Friday 28 December 2007

For the sake of auld lang syne ...

After the traditional festive family hustle and bustle, the time has come for Christmas to slip into memory and for us to look towards the New Year. At the moment, the biggest event on my family's horizon is the imminent arrival of my youngest sister's baby, so we are waiting with baited breath for that all important call to tell us things are underway. What a wonderful symbol of hope for the start of our New Year!

Naturally, such a special event requires a special keepsake for the new baby, so just before Christmas Eve I tucked myself away in my sewing room for an afternoon and set to work creating a little woollen elephant with a tale to tell ...

Ellie Elephant 1960's

After many years living in my previous house, I finally plucked up the courage to sell and move to a new place in February of 2007. Just before Christmas, I decided to delve through the trunks I had moved from my last loft, to my new loft, so that I could decorate in readinness for our first Christmas in our new home.

Everything was hickledy pickledy and I wasn't sure which trunk to search through first, so I heaved boxes aside and unclicked the first trunk I came across. There was no Christmas sparkle inside, but tucked carefully away within layers of old tablecloths, I found one of my childhood toys ...'Ellie the Elephant' had been made for me by my uncle when I was nought but a wee baby, way back in the early 1960's.

A train line ran across the back of Gran's garden and my mother's youngest brother had quite literally taken his life in his hands one day, by playing on the track. By some miracle he survived when the train inevitably rattled over him. He spent a long time in hospital and when he was sufficiently healed to work on his co-ordination, he was given the materials to make a 7" elephant ... my little Ellie.

Ellie was one of my much loved softies and over the years, her felt eyes and floppy ears were completely loved away, but I've never quite been able to bring myself to part with her. Which leads me to part two of my tale! As soon as I saw my worn out little elephant, I knew exactly what the perfect keepsake for the new baby would be!

Ellie Elephant 2007

I had the ideal piece of wool fabric tucked away in the bottom of my fabric box and using my memory to help me, created new ears, lined with beige velvet. Rather than the felt eyes of my original elephant, I used tiny glass eyes, because this little elephant is to be given as a keepsake, rather than a toy and I prefer the look of the traditional glass eyes; my fumblings with felt looked way too clumsy, even for a softie!

To achieve the simple look of this design was a little more tricky than I initially anticipated - we live and learn don't we?! Despite my teddy bear designing skills, I confess it took me several attempts to work out the body gusset pattern so that my wee elephant could sit comfortably, maintaining the body shape of the 1960's original.

This project has been a welcome distraction from the bears for me and I am delighted with the result, which I think holds all the naive charm of the original. When I was a child it wasn't unusual for special gifts to be handmade and now, several decades later, I am delighted to be able to continue this tradition for my sister and her new baby!

And for those of you who aren't familiar with 'Auld Lang Syne' by Robert Burns, here is the English translation ...

Should old acquaintance be forgot and never brought to mind?
Should old acquaintance be forgot and auld lang syne ?


For auld lang syne, my dear,
for auld lang syne,
we'll take a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.
And surely you’ll buy your pint cup!
And surely I’ll buy mine!
And we'll take a cup o’ kindness yet for auld lang syne.


We two have run about the slopes and picked the daisies fine;
But we’ve wandered many a weary foot,
since auld lang syne.


We two have paddled in the stream,
from morning sun till dine (dinner time)
But seas between us broad have roared since auld lang syne.


And there’s a hand my trusty friend!
And give us a hand o’ thine!
And we’ll take a right good-will draught,
for auld lang syne.

Here's to a peaceful and prosperous New Year for us all ... Cheers!

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