Monday, February 25, 2008

My 75 Cent Find

I had it in my head that my appointment was at 11:00. My hairdresser always runs a little behind, but she was just beginning a cut when I arrived. Mmm. After a few minutes, I decided to consult my calendar to see if I'd gotten the day wrong. No, right day, wrong time - my appointment was for 11:30. Luckily, the salon is in the same block with a thrift store, so I buzzed on over there to see if there were any silk ties. This is the first time I've found any to buy since arriving in Idaho; the last ones I bought at Goodwill in WI ran me between $3 & $5 each, which I thought a pretty good deal. Deal, shmeal, THIS is a deal! Seventy-five cents each. The one in the center is my favorite.

I always enjoy reading the labels - I'm searching them out anyway for fiber content. I was surprised that so many of the polyester ties had a little bit of silk blended with them, maybe 10%. I don't remember running across poly/silk blends before. But I limit my purchases to 100% silk so passed all others up, although there were a couple of poly ones that were a temptation, especially the Liberty of London one.

The one on the left is "Cocktail Collection" made in Mexico. I don't think I've run across Mexican silk ties before. The next one is "Enrico Coveri" made in the USA of imported silk. My graphic one is "Louis Roth" and proudly states that it is hand made in Korea. Next up, a "Secours" (in Grecian-looking typeface); the lining as well as the outside is 100% silk (often the lining is acetate), and it is hand made in Italy. I have several Italian ties in my collection. Finally, the last one has lost its brand label, but the little one confirms that it too is all imported silk and "hand sewn in the USA."

I know of at least one manufacturer still making neckties in the United States, XMI in Chippewa Falls, WI. (Follow the link if for no other reason than to drool over the model on the home page & fashion book.) This little town is about 15 or so miles from where I lived for awhile, and I taught quilt classes at a shop there. In fact, that's how I found out about XMI. Two of its employees signed up for one of my classes, and I heard them chatting about the finicky sewing machines they dealt with at work. I was dumbfounded when they told me they made ties. Later, a lady in my Baltimore applique group traded some swatches of silk with me, noting she'd gotten a big bag of these off-cuts from the factory. I about fell over - factory where? Just up the road. It seemed such an unlikely place to find such a company whose product is actually quite well know and sought after all over the world. We're talking rural backwater here. I hope they can survive the onslaught of Chinese imports - there's very little manufacturing going on in this country anymore.

In spite of my good intentions, and many subsequent trips to Chippewa Falls, I never did make it to the XMI factory outlet to take advantage of an inexpensive source of high quality tie silks. And I've not run into any XMI ties at the thrift shops - I think guys hold on to these. Another one of life's "oh, well"s.

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