Tuesday, May 18, 2010


I have been wanting to create separate blogs for my painting and for my needlework. Finally its been done....thanks to Nafisa who has sat patiently helping me along! Have transferred all my needlework posts from the 1st blog...and hence all the posts are dated under one heading!

Monday, May 17, 2010

a closer look!

Naeeda's Blanket

I crocheted this a couple of years ago for Naeeda. She loves blue so the shades were chosen accordingly. Wool is best in the North and I bought this in Dehra Dun. I find I need to have my fingers doing something all the time, and crochet comes easy as i don't need to look at it and so can do it while watching telly or just chatting. The ineresting thing about crochet is that you can always expand the should naeeda ever want it I can make this into a double!

Traditional American Patchwork

I have been wanting to learn some methods of American patchwork. During a visit to the UK I was lucky to take a few classes on the methods of traditional patchwork. This cushion is made using hexagon templates. It is very pains taking as it is done by hand....but I loved the exactness of it! Hope to make a bedspread one day!!!

I started this soon after Viveck and I got married and took 20 years to finish it!!! It was interesting as I had to try and fit all the words into a pattern. I think the girls remember me sewing it 'forever'!!!However it now hangs over my bed!
Its a Prayer that we learnt in school and one I love!


My girls say I should go back to the beginning and record as much of what I have 'created', so its a way to remember....
So here goes...why an interest in needlework, crochet, sewing, growing plants, painting and so on...possibly because it has provided with me with my own space! I love details...and have found sewing fascinating, as things get created with thread, or pruned a plant to look perfect in a miniature, or suddenly give out amazing flowers...the latest now is learning to use water colours!
Lets share the needlework first....
I did this piece when I was in college. It was in cross stitch and took the entire 3 years of college as I worked on it very sporadically. However it is one of my favorites as I remember how challenging it was to actually start the work. I had found the pattern in an old 'Needlecraft' magazine, but had no instructions and had to create the colours on my own. There was an old needle work shop on Muhamad Ali road in Bombay, run by Muslim gentleman and I used to go there on my way back from college to try and match the threads and look for the shades I wanted! The owner was a very old man who was as facinated by me as I was with him....I didn't fit his image of a 'needlework' person as he told me once....'aap tho modern ladki hai! Silai ki kaam tho hamare ladkiya karthe ghar mein baithe hain!' And he facinated me as he made beautiful tatted lace, sitting on his 'gadha' in his shop. He told me in the old courts of the Muslim emperores it was the men who made the finest laces...that were used by the royalty! Somehow I have never gone back to look for the shop again...there is a huge flyover there now and none of the landmarks remain familiar...But what a shop...sequins and ribbons and threads and needles and a hoard of old design books!
Had a great day clearing out my needlework cupboard, sorting out all my threads and embroidery yarns and putting them according to colours, looking at all my pattern books, and so on...and also realised that there are so many projects I had thought of and put aside, so have decided that the way ahead is to have multiple projects going!

To complicate things I have just had my first water colour painting class...and totally loved

working on the new patchwork piece

In the middle of doing something, I suddenly get a picture of what a particular square should look like, or what I have missed in the one that I have just finished. The challenge really is in completing each piece in the way I want it to look....but cloth is difficult to work with especially since I am sewing everything by hand and creating the picture as I go along! An even bigger challenge will be to ensure it looks the way I want it to when it is finished!
I think if I used the traditional American way of creating patch work with precise measured pieces, I could be sure of what came out as the finished product, but I think I like the uncertainty of working with 'crazy patchwork'!

starting a new bedspread

This is an exciting day... I have finally started work on a bedspread for Tash. Lets see how long this one takes!The ideas seem to have become more concrete as to how I actually want to make it. Not going to share too many details at as I want it to be a surprise. However Viveck is definitely involved... He has spent a long time helping me calculate how much cloth I would need and tried very hard not to collapse laughing at my very bad calculations... I'm definitely mathematically challenged!! Then he had to cool his heels in the Park circus market yesterday while I looked for the right background fabric!!
The difficulty for me will be not to get side tracked and distracted by wanting to do other things and concentrate on this one task!!!

Thought we would hold the bedcover up to get a view of the whole piece. Tani and I stood on the bed and tried not to fall off, while man took the picture! It looks great held up I think as the whole tree is visible!
This took some years to make and finally I gave it to Nishka and Manoj for their 9th anniversary last year. It was a very complicated piece to do as I had to work on the whole piece together. Subsequently I have learnt that patchwork should actually be done on squares which are then joined to make the whole! So much more practical when you are doing all the middle bits.
I started by laying out the whole backing cloth on the floor and did a rough sketch of the tree, just the bare skeleton. I had already separated the fabrics in to colours so it was easy to place the pieces of fabric according to the way the bits fell naturally. The fabric scraps are all from clothes that were made for all of us and hoarded by me all these years, carried in this large trunk from posting to posting!! Some clothes I have sewn and others were done by the house darzi who still comes with his little machine, sits in the middle of the drawing room and sews away, one of the perks of working in an old fashioned tea company!!!
I loved every bit of making this bed cover. It brought alive so many memories for me, as I attached a piece from a dress I had made for the girls, or a kurta of Ma's or a kaftan of mine and so on. There was great joy in seeing Nishka's face the first time she saw it and recognised many of the fabric scraps!! The other great thing about doing it with scraps is that you can actually create the design as you go along, so it is almost like a jigsaw puzzel! Each piece is sewn on using herringbone stich, and I enjoyed te fact that all of it is hand done.
Why a tree you may ask, well I love trees, they are so magnificant and certainly contribute to my moments of quiet! Besides Man likes trees as well, and over the years I have sent him sketches of trees form various laces, in charcole or crayons, so finally one in cloth.!
This is my latest bit, a sampler for Asa. I've been reading about samplers and how they were made in the old days to remember important events in people's lives. I've enjoyed making this one and thinking about little Asa growing into a man and remembering that he was little once! I find cross stitch rewarding, as the designs come out precisely as one has imagined them to be and suits my need for order and neatness in the work I do!