Dyeing samples over the past few weeks has led to a pile of successful and less successful pieces, so I have started putting them together to make scarves. On visits to India I fell for the simple utilitarian stitching of the recycling poor. Like Japanese boro, which prolong the life of textiles through layering and mending, kantha work of Bengal, is a tradition, where stories are sewn into cloth, and running stitches embellish pieced together discarded saris. The results are beautiful quilts and shawls.
I have always been impatient and so sewing has always been rushed by machine. Inspired by kantha and Japanese boro work, I decided to try stitching by hand. Very slow to start with, I thought I was doing rather well with my little stitches, until I picked up my favourite kantha stole.
patchwork silk experiments
fine Bengali stitching
I have found stitching quite therapeutic and could actually get quite addicted. My normally restless mind, usually only harnessed by gardening, has been quietened. Focusing on needle and cloth and simple lines of stitches, liberates my perfectionist mind, from over-thinking design and endless self criticism. In my insomniac hours I can now be found stitching, distracted from the usual bombardment of unhelpful thoughts.
This week I have been busy designing a new website for my friend Denny Andrews. She sells clothes made largely from block printed and vegetable dyed fabrics from India. (I will write more about this another time). During breaks from the laptop I have been stitching books and a map Though the map idea is still in it’s very early stages I hope to develop it into a textile project
open rust book
inside rust book
As soon as I can I want to experiment with different resist techniques on some new fabrics. I have been looking into ecological sources, and organic hemp seems to be one of the best as it uses far less land and water to grow and process than cotton. Yesterday I ordered some organic hemp jersey and hemp silk woven fabric to experiment with from the hemp shop. I’m quite excited about trying these for mud resist and indigo and some itajimi (clamp resist) with leaf printing. It will be great to offer students who want to upgrade from basic cotton to these fabrics and I should be able to offer them at cost.
There has been lots of interest in this years workshops and bookings and deposits are arriving daily. I am grateful to my friend Jane Meredith for mentioning my workshops on her website. She runs plant dyed wool workshops at her wonderful riverside haven in Herefordshire. If you like natural dyeing and wool you should look her up.