Doodling a stitchery …

Or stitching a doodle … I’m not really sure …But I do know that I started this piece in the most playful of manner, with just some pieces of fabric machined together – perhaps originally I was thinking of making a GiveWrap? And then I took a turn off  (veered to the right as it were), and starting adding pictures and scraps, and embroidering, stitching them …
Some were strong images cut out from fabric … And others were just pieces I found in my scraps, exactly as they were…Scraps from all sorts of places.  Those strong green flowers came from my dear friend Mandy’s cast-off dress.  And the vibrant yellow silk lines were an unintended gift from my cousin Polly – beautiful scraps of sari silk used to wrap up a GiveWrap …parcel from PollyHappy stitching through the winter months, playing idly with fabrics and keeping the cats company as they bird-watched. My favourite times …winter stitching with catMy stitchery grew. I had started to add faces …whole piece 2I am fascinated by stitched faces.  One of my favourite feeds on Instagram is Spiritcloth who with such skilled dyeing and stitching produces pieces like this …Spiritcloth faceSo small green faces crept into my work too. I never quite knew how they would appear. They always started quite similarly – just a couple of scraps of green fabric, pinned together …smiley cat - startingroi soleil - startingI was nervous about stitching them, but I needn’t have been. They took on a life of their own. Some were catty …impish cat - working onSome were sleeping …sleeping child - startingAnother had a fawn-like appearance, I thought – especially when it became clear they wanted beards …thoughful man - finishedSo they all got beards – some wispy …smiley cat - finishedSome luxurious, as with the Roi Soleil …roi soleil - finishedThe cat has a fine beard too, complementing its whiskers!And a few beardy wisps too for the sleepy one – perhaps to complement those wisps of hair …My piece was now growing, and I was no longer thinking of it as an idle doodle.  It demanded to be seen as a whole – with backing (a lovely cotton Ikea duvet from a local charity shop) …whole piece 3And, once I started to see it as a whole, I had to think of balance. It needed some more of those strong yellows – and it needed poetry …
whole piece 6There usually comes a point when I am stitching when words come into my mind that I might stitch into the work in hand. Some of my embroideries have been stitched around text as in my Love Letter to Europe …Love letter to EuropeWith others, the words sort of drift in as I stitch away.  So it was with my Chinese Vase embroidery. For a long time it was just fabric pieces and embroidery …working on chinese vase embroidery Then – as I stitched – some of Eliot’s words from the Four Quartets (Burnt Norton) came to mind: “as a Chinese jar Still moves perpetually in its stillness.”chinese vase embroideryIt was T.S Eliot’s Four Quartets (Burnt Norton) that came to my mind again as I stitched those little green faces …TSEliiot quote 1
TSEliiot quote 2A little fiddling around with size and placement: “Go said the bird … for the leaves were full of children … hidden excitedly, containing laughter … quick said the bird … find them, find them …”whole piece 5And then some stitching …At first I was disappointed that it’s so hard to make out Eliot’s words and I wondered about re-stitching them.  But I decided that the almost-hidden words was in keeping with the sense of looking: Quick, said the bird, find them, find them …
whole piece 7My stitchery was drawing to an end.  Time now to add the backing, and quilt it with some comfortable sashiko stitching …summer conservatory stitchingThe cats approved …As the border stitching drew to an end, I thought – well, perhaps I’ll just add a little extra stitching here … and there … and there.  I realised that I’ve grown accustomed to having this stitchery around to pick up for a little stitching here or there.  The time had come to finish it.

By happy coincidence I was introduced at this time to the old Navajo belief that the spirit of the weaver literally enters the cloth they are weaving. In an article on the Spirit of the Cloth in the Spring 2018 edition of Spin Off magazine, Rebecca Marsh describes how the Navajo weave a spirit line from inside the border to the edge of the of the weaving to allow the weaver’s spirit to leave the cloth.

I needed a spirit line!

My spirit line – my escape from this stitchery – was to add my initials and the date.
stitching the signatureFinished!
whole piece 8



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Lost - and found.

17 thoughts on “Doodling a stitchery …”

  1. This takes my breath away. There is art in this craft. So glad you liked the idea of the Spirit Line…I was fascinated by the practice…such an honouring of the soulful labour of craftwork.


    1. Yes – Spirits of all sorts work well in our stitching and making, I think, Rebecca. I just know that I really loved stitching this – want to embark on some other stitching, but curiously I am in no hurry to start …


    1. Thank you, Anne – yes, I enjoyed looking back on my photos and seeing how it developed. I just wished I’d taken more early on pics – but of course one never does!


  2. Glad to see those daisies are still coming in useful! You clearly had great fun doing this. Just so nice to let yourself go and do what you fancy whenever you feel like it, without the constraints of time or it having to be anything. The little faces are adorable (still minded of Midsummer Night’s Dream …) and the poetry very cleverly unifies the different elements. And your stitching is superb!


    1. Yes, the daisies really make the pic, don’t they! Such strong pattern there. I started with them, and they sort of led me on – and yes, I did enjoy making it in this dreamy undirected way so very much. My stitching is getting better too! Thank you for your kind words, Mandy x


  3. A belated but very enthusiastic response! I know I saw it on IG but it was wonderful just now to read about your process of making and to see all the stages. Lovely to hear that golden sari ribbon came in useful (and to be reminded of that GiveWrap too, one of my favourites – what happened to that one?). And then one of my favourite bits of Four Quartets in there and I had no idea! It’s a fabulous piece and I hope you’re as proud of it as you should be. Have you framed and hung it? I also really like the Japanese vase.


    1. So glad you found this blog, Polly, because I thought you’d be amused to see what I did with that gorgeous yellow sari silk! Think I’ve got that GiveWrap here …. I love this stitched piece too – in fact I love it more and more as we have hung it in the sitting room so I can see it often. I don’t often feel like that about things I make myself, so am sort of doubly pleased – and encouraged to do some more stitchery …


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