It is finally happening, my husband and myself are about to impart on our first whole week holiday without the children, whom are now adults. It is five past six on a cold early February morning. There is nothing but darkness outside the windows of the coach. This is not my usual place to blog from, and certainly not my usual time of day, unless I haven’t been to bed yet. Next week my husband and I celebrate our 25th Wedding Anniversary. This trip is to celebrate how we have not managed to kill each other over those years.
…Inspiration, what, when and where do you catch that gem from. Is it from the visual beauty in nature you see around you or from objects found on journeys travelled or just left lying around the house and garden? A scent or odour which invokes memories or of a feeling that has long since gone; to a photograph capturing images in time on a paper memory. Or of a sound that can create and invoke emotions from a single note. Or do you need to be tutor inspired, led by the hand from a set of processes. I learn from both.
I am currently working on a project based on a free workshop by Gwen Headley, offered by Textiles.org https://www.textileartist.org/. I am also working on a once a month project offered by Untangled Threads – https://www.untangledthreads.co.uk/ -called The Stitch Book project. Both have been the starting point for my textile art this time round. With the views from the window as the journey progresses -all 8 hours of it – I hope to give you some inspiration. Currently we are on the smaller feeder coach, I am sure this coach is the cousin of a kangaroo and typing is proving to be very challenging.
The time is now 9:20am. We are off the feeder coach, had a break and now on the main coach heading to Scotland. Not as much room as I would of liked, but then I did come with my packed bag of needles, threads, chargers, books and tablet, the overhead compartment filled with jumpers, coats and neck pillows, which if this coach becomes a kangaroo I am sure will fall on the occupants seated opposite me.
The view is now brighter and I am sad to say the scenery is rather less inspiring at present. But my stitches are beginning to take shape. I am intermittent sewing and blogging, to help break the journey; of course the thermal cup helping to keep the coffee hot between stops is also a great help.
The photos were taken on the move and on a phone so they may not look as clear as intended.
Bridges on route gave rise to a wealth of angles. I saw triangles galore, and using Linda Clements, The Quilter’s Bible P43-44 as a guide. This could inspire designs such as the Pinwheel, Dutchman’s Puzzle, Card Trick and various star blocks such as Le Moyne Star.
With such an early start it was inevitable that my eyes would droop, music and to drift into the plains of half awake half asleep. Only to be brought abruptly back round by the announcement we were at the border of Scotland. Quick photo shoot and off we go again.
As I sat watching the fields go by, I saw how the greens gave way to a tapestry of texture, how the lines in the fields were the lines of quilted fabric, and the roads were the stitch in the ditch. Others may only see fields and tell you once you have seen one field you have seen them all. The fields with trees and the fields without, a creative minds dream. With stone buildings, broken bracken, a crazy patchwork of angles and shapes.
I noticed how the fields of green were never one shade. The trees and shrubs gave way to a mottled look. The dark shadows of trees showed you there were present without appearing in the scene.
In the book, Stitched Textiles: Landscapes by Kathleen Matthews, she discusses landscapes and how important parts like the skies should not be discounted. The hues of those clouds, the time of day and the colour of the sky all add to the tonal colours on the land below.
So when looking at the grass in those fields, I stopped seeing green but all the shades and textures around it. The fields become cloth on with which to explore texture and depth, stitch and colour.
The textile artist Jan Beaney in her book, Stitches: New Approaches, discusses getting to know the one stitch very well, working with all variations on the one stitch and using one thread and different threads to create a variety of textured surfaces.
So if you are new to embroidery or have never considered using it in your work, you do not need to feel overwhelmed with knowing lots of stitches, often simple elegant work and affects can be achieved with one or two stitches sewn well. Also paint and dyes and give great effects and both these artist discuss this as well. I use a variety of mediums in my work and hope to work some of these photos into a textile scene.
We had to stop at Jedburgh for light lunch, in a cafe /souvenir shop. A much needed break, as fatigue was setting in. Refreshed again and more sewing –spiders wheel. Unfortunately I could not carry on as running out of light and could not figure how to turn the coach lights on, too embarrassed to ask at that time of the day. Back to music and drift again, over a bridge whose name I never heard and forever onwards. My eyes were heavy and I gave in. Another quick break and we were on the move again. Manmade objects have the potential to enhance or destroy a scene. These wind turbines give this picture character in my opinion.
Our estimated time of arrival, as of writing this is 7pm, two hour detour due to snow. As I am sat tired and fed up, the tour guide announces we are going over the Inverness bridge. I have passed snow covered valleys and no light with which to take a good photo. With eyes heavy and weary I slept some more, now getting more frustrated with the journey and so wanting to get to the destination.
Like compiling a project sometimes we forget the learning and enjoyment is found in the process or the journey we undertake to get there. How many of us have stalled or had to start again or found a work around for a problem because our project has not gone the way we would have liked? How many have found that this detour was the best part of doing the design /project. For some maybe it generated some fresh ideas which led to more projects, for others a new skill learned. Either way we get to our final destination.
I started the day on the coach in blackness and will be ending in blackness. There is something comforting about the way the night sky envelops and protects, like the joy of a quilt lovingly made by a family member, friend or charity. How the gift was in the giving and the love found within.
Soon to see food and to stretch and rest up, like your tools at the completion of a maintenance task is required.
I am seeing patterns everywhere. The shower held more joyous shapes as well as the bath mat, who knew such mundane things could yield further possibilities in the textile world.
The bed called and then the end of the day waned into a haze of colours and shapes soon overcome by the blanket of sleep.
Another day dawned, and the bridges of Inverness offered more shapes,
The rail fence design comes to mind.
Loch Ness and the surrounding scenery offered textures of colour,
not one area the same shade as the next. Even the rock faces gave way to angles and texture.
Even Nessy put in an appearance.
The beach in Nairn at night gave way to shadows and dark shapes, voids that in themselves offered potential for inspiration in cutwork and reverse appliqué techniques. The sky from what little we could see, due to the weather, teased us with glimpses of The Plough, Solaris as well as the Pole Star. But alas no show of colour from the Northern lights, for now my bucket list item would remain unchecked. It was too dark and cold to take any photographs on the beach.
On the third day we travelled to Dornoch, where snow turned into sun, then to mist, then to sun again, followed by more snow on the return to the hotel. Even the Firth of Moray held an appeal in the shades of dull greys and misty hues, then transitioned into greens and snow coloured hills as the weather changed as if changing a needle or the fabric of a project. Scottish Highlands in full February glory and all the seasons in one day.
The fourth and final full day in Scotland gave us Ullapool and onward to the Corrieshallock Gorge. Ullapool held no appeal for me, I think mainly because fatigue was beginning to set in, and my health was not on full par. The scenery was still stunning, and I longed to board the ferry sat waiting to go to the outer islands.
The gorge although a steep incline down to the bridge was well worth the effort. The man-made structure with its angles and own cold texture, were juxtaposed against the water and of the vibrant texture of living rocks around which, it cascaded down.
The bridge reminded me of the log cabin design; despite it being my favourite style of quilt I am yet to make my own.
The night was filled with music, dancing, drink and Tartan fabric.
The journey home began again in darkness and we drove into the rising sun. My eyes were heavy like the snow on the hills and valleys, this time we could see their beauty as we drove past, alas the windows at this point no longer allowed for good photos and had themselves become a streaky and patchy wall of texture. The Fourth Bridge gave rise to angles and patterns with which to draw inspiration; however, I was not able to get a really clear view.
After naps and breaks, punctuated by the odd sewing, I slept most of the way home. We arrived home at 9pm in darkness. The adventure was over and the mounds of washing, which formed its own textile landscape on the floor awaited erosion.
Beaney, Jan. (1985), Stitches: New approaches, London: B.T. Batsford Limited.
Clements, Linda. (2011), The Quilter’s Bible, Newton Abbot: David and Charles Limited. P43, 45, 64, 67.
Matthews, Kathleen. (2013,2014), Stitched Textiles: Landscapes, Kent: Search Press Limited.