Tag Archives: pink

Crossing paths

My parents have had a clearout recently, and my mum passed this on to me:

It used to belong to my grandmother, who passed away three years ago, and mum found it in one of the last few boxes of her possessions that they sorted out.

It came with its original box and had its original leaflet with it:

These lovely flowers are made of moulted flamingo feathers which have been salvaged from along the shore of world famous Lake Nakuru. They are made by handicapped African artisans who carefully match slight variations of feather types and colours in order to produce a large variety from which one can choose. The colours range from blush white through the pink shades to scarlet and then back through rich brown tones to black.

By special permission from the Board of Trustees of the Kenya National Parks these waste materials are gathered and utilised. The birds are in no way disturbed. Regular remittances by the Bethany Bookshop to the Parks helps to support their wildlife conservation program and all profits from the sale of the flamingo feather articles are used in the philanthropic work of The Africa Gospel Church.

Where this is special to me, is that my husband and I spent our honeymoon in Kenya, at Lake Nakuru and in the Great Rift Valley, and I still remember the Lake, with its pink-fringed shores, thick with flamingos. It intrigues me that a strand of my life has somehow overlapped here with my grandmother’s, our paths somehow crossing, even though at vastly different times and in widely different circumstances.

It intrigues me, too, because my grandmother was a magpie herself, loving finery, and a grand storyteller as well. But no-one remembers her ever wearing this, and she has no stories about either going to Africa, or having friends who went. My father remembers that his father – my grandfather and her husband – was stationed in East Africa during the war, but thought he was mostly based in Madagascar – so I wondered if this was a gift from him. But this box and the leaflet dates as 1966, long after the war ended – and my father nearing adulthood – and so the mystery remains.

Whatever the circumstances, I love this connection to her, the crossing of our paths, and the little sad reminder that I never got to hear *all* her stories. I still miss her.


This week has all been about developing some of the starter pieces I wove for the Cloth-to-Cloth workshop … this piece was the one I liked ‘least’ – it was overly pastel-pretty for my taste, but the regularity of the strips and construction meant it was perfect for experimenting with some of the different techniques, so that it evolved into a kind of sampler, with a little bit of everything going on. In its cut and unstitched state, it looked fragmented and forlorn, so I started putting a few stitches into it – partly to hold it together, and partly to see where the process would take me.

The idea of a sampler translated itself into a lot of stitching … some of it quiet & simple – single thread backstitching or double-thread split-stitches, but then there’s some detailed embroidery going on as well. It was such fun letting it evolve without overplanning – other than to keep my stitch ‘palette’ down to a handful of different ones 😉 – cross stitch, trellis stitch, fly stitch, chevron stitch and tete-de-boef where the mainstays, and an exuberance of French knots. I love a French knot, me.

What interested me was that as I was thinking about directions and applications of the technique, a pair of compasses emerged from the shifted circles.

It’s a little bit more ‘busy’ than I would normally stitch, but overall I’m pleased with result … I feel that the stitching has, in a way, healed the fragmented pieces of cloth and made it a single, coherent whole. It’s not a process that could be rushed, or skimped … it simply took as long as it needed, and I just kept stitching until it was time to stop. It’s slow, it’s absorbing, and it’s totally satisfying.

It’s such a shame that I can’t share the texture of the cloth with you … it’s *just* amazing 🙂


I’ve put more photos of this piece on my Flickr photostream if anyone’s interested in details: http://www.flickr.com/photos/magpieslaundry/sets/72157624960235109