Watcher (Nea’s Story) – Chapter 1

I have decided to use this blog as a way of sharing my creative outlets, no matter what they may be. Unfortunately my sewing has stopped. I haven’t sewn anything in over six months due to what I am calling emotional paralysis. I’m hoping by letting my creative juices flow in other ways I may get my sewing mojo back. So, to get started, here is the first chapter of a story I have been working on for a while now. Enjoy 😀

Watcher – Nea’s Story

Chapter 1

It started long ago, before you were born in fact. Although this is not my story, it could be in many ways. I tell this story so that you may know the many have known, so that you may know those that I have loved and hated. This is their story. Most of them are the nobodies of history and yet they are the embodiment of it. Through them I have recorded times, learnt customs and made discoveries that the rest of the world has known, celebrated and then forgotten.
But to truly tell this story I must tell of the very beginning. Where my journey began, how I was drawn into this endless life and the mission that comes with it. How I became known as The Watcher.

I was born over two thousand years ago, in a small village on the Aegean coastline. It’s name has been forgotten and it’s people have long ago been scattered. My family was large, as most were then. My mother loved us all and tried not to form favourites, although we all knew that Anton had a special place in her heart. Anton was one of my three older brothers, and although he was almost six years older than me, I believed him to be the one person in my family who truly understood me. He was also the person who brought me into this unending life that I now live. But we shall get to that soon enough.
I had five brothers, three older and two younger, and six sisters, two older and four younger. My mother worked tirelessly to care for us and we did all that we could to help. My younger sisters wove wonderful rugs and blankets and formed beautiful pots from the earth, to sell at the markets in Athens. My older sisters, Azeth and Olivera, helped my mother to keep a home worthy of envy and to prepare amazing meals from our, often meagre, means. My brothers worked in the fields and ports near our home, bringing back what little they could to help the family and their own wives. That is with exception of Anton, who was the scholar and sometime figurehead of the family.

The true patriach of the family was, of course, my father. We seldom saw him. He was a sheep herder for a local merchant and only came down from the hills when the stock were to be taken to market and sold. When he was home he was either a harsh man, whom noone could please, or when drunk on the food of Dionysis, a soulful man, full of poetry and song. At those times his words could be so beautiful. They could lift you to the heights of Olympus, drop you back to earth and then plunge you into the depths of Hades.

Of all the people in my family it was Anton with whom I identified most. With him I shared a passion for history and science, as well as for poetry and song. Due to my gender, I was unable to be educated in such subjects. My brother was determined that this was wrong. “For” as he often orated when drunk on wine and food, as much as from his latest lecture “anyone with your passion, Nea, should be allowed to express and enjoy such learning, be they man or woman”. Few people agreed with this and had they learnt of my brothers teachings to me and my passion to learn I would have likely become an outcast within the community, or worse yet, been banished from the village of my birth and life.
However, such threats meant little when I found such learning so exciting and wonderful. Anton would often draw me away from my afternoon chores to tell me about the great ruler who had been the subject of his latest lecture, or to describe the theories on the stars he had just heard. My mother, being the woman that she was, would often just wave us away with a smile, knowing that the time spent learning with Anton brought me so much joy.

One afternoon as I was working with my older sister Azeth to prepare for the evening meal Anton appeared in the kitchen doorway in agitated and excited state. He beckoned to me with frantic gestures, whilst I silently pleaded with Azeth to be released from my duties. Understanding that nothing would get done until I had spoken to Anton, she took over grinding the maize and quietly told me to hurry back and finish helping her. Anton and I thanked her and then raced to one of our favourite places on the shore to talk. Anton’s excitement was near explosive as we reached the shoreline and flopped down beneath the shade of our favourite tree. Out of breath, but desperate to tell me of his exciting news, Anton blurted out “You can get an education too. I’ve found a way!” I sat there stunned. Was this some kind of cruel joke? I must have misunderstood. Girls’ learning more than poetry and song was unheard of, and anyway, father would never allow such a thing. Anton saw the stunned look on my face and burst into fits of excited laughter. Once he had himself under control he began to explain his outburst. He had been taking lunch with his good friend Balti and they had been discussing the days’ lessons in history when Anton mentioned how much I would have enjoyed hearing the days tale. To this Balti asked if Anton had ever heard of the Temple of the Goddess and the work that occurred there. Of course everyone had heard of the temple and Anton told him so. The Temple of the Goddess was a small group of woman who worked to help the sick and less fortunate in our small community. They also learned many skills that were seen as unfit for women, such as archery and trapping game. Because of this they were often ridiculed by the men in our village, “Imagine, women who believe they can hunt alongside men”. However, these same men had never attempted to put an end to these activities, for reasons which were often speculated upon in the early hours of the morning, when wine and food had long been flowing, and rational thought had long since ceased.
Balti smiled, “You remember my cousin Illsa?” Anton did, she was as little older than me and had been working for a local healer for sometime.
“Well” Balti continued “Not long ago she was recruited by the Temple of the Goddess.”
Balti told Anton that just before she entered the Temple, Illsa came to visit him. She had told him that in her first few weeks at the Temple she had learned more about healing than she had learnt in all her time working with the healer. The sisters had also asked her if she knew of other girls who would be interested in learning. But since that visit Balti had not seen nor heard from Illsa, and neither had any of her family.

Anton looked at me. I was totally stunned. He took my hand and looked into my eyes. “Nea, this is your chance to learn and to see as you have always wanted”. I can still remember that moment. It seemed as if fantasy and reality were going to collide. But the breeze continued to rustle in the leaves above, and the afternoon sun sparkled on the Aegean as it had done for centuries and as it would do for many more to come.
My thoughts whirled, of course it was all fantasy, even if such a group did exist father would never allow it. It could never happen.
“Nea” Anton whispered “It is possible, I spoke to one of the sisters this very afternoon. She wants to meet with you.”
“I have to go” I whispered back “Azeth is waiting for me. Mother will be wondering where I am. I must go.”
Anton just looked at me and sighed. I know now, he must have understood why I had to leave, but at that moment I thought he must have believed me to be crazy. To walk away from him when he had just handed me the possibility to live my impossible dreams. In my mind it was too easy. It couldn’t be true.


Some Custom Items and Some Crowns

Hello out there in the blogosphere. It has been sometime since writing and sharing what I have been up to. There has been plenty of sewing and both my Facebook page and Etsy page are now being regularly updated.
For those of you who may have missed some of my latest creations, here they are 😀

Advent Calender

Insulated reusable lunch bag

Corduroy bag with fleece flowers

Mini mermaid with fish friend

Full circle polka dot skirt

Full circle dolphin tie dye skirt

Dolphin skirt, reworked into a dress

A few of the most recent crowns

Oriental dragon cloak with velcro fastener

Be sure to let me know what you think of these creations and make sure you “Like” Zaleoqui on facebook to be up to date on what is available for sale.

A Lotus of Love

My very best friend has just had her second baby. So, as part of my gift to her I wanted to give her something special, made by me, in a design I had never done before. She gave me a few ideas for designs and this is what I decided on

Quinn Testing the Mei Tai for me

The mei tai has lightly padded green cord straps, with a main body of appliqued deep purple cord on one side and a funky cotton print on the other. The applique is of an opening white lotus flower and lilly pad with a dragon fly above.

Full shot of the applique panel

The lotus is the most intricate applique I have attempted. It involved cutting out and then stitching on each individual petal, one by one. The hardest part was making sure the outer petals were stitched on at the correct time so they did not give a weird shadowing effect. This involved me cutting and numbering individual pattern pieces and making sure that when laid back together in the prescribed order they looked ‘right’.

Close up of the lotus detail

I am trying to work out a way to include the lotus design in my repertoire, but no others will be as intricate as this very special one. A one of a kind made for a very special, one of a kind, woman.

A Trio of Trees

My tree design, based loosely on the tree of life, is by far the most popular of all the designs I applique. It is the most requested, the first to sell and the most intricate. Each individual tree is always different. Although I work from my own basic, hand drawn template I always make sure I change the shape of the branches, the number of twigs and of course the fabric so that each is unique. Having said that you can still plainly see that they were done by the same person.
About a month ago I finally got to work on three different tree skirts for three amazing and wonderful women whom I have had the pleasure of meeting on my journey.

The Trio

The green skirt is a full length wrap around skirt.

I was inspired to make this tree of a womanly shape, I wonder if you can see her hidden in there?

The purple tree skirt has an elasticated waist and is knee length

The colours in this one are wonderful. Truth be told, if it wasn’t a custom order it may well have ended up in my cupboard.

As for the maroon skirt….

it is destined to be a wrap around skirt. It will be finished very soon. My dear friend, this is a gentle *nudge* from me to find your tape measure 🙂

A last minute gift

On saturday morning I woke to one of those moments where you suddenly remember what that thing was that you were supposed to do all week. We were going to the birthday party of two girls from my kids class at school and, in the business of the past week, I had somehow forgotten presents.
I decided to try my hand at some felt crowns for the girls figuring I could do them in the couple of hours before the party and have time to dash to town if it didn’t work. I had rediscovered some felt in a box over the week. I hunted down a couple of buttons and started figuring out a configuration.

Colours and shapes

I was under instruction to “make a purple one for E (Zara’s best friend)”, so that made figuring out what colour with what a bit easier. Unfortunately the felt I have is rather short which limited the design a bit and for the sake of time I opted to use elastic to hold it in place.

I was really happy with the end result, considering they were a first go and made under time pressure. I now have orders for one each for my kids too 🙂

M's Crown modelled by Zara

E's Crown modelled by Quinn

Thankfully the birthday girls loved them too and they were worn for the entire day. Overall a success!

Disclaimer – Sorry about the mess in the photos, but that is what happens to my house when I am busy sewing.

The Velveteen Goddess Skirt

You may remember me mention the custom skirts I am busy working on at the moment, well this is one of them. To be honest, custom work makes me nervous, I find it quite stressful. When I am sewing to sell I can start in one place and end up in another and it doesn’t matter. With custom sewing there is a client, who is usually also a friend or at the least an acquaintance, whose vision I am charged to bring to life. There are expectations of how the product will look and feel. Sometimes the fabric does not want to work a certain way and when that happens plans need to shift, which can be disappointing if its not what you had envisioned.

I was approached by a friend, who also happens to be the talented woman who looks after my dreads, to make her some funky skirts. We chatted over text and in meets together nutting out what she wanted. The brief for this skirt was a full length wrap skirt in earthy maroons and reds with a voluptuous goddess on the front. After deciding on fabrics and designs I set to work.
For this skirt I was out of my comfort zone on two fronts. I was working with velveteen, a fabric I have only used once before and the skirt was to be ankle length and all my skirts to length have been about knee length.
I have to say I do love velveteen. It is such a rich feeling fabric and reminds me of decadence somehow. It also has a slight stretch to it which I love. I found it quite easy to work with in the end and think I will be incorporating it into more of my skirts in the future.

Skirt before hemming and straps

I also changed the pattern a little making the straps slightly wider after some suggestions from previous clients. If the full length skirt works I will definitely consider making more in the future.

Finished skirt

Skirts, skirts, skirts

To say I have been neglectful of this blog would be, well, very true. Life is busy and I often forget to update on here what I have been up to. I have been working on a new line of skirts for girls. After seeing the difficulty my daughter has with the wrap skirts I decided I needed to do something she could easily put on and take off herself. She loves her tree wrap around skirt, but being 5 and wanting to be able to dress independently (well, most of the time) means she rarely wears it. So when I started working on a skirt requested by a good friend’s daughter I decided to try an elasticated waist.

Work in progress

I was very happy with the end result, as were my friend and her daughter. The only issue has been the loss of detail with the skirt gathering due to the elastic, something I am looking for a solution to at the moment.

The finished product - definitely one of my favourites

Next I decided to do an octopuses garden skirt. I love all those fun themes that are rarely seen on clothes for kids these days. Generally I start with a picture of a scene either in my head or on paper. Then it’s a matter of mixing and matching fabrics and colours until it feels right.

Templates, colours and balance

It’s not until I have it all laid out in front of me that I really know what will work best.

Cut and testing placement

Its also interesting how different the picture can look once it is sewn.

An Octopuses Garden

I think clothing should be fun as well as practical and I have so many design ideas in my head, it’s just a matter of finding the time to bring them to reality. I have made a few more skirts over the past few months, some of which have found homes all over Australia.

Autumn Fire

Go Green!

Go Green in Spirals

I have lots more in the works. I also want to start making appliqued pants for boys as I know my two feel they are missing out at the moment, so much so that my almost 3 year old insisted on modeling the skirts too.

Its a bit big, but he doesn't care!

I think the kids love them so much because they are tactile as well as interesting. You can feel the shapes and the different textures of fabric.
I have decided to offer any clothing I make for sale on facebook for a week before listing it on etsy as I know the fans of my facebook page would like first option, and rightly so ;).
For the moment I am working on some custom skirts which have been ordered. These consist of some full length adult wrap skirts in gorgeous velveteen, more cord wraps for both adults and kids and some pants as requested by two very special boys. I hope to share some of them with you soon.

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