Saturday, 30 March 2013

To sew, or not to sew

A labour of love that was took a year from
start to finish (first idea to final stitch)
I have two family heirlooms on the kitchen wall (or had, until R began decorating). Not this sampler but ones hand-stitched in Victorian times. I asked R if we could re-hang them and he said he would, though they actually need restoring. I can't even remember where I have put them. But it occurred to me how much he liked the times when I used to stitch of an evening and how selfish it is of me to now sit pen in hand and scribble or sketch. That's all he ever sees me doing, that or tapping away on the computer.

I have always been fascinated by alphabets and historic samplers having grown up with the family ones since I was little. I took to designing and stitching my own; as birth gifts for our grandchildren and to celebrate special birthdays. This one was for our daughter's 21st and took me six months to design and as long to stitch. The colours are much brighter than here - silk thread on a coffee-coloured ground, and the stitches so small I had to work it through a magnifying lamp.

This design measures 11.5" x 9"
(the one above, top right,  is even larger)
I have many other unstitched designs stashed away in the roof, but stopped stitching as my eyesight deteriorated and arthritis increasingly affected my fingers. But R would be so pleased if I took this up again; he made me the most beautiful little marquetry-covered chest of drawers around 20 years ago and filled it with silks as a Christmas gift. It sits there doing nothing - how ungracious it is of me to now ignore his gift. I don't think I could ever again tackle something as complicated and large as this, or even the one I designed and made him for his 65th (he's now over 80). But I could design and stitch small 'slips' and incorporate them into my paper and fabric journals. That would please and delight him (though he would never acknowledge it!) - my dilemma is whether I could see to stitch, or even hold the fabric. I can but try.

I design my samplers (or did) on squared paper, placing dots for every stitch - not necessarily in the colour they will appear but so as to easily distinguish the juxtaposition of one against another. I had a formula for calculating what the finished size will be so as to start with a suitably-sized piece of fabric (every stitch is created across two threads, and the top stitch of each cross all slope the same way.) I start in the centre and work outwards. Or did - it's a long while ago, but very soothing, so long as one stitches in good light. (And my apologies, these images are copies of copies as I cannot find the original digital files.)

No comments:

Post a Comment