For Red Mum

Red Mum wrote about the difficulty of carrying large cumbersome purchases around busy shopping areas by hand. Nowadays shopping and goods are supposed to go magically into standard sized plastic bags. It is surprising how often that the larger the bag the weaker the handle.

Way back when Ya-di-da-di-da…

Well it was way back when I was a slip of a thing and growing up in Dublin. Everything you bought from 5 rolls of wallpaper, a pair of blankets, or a pair of shoes, to a fur coat (no I didn’t, but I did refuse a mink coat once!), they were always wrapped in strong brown paper and tied with string. Where do you think we old folk learned to wrap a neat parcel?

When we got home the parcel was unwrapped, the string rolled up and saved and the paper folded, for reuse to back school books* or to make a dress pattern. The string was always useful, for tying other parcels or with a weight attached it made a useful plumb line.

So back to tying the parcels…

When they were carefully wrapped in paper, the string was tied securely around the parcel lengthwise with a strong knot positioned about 1/3 of the way along the long side. The string was then taken over the top and back of the parcel and looped around the string at the back then on down under the parcel and back to the knot at the front. Leave no slack and knot it again around a T bar this time. Bring the line of string along the first string about another 1/3 of the way and loop and tie it. Again bring the string over the top and back of the parcel as before and loop it again, taking it on down and round to the front once more. Secure at the knot above and then take it back to the first knot, and secure with a final knot and trim end. You will note a double string in the middle and this can be used as a strong handle.

Now for the Grannymar special. I have my uses!!!!

You have heard me talk of my days living in Germany way back in the early 70’s. During my first week there I bought a duvet and it came in a cardboard box. This box was wrapped in brown paper and tied as I described above. The sales assistant was a pleasure to watch as he swiftly completed his task. Setting the parcel on the counter, keeping one hand on it he bent down and from some secret compartment he produced a little wooden handle which he attached. It was wonderful! I had no numb fingers from loss of blood supply, and my arms were not aching from trying to hold an awkward package up at elbow level.German Carry handle

I still have that wooden handle 36 years later and it has well served its time. The wood is worn at the edges and the wire replaced. I used part of a metal coat hanger for this purpose and my metal turning skills would never win prizes but it works! I have made several handles since using bamboo and the coat hanger wire.

carry handle DSCF1995

If you attempt to make some from bamboo choose a smooth piece as the ridge marks hurt the hands when carrying a heavy load. Also remember to file the cut edges of the wire or it might catch and tear the skin or fabrics of clothing while on the move.

Now I will expect to see your handiwork very soon. 😉

* When we were at school all school text and copy books had to be covered in brown paper to keep them clean. We then had to write our names and the title of the book on the new cover.

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15 thoughts on “For Red Mum

  1. Brown paper I remember it well, and school books were also covered in brown paper when I was a child. When my own children were young I sometimes used old wall paper to cover books~ now its plastic!

    I love your handle, that is such a good idea~ I wonder if I can get embee to make one not that do a lot of shopping these days!

  2. Chris it is always handy to keep one in the bottom of a handbag or pocket.

    In the past Jack and I carried two each. It certainly helped us to spread the load. No doubt there will be a more modern version available on the internet, but would it work any better?

  3. Grannymar – I’m impressed! Is there no limit to your skills? 😀

    I’m still dizzy from trying to follow the instructions on how to tie a parcel 😉

    Tell me, does the ‘Grannymar special’ make it past airport security?

  4. I’m impressed as well!

    When my family had a drapers shop here, there were great big sheets of brown paper hanging by their corners on a nail behind the counter. When packages were delivered they would also be covered in brown paper but as the packages would have been handled plenty of times, the brown paper would be crinkled a small bit.

    The used brown paper we used to cover our school books, we weren’t allowed to use any of the unused ones.

    Thanks again for jarring my memories, it was something else that I had almost forgotten about 🙂

  5. Grannmar,

    I loved the memory of the brown paper wrappings and the string. Remember that ball of string getting bigger and bigger with each purchase?

    When I was very young and still not speaking properly, my Mother allowed me to ask the grocer for 2 pounds of sugar ,which he then scooped up out of a large barrel of sugar ,then weighed and wrapped it in brown paper and tied it with a string.

    Our family giggle was always about how I asked for the sugar.

    “I want two pound of tugger with the ting tied tight….”

    I haven’t thought of that for years,GM, so it was fun that you brought it up……

  6. No doubt there will be a more modern version available on the internet, but would it work any better?

    2nd question first, Grannymar: No!

    1st question: Yes. Sort of. Do you remember years ago a guy invented a similar thing for carrying bales of briquettes? He was on the Late Late and all. I knew him. I also knew the guy he stole the idea from.

    I hadn’t seen one for ages. Then last week I was in a copy-shop and one was being used to carry boxes of A4 paper.

    I still like your one better though. Much more comfortable.

  7. Steph ~ we always had a couple on holidays, perhaps they travelled out in the case. Also airport security was not as difficult before 9/11.

    Glad to jog the memory Robert & Nancy and as usual Nancy has a good story.

    Primal ~ I don’t remember the Late-late version, but I did come across a plastic carry handle once. It was awkward to handle and limited to 1 plastic supermarket bag, the type we are not supposed to use. My version will take two or three bags at a time.

  8. Great memories, GM! And what a wonderful handle idea!
    Once on Bloor St here I saw a woman with this contraption like a mini-tree on wheels and on it she had hanging 8 cloth bags of shopping, rolling along blissfully. I’ve never seen one since and thought what a brilliant idea! the whole thing looked as if it could collapse into an unbrella sized stick. I’d be interested if anyone else has seen similar.
    XO
    WWW

  9. WWW I wonder if that contraption was based on the gadget they use in hospitals intravenous drips and meds for mobile patients.

  10. Steph I have no medical training but I seem to have spent most of my life looking after ‘sick’ folk.

    I did enjoy the bunny bit too!

  11. Grannymar, this is a wonderful step back into the past, where things were done with pride and care. Not the way today. I’ve watched clerks throw things into the bag with no care of the damage, not alone ever taking the time to wrap something with care.

    In this state of the art world, we seem to have lost customer service, and quality in many of the products. I think I liked it better when we had less and seemed to enjoy life more simply..

    My best,
    Dorothy from grammology
    remember to call gram
    http://grammology.com

  12. Dorothy all that is missing is TIME. We have so many labour saving devices today compared to when we were young, yet there is no time to be STILL anymore!

  13. Brilliant! I love the idea of saving the brown paper for patterns. And thinking of it I always remember balls of string in my grandparents house, I don’t think I have ever owned one.

    (Sorry was off line and just catching this now )

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