Monday, January 31, 2011

From Patches into Needlebook

Open Needlebook
Welcome to today fellow storycloth makers.

 I have moved to Stage Two for Doors and Windows, morphing it into a Needlebook. Hopefully it will be a doorway into the many windows of stitching joy for its new owner. The Exercise in Patches from last post felt so good in my hands - sturdy, textured and substantial - definitely a tactile piece - that I wanted to do something with it that would maximise the 'feel-good' aspect which is perhaps the best part of creating storycloth. Afterall it is in the mutliple feelings that story becomes story. So, considering its dimensions and feel, I decided that a Needlebook would be best. I am no expert on making tassels and if anyone has any hints I would be MOST grateful.

At close of weekend needle I was holding this in my hand, opening it, closing it, turning the 'pages', passing it to my husband to open it and feel it. Looking at it open, looking at it closed... gently squeezing it - well you get the picture. It was just great!

Happy Stitching everyone, Gilly

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Doors and Windows: An Exercise in Patches

Doors and Windows
Doors and Windows is an exercise in combining stitches and patches of linen. I have always loved the notion of mending and patches, the feel of old, soft fabric with rows and rows of stitches running through it, keeping an item whole. I love the thought of such care for an object, the simplicity and frugality that leads people to mend items - either out of necessity or love, or both. I have good memories in this regard - of my Nana darning socks and teaching me the rhythm of  backwards, forwards and cross ways stitches. I also remember as a young girl mending a little brown velvet dog called 'Brownie' that belonged to my younger brother. It was bought for him at a local fete in someone's backyard, if I remember correctly. I often think about 'Brownie', the feel of the soft brown velvet, the couple of black thread stitches that formed his pointy nose, and my little brother watching, saying thank you. Sewing and stitching life. One day I will try to replicate 'Brownie' - just a lovely little pocket size dog. Soft.

Referencing Nana again, (how important are Nanas in our lives!!) - Nana liked the saying ''if something is worth doing it is worth doing well'. I think my process of making Doors and Windows was done 'well'. I made notes and sketches, took time and care with the stitching. I thought about textures and colours, experimented. I re-stitched where necessary. Overall I am happy with the result. I wonder what might lie behind the doors and windows if I could just open them and peek. But, I think most importantly, I am very happy with my process. I loved every thorough second of it.

At close of needle last night I put final stitches in Doors and Windows and dreamily planned my next storycloth while watching the Australian Open Tennis on TV. It occurs to me that the wonderful 'put'....'put'... rhythm of tennis balls being hit is akin to the deep, comforting rhythm of stitches in process.

Happy stitching, Gilly

Friday, January 21, 2011

Linen Flowers

Linen Flowers
It has taken awhile to get this to this point. I have had one of those 'freezing' experiences where I was too scared (to be blunt) to take a risk with background stitches. I 'ummed and arred' about adding a butterfly, and whether to have coloured circles in the four bottom squares. In short I was not making progress. Except, hahaha, if you count getting to this point, of admitting my fear of risk taking, as making progress of sorts. Well I think it probably is progress of sorts because finally yesterday I thought to myself:  'Hey Gilly this was supposed to be only an exercise right from the beginning - just a design exercise and experiment using only linens'. This freed me up to do the background stitching. Afterall it is the only way to really experiment with different effects.

I have not planned to forever leave a cross-stitch off the bottom left hand square - I am just experimenting. (Ha!) I wonder if the omission balances the overall design somewhat. Also I am not sure whether to make the nine sideways stitches on top right into full cross stitches.

Anyway overall I have achieved my goal of working just with really lovely fabric - these beautiful washed out linen colors are from old table napkins. It is also backed in the same soft linen which makes the whole cloth a very pleasing weight. I am not sure what a book mat is, but it occurred to me that this a good size to lay my reading glasses on when I don't need them for a moment. close of needle last night I had put the three bottom cross stitches in and decided to post as is, looking forward, as always, to any observations and ideas from my online friends!

Happy Stitching , Gilly

Friday, January 7, 2011

New Year Bookmark

Sunny Flowers
Welcome to this New Year of 2011. I am back now in normal mode having recovered from the worst jet lag I have experienced to date! Our holiday period was fantastic with some great family get-togethers and lots of games with my grandsons. I think all the little storycloth presents were well received. It certainly gave me satisfaction to give them. It was not a warm few weeks in Australia but we did get to the beach once and have returned to Winter here with a slight tan.

I made this bookmark around New Years Eve in the midst of post travel dizziness. I am using it myself and derive pleasure everytime I take it out of the book I am reading, put it back in, or just notice the flowers poking out of the book as I walk past. The black fabric is some sort of grosgrain tape that I had lying around - it feels a little synthetic and I won't use it again. But the overall effect is very cheery and striking.

I made a minor New Year's resolve pertaining to clothwork. After I had finished the Sunny Flower's bookmark and realised that the feel of the tape was not that pleasing I decided that this year I will not use any fabric that I know will detrimentally effect the completed article. As a consequence I began work on a small linen storycloth, the first piece for 2011, using a similar flower theme as the bookmark but in different colours. I will post this as soon as it is completed.

I have also been thinking about another perspective on creating storycloths. This time inspired by my four year old grandson. He constructs very complex lego designs using book length instruction guides. He will not budge on replacing the exact required piece with another, rather he will search for the 'right' piece. He knows every piece of lego in his enormous collection. He describes his process like this: "I always follow instructions". As he grows older he may become more flexible, which I am sure he would be even now in an emergency! But his approach, and his dedication to his approach, gives me cause for contemplation as I have always been the opposite. I have historically felt constrained by instructions, thinking that I am not being creative if I follow them. But I have realised that there is a place for deriving satisfaction from following instructions well. Doing something 'right'. Firmly establishing a base of knowledge and experience from which I can later experiment. I mean, in the case of recipes for example, there is something to be said for following an expert's recipe closely, being able to repeat a wonderful culinary experience time and time again. Likewise, perhaps, following cloth making instructions from an expert, from someone who knows how to make certain effects with cloth, is manifestly satisfying. For me, maybe creativity can be found in the dedication to learning an art well, humbling myself enough to learn deeply, exactly, thoroughly from another.

At close of needle yesterday I had outlined the vase on my first storycloth for 2011.

Happy stitching everyone. I will be getting around to blogs in the next few days. Thankyou for the comments on my last post for 2010. It is really great  to read over them.