a journal: textiles, inspiration, musings

Loose Ends

At the end of a busy winter of stitching and dyeing [see more on that in next post!], have decided to pull together some of the various pieces of cloth that have occupied me. Seems time to construct a whole, rather than parts…just for awhile. So I have finished and hung the “warm winter cloth”: the intense embroidery stitching, very simple blanket stitch, chain stitch and running stitches, were satisfying on long winter evenings, as was the warmth of the felted fibres that were the base, beautiful and soft to stitch through..

I have started to assemble the blue-green pieces that have been on-going for quite some time, into a cloth loosely called “watercolours”

and the warm, madder-based cloth , a combination of naturally-dyed bits, old sari scraps and other warm-coloured pieces

so a lot of stitching to do, and textures to add, to both of these cloths, but they have a bit of a direction happening now.

Sad farewell this week to the brilliant Leonard Cohen, whose wonderful poetry  inspired the name of my blog….

 

winter stitching

short days and chilly weather, very conducive to stitching! Autumn Cloth all but finished…a few stitches here and there will probably go on for awhile….

and have started the bare bones of a warm Winter Cloth…..base coming together with the help of the felting machine; lots of hand stitching and embellishment to follow!

 

Have also finished another Turquoise piece, which was looking a bit sparse

…….seems to be the theme this year! I spent too long wondering what I wanted to work on, and where i was headed with it all; then realised that i was already working on what I wanted: life was what i was doing not what i was planning! and instead of stitching away on my Autumn Cloth while I wait for the “real inspiration” to strike, I am now seeing it as where i am at the moment:  piecing and stitching as the flow takes me, all by hand. Perhaps the general manic events in the outside world are causing a lot of us to turn inwards, and to deliberately slow down and use less technology; with the stitching more organic and less formalised, edges sometimes rough and fabrics less than perfect, bits of old dyed and painted cloth, pieces dyed with plants, old scraps of sari fabric. Working this way brings peace and a sense of quiet contemplation, the feel of the cloth and the flow of the stitching as important as the end result. Am  inspired by Jude Hill on her lovely blog Spirit Cloth …..her work is so very much an expression of herself and her life, and she is so generous with her methods and philosophies; by  the work of India Flint, who uses native plants so beautifully and skilfully; by the richly coloured  and very personal work of artists like Jo Bruhn, Mandy Pattullo and Sue Dove; by books like Claire Wellesley Smith’s Slow Stitch and Cas Holmes’ Stitch Stories. It’s interesting to put them all together and realise that they are all very different but each voice is unique and very much a true expression of the artist.

With winter arriving it will be lovely to keep working away on this piece until it decides it is finished!

 

contrasting moods

this is for Anne who likes to see things “finished” …….which is very good for me! so inclined to wander off from idea to idea……… two small painted tables, not quite finished, need their protective coating……

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so the rich colours are still happening…….but I also love the subtlety of these, just out of the dye pot this morning….. “failed” bits of previous dyes that then sat in a soak of fermented cherry juice…..and a bit of iron water……..on different fabrics the soak gave this lovely range:

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slow textiles continue…..

I am still enjoying hand stitching, and have returned to the natural dyeing pots, this time I think with a bit more understanding of the process and perhaps different expectations; I am already very happy with the colours I am producing, even though I have so far used very basic materials and techniques. I have acquired a little portable cooktop, which is making the process much simpler…having pots simmering outside or in the laundry keeps things separate and easier to manage. I am also achieving some lovely colours with just jars sitting in the sun for a few days with some silk and some dye-worthy material in them..purple carrots have been a revelation! I am setting up some cooked jars using India Flint’s Stuff Steep and Store preserving method; that will really be slow textiles! they will sit for several months.

The resultant fabrics are being stitched into my ongoing cloth books, and into some panels that may become pages, or parts of quilts….the whole flow of the processes, and the tactile pleasure of the stitching and random piecing, is pleasing me enough for now.I have also discovered Jude Hill’s lovely Spirit Cloth blog, and she has recently opened up some of her older classes, which I missed being able to join,  for general readers to peruse; a generous gesture that is also very inspiring, and is helping encourage me to keep following my instincts with these pieces.

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beautiful beach

….a blessing at the end of an unseasonally hot October day……