August 4, 2012
Native American Inspiration
One month ago I visited a Navajo reservation to help my sister with a ladies craft class. Each year she returns to a small one-room church with a group that does a variety of service projects like painting, re-roofing, and re-tiling as well as organizing a Bible school and sports camp.
Before we left, I found myself suffering from jitters - I'm shy, and although I enjoy sharing my love of crafting, I had no idea what it would be like, and how I would cope without my morning coffee on schedule, limited access to plumbing, no bed, and no air conditioning in 100+ degree desert temperatures. Would I be crabby? (yes) Would I accidentally curse in front of the children? (no) Would I smell bad? (sometimes) Important considerations, all. ;)
To alleviate my jitters, I grabbed a handful of floss, and a wonderful alphabet from the 1973 Handbook of Lettering for Stitchers by Elsie Svennas, and began adapting an alphabet to take with me.
Download the alphabet
The original alphabet has oodles of lazy daisy stitches, but I thought they'd be intimidating for beginners, so I traced the letter shapes and added small feather-like hashes in contrasting colors. I call it a feather-stitch alphabet, but FYI, it's not a real feather-stitch. :)
I had no idea how relaxing it would be to stitch this simple alphabet! I chose 7 neutral, lovely colors that reminded me of the desert, and brought it with me as inspiration.
From left to right, in DMC: 946, 611, 954, 834, 3824, 832, and 3853.
Now, on to some photos from the ladies craft class... We met only for a short time each day, so I was only able to snap in-progress shots. They took their projects home to finish or would work on their favorites each day - I so wish I had finished pics to show you, but this gives you a taste of the stitching we did.
I had tons of gorgeous floss a wonderful person sent me years ago -after the class, we asked the ladies to take it home with them. I loved that I was able to pass on the generosity of one lovely person to these talented ladies.
For weeks, I'd sat in front of my television, cutting out felt flower shapes from 2 free Purl Bee templates, found here and here, to use in our crafts.
I loved how much fun everyone had incorporating these bright, colorful shapes in their projects:
I loved the creative way the ladies incorporated traditional Navajo designs in all of their projects, always making them their own. This woman is also a talented weaver, by the way:
I fell in love with this stitcher - each project we tried, she gave it her all and worked with patience, sweetness, and creativity:
More of her impossibly tiny stitches:
Every person I met was very gifted and creative, and would use projects as a springboard for incredibly detailed, beautiful work. I know I will carry the memory of their creativity and skill with me as an inspiration to make my work my own.
Lastly, how can I possibly summarize the beauty of the desert? I just can't. You have to see it. My pictures only sort of help. I warn you that you must see it yourself.
Hope you enjoyed a little bit of Native American inspiration!