Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Merry Witchmas

I'm back in London to spend New Year's Eve with my closest friends. Our house is on Christmas wind-down, with not a scrap of turkey in sight, but with holly and baubles woven through the staircase and festive lights in the bay window.

One of my latest hobby-stitchings is perhaps more apt for Halloween than Christmas-time; a heart shaped brooch adorned with antique lace advertising "Witchy Woo Dating Agency" (I told you a couldn't resist a pun).

The brooch will shortly be up for sale in the Poesie Grenadine Etsy shop, which should be up and running in early January.

I did wonder if the potion bottle needed any fabric paint to define its shape and lines further; what do you think?

In other witchy news, I am still working on my Polly Kettle quilt, which is more like a comic strip or open book all about the East End fortune telling siren of the title. In the latest patch under construction, Polly is draped over a paper moon, clutching her crystal ball, in an illustrative style reminiscent of photographs of trapeze artists from the early 20th Century. I plan on painting an inky fabric paint sky in the background, and some pearls... hopefully soon all will be revealed...

All that remains is for me to wish you a very happy New Year, and to say that I will see you on the other side with more craft to share.

Friday, 27 December 2013

Merry Stitchmas

I do apologise, I couldn't resist such a gloriously dreadful pun. I hope you have all had the merriest of Christmases with your loved ones. I have spent mine sheltering from stormy weather in the Highlands, in a little house on the hill where the festive drinks flow readily.

Aside from eating and drinking far too much, I was determined this festive season to finish all the groundwork of my Canvas Stitches, ready for decorative beading and surface stitching when I get back to London.

Well, two days after Christmas I have finally done it. Here are the results:

It hasn't been easy, but, as the Tailor of Gloucester would say in my favourite of Christmas films, "I am worn to a ravelling, but 'tis done." Cashmere Stitch, Victorian Step, Byzantine, Jacquard, Tent Stitch, Button Hole Stitch, Satin Stitch, French Knots, Upright Cross, Romanian Couching, Hungarian Grounding, Parisian Stitch and Eyelets all feature. Phew!

I did find time to make merry, however, and dressed myself up more glitzy than a Christmas bauble on the 25th; my Grannie proclaimed "It's Christmas!" when she saw me. Here's a Christmas selfie to prove it:

Friday, 20 December 2013

Instagram Gratification

 As the title of this post may suggest, I've become hopelessly addicted to Instagram! I've always been one to document everything, whether in words or images, and now I'm even more prone to snap away.

I've been posting blow-by-blow accounts of my Canvas Work and other stitchy pieces, and yes, I'm sorry to say, photographs of food (though I doubt many fans of the site share their fishfinger sarnies with the world; I, on the other hand, am tragically unglamorous).

If you're an Instagrammer yourself, say hi; I'm always looking out for new artists and interesting images to follow. My moniker is the very same - @poesiegrenadine. See you over there, smartphone in hand!

Monday, 16 December 2013

Winter Stitching

So, what's new? Not a lot, I'm still soldiering away, battling the winter blues and a hefty Canvas Work design. However, I think I am beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel; I would say more than half of my Canvas Stitches piece is finished at this point! It has seemed at points as if it would never end, but now I feel one final push should do it.

The coral garden last week

The coral garden earlier today

A close up of Upright Cross coral (green), Romanian Couching waves (purple and brown), Victorian Step water (purple and light green)
I'm not entirely sure about my choice of colours; I fear the piece is too busy, but the main thing is that I am enjoying it, and learning so, so much.

Other diversions that have been cheering me up during these short dark days include plastering every square inch of wall in my room with art (and bunting, but of course)...

It certainly helps to have a cosy hideaway to hibernate in during the winter months!
... a stack of "What To Look For In..." Ladybird four seasons books to be stitched into someday to accompany last year's What To Look For In Winter...

...and all my Christmases coming early in the form of not one, not two, but three Santa stacks filled with vintage satins, printed cottons, and yards and yards of lace trimmings. I don't think I've ever been so grateful to receive old cast-offs!

Some purchased fripperies which are destined for brooches and artist's book #3

I'm already sketching up designs for my Black Work piece (it might just be Polly Kettle themed!), and have availed myself of some evenweave to practise the stitches on. It's going to be a busy stitchy Christmas!

Saturday, 7 December 2013

The quick brown fox

These crafty little fellas have been stitched up ready to go in the Poesie Grenadine Etsy shop when I reopen it in January.

The foxy fellas had been tucked away in a sparkly box for many a month, but they were just crying out to be made up into cute little brooches. And doing so afforded me the perfect opportunity to practise my blanket/buttonhole stitch and couching. I think they're rather fetching, don't you? Their leaping stance puts me in mind of the old pangram "The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog" More brooch designs are brewing and will be shared here shortly...

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

At a snail's pace

"Slow and steady wins the race" is an adage my mother is fond of quoting to me when I am bemoaning just how long it is taking to move things forward. Never is this more apt than with needlework; as a family we recently got 'round to watching Fabric of Britain, and in the embroidery edition of the series (which featured a certain Royal School) learned that it can take six hours to embroider just two tiny cheeks of a face in split stitch. This makes my progress with my Canvas Stitches coral garden look positively speedy!

Jacquard Stitch on my Canvas Stitches coral garden piece

I have never been good at sharing works in progress, whether in the contexts of work, academia, or on this blog. It must be the perfectionist in me. Right now, though, I only have works in progress to show. This feels fitting; it seems like my life is a work in progress right now, moving forward, though in no way speedily. Slowly, slowly, at a snail's pace, I am learning technique, and I am learning so much about myself. Learning what makes me happy and keeps me healthy. This new experience is an education, in every sense of the word.

Although it's tough, sometimes even mentally and physically exhausting, I am enjoying every stitch.

Perhaps all this is why snails have appeared so often in my artwork over the years; from my oh-so-"conceptual" GCSE art project in which a colourful character hid their light under a bushel (or more accurately, inside a box covered with snail shells) within a colourful inner sanctum that was literally bubblewrapped from the outside world;

...to Dale the Snail (not my choice of name!) who takes pride of place in the Jacobean Crewel Work I (finally!) completed for my RSN course (still needs to be mounted, though).

Or perhaps I simply like snails... the way they carry their homes around with them, their dual timidity and curiosity at the world, and if you want to get really "Dartington", how they leave a trace of their existence behind wherever they go.

I'm learning other ways of taking better care of myself in addition to endless meditative stitching; learning to be thankful for all the wonderful people and experiences in my life, reading the work of my favourite writers, surrounding myself with art that makes me feel good. That includes the art of my contemporaries, for example the wonderful Hannah Hill, a young artist and good friend of whom I expect great things (and who is already making great things happen!) This piece in particular has been a great comfort of late; the text is taken from a piece by another young Tumblr artist, Eryn (of the blog "botanicalmovement"):

Hannah has really made Eryn's words come alive

I am, as ever at this time of year, trying to look for the little things that make winter wonderful, when it is such a difficult time for people like me, who have a tendency towards depression. So I felt I'd stumbled on a literary, stitchery, wintry goldmine when I came across this cross stitched Annie Dillard quotation by Jessica Kelly on Flickr:

Dillard is definitely a writer I'll have to do some investigating into pretty imminently.

All these wise stitched words have spurned me into stitching some of my own; I've written a wry little manifesto for myself moving forward:
  • Being a damsel in distress went out with wimples; be your own hero
  • Red lipstick wasn't rationed for a reason; it's a shell to fling at the world, a suit of armour
  • Playing the invalid invalidates you; heal yourself
  • What to look for in winter; fungus, ferns, frost; two bodies under a blanket; a warm dog sat in your lap
  • Remember you're a milk thistle; unlily your liver
  • Shout boo at every hissing goose to cross your path
I am picking away at embroidering the manifesto (tentatively titled "The Tentative Manifesto of a Big Girl's Blouse"... I wonder why?) and practising my split stitch while I'm at it. Picking it up after a hard day's stitching homework and returning to sewing as a form of therapy, which is so important for me.

I've also made the decision to re-open my Etsy shop. The time feels right, when I am so full of enthusiasm for the future. When these two little fellas have been transformed into rosettes, I will be putting them up for sale alongside framed embroidered art from The Cure for Love and other projects, and a few vintage garments I'm very excited to share with you all.

When the time comes I will post all the pertinent information and links here on the Poesie Grenadine blog. Until then, I'll be stitching!

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Away with the Fairies

When I was a little girl, one of my aunts delighted in buying me a t shirt which proclaimed that I was "away with the fairies". As an adult who is still very much away with the fairies, I have of late had a hankering for that shirt (though I wager it would have to be scaled up several sizes!)

I decided to commit that beloved (if ruefully worn) phrase to cloth, as an antidote to the serious stitchy business of RSN embroidery. However, some of my training so far has seeped in there, and padded satin (the mushroom caps), bullion (the gills, or frilly bits to you and me), and raised stem band (the stalks) stitches all make an appearance in what I think is quite a pretty, if slightly puckered, little patch.

The background is a donated fabric from the bounty I mentioned in my last post. Here are some more of the glorious 60s quilting cottons which have been bestowed upon me:

It's nice to make something "for me" again, and get a little practise of techniques whilst doing so. I tried not to worry too much about "getting it right" and just go with the flow. This little fairy ring stitch sampler was inspired in no small part by the season, and by the beautiful embroideries of one of my favourite up and 
coming indie designers, Rachel Parent, aka The Old Milk Lake.
Still trying to make the most of Autumn's richness before Winter really sets in
Currently can't resist anything fungi and sewing related... I've got a stash of toadstool print fleecy fabric too, which may become the most adorable needlecase in existence

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Putting one stitch in front of another

Hello all. Where oh where have I been for the past month and a half? Well, I've been feeling under the weather, in many ways quite literally; the storm that huffed and puffed and blew our neighbour opposite's fence down didn't help. This time of year hits me hard, but at long last I seem to be emerging from the big black maelstrom that was gathering above my head.

In the winter months I find solace in posting loved ones little treats, in an effort to raise our collective spirits as the nights draw in and the days grow shorter.

I have also been spring cleaning (so appropriate for November, I know), and my bedroom is finally an approximation of what I've been wishing it to be for years (though there's still bunting to be put up; one can never have too much bunting...). More importantly, however, my room is clean and tidy, which I must say is something of a revelation to me. Who knew this would lead to me actually knowing where things are?! The plan now is to apply my (somewhat idiosyncratic) organisational methods (business cards go in a box with embroidered patches, obviously) to the makeshift "studio" in the loft, which is currently crammed to bursting with fabric, thread and other gubbins.

Noelle the narwhal "helping" me get organised
And yet more gubbins are pouring in; I seem to be becoming a receptacle for all the unloved fabric and needlecraft equipment that has been languishing in the attics of loved ones and acquaintances; not that I'm complaining in the slightest! I've had a surfeit of gorgeous '60s and '70s quilting cottons of late, and other bits and bobs which aren't quite to my taste are taking a little trip to Significant Seams to be turned into all manner of exciting textile-y goodness.

A little peg lady who sat atop a swag bag of fabrics donated to me; I think she looks like a little mini-me, don't you?

Besides gathering a snowball of beautiful fabrics, there is so much else to look forward to right now; mine and Pip's two year (really??) anniversary is coming up on December 1st; Christmas holed up in the Highlands with my family and an almost obscene amount of delicious food; returning to Hampton Court in January invigorated and ready to give my training in the ancient art of hand embroidery my all. Until then, I shall be taking time to look after myself and enjoy the season, and above all simply putting one stitch in front of another.

A rainbow on my window one recent morning reminded me to be grateful for the little things in life

"Working towards normality": the story of my life

Tea, comforting films, Pip, and the spirit of the Suffragettes are helping me power through

Colours of the deep blue (and green and purple and pink and orange and grey) sea

The beginnings of a coral garden

Tarnished jewel-toned seawater cottons and metallics

Jacquard Stitch (Please try to ignore the surrounding spaghetti junction; Canvas Work is like sausages; it's delicious, but you don't want to see how it was made)