Category Archives: Sufi

I got my wallhanging back…for a while!

In 2010, I wrote on this blog about a large wallhanging with a Zen Buddhist saying on it which I’d stitched for a Unitarian Chapel that I used to attend – the blog post is here . In that post, I explained in detail how it had taken almost a year to make.

The wallhanging measures about three feet by four, and is stitched on linen with Appleton's crewel wool for the floral areas, and Anchor stranded cotton for the lettering

The wallhanging measures about three feet by four, and is stitched on linen with Appleton’s crewel wool for the floral areas, and Anchor stranded cotton for the lettering

Even when I wrote the original blog post, I had already stopped being Unitarian, and my dilemma at that time was that the Chapel still had the wallhanging. Recently, though, I heard that the Chapel is probably due to close, as there is now no regular Minister and the congregation has dropped to just one person! And he’s 82 years old. So, I contacted ‘the congregation’ and asked him if it would be possible for me to have the wallhanging back. I really didn’t like the idea of the wallhanging languishing in a damp building for ages, not being seen at all. Surely, I’d be able to find somewhere better for it?

Each letter was outlined in back stitch, padded with stem stitch, then satin stitched across the stem stitch padding

Each letter was outlined in back stitch, padded with stem stitch, then satin stitched across the stem stitch padding

Hanging 2a

I got it back within days, fortunately. It did seem strange to have it back in my possession, when I’d never thought I would have it (or, possibly, not even see it again). So, then I had the issue of deciding what to do with it. I certainly didn’t want to just roll it up and store it in my loft, as that was as daft as leaving it in a building that no-one uses any more. I tried placing it against the wall of my living room, to see if it would work to hang it there, but it just looked completely out of place – it’s very big (about three feet by four), and was made for a public space – it just looked silly in a living room!

For the flowers, I used stitches such as French knots, coral stitch, buttonhole stitch, stem stitch, seeding, satin stitch and trellis couching

For the flowers, I used stitches such as French knots, coral stitch, buttonhole stitch, stem stitch, seeding, satin stitch and trellis couching

Then I remembered a couple of friends, who are Universal Sufi, the same as me and my husband. They have a large house in Germany, which they run as a khankah (a Sufi house where people come to study, and to dance). They have large ‘public rooms’ that I thought might be suitable. So, I emailed them and asked if they’d like it, but also made it clear that if they thought it wouldn’t be suitable, then I wouldn’t be offended – I didn’t want them to have to take it under sufferance! But they said,’Wow!’ when they saw the pictures I emailed them, and so, a few weeks ago, I delivered the wallhanging to them. It now has a new home in a place where it will be really appreciated, and the spiritual phrase on the wallhanging will hopefully inspire lots of people. It might even tempt someone to start embroidery – you never know!

Hanging - 5

Each letter took about an hour to stitch

Each letter took about an hour to stitch

Hanging - 7

Hanging - 8

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Success! My Sufi embroidered boxes sold well!

Last week I was in Germany, at the Sufi summer school that I go to each year. On the Wednesday afternoon, there’s always a market, where participants offer for sale things that they’ve made, and I took some of the embroidered boxes that I’ve been featuring on this blog.

I was really pleased to sell about three-quarters of the boxes that I took, and all three of the miniature framed pictures. People often sell jewellery, or ethnic-style clothes suitable for dancing, but no-one else was selling anything embroidered.

They have all gone to good homes – some of them, to the homes of senior Sufi teachers, as several people who bought a box told me that it would be a gift for their teacher.

The Dervish design box is one of these – it will be given to a woman in America who is well known for her beautifully graceful dervish dancing (‘turning’).

One of my firends, who is half Scottish and half Australian, bought the box with ‘Allaho Akbar’ in Arabic calligraphy on it – the first box in this series that I ever made.

And one couple bought a  Sufi heart and wings box to put their wedding rings in when they get married next month, which I think is really sweet. 

So, I only have a few left, now, and they will probably be given as either birthday presents or initiation presents to people that I know. Well worth the time it took to make them all, I think  🙂

Details of the Sufi embroidered boxes

Here are some close-ups of the Sufi embroidered boxes that I’ve been making during the past year (see my previous post for why I’ve been doing this!).

This is my favourite colourway of all the boxes I’ve made, so I’ve assumed other people would agree with me, and made several like this 🙂

The boxes are just right for storing prayer beads in – they measure about two inches by three and a half, by two inches high.

This is an Arabic calligraphy box, showing the phrase ‘Subhan Allah’, which means ‘All glory be to God’.

This one shows the phrase ‘Allaho Akbar’, which means ‘God is greater than all things’. This one was lovely to do, but took ages, as the stitches around the curves had to be placed very carefully, or the design lost the flowing lines. It was done in stem stitch rows, mostly, with one strand of a Stef Francis variegated silk thread. The box measures just over three inches in diameter.

And this one is stitched on duck egg blue Dupion silk, with a pale pink heart and feathers in silver thread, inspired by my friend Lindsay, who just loves all things pink!

This is the whole collection of boxes I’ve stitched:

A selection of embroidered boxes with Sufi themes

During the past year, whenever I’ve had some spare time (ha! what’s that??!), I’ve been making these little embroidered boxes. Most of them have the same motif on the top – the ‘heart and wings’ emblem of the Sufi Ruhaniat International, which is the spiritual path that I follow. The boxes are just the right size to store prayer beads in. I am going to a Sufi summer school next week, where I hope to spend a lot of time doing Dances of Universal Peace, and these boxes, hopefully, will be sold at the market that is held on the Wednesday afternoon, when the participants, who come mainly from Germany (as that’s where the summer school takes place), share items that they’ve made.

The boxes are covered in satin. I’ve used various fabrics for the lids, depending what I had available in my stash – mostly Dupion silk – and the feathers of the wings are in either DMC silver thread, or Ophir gold thread. Each feather is a lazy daisy stitch, with the outer row having a straight stitch down the centre as well. The little hearts in the centre of the motif are padded with a felt patch first, just a bit smaller than the top shape, which is fine metallic kid leather (bought from the Golden Hinde website).

The tricky bit with each box was getting the design on the fabric in the first place, as any drawn outlines would show (especially on the design with wings) – so I thread traced the design through tissue paper, ripping the paper off to leave the design, and then unpicking the thread as I stitched the design.

Some of the boxes are of Arabic calligraphy, using Stef Francis variegated silks. These were lovely to do, but very time-consuming, so I didn’t get as many of these finished as I’d have liked.

The three framed pictures are done in one strand of Anchor on 32 count evenweave, showing the Sufi phrase ‘Toward the One’ (one of them says the phrase in German, for the benefit of the Germans at the summer school!).

I don’t often make completed stitching to sell – usually, I sell kits for miniature needlepoint, so it will be interesting to see how these go down with people.