Well, that’s what I wrote (on page 31, see above) in my book, about the February of 1985 when I made the most drastic travel plans of my life: I bought a one-way ticket to Ireland.
Yadda yadda yadda, everything worked out well…I didn’t make it around the world, I only made it as far as the middle east, met a handsome stranger that I brought back to the states on a fiance visa — the usual story (that’s what happens when you make drastic travel plans).
But it all started in Ireland. All those rainy days that kept me indoors in various youth hostels and flea bag hotels (and, once, in a bus station all day) – good thing I’d packed my embroidery kit.
I was in Ireland for six weeks, and this is what I sewed on all those rainy days in all those youth hostels and flea bag hotels (and yes, even in the bus station). I taught myself the Irish alphabet, learned how to do Celtic knots, even drew the long-necked bird on the Irish 2P coin — it’s all here, in my first art journal.
(This sampler is 25 ” x 17″, sewn on muslin that I’d bought in Galway on my second or third day in Ireland, when I realised that my not being a beer drinker was going to give me many long lonely hours unless I found a way to keep myself busy.)
And you can say that this is page two:
It’s 26 years later and I can still look at these, my first art journals, and re-experience almost every stitch. I can remember which bits I sewed in Belfast, Derry, Donnegal, etc. I can remember conversations I had with people curious about my work, I remember wonderful people who just wanted to watch me sew, people who were inspired by my stitching and made me presents – a cup of tea, a book about The Book of Kells, a hand-drawn map of Ireland. I met soldiers, travelers, university students, musicians, and, once, a horse breeder just because they saw me sitting on a park bench/in a bus station waiting room/by myself in a hotel lounge and had to come talk to the girl quietly sewing her dragons and feathered beasts and Celtic strap-work.
And see that little picture, up in the top left-hand corner of page 31 (see above), the view of Dublin from my hotel room? I painted that picture completely from memory — I know that view so well because I sat in my hotel room for two rainy days, sewing M – P, looking out the window at that view (stitch by stitch, that’s how you make a memory).
Speaking of drastic travel plans, I’m all set for my visit to the Great Northwest! I’ll be in Seattle and Portland May 17-24 ; I’ll put the whole list of events up here on Monday — book events, tea events, workshop events.
I can’t tell you all how excited I am about this trip. After all, I consider myself a connoisseur of rainy days, and Seattle is where rain is a way of lilfe, a philosophy, an art, a calling.