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!