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Pattern and the power of making

I’ve been thinking on and off for a few years now about how important *pattern* is to me. How I’ve always loved knitting, crochet, embroidery, beadwork where there is a rhythm to it. A repetition that is meditative.

But also about how I like coincidence in my life. How spotting a pattern in events or my surroundings is pleasing.

And also about how pattern can sometimes be made stronger by breaking the pattern a little, by way of pointing out where the pattern lay. By creating a feeling of discomfort in the broken pattern. Or a feeling of comfort in breaking the pattern maybe, to break the monotony.

There was an art installation on an open field beside a road, back in Tasmania where I’m from. I’m not sure if it’s still there. But it was a scattering of red shapes. Just oddly shaped objects laying around on the field. But when you got to a certain spot on the road then =bam= all of the shapes lined up from that ONE spot and spelled a word. And the you blink and they are just shapes again because you’ve moved on. I don’t even remember the word. But I do remember a powerful feeling and a definite change in the way I thought about pattern, because the connection between all of those random shapes was completely invisible until you reached that one spot.

My thinking that emerged from that installation:

  • That the ability to spot a pattern could depend *entirely* upon your point of view.
  • That pattern could exist but you would never see it unless you moved.
  • That connections between things could be unseen but very strong/meaningful.
  • Juts because YOU don’t see a pattern doesn’t mean it’s not there.
  • Just because YOU don’t see a pattern doesn’t mean someone else can’t as they have a different point of view.

And on a meta-level:

  • That art could change the way you think about the world.

Some of this may seem very obvious, but I never realised these things before that installation. It changed the way I viewed the *power* of art. Of making. Of expressing ideas.

And today I read this: “thinking about design and repetition and how interrupting a rhythm makes a personal statement about being there.” (from here: Yes. So so close to my heart.

And. Once, along time ago, I read that some cultures value the ‘deviation from perfection’ in textiles/art as it says something about the maker. And even deliberately put ‘imperfections’ in repeating patterns to achieve this. I never understood this, but my thinking has changed and I can now value this. My thought is that there is often only one way to follow ‘a pattern’ but an infinite number of ways to deviate from a pattern. And now Jude’s words guiding me back to the thought: making the choice of where to deviate is the bit that’s personal.

Okay so many words today, but I’m thinking a great deal.

Maybe it’s because I’m working on this piece, a festive pattern I bought to make table decorations for Christmas:


It’s been a *very* long time since I worked on a purchased pattern rather than my own thoughts/design. It’s allowing my mind to wander.

And dessert last night:


Icecream and frozen yoghurts I made. And berries I picked myself.

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This morning: some fruit picking in brilliant sunshine.


Home with a bounty. Raspberries, youngberries, loganberries. We will eat some fresh, some will go into frozen yoghurt. Yum.


And back to birds this afternoon. Beautiful fabric from Deb, I don’t even know how to explain how perfect it is. Bright and soft and textured. Stitching between eating berries and drinking wine.


And a package arrived from Dharma trading. Fabric samples and harem cloth. Precious, soft things.

Now I have enough to keep going.

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The satisfaction of pairing

Today was a bit more productive, I am very happy with this bird from this morning’s stitching. His name is Mr Swampy.


And that’s it for the bright fabrics I own. His body is beautiful blue silk from SpiralDyed on Etsy. I only have one piece and it’s blue, so at the risk of making too many blue birds that’s all I’ll make from this fabric, for the book. The blue/green stitches down his front are also from SpiralDyed. I would order some more (thread AND fabric) from them, but they are on a break at the moment. It was my first purchase, so I only bought a few bits. But I’m VERY happy with their products.

And so I felt at a bit of a loose end. I surfed the blogosphere and re-watched some of Jude’s Feel free videos. I watched her video of free piecing and was reminded of her most recent ‘stray’ cat piece, made from small scraps that she joins.

I stared at my small bundle of scraps and decided to do some what-iffing of my own. I just pulled out my little collection and spread it out on my board and just played with colour, joining as I felt I liked.


I’m really pleased with my combinations. And now I’ve begun a little stack of bases and possible figures to make into something larger later. Some of the details leapt out at me as I went.


And now I have fewer scraps. It feels good. And it was something easy and mindless to do while I boiled the christmas pudding and made dinner.


I love the little dimples of the basted pieces.


And I also realised that I accidentally made double the pudding mix I usually do. OOPS. Two full basins and just as much still in the bowl. Looks like I’ll be steaming puddings tomorrow too. Ah well, they make nice gifts, and they mail well.


And inspired by reading Caro-rose’s blog, I pulled out this old piece and blocked it out so I can frame it.


And for some reason laying in bed this morning, the light on the ceiling seemed very beautiful.


It was a good day.

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Birds marching

Tum tee tum tum.

I started this project with a plan: a series of silly birds to make into pages. I’ve already deviated from the plan. I’ve drawn a series of bird shapes (or potato shapes or circles or whatever) onto some fabrics.  I’ve prepared some little pages and I’m just blatting the bird shape onto the page, and appliquéing it down. Like this.



Then I’m either stitching little features on as I go. just as the needle takes me. Or I’m taking a photo and sketching some ideas out. (Thanks eternally for this idea, Jude.)


I like this marching bird and his crazy bill. Not sold on this diving bird.


I’m learning a lot about the fabrics as I go. This black cotton is soft and almost sheer. Lovely to work on. The pale brown is an old sheet… Which would be fine except the threads are SO tightly woven together, the needle doesn’t like it so much. Not sure what to do with the rest of the sheet if it doesn’t like being stitched…

Yesterday was a farmers market morning. And among other prizes, I came back with the most beautiful little bag of chat potatoes. We basically never have potatoes but I love them. Tonight I baked them, with whole garlic cloves, and asparagus spears. I made a herb butter. There was red wine.

Potatoes. Such creamy perfection.

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The dodo peacock and co

So today I’ve been walking and thinking and stitching.

Walking to the market and buying veggies, but especially cucumbers and yoghurt as my other half has taken to making cucumber lassi for lunch, which I love… he puts a whole cucumber in the blender with herbs and yoghurt and ice. It’s superb.

And stitching. Some other birds have appeared on the cloth. A dodo peacock. Not sure, but I think he may need some head adornment, I’ll check later.


And an owl thing.


The owl thing later sprouted some ears to blow in the wind.


And thinking about spirals as another personal symbol. Spiralling in, spiralling out. About how spiralling in can be good… if your life is too full and you’re moving in circles trying to keep everything tended. And making the circles smaller as you go, to make the tasks simpler. And simpler. Which makes the circles smaller. Spiralling in, smaller and smaller circles. Until you are still at the centre.

Spiralling out is another thing. Maybe later.

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Updates: knitting, embroidery, food!

I’ve been busy! But not posting as much as I’d like, so here’s a pretty huge dump of some images from my last month or so.

I’ve been knitting almost every day. Some lovely Kinfolk hand dyed yarn into socks:


And some delightful squishy madelinetosh yarn into a beanie. This resulted in my man asking if he could put in an order for a black one. Which I subsequently knitted, but didn’t photograph, because … well… black knitting never photographs well.

Knitting a hat

I’ve also knitted another hat, and started a new scarf… winter is pretty much over here though, so I’m not sure how much longer I’ll have the knitting bug. Links to all my projects are in my Ravelry library.

Related to the winter weather, my man and I have been cooking lots of Japanese hot pots together. he bought a lovely book on Amazon (this one, I swear it’s not a sponsored link! 😉 The recipes are surprisingly approachable, so we’ve been making one every weekend. One hot pot feeds s for a couple of nights.

This is a duck hot pot:


And this is a mushroom hotpot on the stove. Mmmm, mushrooms.


And to go with our Japanese dinners, we’ve also bought a little batch of sake from this great Melbourne supplier of all things sake:


And finally back to crafting. I’ve been playing with a couple of design/creative apps over the last month or so.

iOrnament allows you to make repeating patterns using all 17 of the wallpaper groups. (I’m a maths nerd, so I love this). I bought a little stylus for my iPad, and am having heaps of fun with this. Not sure how it will translate to embroideries yet, but I have some lovely screensavers and backgrounds I’ve made myself 🙂



I’ve also downlaoded a cute isometric app called… Isometric 🙂 It allows you to place diamonds on a grid to create isometric patterns. I’m really into triangles at the moment, so my designs are tending to be not very isometric and more triangle-y. But I’m having fun:


And finally, I’ve been working on my new big embroidery project. I’ve done a whole lot of history research, and looking at hundreds of examples of playing cards. And then sketching up and playing with my own designs.


I’ve finished mapping out (mostly) what stitches go where, and have started the actual stitching. But photos will follow once it’s fleshed out a bit more 🙂