January stitching…

Nearly the end of January and I hope everyone is now getting back into some sort of ‘normal’ routine. (Oh yes, I can hear the cackles from here…).

Around here, things have been going quite well. I’ve somehow managed to get back into a semblance of a domestic rhythm – which is not something the feminist in me would ever have expected to write – but still, there’s no escaping the fact that for me at least I function better and get more creative work done when the boring bits are under control.

But I eased myself in gently. A visit to the V & A at the beginning of the month to see the Fabric of India exhibition, was a great way to get the creative juices flowing. I’ve decided that 2016 will have more Artist Dates* – it’s too easy to get caught up on the hamster wheel of daily life and we need to step off and recharge from time to time.

Fired up by the trip to London I’ve managed to get back to stitching properly this month. Unusually for me, I started the month with two pieces in progress. The first is an experiment with a different style of stitching, inspired by a summer’s day on a Scottish beach.

2016-01-26 10.03.20

I remember sitting on the beach (at Sango Bay to be precise), looking out at the sea and sky and realising that there were distinct bands of colour running horizontally and suddenly thinking that it might make a good subject for a stitchy piece. I didn’t have the phone with me, so instead, I scribbled notes about the different colour bands in a little book I was carrying, and hoped it would be enough description to enable me to interpret it when I came home.

When things were a bit rough before Christmas, I started putting this idea together, and I think having a completely different, ‘see-how-it-goes’ approach made it easier to pick up when I felt able.

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detail from ‘Beach’

But although it’s definitely producing the look that I was after, I have to say that I don’t find I enjoy long periods of stitching this way. Dare I say it, it’s almost like weaving, in as much as I have to progress from line to line, working lineally. Which explains two things – first, why it remains only about half stitched, and second, why I am now totally concentrating on the other piece – yes, yet another tree…

2016-01-15 13.29.24

I am much more ‘at home’ creating tree pictures, especially if they contain lots of spirals.

While I’ve been curled up, stitching away at this latest specimen, I’ve been thinking more deeply about this addiction to trees. I thought that if I could go back and collect up all the drawings, pictures and doodles I’ve ever done, I’d hazard a guess that well over half would have featured trees. I have no idea where this all started, but I know I was already doing it when I went to secondary school.

My Instagram feed is full of tree pictures – my own and those of the many other people out there who also share this fascination. Last week I met another lady, also an embroiderer, who does exactly the same thing and takes a daily picture of a favourite tree – it’s a small world.

You don’t have to be obsessed with trees for long before you become engaged in exploring the mythology surrounding them. I had originally thought I might write about that in particular, for instance the Tree of Life, Yggdrasil, Druid oak groves, that sort of thing – but it’s such a huge topic, these are just Western mythologies, and trees feature in the mythos and cosmology of cultures all around the world – I wouldn’t know where to begin or end.

So if trees speak to you too, then I’m sure you’ll have your own thoughts on why you’re attracted to them and there’s a very good chance the enchantment goes right back into the mists of time. Something to ponder as the needle goes in and out…

And I shall carry on with this one and wish you all happy stitching!

* Artist Dates: Julia Cameron’s suggestion in The Artist’s Way that artists should have a weekly ‘Artist’s Date’ to charge their creative batteries.




22 thoughts on “January stitching…

  1. Hmmm…..as lovely as the colours are in your (unfinished) seascape Ann, your trees in all their spiralling, whirly glory have way more feeling in them which shows.
    I’ve given up trying to paint anything else other than animals as no other subject captures my enthusiasm. xx

  2. The sea looks very tranquil and restful but the swirls and spirals look much more fun to work on. Maybe different pieces for different moods.
    Looking forward to seeing the end result.

    1. I will definitely go back to it, I’m just having to resist the urge to put some big curly clouds in the sky, which it really doesn’t need! I’ll show you how it turns out.

  3. The sea picture may not be as much fun, but I love the way you capture the striations of sky, sea and land which are part of any coastal view up here. I can see why you prefer to work on the tree and share your fascination with trees and beauty and significance.

    1. You summed it up well, it’s the fun aspect of the stitching which makes the difference. I will finish both, i just have to be in the right mood for each one. There’s nothing like the sea in Sutherland is there – especially on those amazing blue sky days – oh I’m dreaming already! x

  4. Love the rhythms and the energy of the tree piece , it looks like it’s growing before my eyes. I totally understand your fascination with trees, their shapes are just so entrancing 😊

    1. You’re right Phil, they are entrancing and this time of year is wonderful for seeing the skeletal shapes of the branches, which it feels to me shows their individual characters.

  5. Your sea is stunning and original and beautiful, but that curly tree is irresistible. I once studied Southern Magnolia trees in NC, USA, and was so enchanted with a huge one in a big garden that I couldn’t resist putting my arms around it as far as they would go; I checked ahead of time to make sure no one else was around . . .

    1. Thank you – I wish you could see it ‘in the flesh’ – it looks better to me, but it’s hard to photograph – I’ll persevere 🙂

  6. Great to see your blog again. I love the tree piece … So full of movement and growth and the rich colours are a delight.
    On another tack – have you seen Claire Wellesley-Smith’s fascinating book, Slow Stitcing? When I first saw it, I thought of you and your approach.

    1. Thank you Margaret x. I haven’t seen the book yet, but my neighbour has recently bought it and promised to lend it to me – looking forward to seeing it, sounds very much my sort of thing.

  7. Hi Anny, being a by the sea dweller for most of my life I love the way you’ve captured that sense of movement and sparkle in your stitching – a big departure, but yes, trees are special aren’t they. When my daughter was small we’d take her for long walks in the local woods and hug the tall slender birches close; if you put your ear against their trunks when the wind of blowing you can hear them knock and rattle against each other – tree singing!

  8. You’d have loved the seascape here this morning Anny, blue sky above a dark pewter-grey wind ruffled sea, quite strange but dramatic. Your stitched piece is immediately familiar, a well-captured snapshot of the seascape here on a warmer sunny-windy day. I love the tree and the colours you’ve chosen to represent it, its shape reminds me of a Baobab. I have always ‘doodled’ trees and while training in holistic therapies learned that the way you draw them tells a lot about you – not many people draw them with roots, their addition shows that you are well grounded apparently!

    1. Well that’s fascinating – I must be well grounded because I always draw the roots! I love the fact that the root system is so extensive and often imagine what’s happening underground.

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