The Embroidered Alphabet
By Jeni Little
I am a creative person with many different outlets for invention and expression. I currently teach music in a West Auckland high school – but I am active also as a musician and textile artist.
I currently direct/sing with M*lasses (a vocal trio), direct/sing with Local Vocals (a 16 voice community choir), and have recently sung with Nets of Mercy (a gospel choir), and sung/played ukulele with North of Bombay (a ukulele orchestra).
When I am not making music I am making textile art. My main mediums are knitting and embroidery – but I also bead, mosaic, crochet and sew many of my own clothes. I am a keen vegetable gardener too.
My love for crafting was instilled by my mother, who taught me how to knit and crochet. I still have a cane basket I made 38 years ago after she took a night school class (back when they existed) in cane work and macramé and took time to show me how.
I have taught myself to embroider by experimenting and developing my own techniques. I am inspired by colour (and colour words) and texture – I also love intellect and wittiness in the thought and concepts behind a seemingly simple concept.
I became quite obsessed with yarn over the last 2-3 years and have now amassed a very satisfying stash! I also established an obsession with lace knitting – and I now have some beautiful fine lace shawls, as does my mother! Not too many brooches were made during the lace phase.
Toward the end of 2010 the embroidery itch started again and I decided to embroider a ukulele strap for the upcoming ukulele festival – that led to an embroidered Pacific Island style breastplate, which in turn led to “The Embroidered Alphabet”….
As I started embroidering “A” I decided to read the dictionary as I stitched so that I could find the perfect word for each letter. I love that some “happenstance” occurred – like the fact the “G is for Gossamer” is so subtle – just a hint of the letter, and that “V is for Vermillion” uses precisely that colour in the brooch (unintentionally).
I use embroidery floss – using either 2-3 strands at a time and I stitch free hand onto felt. The “Alphabet” stacks the original letter onto another layer of felt that is edge stitched, then stitched onto another layer – some of the brooches are 4 layers deep. To me they seem a little like Scout Badges.
I love to make things – whether brooches, shawls, or symphony’s. Creating makes me happy!