|Different brands, but the same size of reel|
There is just something about old cotton reels which takes me back to my childhood. Having a mother and grandmother who both sewed, they seemed to be everywhere. Looking at them now, as well as the chunky shape and the tactile quality of the wood, part of the appeal is that the shades had names, not just numbers.
|The Dewhurst spools have shade numbers only|
Dewhurst's 'Sylko' brand, which was the most widely used at the time, seems to have started off with shade numbers and it was other brands ('Sylviette' is a new name to me) that used names. But then Dewhurst's joined in. Most of the names are fairly descriptive, but occasionally you get something wonderful, like 'dark lovebird'.
|All the greens - I have no idea what 'reseda' is|
|Dark lovebird is in the centre, light reseda below it|
There were slight changes to the label over time, but the brand remained largely unchanged. Even when the new synthetic 'Trylko' thread was introduced, on up-to-the-minute blue plastic reels, the shades were still named; 'blue cactus' is a another favourite of mine. I would love to know how the names were chosen; did Dewhurst's have an official 'shade-namer'?
|Newer reels at the front|
Given the growing concern about the environmental impact of plastic waste, I wonder if we will ever move away from single-use plastic cotton reels; either by encouraging re-use or replacing them with something more sustainable?
|A few have been re-used to store a second thread|
Finally here's a sneak peek at another recent auction buy – a wooden sewing box on legs. It's a bit battered, and in need of some TLC, and will get its own post at some point. For now though, here's a picture of how the dimensions of the lidded top section were clearly specifically chosen to accommodate wooden cotton reels.
|Form following function!|