Whew! Didn’t think I was going to catch up on the Challenge. This week the challenge was the feather stitch, another member of the buttonhole stitch family. I think it is one of my favorites. It’s great to use to make seaweed, or branches and twigs, or vines of all sorts. (Please, please check out these links–the artistry is incredible! The first is a Sharon Boggins project and the other two are Week 3 participants The Smallest Forest and CrazyQstitcher.) It would also make cool ripples in the water or in clouds. I used it to make–of all things–feathers! I also decided that since this is a sampler, there’s no reason I can’t put some “verse” in it. Instead of the traditional Proverbs or Psalms that little girls of old would be trying to learn, I decided to add some reminders of Buddhist ideas that I want to keep front and center in my brain. Truth be told, stitching is a kind of moving meditation for me.
For some reason unknown to me, I immediately thought of angel wings when I thought of feather stitch. (Maybe it’s because my thoughts fly all over the place when I meditate!) So I googled “images of wings” and got lots of ideas for how to proceed. At first I thought I would put a pair of wings on either edge of the bottom of my year banner. After I got started, I decided that–like most things I plan–I had bitten off a bit more than I could chew.
I also was finding that the wing wasn’t showing up as nicely as I would like. When Jeff couldn’t identify what it was without me telling him was a real big clue! So I kind of put a heart under the wing, sort of like a tattoo. Here’s what I ended up with. (As always, click image for larger photo.)
I used two threads for the wing: YLI Ribbon Floss Shimmer Blend #101 Icicle Super and Weeks Dye Works Overdyed Cotton #1086 Icicle. I was going to use Weeks Snowflake, my favorite white thread of all time, but the bluish cast of the Icicle worked better with the YLI. (Another color way I thought about using was using the Snowflake with Rainbow Gallery’s Treasure Ribbon PR10–those two have a more pinkish cast to them.) I used Anchor cotton floss #13 for the heart and filled it in with a stem stitch.
The text was something I threw in to help me remember something I’ve read three times and keep forgetting. I thought if I stitched it, it would stick in my head a little better. In Zen Buddhism, students may use Koan’s to help understand their lessons and enhance their Path. In Tibetan Buddhism, slogans are sometimes used in Lojong practice, phrases to help one train the mind and open the heart (see the embroidery connection!) and thus live Buddhist ideals on a daily basis. The first slogan is “First, learn train in the preliminaries.” I kept forgeting what the distinction between the four preliminaries were. Now I know!
(Having a human body that does not live in extreme poverty, disease, etc, thus is free to pursue enlightenment makes a human body a “precious human body.” Impermanence speaks for itself. The futility of Samsara, is about the futility of chasing pleasure, perfection, or other “Earthly Illusions” as it never leads to happiness, only a desire for more or dissatisfaction of some sort. Actively considering the cause and effect nature of Karma helps one to make choices that are healthier for self and others.)