Learning to love Sinamay

In my millinery class we have begun to work with Sinamay. Like me many of you probably don’t know what it is. According to a random search on the internet:

“It is woven from the processed stalks of the abaca tree, a banana palm native to the Philippines. Abaca fibre is three times stronger than cotton or silk, and a fabric made from 100% abaca can last for over 100 years. As a result, sinamay holds a very firm shape. Because it is a natural fibre, it holds colour beautifully.”

As I said to Karen our tutor, ‘I think I have a natural prejudice against the stuff as there seem to be so many dull hats made out of it.”

I can see that it has a lot of potential as a sinamay hat is usually made of at least three layers so there is potential to trap things between them. It also dyes very easily so I assume can be painted with fabric dyes….more possibilities. But as I wrestled last night to wire the edge of the decorative spiral which is our first project I wasn’t feeling very charitable. (And I am very glad that the appalling blanket stitch I was doing will be covered by a sinamay binding.)

DSCF8396But having said that I think it will look quite pretty in the end – particularly the delicate leaf pattern trapped between the layers which just about shows through on the photo.

New Year’s Resolutions – the Library

Happy New 2015 and sorry I’ve been away so long. Blame it on end of year exhaustion, blame it on our new roof and windows, a cold over Christmas or a busy start to the year at work. Whatever caused it now it’s a new year.

I don’t really do New Year resolutions. I am always resolving to write blog posts more often, so there is nothing ‘new ’ about that. However, owing to finally having a new roof and windows, and the cost of the said roof and windows, and the desire to now make the inside of the house look as beautiful as the outside, we are trying to spend less money this year and make what we have left go further.

Packing up the first room to be decorated reminds me how many books we have in our house. There are shelves of them in every room apart from the bathroom, as well as shelves on both landings. (Both of us work for publishers, which doesn’t help.) But this year I have resolved to buy less books and CDs and DVDs and so I decided to rejoin the library.

As soon as I could read I went weekly with my Father to the Churchtown Library – now knocked down to make way for flats – and read my way through piles of books. When I moved to the area I now live in I went regularly to the Hanley Road Library – until it was knocked down to make way for flats. Islington did have other libraries, but they were much further away and gradually my membership lapsed.

I have always thought the fact that, as long as you can prove your address, you are allowed to walk away from a library with armfuls of books, CDs, DVDs etc. ABSOLUTELY FREE OF CHARGE!! is a sign of a civilised society and a wonderful thing… In fact it’s even better than buying them. You can try out a book just because you saw it sitting on the shelf next to that author you really like or it caught your eye as you walked past. If you hate it you can give it back and move on…and if you love it you can search the shelves and the library catalogue for more.

A little while ago I discovered when out walking that there is a branch of Haringey Libraries about ten minutes from my house. It is small but perfectly formed, and so for the sake of my purse and in support of our beleaguered public library system, I am once more the proud owner of a library card.   And guess what – while I was away libraries have got even better. I can now download eBooks and audiobooks to my iPad as well as all the other things it can provide…

Now I am keeping my fingers crossed that nobody decides to knock it down and build flats….!