More “slow sewing” this week…. most of the sewing I do is done by hand (for no other reason than that it’s just the way I prefer to sew) every so often I lug out one of the sewing machines, but more often than not they are left alone and allowed to get dusty, and instead I get to spread out a selection of threads and needles, scraps of cottons and floral prints, out all over my work table, and get to make a proper old mess.
I’ve had some paper piecing that I’ve been trying to finish off, which has allowed me to listen to the rest of the Our Story series on radio Scotland….if you haven’t caught it yet then it’s still available and is a proper treat. (it doesn’t matter where you live you should be able to hear it)
Along with paper piecing I’ve also been embroidering over some of the patchwork, (these pictures are from some pin cushions and needle cases that I made back in December for craft fairs and my folksy shop)
I never begrudge the time spent hand sewing or embroidering, I’m happy to listen to the radio while I’m working, or I can be quiet and can let my mind wander and am free to think about new projects and different projects that still need work.
I think because I’m used to taking my time when I’m sewing or quilting, I don’t really then expect my crochet to be particularly fast….if something takes a few months (or in the blanket’s case a couple of years) then so be…..though it’s a bit different if I’m selling what I’m sewing, but when it’s something for myself or my beloved one then the hours shouldn’t be counted……time spent, however long, is so precious, but it’s part of what hand making is about…it takes time. The time spent making is time you are learning and improving your skill, or craft…. rarely are you good at something first time round. Learning a new skill is a bit like an apprenticeship….hopefully each time you make something by hand you are learning new skills or are improving old ones.
This week, as well as embroidering with vintage silks and threads, I’ve also been embroidering using beautiful soft shades of vintage tapestry and crewel wool…… I had a bit of a play around trying out how different stitches work in the different weight wools. I love how delicate stitches become when worked in crewel wool, especially variations on the fern and feather stitch.
I don’t like throwing things out, so all the little bits of wool that get left over from when I’m using tapestry wool in my crochet are bundled up and saved, then I use them up when I’m making stitch samplers, or am trying out a new stitch. The short lengths of wool are soon used up and I get that nice feeling of nothing wasted. (anything too tiny is chopped up and used for stuffing…perfect for fat little pin cushion but I also use them to make cushion inserts, when I’m making batches of hot water bottles and tea cosies there are lots of small wool fabric scraps which get saved for stuffing.)
While I was finding the bag where I’d ferreted away the tiny bundles of scrap wool, I came across some tins in the cupboard that I’d tidied away and found up a few pieces I’d sewn some while ago…..
One of the earliest things I used to make to sell were catnip filled bunnies, the bunnies had little embroidered faces and appliqued felt hearts on their tummies, then I’d blanket stitch by hand all the way round them, and stuff them really full with a mixture of fabric scrap stuffing and catnip from the garden. They were always a good seller however each bunny took at least 2 hours from start to finish and you know, at the end of the day, they were toys for cats so you can never charge that much so finally I stopped making them…… (though it was nice when people sent me pictures of their cats going doo lally with them, and I even got sent a couple of short videos of normally well behaved kitties going totally crazy)…….
I also made some lavender bunny ones with embroidered lavender on the bunnies tummies (these were filled with lavender) and then I made some rose and cardamom pod ones (this is just the nicest smell, gently crush some red rose petals and a sprinkle of cardamom pods together….it’s just eye closingly lovely) and embroidered little floral motifs on them. This is one from about 4 years ago and it still smells nice.
I really liked the simple floral motif (it’s made up of lazy daisy stitches and a back stitch for the stem, with a french knot in the centre of the flower) and thought to reproduce it on some new pieces for the shop……it’s half based on the wild forget me nots that grow in abundance around the edges of the raised beds in our garden (at times there seem to be more wild flowers than vegetables which keep the bees happy…..am resolving to be more green fingered this year and to do my fair share of the weeding)
…..and while I was pottering about in cupboards and opening tins to see what was inside, I found up this embroidery I made of some cowslips that were growing in the garden…. (I got so sun burnt when I did this, the older I get the quicker I burn)….. I can’t believe I’d forgotten about it, anyway, it’s something I hope to work on a bit more. Seeing the bright yellow was like a find of lost treasure, half hidden and buried away.
I’ve been asked by my friend Ruth about teaching some workshops this year, she has a little shop in Holt called Glory Days, and last November I had a stall at the craft fair she organised there, anyway, in March she is moving to a new shop (just round the corner in Hoppers Yard) and there will be teaching space upstairs so now I need to have a really good think about what I can teach and what people would want to know how to make….so any suggestions would be much appreciated.