Cross-stitch - part II

Finally, one dress is starting to come together. It took a while until we could get some sort of result, as it was required to try some colour combinations and patterns before actually starting with the real thing. I must say, it was not easy!

You might think that by picking out some matching colours, you would have a perfect dress, but it turns out that these colours do not translate on canvas exactly the way you first see them. I've realised that it takes a real expert to tell you if these colours will make a nice dress or not, and, which colour should dominate and which should be used in very small amounts.

What is so special about having a dress made by one of these Palestinian women is that you really feel that every stitch is made with ultimate sincerity and care. They are all mothers and housewives, gathering every early morning in this special place to work on different embroidered items. They are very underpaid (due to the difficult financial situation), and yet they put their sweat and tears into their work.

The woman working on my dress now is very kind-hearted. She has blue-green eyes, and a smile that never fades. She tries her best to create what I want, and her efforts are so tremendous. I feel very appreciative.

Now back to our progress...

After lengthy discussions about how the dress should be made, the woman in charge told my mother and I that she would call as soon as she had something ready. So, we waited.

Last week, she asked us to go visit. It's still in pieces and the embroidery is not quite done yet, but I can see where it's going now.


Stay with me for more progress in the parts to come.


I should say that if it was not for Leila El Khalidi's book entitled The Art of Palestinian Embroidery, I would not have known what I know now about Palestinian Embroidery. I highly recommend that you read it if you can. In the book, she researches embroidery and reflects on her own personal experience. Inevitably, politics also have their share. It is a very comprehensive book, containing many old pictures and illustrations of old dresses and folk appellations.

For those who don't know her, Leila El Khalidi is a very prominent woman in Palestinian society. She has worked in many establishments dedicated to Palestinian Folklore and is now working in the non-profit field in Amman.


Rhapsody in Blue!

What triggered me to write this post was a story a fellow blogger posted on his blog a few days ago. I'm so glad this happened, since what you are about to read in this post still fascinates me everytime.

As a child, Disney's "Fantasia" was one of my all time favorites. Due to my mother's passion for music, we always enjoyed very musical cartoons, and she'd be watching and humming along with us. I still enjoy watching it till this day, and thanks to the post I read, I now watched my ultimate favorite sketch again.

If you don't know about "Fantasia", it is a wonderful project where some of the greatest masterpieces in classical music are combined with Disney cartoons. If you watch it, you will see cartoon sketches, accompanied by a live orchestra led by a conductor who moves in complete harmony with the cartoons. At some point, you would not know which one accompanies the other, they are totally in sync. The creators of "Fantasia" describe this as an attempt to interpret these great musical masterpieces in a way which suits the cartoons. I think it's genius.

Again, because of that post I read which talked about how robotic and banal a person's life can be, I decided to share my favorite "Fantasia" cartoon. It tells the story of four different characters, who each dream about a different life but can't escape reality. One character, I found, was very similar to what the blogger described in his story.
Life can get so monotonous and we can almost measure our steps with our eyes closed. You will be able to see that in this cartoon throughout the various elements mimicking daily routine.

Lastly and before you see the cartoon, I should mention the accompanying music. What was chosen for this cartoon was Gershwin's  Rhapsody in Blue - written in the 1920's. I first heard Rhapsody in Blue as a child in this cartoon. I then went on studying the composer later (while I studied music) and grew to love the piece even more. I was even lucky enough to see a live performance of it. Why this piece for this sketch? Because all the instruments are echoing the monotony in the story. Make sure to lisen for that while you watch.

Before composing Rhapsody in Blue Gershwin said: "It was on the train, with its steely rhythms, its rattle-ty bang, that is so often so stimulating to a composer – I frequently hear music in the very heart of the noise... And there I suddenly heard, and even saw on paper – the complete construction of the Rhapsody, from beginning to end. No new themes came to me, but I worked on the thematic material already in my mind and tried to conceive the composition as a whole. I heard it as a sort of musical kaleidoscope of America, of our vast melting pot, of our unduplicated national pep, of our blues, our metropolitan madness."

... and now for the interpreted version of Rhapsody in Blue. I hope you appreciate it the same way I do!

*Note that the funny-looking character playing the piano half way along the cartoon is a caricature of Gershwin himself!
*The orchestra isn't visible here, as the scene has been omitted. The music you hear though is a live accompaniment of the cartoon!