I spent part of my childhood in a small Spanish city during the claustrophobic last years of the dictator Franco. While kids in Australia were listening to ABBA and getting sunburnt, we sat in rows embroidering tablecloths and saying the Angelus and rosary every day at noon.
My family re-emigrated to Australia when I was 10, and I soon embraced the sun-filled physicality of antipodean childhood, leaving the nuns, the smell of floor polish, the sound of prayer, and the cross-stitched tablecloths behind.
Decades later, I came across a post about bargello in the colourful bits and bobbins craft blog. I immediately responded to the bright colours and regular patterns, bought a second-hand book, some thread and canvas, and embroidered for the first time in over thirty years.
It was not a struggle, either physically or mentally, to get back into it, rather a great sigh of relief as in a home-coming.
I haven’t done a tone of it, but really enjoy it – it was a great counterpoint to working on my thesis and the sewing kit became my constant companion. The return to embroidery and the pleasures of making has eventually led to my enrolling in this textiles degree.