Catching up…

Phew, what a few weeks it’s been. I’m happy to report that we’ve come through the  delight of both daughters simultaneously sitting ‘A’Levels and GCSEs, relatively unscathed. The emergency escape to a tent in the garden wasn’t required and now we have the prospect of a few tranquil weeks before the results arrive…

As you can imagine, I managed to do a lot of stitching (always my go-to method of stress reduction) while the exams were happening. Ever since I visited the Indian textiles exhibition at the V & A, I’d wanted to try out some new ideas and textures, and having also recently read Claire Wellesley-Smith’s ‘Slow Stitch’, I decided to free myself from the tyranny of the ‘one hole, one stitch’ edict to try something different.


I have to say this has been a revelation in many ways. It certainly takes a meditative stitch practice to a new place as far as I’m concerned. My only problem now is trying to decide when it’s finished.

In other news… I’m just back from a short trip to the Scottish Highlands and Islands courtesy of my extraordinarily generous flying friend. This time I achieved a huge ambition and visited some of the neolithic sites on Orkney.

Having been a rampant medievalist for most of my life, I’m something of a late-comer to things pre Anglo-Saxon, but I suppose having watched so many Time Teams over the years, it’s gradually crept under the skin. Also, I’ve read so much now about our Celtic past and much of that references theories about the people who preceded them, and so it is that before you know where you are, you’ve reached that wonderful hinterland where history melts into legend and legend into myth.

And I find that I am entirely entranced by this mythic realm.

Detail from the Ring of Brodgar, Orkney

This is where, I’m afraid to say, the history junkie in me ceases all scientific, factual thought and instead wholeheartedly embraces the possibilities of myth. Because, really, faced with something like the Ring of Brodgar, how much can you actually say for certain. But stop thinking and instead stand there and simply feel and I defy anyone not to be affected emotionally. To know that humans, so much like us, went to the effort to create these structures, but to understand so little about why they did so, is both baffling and mesmerising. The gulf between our time and their’s opens and all we have is our minds and tantalising traces of archaeology to bridge that gap.

I did rather max out on the photos on Orkney, so once I’ve sorted through, I’ll write a separate post about it.

So, relaxed and refreshed, it’s back to the needle now. I have some fairly nebulous ideas running around my head, which I need to get down to planning out. The textures of our wild places are, I’m pretty sure, bound to wheedle their way in.

What are you working on at the moment? Does history, myth or landscape influence how you work? Do tell.






12 thoughts on “Catching up…

  1. I’m working on myself presently, darning all the worn out bits, stitching myself back together as it were. Darned if I know how I’ll turn out. Enjoyed reading this post and following this stitching project with interest. I like how it’s shaping up so far.

    1. That’s the most important work of all! Keep at it, you’re making a thing of beauty.
      Thanks for your encouragement – much appreciated.

        1. Fabulous – I’ve delved into a bit of Gregorian Chant, but not all GC is equal I find – can be quite a nice background for stitching though!

  2. I am so envious of your trip to Orkney! One day, I hope to make it there – for now I look forward to seeing more of your pics. We have extraordinary (and very little known) ancient stone art here in Northumberland, and I find myself – like you describe – quite taken out of myself when we visit sites like that. To think of people – at least several thousands of years ago – taking the trouble to make these places so special (and it would have been hard work without our modern tools) is just amazing – yes, you just feel. No other words for it.

    1. Well it was quite literally a flying visit, so I must say I’m desperate to have longer on Orkney myself, perhaps we should organise a bloggers trip! Is it me or has the whole pre-historic scene grown in recent years, I can’t imagine that I was simply ignorant before – are more people specialising in it now, or beginning to take it more seriously? Or is it that having become interested, you begin to be aware of more things? At any rate, once bitten I feel sure it pulls you further in, which I admit to enjoying very much.

      You are very fortunate to live in such a magnificent and richly historic county – I’m a tiny bit jealous myself! 🙂

  3. A wonderful flying visit for you! I think perhaps it’s better not to know the reasons for the construction of these wonderful ancient sites, that way we can draw on our own spiritual sense of their being. Could turn out they were for sinister goings-on! Loving the textures and earthy-slate-rock shades, reminds me of Snowdonia in winter.

    1. Yes I very much agree with you and I like the freedom to use our own imaginations. The textures are simply fabulous aren’t they. The stones at the Ring of Brodgar varied – some with straight lines in them, others were wavy – I love all that too.I might try to use that as inspiration for a piece at some time.

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