Tag Archives: Photos

Happy New Year From Rocking Dog!

A Rare Pic'!, Rocking Dog

A Rare Pic’!

A very Happy New Year from Rocking Dog to one and all! This photo is VERY rare, I appreciate I have been a little bit of an enigma to some of those who have never met me and who have been supportively following my blog. Seriously, there are less photo’s of me than those taken of my Victorian ancestors over a century ago. Recently I needed to send a photo of myself for a booking I was undertaking. The only photo I could find was of me as part of a group family shot taken four years previously (less hair,less grey and less pounds!). Anyway I thought i’d start the new year with a photo to smile in 2016!

I hope you have had a lovely Christmas and New Year spent with friends and family. It is so easy to hope that you can start the new year healthily but if it’s anything like our household your fridge will be still groaning with cheese, salami, wine, beer, cream and the like! The health drive will have to start mid January at this rate.

I’m sure we all made wishes on the strike of Midnight on New Years Eve. All of us I would boldly presume are hoping for a safer world to live in. World events in 2015 have been so grim, and with problems so seemingly impossible to solve. We cannot possibly hope to personally deal with such major divides, but in some small way we can show acts of kindness in our communities. Even a smile or friendly “Good Morning” can make someone feel less invisible, and better about the day ahead.

I think everyone has a degree of topsy-turvydom in their own lives every year. My own family has been no different, with many difficult situations to try and navigate and overcome in 2015. We unfortunately required the attendance of the emergency services rather too often in the year. Grateful thanks must go to the paramedic, ambulance, and police teams who dealt with various family members so wonderfully. Despite a few niggling glitches, we as a family benefitted from excellent care from hospital staff in Bristol and London. Thank you. Even Real Live Rocking Dog required the expertise of his own medical team. We were all too thankful for keeping on going with the escalating insurance payments!

In amongst all the difficult stuff we have enjoyed some truly wonderful times. Sometimes it’s not the things that have cost a lot, indeed it’s often the things that have cost nothing at all that have made memories. We had a great game of Pass the Parcel on New Years Eve (thank you Sorrel). Who would have thought that a few layers of brightly coloured paper, hand written forfeits and a packet of frankfurters could cause SO much merriment!

Looking back on 2015 I loved my day spent at Chelsea Flower Show, still love sewing, enjoyed my Christmas Sale and liked being commissioned for various projects. Friends and family as ever make my life feel very fulfilling and happy. Thank you to all of those who have endured my grumpiness, confidence issues and the joys of a fifty something woman! Special thanks to Andyman who changed my kerb ridden tyre at the weekend without comment, and to my lovely children plus ones who lovingly accept me just the way I am.

I hope that 2016 brings all that you hope for, that life isn’t too precariously topsy turvy and with the good times definitely outweighing the harder moments.

I hope to carry on blogging regularly, and hope that you’ll hang on in there for the ride. Thank you to all those who have been so kind about my posts and who tell me to keep on going. You will never know how much that means to me.

Love and the warmest good wishes to you and your families as the new year tumbles in.

Liz (Rocking Dog)x

PS The photo of yours truly was taken at Sky Garden, London. I can truly recommend the amazing 360 views of the city. Access is totally free, but the cocktails unfortunately aren’t! Bah Humbug!

Growing, Rocking Dog


Picking, Rocking Dog


Wanting!, Rocking Dog


Baking, Rocking Dog


Crud Hunting!, Rocking Dog

Crud Hunting!

Learning, Rocking Dog


DIY'ing, Rocking Dog


Walking, Rocking Dog


Sewing, Rocking Dog


Caring, Rocking Dog


Restoring, Rocking Dog


Blogging, Rocking Dog


What’s In The Box Rocking Dog ?

Uninspiring Box, Rocking Dog

Uninspiring Box

An interesting question, which i’m going to answer shortly! I thought i’d share another Fabric of Life story with you.

In 1985 Andyman’s paternal grandmother died, and in the course of clearing her little flat in Inverness, Andy’s parents came across a very uninspiring old shirt box stowed on top of a wardrobe. They were completely unaware of the boxes contents and no doubt like everyone they hoped for a crammed box of crisp bank notes! Alas it was not to be, however in its own way the boxes contents were much more interesting, for it contained a wedding day in a box.

On the 19th April 1929 Agnes Marshall (known as Nancy) married David Ferguson at Lochgelly Parish Church in Fife, Scotland. This box contained Nancy’s wedding dress, stockings, wax flowers from her veil, some wedding photo’s and a pair of hand painted silk wedding favours. At a later date a little pom-pom’d leather babies shoe had been added to the box (in all probability belonging to Andyman’s father or uncle).

My mother and father in law had never seen any of the contents before, it was a true revelation. I wonder whether had Nancy had daughters and granddaughters she may have shared girly time showing off her wedding finery. A few years ago my in laws kindly bequeathed the box and its contents to me knowing of my interest in textiles, nostalgia and clutter!

When it came to photographing all the items for this particular blog I became keenly aware of the fabrics and their manufacture.

Somewhat thankfully the dress has avoided being ravaged by moths. Had this dress been of silk I rather this dress would have been thrown away long ago. Instead it is made from Art Silk (Artificial Silk), most probably Rayon which became really popular in this era as a cheaper alternative to silk. Rayon is made from purified cellulose, usually from wood or cotton. Silk, satin and velvet were still favoured by high end designers at this time, but for the mass market, department stores started carrying less expensive garments using these newly developed semi-synthetic fibres.

As for the style of Nancy’s dress- it is daringly calf length. For the first time in centuries women’s legs were seen, with hemlines rising to the knee. World War 1 and the Women’s Rights Movement had done much to emancipate women. Women ditched restrictive clothing including waist nipping corsets, and dresses became functional, flattening the bosom rather than accentuating it! At around the time of this family wedding, collars and bodices were abandoned. Therefore Nancy’s dress was right on trend, with drop waisted shift shape, having no collar, calf length and using one of the revolutionary new fabrics. It also includes hook and eye fastenings on one of the side seams. Many of these fastenings were made by Newey’s of Birmingham from 1791. Unlike buttons they obviously allowed for a flatter, less bulky seam.

Wedding In A Box, Rocking Dog

Wedding In A Box

Deco Dress, Rocking Dog

Deco Dress

Bridal Party 1929, Rocking Dog

Bridal Party 1929







Nancy’s dress also includes metallic thread to embellish the three dimensional Hydrangea style flowers. Over time where the dress has been folded, rust spots have rather cruelly marred it. With its twinkling silvery metallic glints it must have looked really pretty on it’s one outing in the spring of 1929. Though outwardly sweet, it is somewhat crudely made, with a machine finished hem and rough seams. With no label, I have no idea of the provenance of the dress, perhaps it was made by a competent seamstress rather than a departmental store purchase. In the photo’s the dress has been accessorised with veil, some sort of cape andMary Jane¬†heeled shoes.

The stockings are again of a Rayon type fabric and though in near perfect condition one of the pair has a small hole at the knee. My late Father in Law remembered his mother telling him that she had tripped badly on her wedding day.

As for the other accessories in the box, the wax flowers are one cluster of what would have been a pair. They formed part of Nancy’s veil regalia and consist of wax blossoms with yellow cotton sepals, together with a spray of artificial heather (no doubt for luck), green bias binding trails and celluloid leaves. Meanwhile the silk “favours”are possibly the 1920’s equivalent of giving a bride a lucky horseshoe, however, I could be completely incorrect on this point. These braided satin shields include hand painted initials of bride and groom, together with their marriage date and rose decoration. The colours are still very vibrant even after 86 years.

So that’s what’s in the box! I only wish I could get my own wedding dress in a mere shoe box. Alas, I was one of those 1980’s Princes Diana dress brides and i’m afraid my frou’y meringue is somewhat unceremoniously stored in a large bag under the bed. Like Nancy’s I rather think the moths will give it a wide birth, layers of nylon tulle really not catering for the destructive creatures’discerning palate. Anyone curious enough to want to see my dress on a future blog post send me a pleading request, I may somewhat embarrassingly consider it!

Rayon Hosiery, Rocking Dog

Rayon Hosiery

Wax Flora, Rocking Dog

Wax Flora

Wedding Favours, Rocking Dog

Wedding Favours

Not In My Tree

Whose Baby?, Rocking Dog

Whose Baby?

It always makes me sad to see old photo’s and photograph albums lying rather forlornly in charity shops, flea market stalls and the like. Sometimes I feel sufficiently sad to want to give these photo’s a home! I appreciate that I am very sentimental, and it would be completely alien to me to part with my personal cache of family photographs. I am therefore always curious as to why photographs are abandoned and discarded. Over the years I have amassed a small collection of “not in my tree” photo’s including an album with incredible photo’s of WWI Gallipoli and ANZAC soldiers recovering in an Oxford hospital (if only I could find it!) Other photo’s date back further and provide a wonderful historical document of fashion, housing, class, toys, prams, uniform etc..

Thus the lovely chubby baby above is no relation to me. You are left to wonder whether the baby reached adulthood, lost its endearing chubbiness and the hopes that they lived a happy life. We presume from the clothing that the baby is a girl, but one hundred years ago babies were dressed very similarly. This baby could indeed have served in WW1, a casualty, a survivor, a hero, a deserter, who knows.

My Dr Zhivago fur and velvet clad mother and child are in fact Danish. Dated on the back of the photograph 1902, these are obviously wealthy Copenhagen residents. My lovely sister gave me this photo a number of years ago, so even relatives know me well enough to know that i’ll love a “not in my tree” photo!

The montage of photo’s featuring children are an eclectic collection of children from different eras and social backgrounds. How stern the spectacled nanny (?) looks. Her starched apron features the embroidered words “All for Jesus”, and the photograph has been taken at the Salvation Army Photographic Studio. Is this baby a foundling, a baby to be adopted, a promotional photograph, a conundrum never to be solved. I love the photo of the girls with babies in prams, so reminiscent of “Call The Midwife”. Alas there are no dates, no names, no anything to tell us who these sweet girls are.

The Mother bathing her baby in the enamelled bath was a very exciting project. I found some glass negatives in a cigar box at an indoor junk market about 25 years ago. There were the faintest magical tracings of what the images could be, and I duly purchased the plates for a few pounds. For a while the plates lay cocooned in their cigar box home but eventually my dear dad found a super keen photographic enthusiast. The plates disappeared into his dark room and voila! this beautiful image appeared. I love the way the photographer has captured the mother’s smile as she tenderly sponges her calm baby. Another very special “not in my tree” photo.

Lastly, an entire album of one woman’s coach trip travels in the late 1950’s. There are the glories of Venice, Rome, Pompei, Capri, Florence, Interlaken and Windermere! There are the chair-lift rides, the group photos, full 1950’s skirts, the bags and the shoes. How did this meticulously ordered album end up unloved and unwanted?

So a little glimpse of my somewhat bonkers “not in my tree” photograph collection.

Dr Zhivago Photo, Rocking Dog

Dr Zhivago Photo

Montage Of Childhood, Rocking Dog

Montage Of Childhood

Cigar Box Photo, Rocking Dog

Cigar Box Photo

1950's Coach Trip, Rocking Dog

1950’s Coach Trip

What’s Going On On Your Mantlepiece?

Muddled Mantlepiece, Rocking Dog

Muddled Mantlepiece

A few years ago The Guardian asked readers to describe and send in images of their mantlepieces. It really got me thinking of the strange things that accumulate on mantlepieces, well certainly mine. They aren’t styled, rather more they come about as a natural dusty evolvement. Christmas usually sparks changes with the addition of putz houses, tatty decorations and Christmas cards, otherwise, my mantlepieces remain pretty constant. I do however love a jug of garden flowers or a gorgeous scented candle to ring the changes.

The photo above is of the mantlepiece in my sewing room and has simply come about. The dogs are a pair I bought as a present for Andyman (you know one of those gifts you buy by proxy!) and were on the scene long before Real Live Rocking Dog was a twinkle in his Daddy’s eye (incidentally his Dad’s name had the Pedigree name “Stand and Deliver”). An advent calendar, postcards, a graceful 1930’s bust, knitted asparagus and lots of other frou vie for space and until I write something like this I don’t really think of the cornucopia of tat that I live with.

The mantlepiece adorned with tulips, is a pretty grand fireplace for this humble cottage. It is a large ornate cast iron affair which took a lot of stripping to rid it of the green and yellow marbling effect which the previous owner had favoured. Eventually I need to inject a little more colour into the room, but the tulips give a welcome but temporary colour pop. I love the photo on the mantlepiece of the little Russian baby and its mother, both dressed in fur and finery. It gives me a Dr Zhivago moment every time I dust!

My wooden mantlepiece has obviously seen the new arrival of Toby jug, Mrs Mack and Sailor Dog (bought from the lovely Jayne Soule) but everything else is years of knick knackery! The old clock face was rescued from underneath a carpet in the house, used to stop floorboards creaking!

One Sunday when our son arrived home to be fed and have his washing done, he reluctantly watched Antiques Roadshow with me. One item featured was valued at about ¬£6,000, that got son…… thinking! He was studiously looking around the lounge before asking me whether we had anything that could be worth that. I somewhat incredulously exclaimed “no”, but he then decided to interrogate me further. He pointed up to the clock on the mantlepiece and said “what about that then”? We are talking about a crudely made clock (possibly American) with crude mechanism and a Robertson’s “Golly” on it’s little glass door. Try again Alex!

Lastly my bedroom mantlepiece which is strangely for me, colour coordinated. I don’t have many photo’s up in the house but this is where most find their secure long term place. I love my bedroom wallpaper which has been with us for about 15 years. We could only afford to do one wall, but every morning it makes me smile, I don’t think a B&Q paper could have done that!

What’s going on on your mantlepiece right now?

Colour Pop, Rocking Dog

Colour Pop

What's it Worth? Rocking Dog

What’s it Worth?

Colour Coordinated, Rocking Dog

Colour Coordinated

The War Told in Fabric

Wedding July 1945, Rocking Dog

Wedding July 1945

I came across this photo of my Aunt Margaret and Uncle Alec whilst on my cleaning blitz. Their wedding in Edinburgh took place in July 1945, just two months after war had ended in Europe. I have no idea whether Margaret’s dress was a dress that had been borrowed as was common during the years of rationing, or whether it was made from silk rescued from a parachute. Parachutes were much in demand for the making of underwear, nightwear and wedding dresses.

Clothing rationing was brought in during 1941 so that factories and their workers could be freed up for the making of armaments. Additionally, there were difficulties in importing raw materials due to the bombing of merchant shipping. Rationing made for a fair system for the population and everyone was issued with a ration book with coupons to purchase clothing. Clothing rationing unbelievably continued until 1949. Furnishing fabric was rationed later than dress fabrics and for a time many women used these fabrics to make clothes. The amount of buttons, trimmings, skirt length and fullness were tightly governed. Many men were miffed that trousers could no longer sport turn ups.

The Utility Scheme was launched by the British Board of Trade in 1943 and offered people a range of well designed, good quality and price controlled clothing. Indeed this scheme not only covered clothing but footwear, furniture and home textiles. Utility items carried the CC41 logo. It is likely the CC stood for Civilian Clothing but another interpretation could be Controlled Commodity. 41 signifies the year that clothing rationing began.

The photo below of the fabric with the whimsical castle etc.. is Utility fabric. I bought this in an antique shop in Marlborough a few years ago and have a few yards (or should I politically correctly say metres!) I found a CC41 mark along its border, and now can’t find it to photograph! I have upholstered a 1930’s child’s chair with it but am feeling rather miserly about what to do with the remainder.

The 1942 Australia label is stitched to a scratchy wool blanket which my dad Doug bought back in his kit bag whilst serving as a telegraphist in the Royal Navy. In fact Doug missed his sister Margaret’s wedding because he was serving in the far east. War finally ended on 2nd September 1945 and my dad came home. I remember seeing his Navy whites neatly folded in a bedroom drawer in the late 60’s, but eventually there must have been a culling process, and now there are just the photo’s and a medal or two.

The War told in Fabric.

Utility Whimsy, Rocking Dog

Utility Whimsy

Kit Bag Blanket, Rocking Dog

Kit Bag Blanket

We Are Sailing, Rocking Dog

We Are Sailing

Windy Weekend Away

Boy, Am I happy!
Real life Rocking Dog deliriously happy after very last minute camping trip. Bracing winds, brunch with friends, sunsets and starry nights together with a delicious bottle of red (though hot chocolate may have been more appropriate!)

Floats and buoys

Floats and buoys

Sea foam

Sea foam

Dorset Sunset

Dorset Sunset

Who Do You Think You Are?

Walter and Emily
The elves were busy in the Rocking Dog workshop until the early hours but nothing finished to show! So … Who Do You Think You Are? I love family history and with the help of Ancestry.com, trips to cemeteries, and correspondence with unknown relatives have found out SO much. From Turquoise miners in New Mexico, grocers in Tasmania, Gelatine factory owners in Buffalo, to butchers, millwrights and workhouse inhabitants. I can now trace my mothers family back to 1550 when a Marmaduke Lodge married an Alice Swallow in Yorkshire. So the Art Deco swallow bowl is my tribute to Alice! Incidently have you ever read Oscar Wilde’s the Happy Prince? There is a swallow in that story and every but every time I have a lump in my throat and tears streaming down my face. Have a safe trip to sunnier climes little swallows!

Making a clean sweep

Making a clean sweep. Great Uncle John Cresser delivering brushes, Edinburgh.

Tribute to Alice

Tribute to Alice