Sunday, 20 July 2014

Thinking Too Much?

Sometimes my blog post are simple journal entries sharing what I've been doing in my life with my family, my everyday life, my textile life or my globetrotting life. Sometimes they respond to something another blogger has posted. Just once in a while they get all philosophical, this is one of those occasions.

My last post showed photographs of my progress on the embroidery piece I started in a workshop last week. Local Julie, Julie in Japan, Blandina and Queenie all commented on the post which contrasted that embroidery with the stitching on the prayer flags I have been making. Their comments, in praise of one style of stitching or the other set me thinking. I was working on the intricate embroidery this morning, hoping to get this flower finished before it got too warm and muggy to sew and wondering why I wasn't enjoying it, even though it was going well….

My friends and family would describe me, in degrees ranging from affection to exasperation, as “a leader”, “OCD”, “a control freak”, “rigid”, “controlling”, “an organiser”, “bossy”; you get the idea!!

This view of me seems to contrast completely with the projects I am currently enjoying in textiles, the eco-dyeing, the prayer flags, the boro-style pieces, and would rather seem to suit the accurate, precise embroidery project.

But I love the prayer flags and am not enjoying the embroidery.

If the embroidery was going badly I can imagine that I would dismiss it as “not for me”. By declaring it not my thing I would avoid having to admit that I wasn't very good at it, that, heaven forbid, I had “failed”.

If I could conjure precise colours and designs from the eco-dyeing cauldron (oh, how I wish I had a cauldron, but the preserving pan is doing the job) and if I made the prayer flags and boro pieces geometrically accurate then I think they would suit my controlling character trait.

I don't want predictable colours, if I did I could use chemical Procion dyes.

I don't want mini “Round the World” or “9 Patch” design prayer flags and quilts in indigo, all accurate squares and nice, neat seams all meeting at the right place.

I don't want embroidery stitches that look as if they could have been done on a machine (okay, so I'm not THAT good).

So, the conclusion I reached, while doing those tiny chain stitches, is that textiles are probably my safety valve.  I can be led by the fabric and the stitches rather than controlling them, I am surprised by the results from the natural dyes and can't regulate them and my pieces are fluid and relaxed, not rigid. The me who works with textiles is my

alter ego |ˌaltər ˈɛgəʊ, ˌɒlt-, ˈiːg-|
noun ( pl. alter egos )
a person's secondary or alternative personality.
• an intimate and trusted friend.
ORIGIN mid 16th cent.: Latin, ‘other self’.


  1. I think it is important to sit down and 'think too much' from time to time.
    We all have elements of contrast in us and getting to understand our different sides is important.
    Why does the 'control freak' love frayed boro and surprise dye?
    My guess is that she needs a break from regulations and perfection, and she has learned that that it is an adventure not to know results beforehand.
    You might not have enjoyed taking those embroidery stitches, but I DO enjoy looking at them!

  2. It's good to come out of our comfort zones if only to establish what we don't like

  3. Both of the above comments are so true. I really can't add much more. I really don't think our personalities can be so tightly defined ... or why would a librarian who loves a place for everything and everything in its place, be sitting here next to a wild pile of un-sorted fabric?

  4. This is good Lis, enjoy reading your thought concept. Quilting is mainly controlled craft. I learned quilting the right way with quilt police standing over me measuring that 1/4". I did well, but my quilts never met that expectation of the quilt police. When it comes to embroidery. I only enjoy it when I started working on crazy quilt because embroidery on CQ is crazy! So when I met boro cloths and eco dye I know that they are more to my style than trying to stay within the 1/4" of qulting. Love your eco dyed pieces - Hugs Nat

  5. www.onesmallstitch.wordpress.com21 July 2014 at 16:43

    Kanjiro Kawaii wrote "naked to the work the work reveals the naked self" some of who we are is a response to cultural and society demands, under that polished surface is the true self that the act of creating can reveal - even to ourselves. lovely post, Lis.

  6. liz, I am also doing the "precise embroidery project , and I consider it good training and practise, like practicing scales on the piano, but the muse doesn't get to play does she? do you remember the muppets/ when animal would behave for a while, nicely playing the drums, and then hed break out and start joyously, playing his way, well, go and be animal and break out,
    but only after youv done your delft homework,,,,,,ha ha ha ha
    , great wasn't it, let that alter ego out and, go play with the muse, lifes to short to be restricted, what did that bloke used to sing", don't fence me in",


I really appreciate your lovely comments, ideas and opinions, they make my day. Thank you for visiting Piece'n'Peace,
hugs, Lis x