Linen 

Last year in a textiles exhibit at the local museum I got to see a bit about the tools and tough manual labour that went into the manufacture of linen. Until recently, everyone wore linen undergarments next to the skin, under a hard-wearing outer clothing of felted wool. No doubt there are some very good reasons why this mode of dressing has been abandoned – I wonder did cotton take over because it was cheaper or more comfortable. The underlayer was seldom washed, the outer layer almost never. Take that! A+++ washing machine. 
These polka dots are not regular. 

The best fabric store in the world is having a closing down sale.

I have three metres of a Chinese calligrapher gone mad. I have no idea what to do with it.

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Haberdashery II

The haberdashery adventure continues with some ribbon for another Japanese pattern. 


When I use Googletranslate it tells me to “insert the race on the frogs at the end” which, I have deduced means “put lace on cuffs”. For another pattern with a peasant-girl neck I have chosen some quiet ribbon for threading through. Three colours of Gütermann thread (because my teacher insists on it – and she knows).

 You should’ve seen the temptation of fripperies and folderolderies I had to resist to bring this home from a haberdashery shop that eschews the creamy good taste of the Botón de Oro, and instead seems ready to cater to Miss World Louis XIV Liberace drag queen flamenco wannabees.

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In Real Time

Victoria begins its 138 minutes at about 4am in a Berlin club with Victoria dancing. 

When it ends at 6:18am you haven’t left her side, not once, not even for a moment. 

All you need to know about this film is SEE IT. Don’t read a plot summary before you go – just let it happen. It’s a belter. 

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Love and honour 

Før Snøen Faller. In the first scene a young man prepares himself for a dangerous journey.

Siyar will persevere, travelling from Iraqi Kurdistan to Istanbul to Berlin to Oslo. He’s searching for his sister. As you travel with him you realise, first, that he intends to kill her for she has brought dishonour on the family, then, that he is far too young to know the meaning of love or honour. 

So many unforgettable scenes: In one the ghost of his father appears but offers no answers, in another a chase on foot through the streets of Istanbul ends in an unexpected way, in another, the audience’s favourite, he wakes up with a pigeon. 



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Old-fashioned 

Even before I became an avid seamstress, one of my favourite things to do in Santander was always ogle the haberdashery. 

I’ve bought some lovely creamy French lace and real mother-of-pearl buttons for a Japanese blouse pattern I’m working up to. Buttonholes – a skill I’ve yet to acquire. 

Here they shop the old-fashioned way. All the goods are behind the counter, guarded by some fierce, monolingual matron. The consequence is that to make a purchase one must first know precisely what it is one wishes to buy. 


And, gruellingly for me, all the attendant Spanish vocabulary. Browsing is not a thing at the Botón de Oro.

More old-fashioned sights of Santander: non-ironic, no-hipsters-in-sight barber-shop pole.

Old ads for a shoe repair place or a ship’s passage to South America. 

The best pinchos here at El Diluvio. And…spot the just-landed spaceship hiding behind the bandstand?

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Spectacularly self-effacing 

Renzo Piano has designed an egg-shaped, just-landed spaceship of a building for an arts centre in Santander. 

The site is right on the waterfront and already has a wealth of gorgeous historic buildings and parks. The genius of this new addition is how it fits right in, how it hovers discretely above the horizon in an effort not to dominate the view, how it is reflective but not flashy, how it makes you feel as though its heart’s desire is to be invisible – it seems to be saying “I’m only here to help you appreciate this spot, this weather, the light on the bay today”.

Right now, just a week after its inauguration, it’s acting, with its wealth of external staircases and suspended walkways, as a big playground for grownups. How accessible it will be inremains to be seen. 

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Midsummer things

Old-fashioned spiraea that always reminds me of the gardens I played in as a child. I always think its peculiarly dark pinks and greens vibrate together even at midday in the glaring sun.

Broad beans with borage. I don’t know about other gardens, but here borage grows like a weed. Seemingly every borage seed germinates and every seedling thrives. You have to be ruthless. I’m too much of a softie: it wins me over every time with its hairy exuberance and the promise of bees on the starry blue (edible) flowers. Lore says let it grow by your beans to bring in the bees. 

Lush vegetable patch with last year’s forgotten onions kinking up to explode into flower.

Gooseberries for more childhood memories. My recipe for gooseberry fool. 1. Make loads of custard. 2. Stew loads of gooseberries (about 10 minutes). 3. Mix the two together until thoroughly combined. 4. Allow to cool. 5. Yum. 

I’ve just remembered that we used to call them goosegogs. 

Noblewomen of froth! Queen-of-the-meadows and lady’s mantle. 

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