I was once working on a photography shoot with Axel Russmeyer, a German jewellery designer who used minute beads to create beautiful larger beads. I coveted with all my heart just one bead but couldn't afford one then, and certainly couldn't afford one now. This necklace was recently on sale for $3,995. I hope he won't mind me mentioning that he told me a treasure trove tale that has stayed with me, in the hope that one day I too might stumble upon a similar find.
Axel was researching the art of Venetian glass bead production, and visited a very old, traditional glass factory in the Venice region. At the very back of the most neglected part of the factory he came across a box, covered in thick dust. Upon opening it he found that it contained hundreds of minuscule antique beads, each one the size of a large pin head and of a type no longer manufactured. It was a design using some of these beads that I covet still.
I have several treasure-trove wishes, including finding a portfolio - or even just a single one - of an original Tintin drawing by Herge, or a stash of pure linen sheets in their original 1930s paper and ribbon wrappings, or perhaps a pile of beautiful vintage knitting patterns from the 1950s back. The ultimate trove would be a house or shop sealed and left untouched for several years full of the original contents. I suppose that is why this news piece grabbed my attention recently.
A couple of treasure-trove experiences have come my way over time. When I was 10 my best friend showed me a warren of tunnels beneath her family's house. This had been used as an air raid shelter during the war and had been left virtually untouched ever since. There were toys, books and furniture left scattered around from the last time people had taken refuge down there. Last year my elderly neighbour, an elegantly dressed woman in her 90s, had a fall and alerted me by banging hard on the floor until I heard her. After she came out of hospital I went up to visit and for the first time saw inside her flat. It was a time capsule of 1930s decor, furniture and Clarice Cliff pottery, unchanged at her own request since she had first moved in. The kitchen was fitted with the original mass of tiny larder cupboards, a wooden draining board and large butler's-style sink. The only nod to modern living was a 1960s cooker and slightly younger fridge.
Last summer in Oxfordshire I was led through a half-concealed wooden door into an abandoned walled orchard. The tree branches were full of apples, no longer picked, and the grass and wildflowers reached halfway up the tree trunks. We shouldn't really have been there, but I went exploring all the same. It was too much of a secret garden not to.
Yesterday I came across a mini-trove. I was browsing in a charity shop and spotted a squashed assortment of yarny things in a tatty plastic bag. It turned out that there was another bag down in the store room, and I made an offer for both. The woman in the shop wanted to know if the wool would be going to a good home. I assured her it was.
Inside, along with some rather strange acrylicky things which will go back to charity, was a miniature treasure trove:
2 balls of Kidsilk Haze, in Candy Girl and Jelly
3 balls of Jaeger Matchmaker DK in Teal
some more Jaeger Matchmaker DK in shades of green and blue that someone has started to knit together and then abandoned. I could have told the poor person that there are easier ways to create a variegated effect, so if he or she ever sees this and would like their wool back to make something else, do get in touch.
1 ball of Jaeger pure alpaca 4 ply in Ice
2 balls pure cotton 4 ply from Slovakia
2 balls Wendy Cotton Aran
However, if this wasn't enough, there was what seems to be a vintage element to the trove:
Altogether there are 235 grams of this 2 ply. I've tried researching Rivermist and the Waterfall Spinning Company but can find no sign of it currently in production.
As well as the two shades of cream 2 ply, there was also this:
Lots of smaller skeins in beautiful shades. Or so I thought. It turns out there's a slight drawback:
The coloured 2 ply has been cut into short lengths. Any ideas what to do with this, apart from very fiddly fair isle, or embroidery (which is not really my thing)?
There was one last item in the tangle of yarn. Tucked deep inside was a tiny tool, a bit like a fairy's crochet hook, with a normal-size handle.
I am ignorant about many needlework and hooked crafts so any clues as to what this might be used for are very welcome. Crochet for people who really like a challenge? Tatting?
If anyone would like the miniature hook, or indeed any of the bright yellow silky mohair also in the package but which I haven't shown here, or some of the short lengths of coloured 2 ply botany, do let me know. Unusual swaps or ordinary ones considered. The hook, well, that can just go to a good home.
I should mention that I wasn't meant to buy any wool yesterday. I had actually gone out to buy a toilet seat, but, hey, this haul is a lot nicer to stroke (unless you are very, very weird).