Have you ever had an idea, inspiration, slowly brewing and building in the back of your mind until you have to create it, unleash it, and let it free?
That’s exactly what happened to me during a family discussion on WhatsApp initiated by my niece regarding her school art project. To pretend to receive a commission, noting what it was and from whom, and then to create it. She wanted to do a sea shell crown but couldn’t think why it would be commissioned.
Eventually it was decided that a theatre was having a production of The Little Mermaid and that’s why they wanted a sea shell crown. Myself and Rabbie where keen for her to scrap the shell idea as another girl in her class had declared that as her project, and felt she could do something similar, with a Scottish twist, perhaps with Selkies…
For those who don’t know, Selkies are a mythical Scottish creature that is a seal who can remove her seal skin to take on the form of a human. As you can imagine there are many tales surrounding that premise, and it was the seal cloak that myself and Rabbie felt would make a great project for my neice.
She stuck with the sea shell crown, but this idea about Selkies and seals and the crashing cold waves along the Scottish coast stuck in my head. And then it began to grow. And change. And form into an idea that just had to be created.
And so, I present the Selkie Shawl:
The centre is meitered squares in varying shades of brown, to represent the different rocks and shale and pebbles of the Scottish coast. Surrounding this is the crashing waves, leading out to slowly calmer sea, and trimmed in a border called Old Shale, that looks like cockle shells and originates from the Scottish isles.
It’s huge, when I blocked it I found that it just kept growing and growing. I stopped at the width you can see in the photo above, but could easily have squeaked out another foot. However, all the wool in this is made from fleece I dyed with natural dyes (coffee and beetroot for the warmer browns and oranges, purple kale from my sister’s garden for the grey blue) and I didn’t trust my own spinning skills to withstand that much pressure!
And so there it is, an idea born from a conversation that evolved and grew into something else entirely. It took six months from conversation to completion, with only four months of actually working on it. First, I had to spin the wool, which I am very slow at, then I let it just do as it wished on the needles. As it grew I had to spin more wool. And more wool. Whilst doing this, I was also working on numerous other projects as I wanted to work in this only when the desire to do so came about.
The shawl has been finished for a few weeks, but I didn’t want to share it until I could get some photos of it where the land met water. Ideally I wanted to go up to Scotland, and with my family, go to one of the less tame Scottish coasts…but lockdown hasn’t allowed that, and so, a local reservoir had to suffice!
That’s all for this week, until next, stay safe.