Saturday, July 11, 2009

Cream of the West

I have begun a very odd project. The other day I was going through a bag of scraps that I had picked up several years ago. There was a piece of burlap that I had left at the bottom of the bag, thinking it might be used for a hooked rug one day. (I was going through a crush on Grenfell mats.)

This time I actually picked it up and had a good look at it. The burlap was a flour sack that had been turned and hemmed on the reverse side - probably someone else had the same idea I had and planned to use it as a base for a hooked rug!

But what really fascinated me was the design printed on the sack. The red and yellow had mostly faded, but the green and blue were still there. I could just make out the words "Cream of the West". An evocative product name if there ever was one!

An idea instantly came to me. I wanted to cross stitch the design right on the burlap, using the printed image as a found pattern. The image was pretty much on grain, and the coarse weave would work up quickly, a nice change from the fiddley satin stitch I have been doing.

But it won't be easy filling in the faded areas. The photos don't pick up the subtlety of the red, but in the right light I can just make it out. The cloth probably dates from the 1940's. I tried a Google search and found out some interesting things about Cream of the West flour.

It was made by Maple Leaf Mills, a venerable Canadian flour mill acquired by Robin Hood in the early 90's. The mill's roots go back over a hundred years and its history reflects the oft-heard story of small company bought by a larger company, taken over by an even larger company and finally swallowed by the great whale of a corporation. Cream of the West flour was particularly popular in Newfoundland, and the mill sponsored a number of collections of local history and recipes from that province.

I think it's a history worth taking the time to honour in stitching. I hope as I go the evanescent form of the design will become clear, and my photos will be worth looking at.

3 comments:

  1. What an awesome idea! Looking forward to WIP pix.

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  2. this is really inspiring me. i love the idea.....

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  3. Superb idea. Can't wait to see the finished project.

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