&Stitches Swap

My first blog post on Existitchialism was to show off the hoop I made for my &Stitches swap partner Liz (a.k.a. The Stitchsmith) in New Zealand. Today I’d like to share the lovely hoop I received from her.

swap hoop

She included a letter explaining the background of the piece, and this hoop is full of symbolism: “Aotearoa” was the name the Maori people gave to New Zealand, as its three islands resembled a long white cloud in the sea. She has stitched up the map of her country using a wool yarn produced there from their famous merino sheep. Isn’t that a beautiful chain stitch?

swap hoop 2

The curly lines are meant to suggest the koru fern, New Zealand flora that symbolizes new life and new beginnings. (In a strange coincidence, both Liz and I were busy moving during the swap, so the koru fern was indicative of her chosen “place”–her home of New Zealand, and also of both our current situations. How cool is that?

She has put so much thought into every part of the design, the materials used, including the colors of the piece, as black and white are New Zealand’s national colors.

I love the way Liz finished the back of the hoop as well. I’ve tried many different ways of finishing the backs of my hoops, and still haven’t found a method that suits me.  This is quite cute, though, and I like how the label can be seen in the center of the gathered fabric.

swap hoop 4

swap hoop 3
Needless to say, this hoop is getting a place of honor on the wall of my new home. Big thanks to the &Stitches blog for coordinating a great swap! 🙂

 

Advertisements

“I’m in my tree talking to the Dixie Chicks, and they’re making me feel better.”

I recently took part in the &Stitches blog’s first embroidery swap; the theme was “Places,” and it took me the longest time to decide what in the world to stitch up for my partner Liz, who lives in New Zealand. First I thought I should focus on something locally famous, but I just couldn’t get excited about stitching corn or Abraham Lincoln or a map of Illinois or even Old Main at EIU. One day I was fretting around the house with my restless energy and Pritts told me (as he often does), “Go to your tree.”

“Go to your tree” is a reference to one of our favorite moves, I Heart Huckabees. The film follows a struggling environmental activist poet who hires two existential detectives to investigate the meaning of a coincidence he’s experienced. Dustin Hoffman and Lily Tomlin play the detectives; angst and hilarity ensues. At one point, the detectives lead Albert (the activist) through a guided meditation in which he’s supposed to imagine a tree, and then imagine someone he respects sitting in that tree. Another character, Dawn, a model and spokeswoman for the fictional mega department store Huckabees, later uses the same meditation during an argument with her boyfriend, telling him, “I’m in my tree talking to the Dixie Chicks, and they’re making me feel better.” So the joke around here is that when I get fretful and harried, I need to go to my tree. The Dixie Chicks are in my tree, and Captain Picard, and they calm me and remind me to live my values.

The tree is a place of calm reflection, of rootedness, of realization that everything is connected. So when Pritts said, “Go to your tree,” I was thinking, “Yes! My tree. Go to my tree. My tree is my happy place. Go to my happy place…place…place. Place? My tree is a place! I’m going to stitch my tree! BOOM! Problem = solved.” 🙂

So I played with fabric applique and a bunch of different random stitches and ended up with this piece:

IMG_20140528_095741263_HDR IMG_20140528_095751579 IMG_20140528_095745763

I love the image I found of the Dixie Chicks with a cloudy sky background, posed as though they’re leering down out of someone’s psychic illusion. Perfect. Then I gave the tree a colorful, sort of wonky feeling background to add to the effect of a dreamlike scenario. Silly, maybe, but definitely fun to stitch. I hope Liz likes it.