Friday, October 10, 2014

On assignment -- stitching about travel

When we were in London early this summer I had the pleasure of visiting one of my best Internet friends, Margaret Cooter.  We had a fabulous day together talking about art and life.  We exchanged some little presents; mine was to choose a sewing kit from a collection that Margaret has been making to sell at craft fairs (here is a picture of a bunch of them).  Here's the one I chose:

It transpired in the conversation that I had not brought sewing supplies with me on the trip, just a scissors for my daily collages.  I figured there wouldn't be much time for stitching, but Margaret thought it was a really bad idea to be without one's materials should the occasion arise.  So she stocked my kit with a couple of needles and a pack of assorted threads, and found a long piece of linen cut from the border of some past project.  It's 59 inches wide and somewhere between 5 1/2 and 3 1/2 inches tall, kind of like a small version of the Bayeux tapestry.

I asked her if she also wanted to give me an assignment for the project, and she said "travel."

Sure enough, there was a little time to sew during the evening presentations every night on the cruise, and here we were on a ship, so I began by stitching an ocean full of water.  Not much else got done on that vacation, but in the months since I have expanded my "Bayeux tapestry" to include several of the lasting images from our travels over the years.

Iguazu Falls

Greenland (usually we see its steep black mountains from an airplane, but once we got there at ground level and visited Viking churches and an old seamen's cemetery)

Rome, with St. Peter's and the seven hills

cargo ship

World Cup soccer fans with German-flag face paint

olive trees in Tuscany

There's still room for more stitching but I'm finding it challenging to come up with images that I can easily execute.  For instance, how can you embroider the Grand Canyon or the Metropolitan Museum?  I'm sure more ideas will come, so I'm keeping the piece right there by my TV place.  (Still have three hours of The Roosevelts on tape that we have to get through!)

And what a great format the long and skinny piece of linen has been.  It's so much better for random thoughts or long stories than a squattier rectangle would be, and it's so much more casual and intimate, with its raveling edges and uneven cutting.  Thanks again, Margaret, for a great visit and a great project!


  1. Your stitching on linen reminds me of Penny Berens' daily project. Check out Daily Scratchings on her blog

  2. Christine -- I had not known about Penny Berens but you're absolutely right -- it's a very similar project and I loved looking through her back photos. thanks!!!

  3. Penny has been doing it for several years. It is wonderful to sit with the giant rolls - one for each year - and see the progression of her life. I know she wonders each year whether to continue but I think she would have a difficult time stopping at this point.

  4. this story is wonderful start to finish. What fun for you and Margaret to meet. The idea of stitching along on this strip is too cool. Very vintage feel, very meaningful and interesting to see the images you chose to represent. LeeAnna at not afraid of color

  5. Kathy, I'm so pleased to see your Travel piece - it's inspirational. Love that cargo ship! As you say, the long thin format is good for story telling and for randomness (I'm more inclined to the latter).
    And have you seen what the Chinese did with painting scrolls? - talk about storytelling!

  6. Just catching up. I didn't realise you came to England and saw Margaret as well as seeing Uta in Germany. I might have been able to meet you somewhere. I am in Bracknell near Ascot between Windsor and Reading (which has a Victorian copy of the Bayeux tapestry. And they researched it and dyed the yarn the old way instead of making Victorian improvements.).
    If you come again, let me know! I am not far from Heathrow. It would be great to meet you. But Margaret it wonderful, so I am glad you saw her.