Guest Post – The Creation Needlepoint – Alex Beattie

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before but ever since my mum retired she’s been travelling the world, exploring weird and wonderful places, a few of which are now far to dangerous for the ordinary tourist. She writes a blog about her adventures, packed full of stunning pictures. While on her last trip to Indian I asked her if she’d write a guest post about all the amazing textiles they have. She’s still writing that one, but has been kind enough to write a different (but equally interesting) one about a very ambitious needlepoint project she’s working on

The Creation Needlepoint – Alex Beattie

Here is a brief update on my progress with The Creation: a set of Needlepoint kits designed by Alex Beattie and produced by the Ehrman Company. My sister pointed out their brilliant colours in her catalogue early last year and, as they were all half price, I rather rashly bought the lot. I am not what you might call a “sensible sewer” and would probably never pass an audition to belong to a church sewing group but I thought that the project would be an entertaining enough way of passing a few evenings.

Picture 1

I started by setting up three of the tapestries to be worked in different locations: one in a travel bag, one at Mum’s nursing home and one in a corner of my gentleman friend’s house. It rather rapidly became clear that, while others might be skilled enough to sew the kits “off frame”, I was definitely not and a certain amount of rescue work would be necessary in the early stages. The provision of better lighting and stronger reading glasses also helped me to see what I was doing a whole lot more clearly.

Picture 2

The more accomplished needlewomen in the family had suggested that I used something called “continental basket weave stitch” but I’m afraid that when viewed from the back mine probably came out more like “wattle and daub” although I couldn’t help improving as I went along. As I drew towards the finish of the first two kits, I took them for my sister’s inspection. She advised the addition of a border and, despite the fact that this meant rather a lot of extra work, it has given a much better finish to the designs.

picture 3

Talking of designs, I’m afraid I took a couple of liberties as I progressed. The stylised numbers on the original kits seemed uninspiring and so I borrowed an idea from the accompanying colour charts and devised my own set of titles. In a couple of instances they would have covered too much of the original design and so I found myself having to rotate the constellations when it came to Day 4. No one said the Creation would ever be an easy project.

picture 4

But worse is to come. While I was working on Day 1 in California last year the subject of Creationism was being hotly debated in the lead up to the Presidential elections. I’m afraid the figures 13,750,000,000 somehow appeared in the primeval clouds to affirm my personal belief in the age of the universe. A couple of sneaky dinosaurs later found their way into Day 3 and a DNA strand has just appeared in Day 5.

picture 5

Now I am a little way past the half way mark (unless you count Day 7 – of which more later) I can begin to contemplate the ultimate resting place of these boldly designed, jewel coloured textiles pieces. What the hell (pardon, Lord) am I going to do with them when they are finished? The set just cannot be split up and, either as cushion covers or as framed wall pictures, they would so dominate a room as to require a complete redecoration. I might be inclined to donate them to a church hall somewhere but, even if someone wanted them, the thought of generations of sewing group ladies tut-tutting my stitchery is a bit too much to contemplate.

picture 6

Yes, Day 7. The seventh day being the day of rest, no design was include by Mr/Ms Alex Beattie in the original set. Somehow this doesn’t seem quite right and so I’ve been reaching around for ideas of my own. Some churches and cathedrals (and synagogues) might make a nice picture but I know from my only earlier venture into this kind of project that making up your own designs as you go along is far from restful. Never mind, the first six days are on course to be completed within twelve months and so I can give myself another year to wrap up the project.

picture 7

You can check out my mum’s travel blog here.

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