Our car has been sick and so required two overnight stays at the garage in the last week. Finding a reliable mechanic is no easy job anywhere you go in the world, but here in Sicily it involves a rather formal introduction process. A friend will take you along to the workshop and you’ll have a chat at some length about life in general. Eventually the conversation will turn to the business in hand. Your friend explains that your car needs some work and then the mechanic will agree to work for you. It is a little long winded and frustrating but reassuring at the same time.
Our car-less state did mean that we were able to get out and about to explore what is on our doorstep. We have found some local shops we didn’t even know existed, including an amazing panificio that we can walk to (and have been doing so on an almost daily basis ever since). It has also been an opportunity to revel in all the signs of Spring that we see everywhere. The poppies here grow on any scrubby bit of land and have lasted for a couple of weeks already. I had been trying to get a good picture of a poppy field and I found it (second picture), just around the corner from our house.
In England, we were used to seeing plants and trees give that mad rush of growth around May and June. Here in Sicily it happens much earlier.
Oh my word, the colours! And everywhere you look. This rather dazzling yellow display has suddenly appeared and covered a huge wall in a supermarket car park.
Coming from the UK, we are used to beautiful roses. I wasn’t expecting them to grow so well here so it was a nice surprise to discover so many gardens full of them. I snapped this perfect miniature in our neighbour’s garden.
In stitchy news… A funny thing happened this week. Sometimes, I let my friend’s children draw pictures using the notes app on my iPad. I love how they enthusiastically scribble a multitude of colours over the entire space. I then added the writing on top. I thought it made quite a striking image so I shared it on Instagram. I made some idle comment about how I would like to recreate something like this with thread. I thought no more about it until a friend challenged me to give it a go. This prompted me to start mulling over how I might actually manage it.
That was it really! I just had to start it right there and then. I decided not to use the word “ciao”, I decided I wanted to use a very traditional phrase that would contrast well with the ditzy background I had in mind. I wanted the writing to look like handwriting, so I used a marker pen to draft out the lettering I then traced the out line onto the fabric. I had to slightly amend the writing, but all of the pencil marks will be covered up when I’m finished so it didn’t matter too much.
I outlined the letters in plain white back stitch to define the letter. Then the fun started. I think I will call this technique “embroider-scribbling”. There is no planning or drafting out a pattern – I am simply scribbling with floss. I began with random squiggly lines of back stitch in multiple colours.
I am now building up the colour and texture by adding stem stitch, chain stitch and split stitch. There is a lot of layering up still to do and I am not entirely confident this experiment will work, but it is fun trying.
Note: as you might have noticed, I was listening to Kenneth Williams read “Cold Comfort Farm” whilst working this week. If my description of our Sicilian Spring were a little too florid, you can blame it on that!
This project has given me a couple of other ideas. If it works, that is. I will try and share a bit more about that soon.