Thursday, January 30, 2014

Getting back to my roots

Its been two years since I hung my heart stitcheries in my little spot in cyberspace.  And for two years I have wanted to post again, I have wanted to stitch, but I just couldn't!  First it was crippling nausea that prevented me.  How to stitch and how to post when all you want to do is HURL?  Then there were small hands and feet making bubbles in my belly. Then poking and kicking and eventually wrestling until release last October when my baby was born.  And then and after that I still wanted to stitch but I still couldn't!  It turns out I'm not much of a multi-tasker.  It has taken every last inch of my creative energy to feed and tend to my small fry (now two) and I have been happy but oh so very tired!

I've been thinking a lot about my maternal grandmother recently.  She would have been 100 last year when the baby was born.  She died when I was four, so I never got to discuss her great passion for crafting with her.  She was a master with the loom, made fabric for all purposes plus stunning rugs and embroidered and knitted and crocheted.  And tended the veg & flower garden, milked the goat cooked cleaned the house and raised two children.  How did she manage so much activity?  I can barely find time to take a shower!  I am quite in awe of the women of my grandmother's generation, from the Greece before modern conveniences entered our lives and capitalism made everything available from the supermarket and the department store.

All four of my grandparents hail from villages of Mt Parnonas.  Each and every of these stone house settlements is magically positioned, enjoys crystal clear spring water and the shade of ancient trees.  But for the best part of the year (in the summer some enjoy a few weeks of tourism and summer house dwellers) they are inhabited mainly by ghosts.  Up until WW2 and the Greek Civil War  the villages of Parnonas were like human beehives scattered all over the mountain.  Stores and industry, looms and stitching circles, parties and bonfires and endless friendships tight as a clennched fist.  But the area was devastated by the wars and the villagers made wings for Athens, America, Australia, anywhere they could go to build a life. My dad was one of those people and the boat's destination was Australia.

My parents moved their family back to Greece in 1986 when I was 11.  It was August and I was taken straight to my grandmother's village of Tsintzina (you can see a photo in this post) where I made my first Greek friend.  She was a little girl called Lydia, with grandparents from the village, like me.  She too spent time there in the summer, and as we all still do when we can.

So when Lydia showed up at my house a few weeks ago with photos taken by her grandad out and about in the village in the 1920's, my stitcher's block was smashed open, releasing my multicoloured cotton snakes.  I usually don't use traditional patterns, but I was inspired by these women so I stitched this little guy in traditional dress in time to join the others for carnival this year.

And last but not least, may I urge you to take a look at Lydia's photographs taken in the woods of Tsintzina.  A photographer by trade and an artist besides, her dreamy images capture the age-old magic of the forest in contrast with items from our modern world.  You can view her photos here.

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