It started innocently enough, with a pile of 100% wool sweaters that were either accidentally felted by their previous owners or purposefully felted by me to add to the project. It was just supposed to be a really warm thing that I could wear while camping – blanket, poncho, cape, call it whatever. The idea came to me when my living situation was pretty tentative (PUN! I was living in a tent). It got kind of cold, as the weather is wont to do in October – a big blanket made of wool felt seemed like the thing to have.
Of course I didn’t start on this project until much later, when I was cozily dwelling in an apartment once again. A-chopping I went, carving out square after square of felted wool in grays and blues. How nice they would look once I …
…stitched a reinforcing border with the sewing machine and then used crochet thread and embroidery needle to add a blanket stitch border…
… so that I could use a stash of recycled sweater yarn a friend had given me to crochet around the edges. But wait, the gaps were too large. Guess I’d better…
… hand stitch another reinforcing border, this time through the yarn, too. Looks pretty plain though… maybe I should
… hand embroider EVERY SINGLE SQUARE.
Okay cool. Now all I have to do is stitch it together and I’m done. Except the backs of all those embroidery areas aren’t super clean looking, maybe I should…
Give it a lining! And a hood! And slots for a belt!
Cue me kneeling for hours with my face three inches from the floor, my craft spread out in front of me. In the end, 150+ hours of work closed the deal on this thing. I titled it “Campfire Songs” referring to a particular Springsteen song that Chaston plays, with the line
“In the arms of Cassiopeia
Where the sword of Orion swings”
The embroidery does indeed feature the starry figures of Cassiopeia and Orion, as well as Virgo and Ursus and my artistic interpretation of other heavenly bodies (moon, stars, sun, nebula). I had in my mind the many nights spent beside a campfire under the stars, listening to the pluck of guitars and the laughs of my friends, but also the loneliness embodied by those distant icy lights above.
Recycled materials have history, have stories. This project was a deeply personal endeavor, involving a timeline of my life that starts back much further than 9 months ago – the lining is actually a tapestry that I’ve had for over ten years!
For the edited photoshoot of this piece, check out my portfolio.