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Piece by Piece….Our Tree Grew
May 31, 2014
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“When life gives you scraps….make quilts!” …and that is just what we did!
A year ago, we started at the roots….and worked our way up to the sky. And ‘sew’ it is, that a year later, our banyan tree is complete!

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Threads of many colours, people of different ages and people with varying skills and abilities (some with no skills whatsoever; person writing this blog included) all came together, needles in hand, and creativity at a high.

And so it was that last May, following the Stitching Stories workshop, we took on a collaborative stitching project, that was planned to be a banyan tree; a project we aptly called the Piece Tree.

Some sang as they worked. Some preferred to be silent. Some jabbered away. But yet, ever so often…everyone would stop and come together to take a step back and see how far we’d come along.

And this is really how it all came together….bit by bit, scrap by scrap. Each one bringing their own patch to the table. Each one’s patch having it’s own story and history behind it. Each one stitching and creating the motif they had chosen with different thoughts running through their minds.

When one looks at the tree, you’ll see the array of patches. The different styles, the varied levels of mastery….but you’ll also see that it cannot all have come together more beautifully.

The tree itself is the work of many hands, and many different swatches of cloth. And everyone who worked on the project has laid a stitch on it, or added a leaf, or a finishing touch…some little bit of magic. Pritha, Ina, Yvette, Isa, Flavia, Krutika, Sheena…anyone who so much as stepped through our doors was invited to join the table and leave their mark. But that’s not all you’ll find….

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At the center of it all, you’ll find a heart, stitched by Sujata. Reminding us that it is truly from there that we ‘branch out’ and reach out and that ‘in the end, it is only love that sustains us’.

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Tarini, one of the young ones who attended the workshop stitched a bird. Neatly, patiently, almost saying that she is ready to take to the skies….spread her wings and fly.

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Aashni chose to do a flower, which has always signified beauty and love. Perhaps saying take time to smell the roses…and to stitch!

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Butterflies are pretty. They make us think of happy thoughts like summer’s days and colour and beauty, but that which comes from transformation. That is what Svetlana left us with.

The dragonfly that’s visiting the tree was done by Elaine. Dragonflies have a short lifespan…perhaps reminding us to enjoy every moment, no matter how fleeting. Carpe diem!

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Priya Jahagirdar stitched a house. Scratch that…a home. And like any good homemaker, Priya J has a strong hand in keeping the Bookworm family together. She’s always there when we go back to our home in the red house. 🙂

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Eva stitched a Mama snake. She guards over her eggs. Protects them. I think we all look for that.

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Neha stitched a dog coming out of it’s home. Always a happy thought.

Shruthi left a peace sign on the quilt; the universal struggle we all face. Finding peace…within and with the world around us.

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Megha stitched a chameleon. More specifically, Leo Lionni’s chameleon. If you’ve read that book, it tells of a chameleon that struggled to find it’s own colour, until it realised that it didn’t have to as long as it had a friend by its side.

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“All work and no play make for dullness….” That’s possibly what the swinging tyre that Priya Naik stitched on means. Maybe its just there to remind us that it doesn’t always have to be complex….sometimes, it’s okay to just sit on a tyre and wing in the air!

Wisdom and mystery. These are associated with owls. That’s what Chetna added to our tree; the owl we named Oliver.

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Jewel who added her patch towards the end of the project added an Eric Carle’s purple cat. I like to think that perhaps a purple cat reminds us that our imagination’s have no bounds, and that sometimes, its okay to ‘not fit the pattern’.

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Niju stitched a bridge for this project. It came at a time when as a team, we were crossing, and still had many more bridges left to cross. As will always be the case as we move one. He’s also the tech man that keeps us ‘connected’…maybe that’s what Niju was trying to tell us.

I, stitched a snail. Mostly because I like spirals. But I learned (through this, my first ever attempt at stitching) that a slow and laborious journey is always made easy by friend along the way (and I had a couple who came to my rescue for every dilemma I stitched my way into).

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And in the end….our tree came together. There were knots that had to be unwound. Gathers that had to be released. And Crinkles that had to be smoothed out along the way. But we did it together. The roots were strong…and we worked our way up to the sky.

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Until the next….save your cloth…..and we hope you’ll bring your story to the table too.

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