Tuesday 8 March 2011

The most Inspirational Woman in my life - my Mother

I've just realised that tonight - on International Women's Day - I spent my time doing things inspired by the most inspirational woman in my life, my mum, Christine Mackenzie.  I finally finished a draft excluder I started making in January on the sewing machine which belonged to her.  I think it looks pretty good - as long as you don't look too closely at the bad stitching on the finish.  I used instructions I found on the Guardian website here.  The main mistake I made was not sticking so closely to the instructions given about the width - I used up at least four large bags of rice to fill it, maybe necessary if you live in a cave but slightly excessive for a small under-door draft!  I also think I should have picked a material with a smaller, more repetitive pattern, but that's purely aesthetic and to be honest given the cold weather this winter it's the function I'm more bothered about.  It took me a while to work out which needle head to use on the sewing machine but luckily I still had the instruction manual so managed to work it out with the help of that.

I was amazed that I remembered how to thread it all up, having been shown on many occasions as a young girl by my mum.  As a teenager I was always starting up art projects which my mum always encouraged - although invariably, any ones involving the sewing machine, she ended up finishing off for me.  It is very comforting for me to use her sewing machine as it brings back so many happy memories, even the noise of the foot pedal bring back memories of sitting reading a book or watching TV in the living room, hearing my mum being creative in the other room - she was never one for sitting in front of the TV, always preferring to do something creative (maybe more than preferring actually, it was like an imperative, it was essential to who she was I think). 

my draft excluder
I'll never live up to my mum's inspirational and creative work on the sewing machine but it's going to be nice to use the same machine to (hopefully!) make clothes that my mum used to make such beautiful art work - such as the first image here, an early work of a farm just across the fields from the house we grew up in in Eaglesham.  Believe it or not this is just a scanned image of a photo of the work - the texture has come through so well!  This photo of the piece, mounted on board and with explanations would have been done for the classes she taught.  This archive of my mum's work, the samples she did, the explanations she gave, is something I want to collect, along with photos of her finished art works, on a website - a project for this year I think.

© Christine Mackenzie
The mermaid is a more recent work and I absolutely love it - the colours, the skill and detail in the stitching, the romance and mythology of the boat on the water and the Gaelic text (which I know I have a translation of but can't find right now).

© Christine Mackenzie
After that I made pancakes - large crepe style ones rather than scotch ones.  It brought back lots of happy memories of making them with my mum and for my mum.  I remember on pancake day when we were younger and both me and my mum were vegetarians, and my brother just fussy, that we would make 'savory' pancakes - filling the with grated cheese - followed by sweet pancakes - filled with Golden Syrup and maybe a bit of cream.  Tonight though I stuck to the traditional lemon and sugar for me and Oliver.

The recipe for the pancakes I made tonight came from the Glasgow Cookery Book, Centenary Edition.  But the history of the Glasgow Cookery Book and the inspirational women behind it is definitely a story for another blog post!  if you can't wait for that and want more information then you can find out more about the history of the book at Glasgow Caledonian University Archives and about the centenary edition here.

I hope everyone else has had some positive thoughts, actions and memories on International Women's Day.


  1. Lovely post. Would definitley like to see a website of your mum's wor.

    Re. bad stitching - I have to remind myself often to enjoy the process and not worry too much about everything being perfect. Also, function is as important as finish in most cases. Sounds like it's going to do the job, and it looks great!

  2. thank you, on both points! You're right of course, the important thing is to enjoy the process.

  3. This is a really inspirational post! I need to watch less telly and put down my laptop. I never get the chance to do anything creative so i'll need to make time. The pancakes were not bad either.


  4. Yes well, one draft excluder does not a craftsperson make, but it is nice to have made a start! It is nice to do creative work rather than watch more yet more repeats of CSI, especially after spending the day at work in front of the computer screen.

  5. What a lovely blog, I've taken the liberty of posting it here too.


    Thanks for mentioning the Glasgow Cookery Book - you are right - some very inspirational women were behind that book and that course.

  6. Thanks for the Facebook link. I'm not on Facebook or I would like your page. I went to the launch of the Centenary edition of the Glasgow Cookery Book as I used to work for Carole McCallum in the Archive at Glasgow Caledonian Archive and had heard all about the history of the book and the Dough School so I was really pleased to be invited to the launch. It was such a great event, with tea and cakes and really good speeches. I wish I'd taken some photos now - I've really enjoyed looking through the ones that are on your Facebook page - thanks!