Friday, 29 July 2016

Pueblos blancos

Here are the last three entries in my stitch diary.  Two, more abstract versions of the pueblos blancos (white villages) here in the Andalusian hills and one inspired by an excellent plate of grilled prawns eaten last night. 

This is our last day in Andalusia - back to our normal routines next week but I'll continue the stitch diary as I'm enjoying the quiet thoughtfulness that it encourages. 

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Andalusian story

I'm staying near Gaucin, a small town of whitewashed houses clinging to the side of a hill in the Andalusian mountains.  I think I've found some kindred spirits here because the place is festooned with yarn-bombing and a multicoloured banner proclaims URBAN KNITTING GAUCIN.

My stitch diary continues to be influenced by things that catch my eye:  bright blue Morning Glory flowers woven into a hedge; undulating hills leading down to the coast and the little box houses of the town glimpsed out of the car window as we make our way up the steep dirt track for daily provisions.

The choice of thread and colour is somewhat limited. I chose to bring a bag of scraps leftover from previous projects. A fellow member of Grassington Embroiderers' Guild swears by this approach. She says that when she attends a workshop she never seems to have what she needs, but if she brings her rag-bag of threads there is always something suitable. I have to agree with her!   It also makes you quite inventive.  The Morning Glory stars are stitched with two stands of cotton, one a Royal blue, the other a deep purple.  I generally continue stitching until I've run out of thread.

Saturday, 23 July 2016

Stitch life

Inspired by Claire Wellesley-Smith, I'm keeping a stitch diary of my holiday.  Too much you think?  Actually it's quite nice to creep into a shady spot or the seek the comfort of air conditioning after a hot day of sight seeing and contemplate.  It's been a complete sensory overload in Seville! I can't get enough of the fabulous tiles everywhere I turn.

My first day in Lisbon is reflected by small blocks of yellow, the predominant colour of the city.  The towering Giralda in Seville provided the source for my next stitch entry.  The lattice pattern is stitched in two shades of terracotta as the shifting sun transforms the colours of the bricks. The Alcazar palace blew me away but I took refuge in stitching simple lines of green to represent the beautiful gardens fragranced by myrtle, orange trees and jasmine.  My final day in the city is captured in the simple geometry of Islamic art.

Saturday, 16 July 2016

Emotional Repair

This week I attended a masterclass with Claire Wellesley-Smith.  It has been a crazy few weeks of family, work and social commitments and I feel exhausted but a few hours of stitching in the library at Gawthorpe Hall has refreshed me.

Claire's practice focuses on slow stitching as a means of achieving a more mindful approach to work.  The gentle and contemplative way in which she uses and repairs treasured textiles resonates with me.  Finding my own rhythm with a simple running stitch seemed to let me breathe and be myself. 

I started my own slow stitched collage, taking some old ribbons, lace and fragments of embroidery transfers that I found when clearing out Auntie Jean's house.  I've included scraps from my last batch of Devore and a piece of yellow wool from Claire.  It is tacked together with alarmingly-fluorescent green thread, to be replaced with hand-dyed silks and linen over the course of the next few weeks.

The afternoon disappeared in a flash as we lost ourselves to stitching and as we reluctantly packed up our work, Claire offered us a quote from Louise Bourgeois

"Sewing is an act of emotional repair" - how very true! 

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

The new darning

Life's too short to darn socks but good old-fashioned darning stitch can be put to great use as a filler stitch. 

This folk art peacock was inspired by a worshop taught by Patricia Barratt at Skipton Embroiderers' Guild.  The shape is filled with small blocks of darning stitch - laying down the warp threads with quite a bit of space and then weaving 3 or 4 strands of embroidery thread.  Changing the colour of the warp threads whilst keeping the weft the same will give subtle variations in colour. Changing the thickness of the thread adds texture. 

At around 10 cm square this is a quick and easy project that could be used as an embellishment.