May 2015 Mystery Challenge Completed: Countess Markievicz

As a newbie to the Mystery Challenge concept I signed up (late) and was allocated Kelly from Kelly’s Sewing Creations as my partner. I like Kelly, she’s one of many neat creative ladies I have met in FaceBook Land. Partly, I think, due to my Anglo-Irish heritage Kelly chose an historical figure; Countess Constance Markievicz (1868 – 1927). I’m not going to lie. This was a hard topic for me, and in retrospect I should have asked for a different one.

There are many resources on the interweb but briefly…

Known as the Revolutionary Countess, Constance Gore Booth was born in London, England, but spent most of her time at the family home in Lissadell House, Sligo, Ireland. Despite her privileged upbringing (she inspired poetry by Yeats, who was a family friend), she became involved in causes that were passionate to her. These included being an Irish Sinn Fein & Fianna Fail Politician, suffragette, and a revolutionary figure in the Easter Uprising of 1916. From 1908 until her death the Countess was involved in Irish Nationalist Politics, holding various government offices. She founded organisations and was jailed several times for participating in demonstrations. Following the Easter Uprising she was condemned to death. The sentence was commutated to life imprisonment because she was a woman, and she reportedly said ” I do wish you lot had the decency to shoot me”. When she died in 1927 over 25,000 people reportedly lined the streets.

A colourful life and surely lots to choose from for inspiration – NOT! I grew up in 1970-80’s England when the Provisional IRA was prominent in our lives. I’m not sure why but my brain found it hard to separate Nationalist and Terrorist politics. Note – I believe my grandfather was a soldier in the Irish Army.

I finally decided I would make a skirt reflective of her ‘uniform’. Some of her clothes looked as if she had borrowed from a man’s wardrobe, though I am sure they were made for her. In the same fashion I raided my husband’s closet. I’m sparing you the result – it wasn’t pretty! I used the Ellie Inspired Naughty or Nice skirt for inspiration. It seemed appropriate to be honest. I mashed the skirt a little for personal finishing preferences.

Please note these views are my own and I do not intend to offend anyone. Resources include Lissadell House,  (good old) Wikipedia, Ireland Information, and The History Show.

Here is the photo, copied from The History Show website.

And here’s what I ended up with ..

IMG_1401                              2015-06-04 11.27.56 2015-06-04 11.31.46

While I found this particular challenge difficult there are lots of fabulous reads from the other participants. Please check them out!

5/25│ The Berry Bunch – Frank Lloyd Wright │ Sew Not Perfect – Lucille Ball, I Love Lucy
5/26│ Friends Stitched Together – Prohibition/Roaring 20’s │ HaCunha Matata – Jane Austin
5/27│ Zoe and Ted – Suffragetes
5/28│ House of Estrella – Woodstock/Fall of the Berlin Wall  │ Pen Seb Rox – Piet Mondriaan
5/29│ Friends Stitched Together – Impressionist Movement │ Wining Wife – Judgement of Paris
5/30│ Super Stay at Home Mommy – Madame Tussaud │ Keep Calm and Carrion – Jackie Kennedy  │ Gloria June – Florence Nightingale
5/31│ Sofilantjes – Andy Warhol │ Busy Little Bee – Marie Antoinette │ Amanda Rose –March 9, 1959 Barbie
6/1│ Pienkel – Bianca Jagger │ Huisje Boompje Boefjes – Anne Frank
6/2│ Taking it Up a Notch – Queen Victoria │ Amazing Adventures with Bubba and Bug –1964 New York World Fair │  Kelly’s Sewing Creations – Steampunk Mary Queen of Scots
6/3│ Mae & K – Tesla │ Pretty Little Blog – Moon Landing │ Knot Sew Normal – Lutie Eugenia Sterns
6/4│ Sew Starly – Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II │ Hibbadoray – Amelia Earhart │ Sew Far North – Countess Markievicz (1868-1927)
6/5│ Made By Sara – John Dillinger/Roaring 20’s │ Create 3.5 – George Sand
6/6│ Country Bella – 1900’s World’s Fair/Art Nouveau │ Lulu and Celeste – Rosie the Riveter
6/7│Sew Domesticated – 1960’s/Civil Rights Movement │ Rebel and Malice – French Revolution/Joan of Arch │ The Fabric Hoarder – Gypsies



May 2015 Mystery Challenge: “Moments and People Throughout History”

Last August I spent several weeks in hospital and discovered Facebook in a whole new way. I was about to leave its manipulative clutches when, by chance, I discovered a group of irreverent folk who chatted about life, sewing and stuff. I shamelessly snuck in on the tail of another person and amazingly enough they didn’t evict me!

This group is full of designers, creative types; and some with both colourful pasts and  colourful language! I’m so glad to have it as a bit of an outlet where I can be myself and not feel judged. That said, I’m pretty much in awe of all the creativity bouncing around and when someone asks to ‘friend me’ I’m almost speechless with delight.

When the Mystery Challenge was recently announced, in turn I panicked, became gleeful, worried about how the heck I’d create something by the end of March, and back pedalled faster than a duck near a weir!After a bit of reassurance about my misunderstanding the parameters I decided to give it a go … And here I am.

Admittedly having a web designer for a son helped, especially as he talked me through the whole WordPress thing. Sadly he’s not an enabler, and after a brief education he said “off you go, mum, there are lots of learning tools to help you along.” Jee thanks!

The topic for May is … “Moments and People Throughout History”

Where, oh where do I start?

We’re meant to give a few ideas out so our secret partner can choose something for us. Being English I think that history is part of my very essence. My mum is English, my dad is Irish. Not generations back, but ‘right off the boat’ as they say. My dad left Ireland at 18, but he’s from a wee town and if he goes back for a week it’s hard to understand his brogue. I was brought up in Southern England, had a convent education and spoke clipped Queen’s English. Fortunately a lot of traveling and nursing in an eclectic multinational mix has softened those edges. For many years I was told off for being abrupt. It upset me dreadfully as I’m a bit of a softie .. Well, until my Matron hat is on of course!

Great Glen
Great Glen

You can’t grow up in the UK or Europe without absorbing your physical culture. I am fascinated by stone circles, lay lines, castles, ruins and fossils. Churches seep with eons of historical suffering, hope, prayer, peace and despair. Living in the Scottish Highlands and Central London have fed my historical passions. Cornwall, Tintagel, Camelot, Witches, Elves, and Magic. I believe in fairies at the end of the garden and the angels that watch over us.

My darling Andy
My darling Andy

I’m not sure that there’s a fashion period that fascinates me most; if it’s pretty, kitsch or ‘hippy chic’ it appeals to me. One of my husband’s early chat up lines was “if I could I’d dress you in Valentino. You have the figure for it.” … Swoon! No wonder I married him.  I’d love to make one. For now I follow a young chap called Mitchell Carr on Facebook. His corsets are amazing! Coco Chanel is inspirational for releasing women from corsets!

Life Boat College
Life Boat College

Water: Growing up on an island nowhere is far from the ocean or waterways. I was a proud lifeboat volunteer while we lived in both Northern Scotland and in central London. In London I volunteered with the RNLI. Such history!

I was in a car accident aged 14 and decided motorbikes were safer. Call it teenage logic or that my dad was a biker. As a teenager I used to stand in the street sniffing the oil and fuel mix of vintage Norton Commando bikes, Indians, Triumphs and the like. I was a biker chick ’til I was 22. I didn’t have a boyfriend often: it’s hard when someone’s chatting you up and a big bloke comes over and says “is he troubling you?” … By the time I’d turned round, said ‘trouble’ had disappeared. I had a knack for finding old chaps who’d ridden and raced bikes in their youth and now serviced them. I’d sit and listen to their stories. I knew my forte wasn’t maintenance so I’d take them fags and cookies instead.

My Triumph Tiger
My Triumph Tiger

I love Triumph motorbikes and was the proud owner of both a retro Thunderbird and a modern Tiger. Himself says I grew horns when riding my Triumph, and yes, I had little devil horns on my helmet. It was a sad day to sell it when we moved to Canada.

Quilting: I started quilting years ago when friends had babies; but when it became apparent I couldn’t work a friend introduced me to a local quilting guild. I have learned so much from these amazing ladies. Amish quilting appeals to me, though I haven’t yet tried one. From structure comes harmony and from blending plain colours and different shapes comes beauty in texture and sight. One of the things that sticks with me is that ‘Only God is Perfect’. As such, no quilt is meant to be perfect and, as far as I am aware, if a quilt looks too perfect a deliberate flaw is introduced. That resonates with me so. Being chronically unwell has made me more humble and I hope, more accepting.I used to think quilting was for old ladies but oh how wrong I was.  I am particularly drawn to The Modern Quilt Guild; the simplicity of it appeals to my sense of order. That said I also love the plush vibrancy I see in quilt shows reminiscent of Victorian scrappy quilts.

My mum's 75th birthday quilt
My mum’s 75th birthday quilt
"Quinn's Quilt"
“Quinn’s Quilt”