Another month on the stitch journal, recording the autumn days.
The weather is still unseasonably mild, which I find worrying. But weather is not the same as season, and the light is starting to change as we continue on our annual journey around the sun.
31st October is Samhain in the pagan calendar and traditionally marks the start of winter. The days are so much shorter already but I enjoy the long dark nights. Just extra sewing time really; time to reflect and make plans.
November is stretching out ahead, its days already outlined.
I’m stitching on a vintage French metis (linen/cotton blend) bed sheet which had worn thin in places. I can see I will have to start the new month with some darning.
On work days I settle down with the stitch journal in the evenings. I don’t mind the dark nights at all – actually I prefer night to be dark. I don’t get on well with the endlessly light summer evenings at all.
There have been some golden days.
Today was a very rainy day.
The purple day in between is rows of blanket stitch, also in silk thread.
Sometimes I like to look at the other side of the stitch journal. I really like the fact that this is just one piece of cloth, no lining or backing, so everything is visible: the good, the bad, the ugly, and all the loose ends.
There are some days that I’m glad to see the back of.
I’ve finally made a start on my traveller’s blanket for the last ever class with Dijanne Cevaal. It took a while to think about the right foundation for this quilt, and in the end I decided on a piece of tea-dyed silk noil. Soft but textured, lightweight but warm. The back is hand-dyed silk noil, and the middle layer is brushed cotton (also known as cotton flannel).
A slight stumbling block in the thinking process for this quilt has been that traditionally these quilts have been all about travel and recording experiences, and I’m probably the world’s worst traveller. I’ve never ventured beyond the UK, never been on an aeroplane, and have never had a passport. I don’t even drive. I get seasick just watching boats on TV. What could I possibly have to say about travel?
And then I thought of course we’re all travelling constantly – through time, through life, through experiences. And so my blanket has ended up being about a journey through winter, my favourite season, which will be with us very soon. I’m thinking greys, dark blues, sludgy/grey greens, browns, whites.
I’m starting in the centre with this beautiful piece of antique embroidered cutwork, a mystery object. Does anyone know what this would have been, originally? It seems to be a discrete piece, and doesn’t look as if it’s ever been part of anything else – at first I thought cuff, but it’s not long enough, and there is no evidence of unpicked seams. It’s about 2.25” x 6”. Dressing table mat? Answers on a postcard please.
I’m using a few fabrics expertly eco-printed by Jane Hunter together with some vintage and antique pieces that I’ve been saving for something special.
Imposter Syndrome, inner critic, Captain Failure, whatever you call it – I feel as if I finally understand it, and this understanding has truly changed my life. It’s one of the many amazing things I’m learning from the incredible Stacie Bloomfield and her Leverage Your Art online course.
Having been beaten down countless times (for decades) by the inner critic’s ‘you’re not good enough’ mantra, I now understand it for what it is. It’s just a part of my brain that doesn’t like change and is frightened by risk-taking. It comes up with what it thinks are valid reasons to prevent my doing something that doesn’t feel safe.
In a real life-or-death situation that’s immensely useful, and the inner critic is actually your greatest protector if it tells you that you really shouldn’t jump out of a tenth floor window. The problem is that the inner critic can’t always tell the difference between a genuine life-threatening change and a personal challenge, so it tells you the same limiting things over and over again until you can no longer tell the difference either. It seems to me that you and the inner critic grow together and you just get used to not questioning its advice.
I’ve nearly finished the right-brain business plan, and am including the inner critic just so I don’t forget that sometimes it tells me things that may not be true.
Underneath all of those life-limiting nonsense messages is the truth – that somewhere in there, a part of your brain is afraid that you will die if you change. You can’t grow if you don’t take occasional considered risks. It’s not natural to stand still or stay the same. Everything changes eventually.
So finally I’m recognising that messages like ‘you don’t deserve this’ and ‘this will never work’ are just really, really silly.
Initially I thought I could just slide a lining fabric underneath to stabilise it and then darn the surface, but it really was beyond repair on closer inspection. The only thing for it was to disassemble the section and replace the fabric.
The whole cushion, pieced top and envelope back, is hand stitched so there was a fair amount of unpicking. I’ve been able to salvage parts of the silk for other projects, but have replaced the panel with a lovely piece of eco-printed cotton from Jane Hunter textiles and a piece of textured silk fabric from The Silk Route.
I’ve got a few days off from the hectic day job this week, and had been feeling pretty much like that shredded silk. It feels today as if I have repaired myself a little as well as the cushion. I think when cloth and thread are part of your soul and identity, the simple act of repairing something with needle and thread becomes very restorative.
Quiet time is exactly what is needed this week. Nice to have my favourite cushion back in service too.
Settle down with a cup of tea or something because there are lots of pictures today.
You might recall I enrolled on the Heart of Soil online workshop last month – you can see my earlier post about it here. I collected all the lessons into a little sketchbook, and it’s been a lot of fun to revisit some techniques I haven’t used for a while. I particularly liked the limited colour palette – just blues and yellows – and the pages in the resulting book are nicely coordinated.
I went a bit off-piste with some of these and added some lines from a vintage poetry anthology to some of the pages, and I added a teabag pocket to this one too. I made a stencil from Tyvek for the background leaf and flower images.
The lines of poetry on the page below are from a Rupert Brooke poem, mixed up to create a found poem.
Of course the sketchbook itself is based on the one-page sketchbook technique (you fold a single sheet of paper, cut it strategically and fold it into an eight-page booklet) but I thought it would be fun to make a tiny sketchbook to tuck inside the bigger one. The smaller version is made from a sheet of A4 paper; just me enjoying myself, really.
I thought it might be fun to include a little video run-through but then I noticed the colour of my hands and thought I ought to explain. I did some dyeing this morning and – I do it every time – forgot to put the gloves back on when rinsing. My hands are not normally purple, just in case anyone is worried.
A very happy collection of classes and I enjoyed them immensely. Next up, I’m doing the Traveller Blanket course with the lovely Dijanne Cevaal and am looking forward to that. Next year I hope to be teaching online classes myself, and I’ve figured that the best way to see what works is to sign up for a few myself. And of course there is always something new to learn.