On Circles

Thoughts about the shape and form and significance of the circle have been going round and round in my mind and have formed a kind of whirlpool of ideas that I can’t quite pin down. Strange times call for strange posts about strange thoughts. I have been appreciating seasonal certainties and am ever grateful for my garden with its regular tasks like sweeping up fallen leaves and pruning shrubs before winter leaves the southern hemisphere.

Stitching, too, provides a sense of certainty. My response to this week’s TextileArtist.org Stitch Club tutorial was this ‘unintended’ circle :

A piece made in response to this week’s Stitch Club tutorial given by Gregory T. Wilkins

The challenge from Gregory T. Wilkins certainly nudged me out of my comfort zone. He urged us to get rid of the blank page by first making marks on paper or cloth with paints, pens, or anything else to hand. I recently treated myself to a small set of Inktense pencils and blocks and used them to create the background on a piece of lightweight, wet canvas. When it was dry I started to stitch a small circle with fine tapestry wool. The circle became bigger and bigger as I settled into the good feeling of the sharp needle gliding surprisingly easily through the canvas. Then I decided to weave gold thread under the longer stitched rows and finally bordered the circle with two rows of gold stitches to define the round shape. I enjoyed the kantha-style stitching more than the painting (!) and am happily surprised to have made a shining sun against the dark background.

The circle is, of course, a weighty symbol. It is also a rich word and I looked it up (as is my wont) in the OED and was delighted to be reminded of some of its meanings and associations : a perfectly round plane figure; an imaginary circle on the celestial sphere or terrestrial globe; a ring; a luminous ring in the sky; a halo; the orbit of a planet; a fairy-ring; area on a playing field, court, or rink; dark mark below the eye; a crown; circus ring; a ring of standing stones; curved tier of seats in a theatre; the area of influence or action; a vicious circle; a class or division of society; a spiritual seance; a railway or road forming a closed loop; circle dance.

To return to the theme of gardening, I have constructed a paved circular path in my garden during the COVID lockdown. My gardening-stitching friend who is also a wordsmith referred to it as a flat cairn when I told her I was collecting flat stones during my daily walks through the veld (bush). It is a perfect description for this marker (or reminder) of the days of lockdown. After those first 21 days of complete lockdown I and my dog were so pleased to be able to walk in the wilds.

Finishing line

Tomorrow (25 July) there is another TRADE at Home virtual market on Facebook and I have made a new batch of draught excluders and a baby quilt for my “market table”.

NOTE to my regular readers. I inadvertently found the umlaut button and so next time can type lamé correctly. Yay!

15 thoughts on “On Circles

  1. How amazing that just this morning I was glazing circles on my casserole dish for firing and contemplating how interconnected we as humans are with all things. Although we are islands of separateness, self-contained and intact, we are also leaking bits of our thoughts, energies etc out into the world. I must have picked up some of yours!

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  2. One of my challenge projects involves circles, so it is fun to read this post and realize you were thinking “in circles” too. I’m curious about Stitch Club, but can’t find anything but a log in on the site. Can you tell me more about it?

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    1. I remember the “peek” you gave of your circle challenge on your blog. Hope it’s starting to fall into place. Stitch Club is a closed group that I have subscribed to. You would have to join (22 pounds a month) to get in to see the tutorials and amazing work being done. I have found it very worthwhile with top notch stitch artists giving an online tutorial and Q+A sessions each week. If you email I am sure Textile Artist will answer any questions

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  3. Fascinating and lovely. Artistic. Thank you for sharing. Need to learn more about hand stitching . I am working on interstellar space designs and of course circles, elipses and spirals. Just completed a panel turning roses into spirals. So with you in spirit on this pattern.

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  4. Early on in this pandemic, ‘circles’ have called to me – inspiring snippets of music motifs and fiber designs…not yet connected but ‘feel’ like they will be…
    But what I really wanted to mention here is that once again your link to textileartist brought me a wealth of info and feeling of support during this time…I’m taking the plunge to subscribe to their newsletter because of you! (yeah, I don’t like cluttering up my email so I tend to not sign up for stuff…this is a biggie for me)
    Anyway, just thought you’d like to know.
    Oh and I love the ‘unintended-ness’ of your piece!!!!

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  5. Love your lacy sun and the background is lovely.
    The cot Quilt turned out well, in real life it is softer than the pic.
    Well done.

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  6. That circle of stitches seems to float on the interesting batik-like background.
    I like the circular path – am I understanding correctly that it is paved with the stones you collected on your walks? It looks like a lovely meditative space.

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  7. Thanks for the perceptive comment on the stitching.
    Yes, I did collect the stones for the paved circle and confess to feeling guilty about doing so. The old argument that if everyone did this there would be no rocks left in the wild did worry me as I picked up interesting flat stones while out walking. My only defence is that the rock formations on slopes in the veld near where I live have “shed” many pieces of flat rock and I only took ones that did not have any insect life underneath them. It took a long time as I only collected a few a day and from different parts of the hillside.
    You are spot on — it is a walking meditation circle.

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