13 January 2012

Stitches that Bind

In my trays post I mentioned that I also brought home two framed needlepoints that my mom had told me she wanted me to have. So I thought I'd share :) But before we get to those I have to show you my prized possession (above and below)...

This is an embroidered piece that my mom made when she was about 11 or 12. When she went back to her childhood home (for the first time after 30-ish years!) in the late 80s she found it again and brought it back and had it framed. I loved it from the beginning: the colours, the design, the workmanship. How thrilled was I when she gave it to me when I moved into my first house! If there's ever a fire I'd grab my cats, my computer, and this. If I had to I'd leave the computer behind.

Swallows are common in Greece (at least around Sparta) and they nest under any overhangs they can find. My great aunt has them on her porch under the grapevine arbour. My dad had them inside his childhood home in the rafters (times were rough back then)! Everyone seems to like them, though--I've never heard anyone complain (I think they're considered good luck). I'm a big fan myself so I'm extra glad that they're the subject of this work.

My mom had what are called "blessed hands." She could look at a picture of a dress and recreate it (when she was sewing professionally most of her customers would bring her a photo instead of a pattern). Or if she had a swatch of a crochet design she could figure it out and turn it into a finished piece. I know she didn't have any kind of pattern when she made this needlepoint--and look at how fine the stitches are. If I had a tenth of her skills and talents I would feel blessed myself.


Speaking of the trays post, I forgot to mention another tray I found that day. This one has an embroidered piece framed inside it. My mom did the embroidery but I don't know who framed it or chose to put it in a tray (great idea, though). I could use it for more practical purposes but the back is on the fragile side so I decided to hang it in my kitchen instead.

Again, I marvel at the workmanship...

This next piece is one that was always hanging in our house ever since I can remember. I always liked it and I'm so glad my mom gave it to me. It's weird to see it in my house now, though. Takes me right back to childhood...

The frame isn't my usual style but I hung it over the piano (in the dining room) and it actually looks perfect. The wood blends nicely with all the other wood in the room; the colours work well; and the theme is most suitable. I tried to get a photo including the piano but despite taking about a thousand pictures I only ended up with a couple that looked remotely decent. The photography gods were not with me that day...

I'm really sorry for the glare but I wanted to show the picture and the stitches a little closer. Non-reflective glass, my ass. Anyway this style of embroidery is (I believe) called half-stitch (in Greek, which is how I know it, it's called kedima). You work it on a pre-printed pattern. That sounds dull but it's very soothing work and allows for plenty of creativity with the colours. I was taught it when I was 4 or 5 but that's for another post...

This last piece wasn't made by my mom but it was given to her as a gift (I wish I could remember by whom but if I ever knew I forgot a long time ago). It used to hang in our living room (over this exact couch, actually, which I also inherited). I'm not sure yet where to put it. There's an ideal spot in the foyer but it's awkward to reach as it's over the stairs so hanging it may prove to be a problem (that's also why painting the foyer is an issue).

For some reason Greeks really seem to love stitching these "olde" English/French countryside/village-type scenes. I even made one for my mom but it's in Greece now so it'll be a while before I can photograph it!


It seems like ages since I've worked on a half-stitch project. I've been doing some cross-stitch lately, as well as working on other crafts. As soon as I'm finished my current cross-stitch piece I'm breaking out one of my waiting kedima patterns (yes, I have a minor stockpile). There's something really comfortable--and comforting--about carrying on traditions.

Photos by Domicile (click to enlarge)

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