Thursday, 13 December 2007

dib dib dib ... dob dob dob

This blanket isn’t about a person or a specific story, it’s about a certain kind of ‘attitude’ I like.

It's about loving the way people customise things and commemorate their experiences. Guide, Scout and Brownie blankets (for me) totally embody that. What a clever thing to get kids to do, to cut a hole out of a blanket and wear it round the campfire at night, fashioning a marvellous poncho… Then to go and make it their own wearable museum, prompting their memories of ‘camp’ and adventures. Fantastic.

Unfortunately, I was thrown out of brownies after a very short stint. Being a bit of a wriggler and rubbish at the 'obedience' bit of the prayer, I leap-frogged over the collection box and that was that. Thrown out with no if’s or but’s. Ha! I hope old vinegar-tits Brown Owl had her tolerance badge taken away that day.

This piece is my pretend brownie blanket. It’s the size of a double bed, so sadly, I can’t wear it as a poncho. I feel it’s going to get a lot more work on it, another one that’s growing. As a collector/hoarder/messy person, I love, love, LOVE the fact that all the badges I had actually did come in handy.

more, more, more

It’s covered in amazing badges from many different places and many different era’s. I’m gradually blanket stitching my way round them. Pennants, I also happen to love and will be cramming them in willy-nilly. I aim to put more, more, l-l-l-l-lovely more of those and everything else on. Chaos, I know, but who cares, I somehow think it wants to go that way.

As I use my throbbing, hard-as-nails, leathery old work-worn fingers to stitch my way round, it’s like meditation. Whatever’s on the radio or what might happen whilst I’m stitching, comes back to mind when we’re under it, or my cat’s purring his way across it, leaving ominous ginger hairs in his wake. Very Proustian. The more I put into it, the more I get out. Memories, details to look at, plays I listened to on the radio... it all comes wafting like a jostick, back through my cluttered mind – which is magic, isn’t it?

The prayer, I also love. This is actually a print with some embroidering over it. I’ve got the precious (to me) original in my textile collection and admire it enormously. If the blogging format works for me, then I’ll no doubt be making a future entry about the goodies in my humble personal textile collection.

big fat luscious woolly pom-poms

Big fat woolly corner pom-poms are yet another something that make me a bit trembly with excitement. They’re enormous and I love them. They feel like heaven. When I work with people with special needs, the pom-poms are coveted and stroked like pets. On some of my quilts, I added another step and felted them. Because of their size, they need to be baked on radiators for a week. As they dry out they get daily turning, fluffing, coiffing and trimming, which is another little labour of love. But I love all that stuff. These particular pom-poms aren’t felted, they’re all nice and compact and ‘as nature intended’. They still took a day or so (each) to make though… and a little bit extra to generally fuss over them.

It’s probably evident that my quilts take a long time to make. I don’t know why I do what I do, I just can’t seem to stop myself. One day I kind of hope someone will come across these few bits I’ve kept back, in a dusty old attic or something, and give them another lease of life.

happy camping

This is the brownie blanket - entry to follow any day now. In the meantime, you can click on the photo to see it in more detail.

Sunday, 2 December 2007


red betty is the story of a lady who started out as one person and ended up quite a different one.

In the film Amelie, there is a woman who mourned her ex-husband, a man who’d lied to her and left her. She lived in a kitsch little world of memories where reality and remembrance had merged a little. Blurred with time, after the tears came a little polish and shine, some embellishment, some doilies added, some sprinkles scattered. This lady, well, imagine if she was also mixed in a bit with…
Nurse Gladys Emanuelle - from ‘Open All Hours’. A strange combination? Well Nurse Gladys Emanuelle lived a small life and was the daughter that lived with and cared for her mother. She would have been surrounded by her mother's life and personality, her possessions, photos, tea cups, buttons.... every little funny bit and bob.

Throughout her daughter’s life she collected memento's and added them to a quilt. The special cherry red quilt represented a life of love, effort and memories. All manner of textile ephemera went on – doilies covered tears that had spilled, a sentimental silk poem ‘my daughter’, talked of her love, a silly one about kissing a frog – referenced a teenage talk about boys, bits from travels, brownie and guide badges, buttons, lace, ribbons, velvet trim…. anything she deemed precious, interesting or beautiful enough went on.

And then one day, this lady turned out to be me. I had a daughter, very miraculously and very wonderfully. I’ll work on this quilt as I work on being a mother, until the day my daughter wants to take it from me or hide it away where none of her friends can see it. I have no idea where it's going, if it'll get wrecked, become more beautiful or become crazily over-worked.