Tuesday, August 29, 2017

tales of childhood

when i was seven we moved to our newly built house in a completely different area of whitehorse

having lived my whole life in the downtown portion of the city, being out in the country was a new experience... businesses and sidewalks gave way to houses on large lots with loads of trees
the new school was one block away
and no longer would i leave school every noon hour to go to my grand-parent's house for lunch

i loved lunchtime
my grandfather "papa" came home from work, as did my mom - they, my grandmother, and us four kids made for a pretty lively lunch hour... i was going to miss that terribly...

but my mom had a plan and it involved the lady next door

she had three small daughters, and was very young herself... a stay-at-home mom who loved to sing whilst she worked... cooking and cleaning, baking her own bread, washing and ironing... i can never, to this day, do housework without singing "scarborough fair"

we went there for a hot lunch five times a week and again after school until mom and dad came home from work

one day she was hand embroidering on a piece of the softest flannelet... it was the yoke of a nightgown for her middle daughter... three little heads, full of wavy hair, each one different...

as she stitched she sang the poem

"wynken and blynken and nod one night sailed out on a wooden shoe..."

i never forgot it, nor have i forgotten how i felt about what she was doing... a nightgown with an embroidered yoke for a three year old? 
i knew even then that wasn't a commonly thing done, even if it was 1968

devotion - and not just to her daughter, but also to the making

this poem then, for me, is all wrapped up in a beautiful telling of the imaginative workings of a child's mind, and the devotion of a mother, in time and thought in an artful practice
i've long wanted to make something inspired by that most wonderful of poems and now i've finally begun

i'm stitching the story, the poem "wynken, blynken and nod", making a little cloth book, complete with text and illustrations of my own design

 it's taken me a long time to work out the construction details but i finally have a plan that i think (and hope!) will work

one page with the text written out along with a few stitched details

and a facing page that illustrates that portion of the poem

it's a bit of a challenge as there aren't really many "scenes" but i'm making the most of every nuance in the verse

the details are tiny, time consuming, repetitive

but i don't mind

some of the applique is needle turned but much of it is just overcast along the edges

it'll rough up a bit as it's handling but i'm ok with that - i think it will just add to the tactile nature of the book

the pages will be about 6' square so just the right size for little hands to hold and turn

and a nice size for a scene - simple illustrations, fun with the details

i'm not just stitching a story though... i'm stitching a memory

a lasting memory of a very special person who has had a great influence on my life, and even more clearly, on my work



oldgreymareprimitives said...

absolutely delightful <3

Anonymous said...

This made me teary! Beautiful words, mama.

Christine B said...

Enchanting story, enchanting little book in progress and I thought I could hear you humming a tune under your breath when you were here. Now at know what it was!

Your tale is a reminder about how important it is to build cherished memories for our children. But I don't think that necessarily means cramming their lives with "exciting stuff" and memorable outings. That is good too (within reason) but those simple memories that you describe are created through love and are just the way things are when love is present in a family.... no need for extra effort... everything just is. And the memory that remains is like a warm hug.

Rachel said...

What a lovely reminiscence! One of those jewel-like memories that somehow add warmth and colour to all the others. And I must say, the book you are making looks to be a truly delightful homage to it!

Karen Ruane said...

I'm with Laura, it made me emotional too. Such irreplaceable memories Jillayne and a perfect way to record them and honour them. This is so exciting.....

Iceni UK said...

It has made me emotional too, beautiful memories that can never be replaced.The pages look delightful, each has a precious reminder of a very special lady.

Michelle May-The Raspberry Rabbits said...

Oh how I love this! It's so wonderful my friend!

Magpie's Mumblings said...

Oh oh oh!! ! I'm sitting here practically jumping up and down over this! I can so 'see' this not only as a cloth book but also photographed and published too, even if it's only done for a select few children (and adults, for that matter). And I LOVED the story behind it too!!! Too bad you couldn't track that inspirational lady down and tell her how much she influenced you. I'm sure she'd be thrilled to know.

Mosaic Magpie said...

What a fabulous treasure you are creating!

Daffycat said...

This makes my heart smile.

liniecat said...

Such a wonderful memory and a delightful little tactile book too!

Createology said...

Jillayne you are so amazing! Remembering such love and wonder from your childhood is such a blessing. Now for you to create this precious little book with the love and wonderful memories you have is simply Priceless! I am forever in love with your simple style and tiny bits of fabrics and stitches that you put together sew well. Beautiful story and beautiful book. Creative Bliss Dear...xo

Marj Talbot said...

There is nothing I'd rather read than your stories such as this one. Truly a great memory. Your little book is a delight - mostly because of the true story you shared, not to mention the perfectly stitched pages. Thanks for sharing this delightful memory. Love it love it love it!!!

susan hemann said...

I used to read that poem to my children all the time, love how you have sewn the story!