AS was the case last year, it was a sweltering afternoon for the July meeting of Andover Homemakers’ Club.

But this luckily did not deter members and guests, though every window in the hall needed opening to catch the slightest breeze.

After the singing of the national anthem a quick report was made on the successful cream tea with many thanks due to all those involved. The Weymouth trip had also been most enjoyable, blessed with wonderful weather, but rather marred by the coach breakdown outside Blandford. Meanwhile enquiries were ongoing for the venue for this year’s Christmas lunch.

An invitation had come from the Andover Evening WI, for three members to attend their annual beetle drive and supper

An official notice of the availability of a shingles vaccine for 70 to 79-year olds who wanted it was displayed.

As always there were many birthday cards to distribute at this get together – for July, August and those celebrating in September before the next club meeting.

The usual appeal was made for the tea roster, though there was no great rush to sign up!

Following the lengthy raffle, occasioned by a wealth of nice prizes which meant several members went away with more than one item, Jacky Hutchins reminded members of the September meeting and competition, before welcoming their speaker, Joyce Love.

Joyce has a vast number of handkerchiefs of every colour, shape and size, a collection which had started with a search on Ebay, and grew from there, with most discovered on the American market.

Such fine material and delicate needlework and decoration should be seen to be believed. Coloured heaps of froth were piled high on the tables to be passed around the admiring members. Americans are great celebrators and so there were hankies for Easter, Halloween, Christmas, new babies and special handkerchiefs which when folded a certain way would spell out a Valentine’s message.

The oldest certified one in the collection dated from 1893, but some could have been much older. There were white lacy wedding handkerchiefs, with seed pearls or diamanté ornament, and black and purple mourning handkerchiefs, for dabbing at eyes.

Few were suitable for a good nose blow, as in the main they were an accessory to be matched to an outfit and / or tucked into a bracelet. Others, sturdier, were printed with a calendar, a roulette wheel, or bore portraits of all the US presidents. Nor were they all square — edges were round or shaped into butterfly wings or swallows’ tails. Joyce showed handkerchiefs that had been made into other items, like dollies for church (no noise if dropped), aprons or flimsy bras and panties. In her possession, too, were some cotton ’seed sacks’, from the Depression era when money was tight. An enterprising and sympathetic business packed flour in patterned cotton bags so women could make something useful like aprons, skirts or children’s clothes from something utilitarian.

The most appealing item was a fine lawn baby’s cap, which could be unpicked / returned to a hanky and be the ‘old’ item for a bride at her wedding, then possibly re-sewn and used again for a new baby. However, with a dolly handkerchief called ‘Minnie from Minneapolis’ Joyce found she had not only added to her collection but made a lifelong friend in America, with whom she has shared many a visit.

One sensible piece of advice from this collector is if you have a box of hankies given to you, or perhaps have one at home unopened, take out the pins that secure them at once, before the pins rust and make marks impossible to remove!

Mary Hazard gave the vote of thanks for an afternoon that had inspired a great deal of fascinated admiration. Tea followed, and the competition winners with the prettiest handkerchief of their own were: 1, Janet Rickwood; 2, Lucy Neave and joint 3, Brenda Daykin and Andree North.

The next meeting is on 19 September, when there will be a talk / demonstration on aromatherapy. New members and guests always welcome. Contact Jacky Hutchins on 01264 323520