If Wishes Were Horses…

Today is another reveal day for The Endeavourers. How do these reveals come round so fast? Our theme this quarter was Wishes and, when that was selected by Mr Random Generator, I immediately thought of the line, ‘If wishes were horses, beggars would ride…’ but I decided to let it lie.

I was hoping for a more optimistic inspiration and we had lots of relations staying over Christmas, a party for about 40 on the 27th, a trip to the Sheffield from the 28th-30th and an amazing adventure to attend a wedding in Sri Lanka from the 31st – 10th January…It all needed a lot of preparation…

When I arrived back in dull, rainy England, inspiration for the Wishes quilt still had not struck and my Makery was, not only still a bedroom, but was now doubling as an office for my daughter (who is a Junior Doctor, newly returned from a year in New Zealand) to prepare for a panel interview and apply for locum work pending the next tranche of ‘real’ jobs, which all start in August. So there was nothing for it but to take down the Christmas Tree, take my sewing machine to the kitchen table, make a start and hope for the best. I always feel that artistic endeavourers should have more planning and research and rational underpinning them but real life (alas!) refuses to be so accommodating.

I knew I wanted to include some other wishing items like a star, a well and a birthday cake (which the beggars are pointing to), making three wishes and then I decided to add a genie in a lamp. It bothered me a little that four wishes are not quite right but I rationalised that perhaps the genie gave the other three…Anyway, I drew the main outlines of the picture with a frixon pen and quilted over the lines by machine. The remainder was done by hand, mainly so it could be more portable. The blue sky is the base fabric and everything else is painted except the cake and the well, which I appliqued at the end, and the black hat and candles, which are attached with fusible web. Finally, I added detail with hand stitching.

I chose the metallic paints for the horses and the incongruous assortment of wishing themed items as I feel there is an almost magical element to wishing – some kind of essential implausibility, which is more at home in the world of story than in Sussex or London on a grey Monday morning. And I wanted to convey this in my picture. Whereas many things can be hoped for in the everyday world, a wish worth making virtually demands some change to the general order of things and is extraordinarily unlikely to come true by mere chance or predictable means.

So just why the ‘If wishes were horses…’ rhyme is so well known after 400 years and the mere breath of a wish is more than likely to invoke some know-it-all to snap ‘Be careful what you wish for!’ baffles me. Do they really think that tomorrow morning everyone who bought a lottery ticket will have won the jackpot and the banks will crash and our current world order will come to an abrupt end?

But, sadly, they are in good company. Even if throwing a coin into a wishing well doesn’t land you on the wrong end of a witch hunt these days, we all know that rubbing an old lamp with a genie in or unstopping a bottle containing a djin won’t end well. We will always have to use our last wish to undo the other two :(

So do I think we shouldn’t bother with wishing or that wishes will never come true?

Of course not!

I think that, when things seem possible to accomplish, we must work for the things we hope for. And when we wish for impossible things we should work doubly hard. And, of course, if we happen see a star or a wishing well or have a birthday cake with candles – why waste it?

The old stories are all well and good but we mustn’t let them stop us writing new ones.

I hope all your wishes will come true and I also hope you will visit the other Endeavourers and see the wonderful quilts they have made for this challenge :)

Janine @ Rainbow Hare

The best time to plant a tree

"The best time to plant a tree is ten years ago", said the girl.
“The best time to plant a tree is ten years ago”, said the girl.
"The second best time is today!" said the hare.
“The second best time is today!” said the hare.

Back in January, did you have a word for 2019?

I actually chose a word but I didn’t ever blog about it. That was partly because we had lots of relations visiting and I didn’t get around to it but it was also because I kept coming upon the idea that that public goal setting can be counter productive. The theory is that you announce, on social media for example, “This year I am going to do X.” Then everyone congratulates you and you end up getting sufficient positive affirmation that you feel like you’ve actually accomplished X when, in fact, you’ve done nothing except express a wish or a vague intention. Whether that is true or not, I don’t know. I can say, however, that I have, so far, remembered my word throughout the year.

My word for the year was ‘Illustration’ and my aim was not to make lots of illustrations but to not avoid making illustrations on occasions when I felt inclined to do that. That doesn’t sound much of a challenge but I actually started this blog in 2011 with the intention of making fabric pictures and the great majority of my making has been much more general sewing and knitting!

As it turned out this has been a year of very little making for me but most of my making has ended up being fairly illustrative and I’ve been able to enjoy creating pictorial quilts for the Endeavourers Challenges without thinking I really should be doing something something more arty and abstract!

Today’s pictures are an assemblage of quilted linen, simple embroidery and three dimensional, posable figures and are inspired by a very interesting conversation between Shane Parrish and Hugh Howey, which I listened to on the Knowledge Project – a series of podcasts comprising all sorts of fascinating discussions hosted by Shane Parrish with a very wide variety of guests. You can find the podcasts and lots of interesting articles on Farnam Street. Part of the discussion is about the things we could have, and feel we should have done years ago but have continually been putting off and the way that “paralyses us and make us feel like all the moments in my life where I could have seized the opportunities ahead of me are all gone”. Hugh Howey says:

A lot of our calcification, the inability to break our stasis and launch our lives in a different direction, is that feeling that we should have done it 10 years ago and we’ve lost the opportunity and now we can’t do it. But 10 years from now, we’re going to think the same thing about this very moment today.

The Knowledge Project Ep. #63

Shane Parrish replies that reminds him of a proverb (which he believes to be French): “The best time to have planted a tree was ten years ago but the second best time is today”.

Today is also, of course, a very good time plant real trees.

Whether your trees are actual or metaphorical, I wish you good luck. I hope all your ‘trees’ will thrive and grow and that in ten years time you will look back and be glad about something you did today :)

Janine @ Rainbow Hare


Slowly and intermittently, over this long time that I’ve been gardening, I have been pondering (and very occasionally working on) a new project and, at last, the nuts and bolts of it are starting to come together.

This is a smallish double-side quit. The dark blue is a fairly improv sewing together of night-coloured scraps, embellished with running stitch, darning and some buttonhole edged squares to created a patched together and mended look and the lighter side is a collection of vintage doilies hand stitched to an ivory background

And yesterday, since it was pouring with rain and I had an unusual and very welcome time at home alone, I made a similar sized quilt with light brown linen on one side and a grungy blue sort of fabric on the other. For the sake of speed and simplicity, I machine quilted with organic straight lines.

I’m thinking of these as backgrounds to display other sewn items and perhaps story scenes that could enable me to make something like the ABOUT TIME book but with reusable pages…

ABOUT TIME (blogged here) 2018

I really enjoyed making the fabric book and I love the idea of making quilts that do something more dynamic than lying in bed all day but, being so constrained by time, accomplishing that is a hard task. Since starting this blog, I think I’ve made two!

THE GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH (blogged here) 2017

EAT, SLEEP, SEW (blogged here) 2013

So the new venture I’m pondering will, I hope, be a sort of hybrid art quilt/book/puppet show. I found a cheap extending curtain rod, which fits in the alcove next the fireplace in the Makery and I’m planning to hang up the backgrounds and attach or hang or somehow or other display other sewings in front of them.

Mrs Hare and Fiona have kindly agreed to relocate their reading group.

Fiona reading (sideways as cats do) with Mrs Hare

Whether this will all work out, of course, is yet to be seen and I wonder if it’s quite sensible to blog about something that might well fail spectacularly but, as Mrs Hare often says, ‘Nothing ventured, nothing gained’.

I hope you you are having a good week :)

Janine @ Rainbow Hare