Mission Statement

This blog journals my quest of art, whether it is a piece of work that is inherent in nature or one created by artists known or unknown or that I created myself. During this search, I have come to appreciate the magnificence and generosity of God who in his infinite wisdom surrounded us with exquisiteness everyday...everywhere and inspired our human spirit to create beauty that feeds our bodies and souls. Come join me on my journey to find art through my travels and my own creative endeavors. Maraming salamat.

All rights to all posts and contents on this blog, including photos and artwork are reserved by jojo sabalvaro tan.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Needle Arts - is it in my gene pool?

Detail from a crocheted bedspread by Auntie Ety

Detail from a table topping by Auntie Ety

Detail from Knitted bedspread from Auntie Nita
My dad's sisters loved their needlework. All of them embroidered, tatted lace, crocheted and knitted. As a young child, I marveled at the lacy and intricate bedspreads and tablecloths they produced using white perle cotton threads. They would embellish towels, pillowcases and sheets with embroidery and crocheted or tatted lace edgings. My Auntie Columbia never met a towel she did not monogram and my Auntie Ety must have provided crocheted bedspreads and tablecloths for every member of our family and more. Similarly, Auntie Nita knitted beautifully intricate bedspreads and tablecloths. I would sit by my aunts' sides, fascinated,  and ask to be shown how it is done and then the urge to play with my other cousins would win over so I really never became proficient at needle-working. The most I've done then was embroider my initials and some flowers  on a handkerchief and pillowcase and a little crocheted doily (more like a coaster). I was hopeless with knitting. Nevertheless, I was proud of my own work and kept them in my special box of stuff I collected and treasured. The box is long gone and so are its contents but what remains are the wonderful memories of spending time with my aunts who patiently tried to share their talents and love for the needle arts with me.

Detail from a crocheted bedspread with raised floral motif by Auntie Nita
One of my dad's cousins, who lives in California now, relates a story of how my Auntie Columbia, who was the eldest of the female cousins of their generation, would entertain the younger ones in the midst of the Japanese occupation and assault of the Philippines by teaching them the needle arts. I'm sure it kept them distracted from the horrors of the war. As a young girl and then, teenager, my aunts continued to keep me and my cousins interested in needlework. I think, in an old-fashioned way, they felt it was a sign of a proper young lady of good upbringing. I remember many times when my cousins and I would sit around at the terrace attaching sequins, glass beads, bugle beads and embroidery to a gown that would be used for a prom or worn as a muse by one of the cousins. It was always a fun time, as we chattered away talking about our hopes and dreams.

Detail from a crocheted round table topper by Auntie Ety

I am so extremely lucky to have been given a number of my aunts handiwork and I cherish them. My aunts are all gone now but I am glad to have these mementos of their handiwork handed down from them. I am keeping these family treasures safe for the generations to come. I just  hope they appreciate them as much as I do. 

I got married, moved to Chicago and not surprisingly, the needle, thread, embroidery floss, yarn and hook demanded my attention. Must be in the genes. At work, during breaks, the ladies would work on their crocheted afghan projects, Not wanting to be left out, I asked one of the ladies to show me how and together with the other ladies at work, we had a crochet party at her house. They were using yarn instead of the perle cotton my aunts used. Yarn seems easier to work with than thin perle cotton thread and  they also came in a myriad of colors as opposed to the white and ecru my aunts used. This time, I learned to crochet much faster (my first project, a yellow and while  granny square afghan) and was soon producing afghan after afghan for the family.
One of the crocheted yarn afghans I made
A cross stitched picture based on a Renoir painting by my cousin Boots 
I started doing crewel and floss embroidery, as well as needlepoint.  When cross-stitching became popular, I picked up on it with wild abandon. I cross-stitched every chance I had. It was a craft that I can take with me anywhere so I had my projects with me at all time, at the ready to add a stitch or two at any free moment. I produced many works, most I gave to friends and family. I was also an advocate for these crafts, encouraging others to learn it since the projects are easy to tote around, inexpensive, easy and easy to learn, With very little effort, the finished project is also something you can be proud of ,  Now, my female cousins, who before could not understand why I always had a needlework project in tow everywhere I go, are now similarly addicted. I am very pleased that at least one of my nieces has taken to the needle arts as well and she has produced impressive works and it looks like my grandniece is building up an interest also.

One of my cross stitch projects

One of my petit point projects . It is really small at only 2 1/2" by 3 1/4"
done on 28 count linen

Sadly, my eyes are no longer as sharp and it is becoming more and more of a strain to work with the embroidery charts so I could not churn out as much embroidery, needlepoint and cross stitch as I used too. Admittedly, I am embarrassed by the amount of UFOs (unfinished objects) I have as well as the number of charts and designs I have squirreled away that I would like to tackle someday. I know there are not enough years in my lifetime left to finish all that I want to get done, including those of my other hobbies - painting, quilting, jewelry making, knitting, crocheting  etc. But I'll never give up trying.
a detail from one of the quilts I made... Kimonos with Shoburi quilting

Methinks it is a token of healthy and gentle characteristics, when women of high thoughts and accomplishments love to sew; especially as they are never more at home with their own hearts than while so occupied.  ~Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Marble Faun, 1859

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