Cargoes! July 28, 2017 13:19

I happened to read the poem Cargoes by John Masefield the other day. This poem has always fascinated me. The idea of Spanish Galleons full of diamonds, emeralds and amethysts travelling the high seas sounded so exciting and romantic. From apes and peacocks to cheap tin trays and Tyne coal, in John Masefield s poem 'Cargoes' the peacetime world has indulged in trade. One man’s ordinary item being another man’s luxury.

And so it is to this day. My 'galleon' is a Ford Transit and the M25 is the high seas! From London to Norfolk and beyond around 12 counties, we have taken unusual textiles to interested customers. I enjoy the adventure and the thrill of it all. Sometimes not so successful when we are flooded and customers are not enticed by a damp nightie! But usually it works out fine. 

The weather this year has been very favourable to us in general. Our most popular items are of course Nighties. Pure cotton nightwear being the answer to the hot nights we have been having, and also with holidays in mind. However I am delighted to share with you that some beautiful handmade items have also enchanted customers.

These are the handmade block printed Quilts. The fabric used is exceptionally fine and delightful to the touch. They are made in India.

What is Block Printed? 

This is a totally hand made craft in Rajesthan. There are whole communities of people involved and there are many skills required in the process.  

First the wooden block is carved . This can be complicated or simple according to the pattern required. It is a skilful task which has been passed down through the generations. 

Then the outline of the pattern is inked onto the fabric with the block. This is a precise task. 

The colour is then applied, by hand, in several stages. 

The cotton filling for the quilts is prepared and hand stitched in between two layers of fabric to make the soft light texture of the quilt. 

The choice of colour and the intricacy of the design is what distinguishes a really beautiful quilt. 

These skills are passed down from generation to generation. However it may be that as with the Hand Embroiderers in China, the young people will not want to carry on with this kind of poorly paid work. Although understandable that will be really sad.

We have a small collection for you to see on our website. Have a look!

'Cargoes'

Quinquireme of Nineveh from distant Ophir,
Rowing home to haven in sunny Palestine,
With a cargo of ivory,
And apes and peacocks,
Sandalwood, cedarwood, and sweet white wine.

Stately Spanish galleon coming from the Isthmus,
Dipping through the Tropics by the palm-green shores,
With a cargo of diamonds,
Emeralds, amethysts,
Topazes, and cinnamon, and gold moidores.

Dirty British coaster with a salt-caked smoke stack,
Butting through the Channel in the mad March days,
With a cargo of Tyne coal,
Road-rails, pig-lead,
Firewood, iron-ware, and cheap tin trays.

John Masefield