April was a month of surprises. I will not write about this momentous climacteric that we are living through but about my quiet stitching adventures. My April kantha stitch sampler will remain a personal memento of this time while the world we live in and on will apparently alter irrevocably because of COVID-19.
Unlike the samplers I stitched to mark January, February and March of this year, this one has insisted on being given the name of Twenty-One. It does feel a bit like a ‘coming of age’ piece, but that is not the reason for the 21 stitched circles. The number became significant when, on 27 March, a 21-day lockdown was instituted in South Africa. Then, on day 14, this was extended to 35 days, thus returning us to the beginning of another 21 day period. So I decided to stitch a circle to mark each of the 21 days until the end of lockdown.
As mentioned before, kantha has three main stitch variations — bricking, blocking, and steppping. Because I did not want each circle to be the same (even though the days at home had begun to feel that each was the same as the one before) I had to find ways to vary the effect. That was fun — one can vary the stitch length and change the orientation of the stitching from circular, to horizontal, to vertical, and even to sideways! I used a metallic thread for the central block in order to mark it and then surrounded it by four traditional “stepped” kantha circles which make a whorl. But even these did not turn out exactly the same. That is the joy of hand stitching — it is mostly always unique and therefore full of surprises.
“April is the cruellest month” is the opening line of the first section of T.S. Eliot’s poem, The Waste Land. The section is (uncannily) titled I. The Burial of the Dead