When I still lived in the U.K. I belonged to a patchwork group which met every week and a whole lot of chatting and oohing an aahing over fabric went on and, sometimes, we even used to make stuff. I have missed this camaraderie amongst the fat quarters so I have been meaning, for the past 6 years, to join a similar group here in France. Ironically, given my frequent tirades against La Poste, it was one of the post office clerks who discovered I was a fan and offered to take me along to a local group. Most of my quilting, I have to say, is done by machine as I have neither the patience nor the teeny tiny stitches to do it by hand but my main reasons for wanting to belong to a group are the opportunity to improve my ‘chatting’ skills in French and because it’s one of the only places still left to me where I can be one of the youngest there!
The level of skill of some of the women there is frightening. I am hoping to learn some new crafts.
Hardanger embroidery or ‘ardanger’ as we say in France (!) is a form of embroidery traditionally worked with white thread on white even-weave cloth, using both counted thread and drawn thread work techniques. As somebody who almost checks herself into the nearest institution when attempting cross stitch, I’m not sure this is going to be one for me.
What I do fancy, however, although it looks incredibly fiddly and difficult, is boutis. A tradition in Southern France, the art of boutis was highly prized in the 17th and 18th centuries. Boutis is embroidery on two sewn cloths, giving printed or plain motifs a raised pattern, and filled inside with a layer of cotton. Ooer! Tiny, tiny stitches, fiddly patterns, plain white cloth – bring it on! Well, I’m going to give it a try anyway if only because it is traditional in this area and I feel obliged. Also, I need something to do ‘à la main’ whilst I am with the group so I might as well give it a go. It will not be anything as complicated as the above. Yvette (the head honcho of the group) gave me some patterns to trace. I did laugh. One of them is a big heart, adorned with flowers and there are two birds in the centre. As if! I am going to try a single heart! I’ll let you know how I get on.