Sunday, May 09, 2004

My kick-arse Mother's Day gift. They say you should give the sort of gift you'd rather keep for yourself; and in that case, my Mother's Day present was a corker. I wish I could have kept it - it was so fabulous and I put so much work into it. Damn, I wish I had a picture of it, but my retarded explanation will have to suffice.

Basically, for $4 I obtained from Savers a grandma-ish handbag, sort of a rectangular bowling-bag shape, floral tapestry fabric trimmed with black vinyl with handles. You hold it in your hand rather than put it over your shoulder. And I set about transforming it into a glamorous Alannah Hill-style handbag. In a cavalier fashion I began this process at about 6pm last night, thinking it would take a couple of hours and then I could watch a video.

First I sewed strips of pink satin ribbon down both sides, in line with the spots where the handles joined the bag. This took several hours because I had to use tiny invisible stitches on the edges of the ribbon, and also it was hard to handle thread because last weekend I ripped half my left thumbnail off moving furniture. Then I sewed little ribbon bows on both sides.

Then I sewed tiny little pink pearl beads all over the surface of the tapestry fabric, so it looked like each flower had beads at the centre. Then I put some gold beads on, too. As the Young Professionals were rehearsing upstairs, Lorelei's mum, who was down from Queensland for the week, sought refuge in the living room to read her book, and she came up with the brilliant suggestion that in my time-consuming bead-sewing, I was 'repaying' my mother for all the hours she'd spent sewing sequins onto my ballet costumes as a child. As the night wore on, I realised I understood a small part of how my mother must have felt the night before a ballet concert as she dragged me out of bed to stand sleepily on the kitchen table, hissing "Be still!" at me through a mouthful of pins as she adjusted a tutu hem. Especially when at 2am, I knocked over the bowl with all the beads in it and spent fifteen minutes grovelling on my hands and knees on the living room carpet painstakingly picking them up again.

Then today I made a pompom out of pink embroidery thread and fastened it to one side of the bag as a jaunty decoration. I'm big into pompoms right now - I was telling my brother Matt that they're the new black, but he just said "What does that mean?" I enjoy pompom making because it's one of those primary-school crafts that requires arcane techniques and produces useless decorative objects. Like that hollow cylinder with four nails hammered into the head, and when you wind wool around them in a certain order then it knits it into a ridiculous woollen tube. Or latch-hook tapestry kits - I used to sit about as a child working on my latch-hooking and fantasising about being a pre-Industrial Revolution artisan. (What a pity William Morris et al had the same idea, about a hundred years before me!) Or even weaving - I used to make primitive looms when I was a kid by cutting a series of parallel notches into the ends of an A4 sized piece of cardboard, threading wool through them to make the warp (or is that the weft - I forget which!) and then horizontally weaving through wool to make A4-sized stripey bits of fabric.

When I was sitting there today making my pompom, I felt a really strong nostalgic surge of that sense of productivity I used to get from such crappy crafts. I've already been feeling really nostalgic this weekend thinking about how much I miss living with Sandor, a feeling that was only intensified this morning when he came round to borrow my CDs for this Physics Department trivia night he was organising. See, he's used to having my CD collection to draw on. The trouble is that the very things that I like about Sandor (his scepticism, his practical nature, his sardonic sense of humour, his unwillingness to suffer fools gladly) are precisely what make him unsympathetic to my being nostalgic for Donald Street. On Friday night, he said it was only natural that I would be nostalgic because "it was your first share house." Like I was reminiscing about losing my virginity or something! Yuk!

Anyway, apart from the pompom, I also stuffed the bag with tissue paper to give it shape, and on my way to my parents' house today I stopped at David Jones and got some Chanel perfume samples to tuck inside the bag, so it smells nice when you open it. I was having brunch today with Rian and proudly showed him the bag, and he looked all surprised and said "You can sew!" (She can sew, she can sew, she can sew, she can sew / I can siiiiiing!)

I think I get my love of crappy crafts from my mother, who at the moment is obsessed with turning offcuts from mohair rugs into luxurious winter wraps. Last year she was obsessed with knitting. Needless to say, she loved the bag.

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