Something about embroidery really appeals to me. I looked it up in the dictionary and the definition I liked best was:
‘To add embellishments or fanciful details to.’
By nature I am an embroiderer. I love adding fanciful details to things. The kids roll their eyes, and sigh when I express this side of my personality.
Case in point. Me: ‘I’ve worked all day. I’m so tired I could fall over in a heap in the corner. Won’t somebody help lay the table??’
Kids: ‘Oh, mum, you’re just being dramatic again.’
Drama, embellishment, fanciful detail.. Call it what you may, but I admire that impulse to make quite ordinary things, at the very least, more ….interesting.
My own ‘actual’ embroidery skills are quite basic. The most sophisticated thing I’ve mastered, so far, is the French Knot. Being chronically, hopelessly left handed, it takes me a lot longer to get the hang of these things than my right handed sisters. However, with the help of the lovely Wendy from Shiny Happy World ( how nice!) even I have became competent.
Check her out at- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bezNWJgBe0o
But what I really want to talk about is a little project I did that has given me some joy. The embroidery element in this project was minimal and pretty basic. Essentially, I embroidered a cross stitch border around a little water colour painting by a lady who died back in the 1940’s.
The lady in question was my Aunt Louise. She was my father’s sister and grew up in the house we now live in. There were ten kids in my dad’s family, the house was small and money was tight. As families go, they were very typical of their time. From a young age, Louise felt a calling for the religious life. She left home as a young woman and joined the order of the Poor Clare nuns. Always having been a creative and sensitive person, she sent home the odd painting as a gift to her family. In those days, the religious orders were very strict about severing ties with your family of origin. I imagine that Louise really missed her big, noisy, messy family. I know her brothers idolised her. My dad certainly did. Sadly, I never got to meet the lady herself because she died of TB long before I was born. My darling Uncle Sean, who sadly passed away a few years ago, gave me a present of a painting she did. He said he wanted it to go back to his family home.
I was really touched that he wanted to give this memento of his beloved sister to me. I wanted to acknowledge this and to honour both of them. But how? When it came down to it, I knew very little about the woman herself. Despite this, I have always had a powerful sense of who she was and what her dreams may have been. I wake up every morning in the house she was born in. People who loved me, also loved her. I am even called after her, Marie- Louise. Then the idea came to me that I could create some dialogue with my aunt through the piece itself. By embellishing her beautiful watercolour with some simple stitching, I felt as if I was deepening my connection with her. So my E blog for today is dedicated to Louise and to embroidery and to the threads that connect us all.
‘ The House May Be Small, but the Welcome is Big’ Louise. 1946.