I was working in the glorious sunshine today. Amazing what you can see when that particular lightbulb shines on your work. Wish I could sew outside more, but such is life, work and responsibilities...
I decided the circular part of the piano leg needed to be different and chose Bokhara Couching. Its so similar to Stem Stitch, it felt very natural getting it down. I finished the circumference in Chain Stitch. I think I chose Bokhara Couching because somewhere in the back of my mind I knew the stitch would pop the fabric outwards, to give it a naturally convex form.
My only concern about this piano's wood patina now is that, because the leg is distinct from the rest of the piano, it looks to me as if I've possibly tipped the scales somewhat, and the whole effect could be a tad more Regency than Victorian? I decided I'm OK with that though, as this family looks like they have old money and they probably inherited the piano...
I just wanted to explain, as Stitchin Fingers is, alas no more, and all my recent stuff was on there, I started to really study the Bayeux Tapestry a few years ago and I was particularly struck by how much they did on that piece with Stem Stitch.
Since then I've been obsessed with this stitch and realised through closer and closer observation that it follows on directly from working with Satin Stitch and Long & Short Stitch, in that they can all turn into each other, especially if you really want stitch direction to follow form.
By that I mean if you look at say old Chinese embroideries, you can see this association all the time. However, the only English book that I've come across that acknowledges the close relationship between these three stitches is Erica Wilson's Embroidery Book, you know that huge thick one that's out in paperback. I find that book to be an indispensable item, if you ask me.
Here's what I mean:
Here's a close up:
So what I found was to fill a shape where you follow the contour of the shape, the stitches can pack down and form an incredibly thick and even texture. If you ask me, it suits a lot of natural forms more than say Long & Short Stitch, because you don't have radial symmetry considerations. More about that in a future post...
Instead what you do is make parallel lines and from what I can see from vintage pieces, it produces a less bulky finish. It also opens up the different ways you can fill shapes and this makes the fall of lights on a piece particularly striking. What I adore about this way of working, is that you can create a flourish, an accent or curlicue, with a lot more ease because one merges into the other... The piece pictured above isn't perfect, I had the clock against me, but it was a lot of fun to sew, and it has gone down well with the recipient!
Going back to the woodgrain. This is the effect I was after. Very dramatic walnut patina. Scaling it down has been a challenge but I'm not finished yet...Not sure they've made pianos out of walnut ever? but that's not the point, kind of thing.
It was nice to sew in the garden I created, today. It took me 3 years to complete all told, and part of the fun was taking delivery of that sundial patio and damaging my back for an incredible 18 months.
I don't care, it was all worth it. The very exciting thing is its all organic and I follow Permaculture gardening techniques. I make my own compost tea, I use dried blood, wood chips, volcanic ash, wood ash, human urine (you read that right!) and seaweed etc etc to fertilize everything.
And would you look at it, we've hardly had any rain and yet my lawn looks really lush don't you think? I used sulphate of iron and alfalfa meal on it this year. What a difference! Most people tend to treat their lawn as a kind of outdoor rug, stamp on it and mow it and that's it. People completely forget the roots of each blade of grass needs oxygen too!
But if you think of your lawn as a giant plant that loves acidic conditions e.g. iron and rainwater, then you are working with nature, instead of against it. There is nothing more elemental and necessary to your spiritual being than to take your shoes and tights off and walk on soft green grass in Summer. It connects you with nature and the seasons again, in a way that a book or a film never will. Its something about the positive ions and electrical charges within nature that feed up into our metabolism e.g. mitochondria. Mitochondria are much older than our cell nuclei, mitochondria contain our very first genetic material, they are as ancient as the earth itself...!
My raised beds are strictly Acid, Neutral, Chalk loving and Cretaceous Period. I have 12 flower beds all told. My hands look a lot more bashed up, but I honestly think organic gardening is like magic, lots of flowers, fruit and lush growth....real magic!
I also use oxygenated water - and you can see my two solar powered pumps in this picture - worm castings and nitrogen fixing plants to boost growth. The plants are very happy and what's more, the birds are even happier.
I have 2 families of black birds, lots of sparrows, a robin or two and I saw the goldfinch pair the other day. I give my birds organic oats daily, chopped grapes during the breeding season and whole sunflower seeds etc.
By leaving my compost heap uncovered, they feast on the most enormous worms. Worms also love oats, but I buy them the cheaper type.
Next time I'll post pictures of my Worm City, its very successful. Worm castings are like 10,000 times more fertile than packets of NPK fertiliser, which as you know, is derived from fossil fuel.
Organic gardening is the best thing, especially as I can make really rich compost in days, not months! Considering we are up a high hill, in an exposed area, I have managed to combat all that wind and produce plants that are very strong and happy. To sum it up, I think growing organically means you have growth that is less woody and more lush...
The organic garden idea was after visiting the ancient city of Pompeii, because on the way there I saw that the valley of Vesuvius is so incredibly lush, and its all due to Volcanic Ash.
Our guide explained to us, the beauty and fertility in that region is so incredible that the residents in the path of the volcano have actually been given money to move to a safer place, but as its so incredibly green there, they choose to stay....
As soon as I got home, I went to our equivalent of Home Depot and bought a large bag of Volcanic Ash and have never looked back...
Our last trips have been at sea. Here's a quick sketch I did one day of a storm out there between the Caribbean Ocean and the Atlantic. It was very exciting. After seeing much of the world, I reckon the Caribbean has to be the best place to go. I discovered it when my back was at its worst and had the extremely therapeutic experience of swimming in an ocean that was as warm as bathwater! My aching back recovered greatly in the Caribbean ocean, mainly on the second trip there, where I stayed in the water for an hour at a time, just floating and treading water. Somehow out there, through a series of aerobic moves, my back found its alignment again and then after that my pelvis did the same.
For those of you that haven't been, believe it or not, a Caribbean holiday is not as expensive as you might think and its a whole lot cheaper still if, you don't drink alcohol...
Here are those buttercups again, but this time a much clearer image. This one was taken on my iphone and I think shows up well what I was aiming for e.g. to sew much more lifelike buttercups than the usual types you see. This type of needlework has always been on my to do list, but what I found was Japanese embroidery books - of which there are many - particularly recreate the delicacy and ephemeral beauty of flora and fauna. They are very clever books indeed. Even if the entire book is in Japanese, the clear diagrams and key mean you can work out the rest. Notice also in their embroidery vocabulary, they use Twisted Chain Stitch for stems of wildflowers etc. Texture and delicacy are achieved with great skill in their interpretation of embroidery language.
Oh well, I have to go now...
P.S. I did say my posts would be shorter, sorry about the loquacity of this one, but its a round up and more than likely the last I can do for about 2 weeks, as I'm off to wild and rugged Celtic Cornwall...lots of piccies...lots of Celtic references next time people and if I can, hopefully I'm going to visit the Shaftesbury Museum, famous for its archeological exhibits...yum yum