They're also great for my new craze -- repurposing. Vintage pillowcases are an infinite resource. Don't you love the smell of cotton percale still warm from the iron? Years of a hot iron is what makes these old treasures so soft.
For several years, I've collected French layette booklets from the '30s, '40s and '50s , and the one pictured at left is one of my favorites. It is filled with ideas for everything from knitted dainties to the classic styles in the center spread below. The soft tones of shell pink and powder blue make you want one of each.
I had the pleasure of learning to "knit in French" when I lived in Paris. French women love to knit, and there are shops with everything knitters and other needle workers need in most every neighborhood. (These merceries stock hose and stockings, too. No clue what the connection is!) I especially like the little knitted romper style, like the one below left, that the French call a barboteuse. I can see one knitted in cotton for our little Zoë.
I am particularly enchanted by this booklet. For years, the French knitting magazine, Mon Tricot, published an annual layette edition. The cover always featured a head of cabbage, no doubt a reference to where babies come from!
Many French women over the decades have saved pristine copies of their layette booklets. I'm grateful that a few of them have found their way to eBay!
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Chintz brings to mind a down-stuffed chair, a sofa worn soft by family and friends. It's where a piping cup of tea is sipped, a novel is read, rain is heard on the window pane.
It's also a style of pottery that features "tightly grouped, highly detailed and vibrant all-over floral patterns," as described on the website for Royal Winton. There is plenty of chintz ware to be found in gift shops and among the department store tabletop displays.
But Royal Winton chintz sets the standard. Originally know as Grimwades, the artisans at the Royal Winton factory still produce this most English of tableware.
My first encounter with chintz ware was a bonbon stand not unlike the one at right, which I recently added to my collection. Details of the pattern, Royal Winton's Florence, below. The black background is particularly stunning, I think.
One of the richest patterns is Julia, below right and at top, from my collection. Like Florence, Julia is still produced. Notice the art deco influence in the shape of the nut dish, at top, next to my grandmother Mammy's portrait. She was something of an art deco design during her dance card days.
Note a couple of other patterns, below, from the Royal Winton website. Brings to mind clotted cream and scones.
Keep an eye out for Royal Winton or Grimwades chintz ware. eBay is a good place to browse and learn about the patterns, including old ones no longer in production. There are plenty of plates, dinner-size and smaller, and cups and saucers. I look for the odd little piece. Bargains are rare to non-existent.
But when you find one you can afford, don't miss out on it, especially if you like a plump, worn, slipcovered sofa on a rainy afternoon. A piece of Royal Winton chintz ware completes it.
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The brown of the ancient pressed tin fleur de lys ceiling tiles grow fresh, sitting above washed white tile walls, at Iris Café in Brooklyn Heights.
I find restored bricks and brick walls to have a clean, fresh feel. The wall above, also at Iris Café, stands up well to the baroque detailing of old picture frames.
Meanwhile, back outside, the bricks and stones of a Victorian yard in Cornwall, England are made fresh by white cold frames sporting tender sprouts. Speaking of sprouts, stay tuned. Something fresh and fancy coming soon! à bientôt...Tatie
(La Poste is a frequent feature where I share some little bit of design or creativity found in my email inbox.)
Catching up on Remodelista newsletters, I picked up a little black and white goodness to share. Special touch: I saved the images with the Silver filter in my CameraBag app. This espresso machine took on a rich noir feel.
The façades of a couple of elegant Paris hotels look like deco-era photos, but both were only recently photographed. Sunlight throws a creamy finish on the masonry.
A couple of entryways, above and below, each beckon with a bit of mystery.
More intrigue: Tapers, like intricately turned wood, stand tall in mercury glass and tarnished silver candlesticks below. Framed by a battered old whitewashed door, a question seems to hang in the air.
I just may stick with a black and white palette in my craftwork this year. Ideas welcome. à bientôt...Tatie
La Poste is an occasional feature that showcases design and craftmanship from newsletters and blogs that I enjoy.
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I recall a pair of great old wool plaid slacks handed down to me when preppy was real, not just a nostalgic knockoff. I can smell the cool air and the leaves on the ground. In recent years, it seems like we go from sweltering to snow days with barely a whiff of fall. Maybe we're just too busy to notice it.
My kind of busy these days means flats on my feet. I need to see if our new Nordstrom has a pair like these.
Well, we'll be wearing our woolens soon enough, and hockey will start soon -- the preseason begins in Bridgestone Arena this Saturday night. We've had such sadness in recent weeks -- losing former Predators Wade Belak, Karlis Skrastins and Josef Vasicek. Let's remember them when we first gather, then move on, as they surely would wish.
Drop the puck, and put on the plaids...à bientôt...Tatie