Pattern and process; making and meditation.

My very earliest memory is fleeting and hazy like a dream…. I was stood by a front door and my big brother was turning to walk away down the hall…. but the most vivid part of the memory is as clear as day, the pattern on his little sleeveless jumper…. it was navy blue with pinkish purple vertical rectangles that kind of over lapped and blended in together (a bit like the upholstery on old-school bus seats)…. I must have been two or three and thirty odd years on I can picture it like it was here in front of me.

Over the years I can remember lots of patterns that have stuck firmly in my mind…. clothes I had as a child, my turquoise, insanely intricate childhood bedroom carpet, my therapist’s carpet,…. in fact a heck of a lot of carpets! and remembering these patterns takes me briefly into emotions that I experienced at the time…. and it seems the more complex or difficult the emotions, the more vivid and detailed the memory of the pattern.

I’ve often wondered if that’s what draws people to retro and vintage objects… that they evoke emotions experienced in times past…. sometimes comforting, sometimes painful, but all part of our personal process.

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Buddhist mandalas are used as a way of meditating and focusing the mind…. either in creating them or looking at them…. and I wonder if we use other patterns in the same way without ever realising it….. the lines and colours, the shapes and repetition give our senses something to focus on and some grounding that allows our emotions to wander contained.

Who’d have thought that a bit of Hornsea pottery on your kitchen table would help you manage your feelings whilst being told off for not eating your greens!? But I think it probably did…..

Recently I bought a job lot of old Swedish tapestries…. I know the old lady that I bought them from had a huge collection, but I don’t know if she made them all herself or for how long she had them….. her daughter was selling them for her as she was moving into a care home…. and when I look at them I wonder what the daughter’s relationship to them was…. were they like familiar old friends that had been there as she had grown up…..

and when I think about all the work that went into each one (I bought five,,, but there were many more) I wonder what processes each tapestry saw through with their maker…. what feelings were given a space a wander while each stitch came together and what comfort was drawn from the repetition of the stitch, of the pattern and in the final sigh when the piece was finished.

I hope that I can give these tapestries the home they deserve and I wonder what processes they will see me through when my eyes rest on them hanging there.

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Traditional Crafts: Hardanger

One of the things that I love about getting together and crafting is that everyone has stories to tell about watching their mum or grandma crafting away; or they have treasured possessions of blankets, cushion covers or tablecloths that have been handed down or made for them.

I think these things make us feel nostalgic for our lovely childhood days, but also as we grow up and time moves on they give us a sense of connection to our families and our roots… make us feel a part of a bigger something.

I’ve always been quite fascinated by the everyday social history of individuals lives and how handcrafted objects and skills used in making them connect us to that history…..

A friends mum who heard about the crochet club said to pass on that she’s really pleased that young (ish!) people are learning and sharing traditional crafts that otherwise might be lost… how lovely of her to say!

In the Women’s Group we ran at work, a colleague was telling me about a craft that her mother loved called Hardanger…. I’d never heard of this before but loved the way that she spoke about her mother’s work….. so I thought I’d look into it and share here what I’ve found out…..

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Hardanger is a type of quite beautiful embroidery named after an area of Norway where it has been used in traditional dress and homewares since around the 16th century….

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It’s thought that it probably originally developed out of Persian and eastern styles of embroidery that spread across Europe (which would make sense as many of the designs are similar.)

Traditionally hardanger is stitched on a fabric made from flax that is woven to create an even structure that squares can easily be worked on to….

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a bit like cross stitch fabric…

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I’ve definitely seen similar things before but have known them to be called ‘White work’ or ‘Cut work’…. Hardanger is traditionally white stitched on white and has pieces cut away, but has a very definite style, mostly based on cut away squares…..

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that are worked into the design and are embroidered and embellished.

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So beautiful and intricate…. and it’s no surprise that it’s still quite popular, often using colour…

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Such a beautiful traditional craft, I’d love to give it a go…

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Thank you 2012

Well there’s still plenty of cheese, pate, chocolate and wine about the place, and another couple of days holiday…. so I’m hoping for a happy new year….

To be honest I’ve always thought that celebrating New Year is a bit arbitrary really as the beginnings and endings in our lives don’t fit to any calendar and the important things are moments not years….. but that said I do still reflect on what the year has brought and 2012 has had many lovely moments….

  • My mini holiday to St.Ives was certainly a highlight….

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my first holiday for a long time and such a beautiful adventure….. I hope that in 2013 I might be back :)

  • I mastered sourdough bread and have a great little sour living in my fridge :)

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  • I learned to applique….

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  • I had (I hope the first of many, fingers crossed) my first craft night….

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  • I’ve made and sold lots of toys….

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and started to write my own crochet patterns too :)

  • and much of this wouldn’t have happened without starting ‘Clothmonkey’ earlier in the year….. although I haven’t achieved many of things I planned to, starting ‘Clothmonkey’ has been a really interesting journey and has taken me in all kinds of different directions that I wouldn’t have expected and led me to meet lots of new people (both in person and virtually) who continue to share, encourage and inspire…… how great is that? (apparently ‘Clothmonkey’ has been read in over 60 countries so far…. wowsers!)

So thank you 2012 for that!

and thank you for reading and your comments and encouragement….. it means a lot :) :)

I hope that 2012 has brought you lots of moments of joy and that 2013 will bring us all many, many more………

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Resurrecting a vintage fur

Tomorrow is the wedding of two lovely friends… so today I’m trying to get myself prepared.
As it’s a Christmas wedding we won’t be able to float around bare armed with just a scarf or cardigan in case it gets chilly (not that I do so much floating myself!) …. and most of my coats aren’t really very weddingy…. so I’ve dug out one of my old vintage fur coats…

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to be honest it’s the only fur I’ve still got that will fit me… it felt huge when I bought it in my early twenties and I think I made a few alterations then…
so I’ve let it out a little again and had to do sooo much fixing… it was originally handmade I think, out of lots of little pieces of fur and lined with silk. So now it’s all very fragile with some pieces of fur coming unstitched…

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It’s been pretty laborious and my fingers are sore (it’s a bit like sewing thin leather) but I’m almost there.

Fingers crossed it’ll hold out for the day… and maybe I should start seeking out a new vintage fur… I’ve fallen back in love with them again I think :)

Nice to meet you ‘MoshStitch’

At the craft buffet on Thursday I met Siobhan who makes these amazing cross stitches……

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wow! how great are they? and I love this Yoda pendant that she made for her bestie’s birthday….

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So cute! … and what a great present?

I hoping that she’ll come down and do a cross stitch night with us in the New Year and teach us some of her amazing skills. You can check out more of her inspirational stuff here…. http://moshstitch.tumblr.com/

Nice to meet you and H, MoshStitch! :)

Blogvent #20&21 : Wrappers Delight

Bit late with my advent blogging…. but on Thursday was my crafty evening at the amazing Outlaws Yacht Club in Leeds…..

20121208-154548.jpgI was super nervous!! I’ve not done a craft event before…. but I packed up half the contents of my attic crafty room and set them up in a corner of Outlaws…

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Oulaws is a great, chilled place for socialising….. they have a knitting club, vegetarian running club :), exhibitions, super nice styling, lots of games, a kids graffiti wall, a magic till…. as well as lovely food, cake, bar and lots of good music…. all round win…..

So we set ourselves up in a corner and got crafting….

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it was a nice mix of some of my friends who’ve been interested in having a crafty night together and a great chance to meet new people too….

I’d wondered about doing set tutorials on things… but decided instead to take a few things for inspiration and just let everyone get on with it…. an all you can craft buffet! :)

We made pompoms using our fingers….

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an easy way of making pompoms that I’d forgotten about until recently…. and lots of little creature decorations appeared :)

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We stitched padded decorations….

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We made gift tags… the lovely K got all her gift tagging done Christmas….

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Lovely bestie C was representing man-craft :)….

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with a Christmas card tag for Outlaw’s :)

We had gorgeous soup…..

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a few drinks and a good old natter….

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and I booked in for two crochet nights and another craft buffet next month… whoop!

Good times! and a really nice way to start the holiday :)

Blogvent #14 : it’s like Santa’s workshop round here

… only probably even colder, I reckon they have more sweets (and Bailey’s I shouldn’t wonder!) and they probably work much faster too….

But I’ve finished the twin bunnies… yay!

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And I should be able to get them posted out in time for the little twinnies first Christmas :)
and tonight I’m hoping to finish another little toy… in front of the fire with a glass of wine, of course! Happy days :)