Thursday, April 28, 2011

Motifs and Symbolism

Easter and illness kept me from stitching as much as I would have liked this week.  Too sick to stitch?  Now that's bad but this is the past week's progress on And They Sinned.  It's fun to stitch these little motifs and feels like I am accomplishing something.  As promised I did some research about what these motifs mean and wanted to know if Vilma knew what she was doing when she designed this humdinger of a project.  She does know a bit about symbolism and the Bible, more than me, that's for sure.  Everything on here is deliberate, right down to the vine border.  All of the following motif translations came from the book, Sampler Motifs and Symbolism by Patricia Andrle and Lesley Rudnicki.  At first the plan was just to write about the symbols below the cloud but while reading, I realized that the whole thing is symbolic.  Starting at the top and working down, this is what I found out.
The vine border all around the sampler--Vines with leaves stand for Jesus Christ as in "I am the true vine (John 15:1)."
Angel--The messengers or attendants of God.
Staff--Are these staffs on each side of the large angel?  I'm not sure but if they are it may reference Moses and Aaron appearing on either side of tablets containing the Ten Commandments.  Or could they mean power and authority?  I should email Vilma and ask.
Snake--Serpent  "In the Middle Ages, it was believed that the serpent shed its skin when it became loosened by abstinence thereby becoming young again and that he feared a naked man and attacked a clothed one.  Adam was naked in Paradise and was not attacked by a snake until he left Eden clothed in mortal sin."
Clouds--I could not find information specific to clouds but I am taking an uneducated guess that they signify the heavens.
Stars--At first I thought these stars were random and Quaker related but then I counted the points and Vilma was thinking yet again.  Eight pointed star--the emblem of Bethlehem.  The four pointed star--the four Evangelists, the four winds of heaven.
Birds--"Thoughts; spirits of the air as in "...a bird of the air shall carry the voice" (Ecclesiastes 10:20)  Each bird also is represented by a color.  Red--passion of Christ,  Blue--faith and fidelity, modesty, humility  Gold--the true spirit of God,  Brown--renunciation
Sun--"The center of the universe; knowledge as a light in darkness."
Crowned Heart--At first this appears as two separate symbols, a crown and a heart, but NO! Get this.  Crowned Heart--Fidelity; love
Butterfly--"Transformation and resurrection because of the butterfly's life cycle."
Moon--"The crescent moon is ascribed to the Mother of God."
Green Star beside the moon--When I stitched this I almost changed the color.  It didn't make sense to me and looks out of place.  Vilma really wants me to stitch this "as is" so I did.  Green symbolizes youth and renewal, resurrection.
Tulip--"Perfect love; emblem of the chalice; the Holy Grail."

There are more motifs to be stitched so periodically I will post their meaning.  Thank you so much for all of the encouragement and nice compliments being left on my blog.  If it weren't for this blog, a new project may have been in order by now!  Week number eight is starting and usually a finished sampler would be on the wall by now.  My goal is to have the upper third of this done by week twelve.  Until next Thursday, happy stitching and blogging!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Let there be light!

I know it's early for my post but tomorrow proves to be busy for me.  This week I stitched for 9 1/2 hours and I accomplished more than I thought I would.  I finished that damn cloud and then went back up to finish the vine border, a couple of motifs, and then stitched the sun, which I was looking forward to for a LONG time.
Now the fun begins!  So many little motifs are next and I think they will go fast.  When I spoke to Vilma, the designer of this beautiful pattern, on the phone, she told me that the fruit on the tree (to be stitched in the near future) was done in seven different colors representing the seven deadly sins.  I am wondering if she put that much thought into the little motifs in the area above it so I am researching the meaning of certain symbols used in the stitchery world.  It will be educational, indeed.
Tomorrow I am getting some "me" time in and going on the Pair A Dice gambling boat with a girlfriend from work.  Here's the plan.  Half of my mad money will go on the roulette wheel, the other half in a slot machine, AKA the garbage can.  Wish me luck! Until next Thursday, happy stitching!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

My Stitching Spot

Here is my progress on And They Sinned for the week.  I stitched for 10 1/4 hours.  I'm getting tired of dealing with this cloud and blame my husband that it's not done.  Everything is always their fault, right?  Actually I couldn't stitch at all on Monday because we had a birthday party for him.  All I need is one more day to fill in the cloud and I hope to do that tonight.
Last week my dear husband once again impeded on my stitching time by falling asleep on the couch, my old stitching spot.  So I annoyingly moved everything over to this chair in front of the window and it was a blessing in disguise.  The sunlight was so nice and I could see my work much clearer.  This chair is also my Persian cat, Nikko's favorite place.  I think it might have something to do with the bird feeder on the other side of the window, placed there just to amuse him.  So Nikko and I have come to a compromise and he lays on the ottoman while I stitch.  Of course as soon as I got up to take this picture he nabbed my spot!  Oh well, I have to get dinner going anyway.  Till next Thursday, happy stitching!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Smelling a Memory

Here is my progress for the week on ATS.  I got 9 1/4 hours of stitching in so at the end of the first 4 weeks, I have a total of 40 hours in.  I really need to discipline myself and go back to the top and finish the border.  Perhaps when I get tired of stitching clouds, I will do that.  The rest of this blog is a story that happened to me yesterday.  Enjoy!
     When I was a little girl one of my best friend's name was Shannon.  I loved to go to her house because it smelled wonderful.  I didn't know what the smell was but it was comforting.  Every home has it's own smell and well, frankly, hers was better than mine.  I also loved her raspberry red carpet in her bedroom because my room at home had old linoleum for a floor.
     Fifteen years later my dad gave me a small purse-sized perfume that a tourist had left on his charter bus.  When I sprayed it on my arm it smelled just like Shannon's house!  Mystery solved.  It was the same perfume her mother used, Estee', by Estee' Lauder.
     Smell, to me, is the strongest memory that a person can have.  I remember the smell of my grandmother's cooking and my mom's bedroom as she sprayed her own perfume on while getting ready for work.
     You may be wondering what my keen sense of smell has to do with stitching.  Well, I'm getting to it.
     Recently, my hair dresser moved to a part of town that I hadn't been to in years.  I showed up for my appointment an hour early (oops) so I went shopping to kill some time.  I visited an antique shop (which I scoured for antique needlework accessories but came up empty handed), a wine and specialty oil shop, a small artsy place that sold local artist's jewelry, a pottery store and a quilt shop.
     The quilt shop gave me a BIG olfactory blast from the past.  I hadn't realized it but I was standing in the middle of the needlework shop I used to go to 20 years ago.  Now I don't mean I went there a couple times a month, I went there 4 to 5 times a week.  The shop owner, Toni, was surely sick of me but she taught me everything I know about stitching and even a little about framing.  I spent hours there, and $thousands$  Hee Hee.  While stitching The Earth Gatherers by Shepherd's Bush, Toni kept safe my hand painted mats I had ordered from Jill Rensel and just to keep me motivated to finish the large sampler, we ordered the frame as well.  I gave her $10 a day out of the tips I made working part-time as a food server at Chilli's (plug) to put towards the cost of framing this awesome samper.  Augh, the memories.
     So I'm standing in the middle of the store and it smells exactly the same but looks all wrong.  Gone are the racks of charts, the fabric wall, the awesome selection of fibers and beads.  The beautiful shop models weren't on the walls anymore either.  In it's place were bolts of fabric I could get at half a dozen other places in Peoria. 
     The owner greeted me and asked me if I sew.  Badly.  What kind of machine do I have?  Husqvarna Viking--used from eBay.  Do I quilt?  Once again, badly.  So bad in fact that the sweet lady who quilted my first and only quilt had to rip apart and fix 1/2 of the border just to square it up enough to fit it on her long arm quilter.  Would I like to be on the mailing list?  NO!!  By this time I just wanted her to leave me alone in my nostalgia.  I just want my LNS back!  I miss it so badly that it is making me tear up as I write this.  I miss actually picking out the perfect linen I want for a project and watching Toni cut it.  I don't get to browse the skeins of silk or get Toni's tutorials anymore.
     Things evolve.  That's just the way it is.  My LNS didn't have the latest reproduction charts from Europe, but the Internet does.  She didn't have an endless inventory for me to peruse. But the Internet does.  Now when I buy a chart or linen online I get to be excited twice.  Once when I order it and again when I get it!  I think a road trip is in order to Chicago maybe to hunt down needlework shops.
     Yesterday I realized that I miss my stitching friend Toni and her shop but now, thanks to Facebook and the Internet I have so many stitching friends that I can't remember them all!  Thank you so much for taking the time to read my mini break down and until next Thursday, happy stitching!