Cloth is a deceptively humble material to work with, it lacks the status of paint or marble or metal. Yet, it is cloth that receives us at birth and covers us at death. It is hard to find a moment in a day when we are not using cloth in some form.
I believe that it is important to have around us things which are made by ourselves or by people we know. Handmade matters.
A threaded Needle
is physically located in the top of an old hand-cut shingle house on the Sunshine Coast in British Columbia, Canada. It shares this space with Alderspring Design. Alderspring Design is a wholesale supplier of sashiko patterns and products and Inazuma bag handles and parts. If you are a retail business, you can visit www.alderspringdesign.com
You can contact us at A Threaded Needle
by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org
We used to be called About Furoshiki,
and that email will continue to reach me email@example.com
My friend and I bought this house about 10 years ago, painted it in colors inspired by cumin and paprika, and began to divide up its spaces. To date, we have my home based business using the very top floor, general life going on in the middle floor and - after we stripped out all the walls and reorganized it to suit ourselves - the bottom floor harbors some of our other activities: woodworking, photography, textile arts.... In the summer of 2008 we doubled our vegetable garden and started thinking about getting a few chickens. Some people shape their houses to suit themselves; I sometimes wonder if our house shaped us to suit it!
We do a lot of re purposing of things around here, and re using, and re cycling. Its a life style that is more fun than most people can imagine before they try it. It allows for more originality and creativity than the commercial purchasing of one use objects. I grew up in a family that made things, things like bread and clothing and tools and toys. They did it because it needed to be done, and they did it for the creative fun of doing it. In a world where most of us sell our time to uninspiring workplaces, and then have to buy what we need from mass produced goods made by people we will never meet, I feel blessed that I am able to imagine and make many of the things I need.
There is an intangible but important quality contained in an object made by hands we know, or in an object with a story we know. We feel more stable, grounded, secure, under a quilt made by family or friend, better satisfied when we eat homemade soup or bread. We feel continuity and membership when we make things we remember our mothers or grandmothers making. Every spring I feel my grandmother strongly when I plant seeds. Every week or two I see my mothers hands kneading dough as I make bread. I feel where I came from.
Oddly, or not oddly, this same sense of connection and membership also happens when we engage in hand making things that our own families didn't make. The first time I sat at a spinning wheel I felt linked to all the generations of women who sat to spin the wool that would clothe their families.
Our original name was About Furoshiki because furoshiki wrapping symbolizes so many things I value. It is so simple, creative, inexpensive, beautiful and functional. One square of fabric will go from a bag to a wrapping to a table or cushion cover to a cloth to wipe up a spill or a child's sticky hands, and back to a cloth for re use again. One simple square of cloth! Every time I tie a furoshiki I feel respect for the people who had the creative sense to get so much use out of one object.
In 2011 we are changing our name to something easier for people to say and remember. Note: and so we did!
Here a a few more photos:
Me, pulling fabric from the indigo dye pot. This was really too cold a day for for dying with indigo but we had good success by keeping it well heated over a propane burner.
This is cotton dyed with plant material from my garden. The purple is from red hollyhock flowers, the yellows from daffodil flowers and tickseed flowers, and the amazing orange is from white onion skins.
Having this fabric in the house in the winter is like having my flower garden come indoors for the winter.
If you are thinking of dying with flowers from your own garden, a good way to collect them is to harvest the flower heads as they begin to loose their beauty in the garden and freeze them. I keep a few zip lock bags going, sometimes for a few years, to collect enough.
This is a good example of reusing.
I made this from an old, more or less white, wool blanket which I dyed blue, and then appliqued the hand dyed wool bird and tree pieces onto. (For those of you who dye your own fabrics, I used the 'stew pot' method to dye the applique pieces)
Now I have a 'new' wool blanket. Wool cloth is amazingly easy to applique with if you shrink it by washing it in you washer and drying it in your dryer first. This thickens and felts the wool cloth so it no longer frays on cut edges. Therefore, no turning under of edges is necessary.