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Stitch Meditation Practise

Respect your body

I don’t know about you, but I find traditional meditation and mindfulness nigh on impossible, so it was a wonderful revelation to discover stitch meditations.

What I am enjoying most about this is it allows for experimentation – what is important is the process of creation – the stitching itself. It really does calm the mind and because the concept is that you are only creating a small embroidery really just as a meditative practice there is no sense of having to make something out of it. Instead, Liz suggests that you simply allow the stitching to flow in whatever direction feels good.

Embroidery in progress

I have always enjoyed quotations so I decided to include these in my meditations – this is one I took away with me on Holiday recently, as you can see I began with a very rough outline of a couple of pink chalk circles on the left hand side. The picture above was the result after one evening’s stitching – experimenting in this way, I was combining practising my French Knots (a very new skill) and the different effect that you could find by using varying thicknesses of thread. Those simple ovals – lifted up from the background because of the thick cotton Perle – in the centre, but I worked a thinner flat floss around the edges to create anchor the flower onto the canvass. The stems were created using lovely chain stitch, and fern stitch worked well to create feather like leaves.

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The second evening I decided to fill in the circles – but what I intended to do did not quite work so I ended up doing a long and short stitch in two colours – topped off with yet more lovely French knots. This process is amazing, because when I looked at what had evolved it was so much nicer than my original idea!

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The quotation was really apt for me, I really needed to rest and when you work from home it is hard to relax so spending time away was perfect. We were staying in a National Trust cottage in Devon – rather than going to various locations – we decided to spend our days, enjoying walks in the beautiful gardens and surrounding woodland and rolling hills of the Tamar Valley. The rest of the time we enjoyed quiet afternoons with the log burner crackling away, while E read and I stitched away merrily. One afternoon I discovered a TV channel called Talking Pictures that was showing a 1940s version of Rebecca! complete bliss!

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By the end of the week, the stitch meditation was complete –  I felt completely restored by the rest and we said goodbye to the cottage taking fond memories of a wonderfully relaxing time.

Let life flow

I am still doing these stitch meditations at home and I am finding it has really helped to ease work related stress.

If you would like to know more about this practise there is a wonderful group on Facebook, just look up the words ‘stitch meditations’ and it will take you there.  You can see all the other wonderful pieces of work done by ladies from all over the world, USA, Canada, Australia and Europe.

Stitch Meditation is a process developed by Liz Kettle to help develop a creative mindfulness practice that is simple and easy to implement.

It is for those who choose to explore how to meditate with stitch, to share your practice with others, to inspire others and as accountability for yourself.

See Liz Kettle’s video explaining it all here

acrylic, art, blue, canvass, craft, creations, creative, creativity, decoration

Be the change you wish to see in the world

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Given the shocking events of last Friday, it is so difficult to find the right words – but I remembered this collage canvass I made some years ago and it sums up my feelings about this whole situation.

It was created at a time when I had lots of my girlfriends coming for tea and cake to my studio but they were terrified of doing anything arty, so we began to paint with glitter; it was such an easier fun way to be creative.

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While the top quotation says

You must be the change you wish to see in the world

I wanted to express the transformation that love can bring – so I used words that would also link together to create love.

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Butterflies symbolise transformation I wanted them to look as if they had just rested a moment on the canvass.

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While the swirls of blue and white create movement

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Some might call it childish, I found great pleasure in using the blue tones mixed in with a little purple.

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The butterflies were cut from a lovely birthday card I had received earlier in that year.

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Around the canvass you can also see tiny seed purls – another suggestion of transformation – an oyster changes an irritating grain of sand into a thing of beauty.

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I won’t focus on how much this world is full of hatred and misery

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but instead,  in my own small way, spread love with a smile, a word of thanks or a listening ear. Not world changing but within my power.

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angora, creations, fair Isle, knitting, projects, sustainability, wool

Woolly Wrestling

I was told of a new wool shop in the nearby town so set off on my trusty bicycle (the tyres managed to stay up – in my book that is trusty) along the glorious flat promenade with the expectation of wooly wonders to behold. Yes I do get the irony, wool is a odd obsession in the sunshine but then I make no claims to be level headed and logical! 
The shop itself was a hobby store, which is wonderful but the wool section merely had a few balls of very cheap wool. I wanted some angora as the jumper I am knitting is eating the wool at rather a fast rate and I may only really have enough for a tea cosy! I asked the shop owner about other types of wool and she told me that sadly it just did not sell – her customers just wanted the cheaper balls. 
It took me back a few years when I remember standing in John Lewis which had some fabulous wool for sale – my simple calculations estimated the cost of a jumper to be in the region of £80 at the time it was beyond my budget. I remember my frustration – surely they must realise that you can buy a jumper in a store ready made for about £30 what were they thinking? 
Now my opinion is beginning to shift – I have become disconnected with the making process and my value system is based around the cost of buying something in the shops, often made in countries where wages are low – I am beginning to wake up to how much it has warped my values and my expectations. I see rails and rails of clothes and jumpers in charity shops, worn for a season or two then simply discarded, if it costs us so little then why on earth would we value it? Yet our resources are not limitless – we need to understand where this direction is headed. If all our money is being spent in shops -eventually we will lose our ability to make anything, skills will disappear – we will become dependent and ultimately at their mercy. Moreover, we simply cannot sustain this concept of throw away that pervades everything we buy from bread, clothes, through to white goods and furniture. 
It is not a fast easy process to create wool, it needs to be teased, spun and dyed that means hours of work by someone and it is my choice to decide if that someone is sitting in a factory in a third world country or a farmer’s wife making extra money to make ends meet in the UK. 
I get a great deal of satisfaction from creating something with love, care and consideration, why not then have the same reverence for the raw materials? How much nicer it would be to wear something that had been lovingly made from sheep to my fingers – something that would be treasured for years to come. If I wear my jumper for eight years then it will only amount to £10 a year – it brings the cost into a more realistic amount. 
For me, knitting is a sensory experience – I made an item with some of this £1.99 /100g wool – it was a waste. The garment simply did not feel nice to wear and knitting with it was not pleasant either. I spend a great deal of time in wool shops touching the wool – I want something soft and comforting next to my skin and if it is comfortable to wear then I won’t be parting with it easily. 
Here is sneak peek at what I am making, what you cannot do is feel how wonderfully soft and downy it is. I will do a post about fair isle knitting and patterns soon. In the meantime happy knitting!