Every Sunday I get an email newsletter from Andy Ross at Global Yell in Shetland. Today’s included a post about research into linen making in Shetland and there was a photo of a little book with a linen cover – ‘Songs of the Spindle and Legends of the Loom’.
This sounded irresistible and I went looking for it online, discovering there are a few copies for sale in antiquarian bookshops and each one is too rare and costly to contemplate. I did find treasure, though.
The whole book has been digitised and is in the California Digital Library and so available for all at The Internet Archive. It’s full of poems and prose about spinning and weaving, with delightful illustrations and woodcuts. You can really get a sense of the physicality of it even through the screen. There’s a page-turning mode so you can view the pages close up, including the tactile linen cover, and there are various formats to download.
There’s a review of the book in the Spectator Archive. This is a charming extract:
I found a quirky personal connection as well. As the review in The Spectator mentions, the linen of the cover was spun and woven in Langdale, and the first illustration in the book is a view of the Langdale valley. And one of the reasons I’ve been so quiet here is that we have been away for a while, setting up Spinners, a holiday flat in Grasmere, just a few miles from Langdale. The view in the book is almost the same one we chose for a kitchen splashback at Spinners!
As I virtually ‘thumbed through’ the book (isn’t it interesting that thumbs are also digital), I saw that the foreword was by a man named Albert Fleming, who had facilitated a revival of spinning and weaving in Langdale in the 1880s. I hadn’t known anything about the textile history of Langdale before today, but when I’m next in Cumbria I’d like to try and find out more about this. I’ll leave you with a couple of lines quoted by Albert Fleming that really resonated with me – does anyone know what this is from?
It takes the ideal to blow an inch aside
The dust of the actual
I was delighted to read yesterday that one of my favourite feltmakers, Elizabeth Armstrong, has just published a book. The title is Felt Happy and it’s available in her Etsy shop. Elizabeth’s use of colour is stunning and from what I can see the book reflects that. I’ll be saving my pennies!
I was saddened to learn of the death on Thursday of writer Madeleine L’Engle, aged 88. She’s probably best known for her children’s fantasies, which I first read as an adult and found enthralling, but she also wrote prolifically about art, creativity and Christianity. ‘Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art’ is very dear to me, but this quote is from ‘A Circle of Quiet’, which strangely enough, I bought just last Monday.
It’s all been said better before. If I thought I had to say it better than anybody else, I’d never start. Better or worse is immaterial. The thing is that it has to be said; by me; ontologically. We each have to say it, to say it our own way. Not of our own will, but as it comes out through us. Good or bad, great or little: that isn’t what human creation is about. It is that we have to try; to put it down in pigment, or words, or musical notations, or we die.
Leif Enger in the foreword to ‘Penguins and Golden Calves’ called Madeleine L’Engle
… chiefly an apologist for joy – one of the rare ones who consistently upholds her own definition of art: that which speaks of what was true, is true, and what will be true.
And I would add – along with joy – love, playfulness, and mercy. A great writer and a wise woman. Her spirit touched mine and I will miss her.
Just a quick catch up, we have Nadeem visiting this weekend and it promises to be another sunny day, so we’ll probably go into the Lakes for a while. We are lucky enough to live a few miles from this beautiful area of the UK, though not sensible enough to regularly take time to enjoy it.
My last post ended with a bit of machine quilting sorrow, but happily when I started over the next day, things looked a lot better. This is a section of it, together with the lovely Stef Francis threads I’m using to stitch some areas of seeding.
Yesterday I went to Clapham, just over the border into Yorkshire, to visit Jenny Scotts Beckside Gallery, and discovered that it’s now owned by Sandra and called Beckside Yarns. Still the same wonderful range of knitting yarns and embroidery threads. I restrained myself from buying any of the gorgeous Noro yarn – no time to knit – but I did get a remnant of this richly coloured space-dyed wool, which will be great for felting, and a cotton/viscose/linen ‘Cotton Braid’ by Rowan that looks as if it will dye well.
Yesterday’s mail was exciting too, as it brought The Artist’s Muse by Betsy Dillard Stroud from Amazon. I ordered this after seeing Susan D’s inspiring samples on her blog The Art of Textiles.
I don’t usually sign up for challenges, being overstretched already with the two courses, work work work, life, etc. Actually I’m not sure whether I really fit the life part in – it’s not as I imagine it, certainly. But anyway, I have joined the Draw Something Every Day challenge set by Juli at Orange Rug Yarn Musings – since I’m supposed to be drawing every day anyway as part of the OCA Textiles course. I’m sometimes a little dismayed by how much I seem to need external disciplines to keep me going – I really admire those who are very self-motivated, but I don’t know how to become more so, or if it’s a virtue (as it feels to me) or simply a character trait. Do you find that your motivation comes easily from within, or have you found ways to foster self-motivation if it doesn’t? I’d love to know how other people see this.
I had fun in my reinvented room yesterday, printing and painting with acrylics. I set out to make a background for a piece I’m doing for the Embroiderers’ Guild Members’ Forum Summer Challenge – which is to make a small piece without fabric – anything else goes. Along with it we’re swapping ATCs along the same lines – I made mine already – my first(!) – but I can’t post a pic till after the swap next week. I love circles and using these sponge brushes from Art Van Go, so I got a bit carried away!
The first piece is for the Summer Challenge.
Then I discovered I could make some interesting swirly effects by twisting the sponge with different amounts of pressure, so I played around with that for a while. I don’t know yet if I can get this kind of effect on fabric.
Last week I was pleased to find a copy of Craft magazine in WH Smith in Kendal – I’ve been interested in this since the first issue came out but it’s quite expensive (Â£7.99) and I didn’t want to subscribe without seeing it. It’s full of articles about makers (I loved David Mach‘s Myslexic), and off-the-wall projects (some of these might adapt for my youth club craft session, where fast and funky always go down well). There’s a special feature on dressing up, a look at open source patterns and a whole lot about recycling and refashioning. At 176 pages with minimal advertising, it’s like a small book. I love it – I hope it’s come to the UK to stay.