Happy holidays everyone! I hope you are all getting some well deserved R & R following the hectic run up to the holiday season.
Here in Ireland, today (December 26th) is known as St Stephen’s day but in certain rural areas, traditionally it is Wren day, a festival day when Mummers take to the streets in their disguises. In my area, the Mummers perform their play every St. Stephen’s day in pubs and clubs in the county. This tradition originated within three local families and numbers participating have increased down through the years.
The costumes are generally a mix of rags together with woven straw. The head pieces can be very intricate and beautiful. Here is an example of a mummer’s headpiece. (Photo: Courtesy Museum of Ireland)
I checked the mumming origins for this time of year and it appears to be an ancient European tradition. If you would like to find out more it is worth checking out these links https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wren_Day or, local to my area https://nationalinventoryich.chg.gov.ie/mummers-of-fingal/#:~:text=Mumming%20is%20a%20masking%20or,found%20in%20European%20carnival%20tradition.
Project No: 1:
I want to extend a big thank you to Lyn and Annie whose current challenge has spurred me on to complete three unfinished projects in time for this post. The first project is a crochet throw. I have made a number of these, principally for family, and feedback is that they are really cosy. So I thought it was time to make one for myself. The problem was, that because it had no timeline for finish, it stayed on the hook! So when I saw the challenge, the timeline materialized and I got it finished before the year end. Happy days!
Please forgive the angle of the photograph, I was up on the ladder trying to get it!
The throw comprises of one very large granny square made with six large balls of fibre. It fits on top of a kind sized bed and I think it will be staying there for the current cold spell! Its making is pretty mindless and once I get into rhythm it can be made watching foreign crime series (complete with subtitles). My favourite at the moment which has just finished is the French series Astrid.
Project No: 2:
My next project was planted in my consciousness following a blog post by Ann in November 2021. Here is the link to her post https://feltingandfiberstudio.com/2021/11/15/an-international-project-by-line-defour/ . This international project, which was titled “Fate, Destiny and Self-determination” intrigued me but it took me a while for the seeds to bear fruit. I contacted the Artist/Co-ordinator, Line Dufour, last September and she confirmed that she was still accepting pieces for the on-going exhibition. She did mention any piece should not be a regular geometric shape (square, rectangle, circle etc).
So I got to work on my piece. I started off by making a piece of pre-felt over a rectangular resist. Then I started randomly stitching and gathering the prefelt, my idea here was to lose total control over the shape of the piece and let the random stitches determine this. Finally I felted it up. The final shape was anything but regular. I hated it because while the shape was ‘interesting’ the colour was boring and it would be lost against a white backdrop. So it sat there, and it waited patiently for Lyn and Annie to spur me into action with the challenge. It was time to start hand-stitching!
I decided that I wanted the piece to reflect my Irish origins and what it means to be Irish in contemporary society. To paraphrase the actor Michael Caine, not many people know this but Ireland is one of the largest countries in Europe when our seabed territory is taken into account. People perceive Ireland as being that little quaint island off the west of Europe but our marine territory is ten times the size of the land mass and I decided to reflect this in the piece (bottom section). Secondly, Ireland is renowned for its agriculture and food production which it exports worldwide; this is represented by the abstract depiction of a tree to the left of the piece. Then, there are its people, their tolerance and acceptance; the central section celebrates the fact that in 2015, Ireland became the first country to legalize same sex marriage by popular vote. (I could have included many other aspects of what it means to be Irish but it is a small piece at 12cm x 13cm.) I purposely left a section to the right of the piece empty – this represents the future, the unknown. I will post (mail) this off to Line in the New Year.
Project No: 3:
I love rummaging in haberdashery departments when I am away on holidays (I also love fabric stores but that is another story!). It is a real treat because it can be a challenge to find interesting ‘stuff’ locally. I came across a small square weaving loom when I was in Paris a few years ago and it has been sitting at the back of my cupboard since then. 2022 was to be the year when I rediscovered it and started the project. All the yarns were from my stash and and I rescued the boucle from my late mother in law’s house when we were clearing it. The small piece of weaving has been waiting for me to get my act together and finish it off. So, no time like the present challenge to make that happen! The finished piece measures 9cm x 9cm. I think I might just frame it. Has anyone any other suggestions?
Before I sign off for 2022 I would like to share with you some of my friends’ beautiful handmade items which they have gifted to me for my tree over the years. I cherish them not only because they are beautiful items but because they were made with love – nothing will ever come close to handmade, especially when made by gifted friends.
Here is my friend Annelien’s work. Annelien, who is from The Netherlands, and I first met during a week long textile recycling workshop in Finland back in 2013 and we have been firm friends since then (we have even managed to meet up in person twice since then). (Apologies, I think the felted Angel is blurred.)
Next, Sara’s work. Sara started crocheting a little while ago and recently gifted me one of her angels. I love her! (actually I love both of them!)
Next up is Kate. Kate loves working in glass and gifted me the trees many years ago (I have taken a photo of three of them). More recently, she made me the little houses. They are so delicate and pretty.
Thanks for reading this post and for reading and commenting on my various posts throughout the year!
Wishing you good health, happiness and peace during 2023. Not forgetting a whole lot of creative spurs and fun!