Monday 25 February 2013

Across Generations: Textiles and Memory

Clive Regis, 56:

Many years ago, maybe 1987 or 1988, my daughter Amber, who was 6 or 7 at the time, gave me this felt comb case: a functional little green and brown number with “DAD” stitched into the green side. If I remember rightly (which is a rarity these days), it was a Father’s Day present. I vaguely remember that little face looking up at me to monitor my reaction to the obvious hours of painstaking needlework, and, knowing Amber at that time—she could knock things over just by looking at them—the several impalings on the needle I’m sure she endured. It’s been with me ever since: in my bedroom, bathroom, and ever since 1998 in my motorcycle tank bag—a personal reminder not to go too fast, but also an essential item of biker equipment for restyling that condition called “helmet hair.” It still has the original comb, but probably because my hair line rapidly receded around this time and so did the workload on the comb. A work of art, I’m sure you will agree?
Amber Regis, 31:

I have only the vaguest memory of making this comb case. I’m pretty sure it’s the last surviving relic of my brief stint as a Brownie in the 1980s; we had been taught a few basic stitches, and here I put them to good use to make a Father’s Day present. I have long since forgotten these needlework skills, so I’ll pause here to let you admire the photographic evidence of early promise and wasted potential (and I’m sure you’ll agree my blanket stitch edging is rather impressive).

Memories of creation might be few, but as an object this comb case is deeply, viscerally familiar. My Dad has kept it all these years, but it’s not been hidden away, put in a draw or box, wrapped in tissue paper. I still associate the comb and case with his shirt or jacket pockets when he used to come home from work, and as motorcycling once again became a passion in his life, the comb and case went with him in his bag. Over the years I’ve often spotted it on sideboards and kitchen counters, a reminder that I was once much younger and smaller (and better at needlework), but also that my Dad has held on to a piece of that childhood.
Now, I’ll let you get back to admiring my blanket stitch.

 Amber Regis, University of Sheffield 

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