The Redder the Better

I am feeling a bit rusty after not writing last week because there was nothing new to report, despite being busy at my sewing machine, quilting the large Traveller’s Quilt (which is almost done) and making another book.

This week’s post was nearly given the title On Seeing Red, but I thought that might be tempting fate. There is a lovely Afrikaans saying “Hoe rooier hoe mooier” [the more red it is, the more beautiful it is]. Since I am lucky to have overseas readers who would not understand Afrikaans, I opted for a loose translation of the idiom for the heading. It is also a couched warning that a lot of red photographs will be popping up onto your screen. The theme for this month’s #areyoubookenough challenge on Instagram was red. Hence the red book. As it was being constructed I surprised myself by making it redder and redder, until it was completely red.

Now for the story behind the red book. I do yoga with a marvellous teacher, Ruth Woudstra, who not only gently encourages us to stretch our bodies, but also to stretch our minds a little when she introduces us to some of the philosophy behind the ancient practice of yoga. Early in February, when I was pondering on how to interpret the theme of red for the book challenge, Ruth referred to the root chakra, the muladhara, during a yoga session. When she said it is represented by an inverted red triangle I knew I had found the subject for the February Are You Book Enough challenge. The word muladhara comes from the Sanskrit of mula [root] and adhara [support or base]. (Not in the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, so thank you Google.)

Ruth has given me permission to mention her name and if you are interested in trying one of her gentle online yoga classes (via zoom) you can contact her at mottache@gmail.com.

The front cover of the book

The more I read about the root chakra, the more excited I became about making a little book about it. There is an enormous amount of information on it on the internet. In brief, it is the first of seven chakras in the body; is situated at the base of the spine; and represents safety, survival, grounding, and nourishment from the Earth’s energy.

A stitched version of the symbol for the root chakra, copied from an image found on http://www.yogiapproved.com

There are also a large number of graphic representations of this chakra on the internet. I honed in on the simplest one and used it on the back cover of the book. The upside down triangle is the alchemical symbol for Earth, or grounded energy. The square represents rigidity and stability and has a foundational energy (think of the foundation of a house). The circle in the diagram is a representation of infinity and the cyclical nature of energy. Finally, the diagram is surrounded by four lotus petals. Whether one believes in these arcane symbols or not, it is still a pleasing graphic image and I had fun copying it and stitching it.

The format is the same as the one I used to make a book about shelter for the January Are You Book Enough challenge. To recap: the base of the book is a torn strip of canvas folded into a concertina, or accordion, to make the pages. There are eight pages that measure 6 x 5 inches (15 x 12.5 cm) each. The first and last pages form the covers and there are three double page spreads inside the book.

After I had torn the strip of canvas to size I folded the book into an accordion and appliqued (with umlaut) the inverted triangle, square and circle shapes onto each of the double page spreads. Then I backed the strip with a loosely woven red fabric from my stash and overstitched through the layers with red thread. The dense stitching gave a nice solid feel to the book. The red stitching against the white canvas was very stark so I got out my red Inktense block and thought long and hard before I painted over the cloth.

Unlike my first book for #areyoubookenough, which was entirely hand stitched, this one was made on my sewing machine. It therefore has a different look and feel to it. The advantage, of course, is that it took much less time to make it. The final touches were to stitch a holding cord along the back cover and to make a secret pocket behind the back cover into which I have slipped notes on the muladhara chakra.

It seems I have found my monthly challenge for 2021. The theme for March is “fenced”. Whatever can I do with that? But it would be nice if, at the end of the year, I have a set of 12 little cloth books all of the same size. Perhaps The Woodworker can make a neat box in which to store them. But I am getting ahead of myself… Fenced? Mmm

19 thoughts on “The Redder the Better

  1. Wow that is amazing and kind of spiritual! I certainly do not speak or understand Afrikaans but we have a large South African population here in the Denver area and I recognize it when I hear it now! It sort of sounds like Dutch to me (from my time in Amsterdam) but I could be wrong. One of my facebook friends is SA so I see a lot of Afrikaans conversations on there – ha! My dear friend Michele who you’ve seen on my blog father is South African. She went to SA for her honeymoon and I have a gorgeous basket she brought back for me. Wait, am I rambling…
    Anyway that is a lovely stitched book and I love the red!

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  2. I would imagine there is quite a bit of processing many things of life as you stitch these books. I’d have given some deep thought to painting over that cloth too, but the result was lovely! Having a book for each month is a clever idea, along with having a little box to store them. Fenced is an interesting prompt, given how the world has been changed with this pandemic, etc.

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  3. Oh I know some Afrikaans! I do, I do! Well, one word, actually. Because back in the nineties (before ‘The New South Africa’ was even a hopeful possibility), a friend’s father was placed in hospice in his hometown of Denver while he and his family were living & working in Natal. We offered our home to him to use during his stateside visit as needed for however long, etc and – here’s the word – we gave him the keys to our BAKKE to use 24/7 during his time with us.
    Oh and BTW, he’d lived in South Africa so long that he did have driving issues (narrowly escaping head-ons during a few trips driving on the left side instead of the right…good thing he had the BAKKE to protect him.
    πŸ™‚
    Yes, Red is a great color for a book and your post nourishes my soul as always…Mille Grazie, mi’ amica! (Umm, that’s not Afrikaans)

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    1. Many thanks my friend for another meaningful response to my latest post. Glad you also found nourishment through the red book.
      It seems I know a little Spanish, if it is Spanish? (ha ha).
      Your generosity is heart warming. Not many people would lend their BAKKIE to someone who drives on the wrong side of the road! Isn’t it a lovely word — much more expressive than the Australian UTE or the acronym LUV.

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      1. Language is so expressive in ways other than literal meaning. You’re so right, we fell in love with that word as it ‘felt’ right. And it’s been in our family’s lexicon ever since.
        😎
        Though our word, ‘pickup truck’ does have certain expressive images that come to one’s mind instead of the usual, ‘truck’ or SUV.
        (Sorry about the misspelling on the BAKKIE)
        Oh and, it’s Italian…
        hugs

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  4. Looking good Mazzie….
    Love all the symbols and symbolism.

    When you mention the next challenge β€” i remember how skilfully you created the gleam on that silver fork. Maybe you’ll include some of that on your fencing? Even if you don’t β€” your creation is sure to shine anyway.

    Happy stitching πŸ§΅πŸ“˜πŸ’™

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  5. Thank you for sharing your process in making this spiritual book. I am looking forward to seeing what you do with “fences.” I immediately thought of the song by Cole Porter, “Don’t Fence Me In”. As a kid, I loved to hear Roy Rogers sing this song. Every February, the rodeo comes to San Antonio. I would write a two week curriculum based on the rodeo theme. My students and I had so much fun as we worked and listened to these western ballads. This song was one of their favorites.

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