Saturday, 1 October 2011

The rise of Portwine Rose

Katie and I drove to Hobbycraft today with Mum, so I could get a starting-out kit to learn embroidery, ready to begin making my tatty-doll books. I'm so close to finishing The Thicket Dwellers - only four more chapters of final drafting and then it's done (which I aim to do all tonight, so that tomorrow can be one long lazy sigh of relief. It's been, after all, 2 1/2 years since I started writing the book!) - and I promised myself that once that huge project was over, I'd take up a hobby that incorporates my love for writing weird shit with my desire to learn something crafty, that I could make and have something beautiful to keep after it's finished. Something pretty as a keepsake, something to pass onto future generations, something to make as presents for people I care about. Something, maybe, to sell if I become any good, and people like what I make. Anyway, for now it's just for me, to keep me inspired.
     So I bought loads of lovely coloured embroidery thread, a hoop to tense fabric, some vintage rose and heart buttons, some needles and a permanent marker for when I hand-write onto fabric (though mostly I think I'm going to embroider and sew the writing). Lovely Mum bought me a pretty sewing box to keep all the buttons and needles and bits inside, and we saw a titch li'l sewing machine for a teeny £20, which she said she'd get me for Christmas. It's perfect, as a regular-sized machine wouldn't fit in my blood-red-right-atrium-walled-heart room. But this is the size a Borrower might use. A big Borrower, that is. Anyway...there were so many books on learning to sew or embroider and all other such craft-related books, but I'd already found a great book called Doodle Stitching, which inside basically says there doesn't have to be any rules with embroidery, but gives some wonderfully whimsical projects to give you a feel for it, and I love that there are no strict rules or guidelines to follow. I think I'd get frustrated and fed up with things like knitting. And it means I don't need to take embroidery classes after all.
     When we got back to Mum's house, me and Katie raided her large button jar and I scooped up a handful of buttons - I have an obsession for buttons now. I didn't think one could be obsessed with buttons! There are mother-of-pearl ones, black ones, pink ones, decorative ones and plain ones, ones that I can remember what clothes of mine they once belonged to, ones that look like demented doll eyes...buttons buttons buttons. And I already have a surplus of refuse fabric that I've collected over the time that these ideas have been accumulating in my mind. Fabric shops are great, and inspiring to look around, but I like trawling through charity shops and seeing what clothing I can cut fabric from if it's not wearable otherwise, or taking scraps from Mum's sewing. I'm going to do patchwork covers, with a button for a loop to hook on to, and plain fabric pages inside with embroidered patterns and text that will be stuffed with toy-stuffing stuff. And lace borders, and all that. We'll see...

Meanwhile I've been enjoying this sunny Indian Summer day, sat on the swing chair in Mum's garden watching the sunset through the dogrose, watching the midges dance in the low light the sun throws. Back at home and I've still got goosebumps after watching a very witch-like Fever Ray video covering Nick Cave's 'Stranger Than Kindness' song. Amazing. And Dan has since come home with a bottle of red wine, some Boaster cookies and season four of Buffy reruns ready and downloaded, so the grand finishing of the manuscript can wait 'til tomorrow.
Dark rain drips from her jowls,
every time I dare a smile
she raises her hackles and howls.
Every day it tears around like a stray
but I'm just keeping the black dog at bay.
-Nina X

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