Today would have been my Mum's birthday and, as it was my Mum who taught and inspired me to sew, it seems fitting that today's post is a needlework one.
The intricate way that books speak to other parts of my life never ceases to astonish me and I hope I'm not alone with this little foible, somehow I think my synapses must be completely tangled when reading a book makes me want to walk to the fabrics and create something out of the image that book has placed in my mind's eye. I never know when it will happen either but something twangs big time and that's it I'm done for and must stitch.
They say you stitch what is happening in your life into your quilting, I'd add that I stitch my reading in too and every so often a book has that power to inspire.
I have no idea what the lasting relic will be from A.S.Byatt's The Children's Book other than the fact that there will definitely be one, something will be made eventually that reflects the iridescence of a book that has invaded my every sense. I'm already on the alert for fabrics that reflect that shimmering Art Nouveau world, the pots, the dragonflies, the swathes of light and colour...the turquoises and midnight blues, the lapis lazuli with gold, the Gustav Klimt glow, all images that gather to exert that sheer force of creativity that floods out of some books and I will know them when I see them, the colours are now very firmly fixed.
Likewise for Justine Picardie's book Daphne last year.
The colour used on the cover seemed to need a Farrow & Ball name, Menabilly Red or something and I had searched to no avail to find the exact fabric with that tone of red with a tinge of brown but surely there's a pinkish edge in there too. No matter because I bumped into a quilting-reading friend recently who came to the Port Eliot dovegreyreader event last year and she greeted me with
'I've found it, the exact colour, I'll send it to you'
and the next thing a piece of fabric arrived in the post from her, and find it she has.
It's near perfect.
So while I wait for The Children's Book creation to ferment into being but still needing to make something, anything, I hopped to my table and put together my belated homage to Daphne.
Not wishing to over-reach myself I wanted just a single block and after a great deal of searching found the very aptly named Secret Garden, now Menabilly's Secret Garden using a liberal amount of quilter's license and a chance to do some hand-piecing which I so rarely do these days.
It's so long since I've reached for the pencil mug (this my treasured Emma Bridgewater, bought in St Ives, handle fell off two days later, too far to take it back and get a new one) then templated, drawn and scissor-cut with a 1/4 inch seam allowance. I'd quite forgotten how soothing it is to leave behind the lightening speed of the rotary cutter and the whizz of the Bernina - job done in thirty minutes, and revert to the time-honoured basics of hand sewing and be happy for it to take months.
Even seemed like a good time to clear out the sewing box too.
Things are progressing and now it comes back to me, there's an element of holding your nerve involved with hand-piecing and quarter inch seam allowances cut by eye, because it looks like it'll never fit together but somehow, with a bit of tweaking and pulling it always does in the end.