Saturday, July 16, 2011

Felted Vests. A Step-by-Step Guide



My sister Phyllis Hoffman has shrunk centimetres since we last met 2yrs ago. That is expected, as we are both in our senior years but her shrinkage has been sizable.
So what has her newly released book “Felted Vests” got to do with her body shrinkage? Strangely enough, a lot.


One day, when we were kids, our older sister Elizabeth who was 10 yrs old took her pocket money and decided to treat us to a bus ride to the Big City to go shopping without telling our parents. The next thing we were shipped off to St Dominics Academy, Newcastle, Natal, a Catholic boarding school for girls, far away from home.
I found friends, and caused havoc with midnight feasts and ghost stories. Elizabeth became a model student and played the violin, while 7 year old Phyllis was taken under the wing and nurtured by Sister Clare, the Dormitory nun. She taught Phyllis to knit and sew and created in her a lifelong creative passion for handiwork.


After 4 yrs we left the Convent, but the die was cast for Phyllis’s creative passion. As a teenager she suffered from severe back pain which ultimately turned out to be Scoliosis. Besides the pain, Phyllis couldn’t find clothes that fitted her unaligned body, so she started making her own clothes and, as commercial patterns didn’t fit, she started adjusting and making her own patterns, while bringing up children, studying, teaching, sewing and writing books.


Over the years, Phyllis relocated with her growing family from Rhodesia ( Zimbabwe) to South Africa and finally to Melbourne, Australia where all her creative skills have culminated in her latest book.


As a Felter, the book captured my attention. The cover is bright, and fresh and the title is exactly what it says “Felted Vests A Step-by-Step Guide.” I have read the book from cover to cover and will tell you why I like it, aside from her being my sister! 1. When she writes and gives descriptions it is as though she is speaking to her reader. 2. She gives the names of equipment required. Important especially for pattern making. 3. The layout is clear and concise and it is easy to navigate the book. 4. She shows graphically how to draft a basic pattern and take measurements. 5. She also shares how to make silk paper and illustrates decorative stitches. Although Phyllis's bones may have shrunk, her latest book will surely expand interest in sharing with her the art of making elegant felted clothes. Elaine

2 comments:

  1. Thanks, Elaine, for sharing this wonderful story. It was a pleasure to read and I love her work as well.

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  2. Thanks Lizet. Love all yur work

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