Wednesday, April 1, 2020

fairytale swan pincushion

Many of us have extra time to read right now if not the ability to concentrate on much for any length of time.  I am re-reading "Wildwood Dancing" by Juliet Marillier, it's my go-to book when I need to withdraw from the stresses of the real world.  It's a fantasy book, loosely based on the fairytale of the dancing princesses.  The cover art is just beautiful and the story draws me in despite knowing it so well, or maybe because of that.  I recently had to buy a new copy as my old paperback disintegrated and I was happy to find a hard cover version.   

In the spirit of fantastical tales, I let my imagination wander through the pincushion possibilities.  Yes, this is the way I think!  I have wanted to design a swan pincushion for ages and it seemed like now was the right moment.  Early last Sunday morning, I made some coffee and sat at the table with my sketchbook and pencils.  Sometimes that can be the kiss of death to an idea - blank page and all that - but I sketched a swan and in my imagination it was sitting silent in the water with weeping willow branches reaching down to the water, blossoms overhead and surrounded by waterlilies.  One of the places we have kayaked is a small secret lake covered in yellow waterlilies with lots of tiny blue dragonflies so I think I was influenced by that.  

When I'm happy with a sketch, I move on to making pattern pieces out of printer paper, in this case there were just two pieces, the swan body and a wing.  Making the first one of any new design takes longer than subsequent ones and every single design, without fail, goes through an "ugly stage" where all I want to do is bin it and start again.  I've learned to trust my instinct though and push through this stage because it rarely lasts long and I almost never give up on a design totally.  That doesn't mean it's a smooth process.  I worked the beak of this swan twice and the wing three times!  

The felt I use is 100% merino wool and is certified organic in every aspect of its production.  It cuts and stitches beautifully.  I am so thankful right now that I am a hoarder of embroidery thread!  

After each element, I question myself about how I'm going to do the next part.  I probably overthink things!   In this last photo I'm trying to work out which shade of yellow to use for stitching the waterlily flowers down and whether to use a variegated thread or a regular one!(I went with a variegated one with yellows and pinks).

I asked my Instagram community what they thought should be on the sides of these pincushions and I love that someone suggested underwater with swan feet!  My plan is to  make a batch of these and then get back to working on orders and then make some more for a larger shop update when life gets back to something resembling normality.  

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