Some time ago, Mercy, a dear old friend of mine died – 6 months before her 100th birthday. Her sister asked me if there was something that I would like to have as a memento of my friend and I chose her work basket. Homemade and a little battered after many years of use the basket is by no means a valuable item - to anyone else but me. I knew that I would find in it the usual workbasket items: needles, pins, thimbles, embroidery scissors, several crochet hooks, fine darning wool etc. The basket is one of my treasures.
Mercy’s almost 100 year old eyesight made it difficult for her to pick up the stitches that she sometimes dropped when she worked on the crocheted blankets that she churned out incessantly and so I had, on many an occasion, to delve into her workbasket for a crochet hook with which to rescue the work. Back on track Mercy would set off again, her crochet hook flying in and out. The blanket had to be finished because Mercy was already planning her next one. At her request I would start the centre of another blanket for her to go on with in case she got into a pickle before my next visit. Idle hands didn’t suit Mercy one bit.
So you can see that Mercy’s basket is a special link between us.
I never asked who made the basket but I can see that is constructed by using coloured raffia to stitch together the needles of the casuarina tree, also known as sheoak. It is built on a plywood base and lined with dark red satin that is quilted on the inside of the lid to form a pincushion. The button at the centre of the lid is a gumnut from a flowering gum tree (eucalyptus). What a great way to make something useful from next to nothing.
I’m guessing that the basket is probably about 50 years old. I keep promising myself that I'll have a go at making one but I've never got round to it. I use the basket all the time and think of Mercy whenever I do so.
Must go now. I've just finished a Woodworker's newsletter and so there's lots to catch up on around the house.
Bye for now until next time.