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.


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

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

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


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