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!
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.
I have started piecing together some of the embellished / stitched samplers i have been playing with off and on for the past year or so, and realised they might combine together eventually into one complete piece….working title ” Coastal Meanderings”! this is a rough first play at how it might start to come together: am now inspired to finish other pieces in the same theme, and start to work them with more purpose.
Making this sari-scrap quilt/throw has been a long and labour-intensive journey, but it has been a very peaceful activity to do all the hand-stitching without setting any deadlines for completion; a very meditative activity which seems approriate, using all these beautiful scraps from indian saris! I am almost finished the front at last….panels pieced, now only to contemplate the border, and decide how to work a back for it. I love this part of quilt making, when the different sections are being worked together and starting to take on a new life as a melded fabric; and whether I am stitching the final touches by hand or machine [in this case both], I get pleasure from the feel of it evolving, and the colours which are coming together with a new kind of glow. The running stitch that I have worked on all the panels of this quilt has the effect of blending the disparate pieces.