice (big circle fabric please!!) Like Un Peu's cushion idea is great too but personally can't stand those daft bread basket things (sorry, probably offended half of France now).
    Right, I'll shut up now. jx

  8. Jane you have made me laugh - good idea about the kits though; something for the future perhaps? Will investigate the circular patterning on cloth further too! And will also note the measurements of your table on my pinboard!!! xx

  9. UPL you forgot the things that they make to put carrier bags in, a sort of tunnel with elastic at both ends. Though now we have almost stopped having carrier bags, they might be useless?

  10. Yes, keep it simple, let the fabric do the talking. So often, I find, that things are spoiled (for me - anxious not to offend here!) by a superfluity of detail when left plain would have been much better. And square, for napkins, surely? And called napkins, not serviettes, so your punters know that you're The Right Sort. Right, that's that snobbish little mention out of the way. As for tablecloths, what a fine idea of Jane's to take a look at what other people do! And something easy to clean, for the sluts of us out here!

  11. love the idea of the memory cloth and think jane is spot on that is is business idea to do it as a kit and to do the embroidery.
    I have just looked at your website too - sorry, bit slow getting there. It is absolutely gorgeous. I have my eye on things for Christmas. lovely lovely lovely.

  12. I love the idea of a memory cloth - I once signed someone else's - we were all members of the Simply Red Fan Club . . .

    Perhaps we could all have memory cloths of our own Purplecoo meetings and then ask you to stitch them.

  13. Fab idea - mine would have the same few names over and over again, I'm not a 'dinner party' girl, more the family for Sunday lunch (most weeks)!

    Linen is gorgeous but you can't iron it flat ever again, the perma-creased look is distressing to me.

    I have round tablecloth (faded gingham), and a few rectangles (plain, one linen) as my table has three removable leaves in it - so it's best to offer a range of sizes. Napkins, a generous size is best I think, about 15"? with a co-ordinating napking ring thingy, just a loop of fabric. Then you don't have to faff about looking for or matching up a set of four or twelve or whatever.

  14. Pipany, what a great beginning for you! Huge congratulations.

    I think that it is important for you to retain your very own individual imprint on what you are doing. I was almost about to suggest websites over here for you to look at, and then ... I just recoiled.

    Be yourself. Trust your obviously very good taste. Think what you and your friends like in the way of table linens, etc. What you may remember from past tables that are not so available today.

    The embroidered autographed history tablecloth is a grand idea.

    (I am strange enough to wonder about a similar notion of pillowcases. No! I did not write that.)

    Your site is lovely, and I believe that you will find great success. Are you making all of these pieces yourself???

    I once had a flirtation with crocheted hats and, later on, with one off designs for handknitted children's sweaters. Do not ask.

    Proceed to a glorious future.


  15. What a great idea - the embroidered tablecloth, that is. Especially if someone else would embroider it. Had a thought - could do something similar for the new baby - tablecloth souvenire from the christening (if there is to be one?????)
    Rectangular, please!! least 102 inches long.

  16. Love the satisfying!!!!!! I'm sure we will all come up wth ideas...

  17. What a lovely idea, I thought... and then I read UPL's comment and laughed (but your response was a good rejoinder too. trouble is all the names would stay in biro on my cloth!

  18. What a lovely idea and ignore UPL, about the unpicking dear dear what was she thinking!!!

    The website is great I love the bags. All the best with it I am sure you will do well.

    You also have beautiful children Elias is very handsome desptie the Tattoo.