Sew Craft: Research Reading List

I have spent the last year on research for Sew Craft.  I’ve made liberal use of the interlibrary loan department of my local library to get a hold of various books on two main topics: sewing and magic.  As much as I love research, though, there comes a time when you need to put butt in chair and write (or sew).

Below is an incomplete list of the books I’ve read over the last year.  I left off the books on gardening, fashion and pattern-making that weren’t being used for research. They’re presented in no particular order, and mostly just as a demonstration of what is involved in writing a book.

  1. The Herbal Alchemist’s Handbook by Karen Harrison
  2. By Spellbook & Candle by Mélusine Draco
  3. The Point of the Needle by Dorothy Bromiley Phelan
  4. The Dress Detective by Ingrid Mida & Alexandra Kim
  5. Old World Witchcraft by Raven Grimassi
  6. The Book of English Magic by Phillip Carr-Gromm & Richard Heygate
  7. The Tradition of Household Spirits by Claude LeCouteaux
  8. Irish Witchcraft from an Irish Witch by Lora O’Brien
  9. The devil’s Cloth by Michel Pastoureau
  10. Trolldom by Johannes Björn Gardbäck
  11. Made from Scratch: Reclaiming the Pleasures of the American Hearth by Jean Zimmerman
  12. Clearing Spaces by Khi Armand
  13. Empire of Cotton by Sven Beckert
  14. The Subversive Stitch by Rozsika Parker
  15. A Grimoire for Modern Cunningfolk by Peter Paddon
  16. Nomadic Felts by Stephanie Bunn
  17. Printed Textiles by Linda Eaton
  18. The Good Witch’s Guide by Shawn Robbins & Charity Bedell
  19. A History of Witchcraft by Jeffrey B. Russell & Brooks Alexander
  20. The Hearth Witch’s Compendium by Anna Franklin
  21. Farmhouse Witchcraft by Penny Parker
  22. The Witch’s Cauldron by Laura Tempest Zakroff
  23. A Witch’s Guide to Faery Folk by Edain McCoy
  24. Grimoire of a Kitchen Witch by Rachel Patterson
  25. A Witch’s World of Magick by Melanie Marquis
  26. Hedgewitch by Silver Ravenwolf
  27. The Flame and the Cauldron by Orion Foxwood
  28. A Witch’s Halloween by Gerina Dunwich
  29. Earth Power by Scott Cunningham
  30. Cunning-folk: Popular Magic in English History by Owen davies
  31. Cunningfolk & Familiar Spirits: Shamanistic Visionary Traditions in Early Modern British Witchcraft and Magic by Emma Wilby
  32. The Cunningman’s Handbook by Jim Baker
  33. Green Witchcraft by Ann Moura
  34. Muslin by Sonia Ashmore
  35. Textiles: The Whole Story by Beverly Gordon
  36. Forgotten Ways for Modern Days by Rachelle Blondel
  37. Natural Color by Sasha Duerr
  38. Women’s Work by Elizabeth Wayland Barber
  39. Practical Sigil Magic by Frater U.D.
  40. A Witch’s Runes by Susan Sheppard
  41. Homemade Magic by Lon Milo DuQuette
  42. The Book of Forgotten Crafts by Paul Felix, Siân Ellis & Tom Quinn
  43. Witchy Crafts: 60 Enchanted Projects for the Creative Witch by Lexa Olick

 

Book Announcement: Sew Craft

I’m excited to announce that Llewellyn Worldwide will be publishing my book Sew Craft: A Sewist’s Book of Shadows.  If you want to see what kind of book it will be you can read my posts on the magical properties of fabric and dream pillows.  There will be projects and rituals, as well as much of the lore and information I’ve picked up in the last year of research into magick and sewing.

From as long as I can remember I have written.  Before I could form letters or words I would scribble stories.  To finally realize my goal of getting my work published is amazing.  This project is going to consume most of my waking hours over the next few months.  Fortunately, now that summer break is over, I have more time to devote to it.

I’m not going anywhere, though.  I will still be posting here about commissions and events and whatever else pops into my head.  And I’ll be posting about the book, because eventually I’m sure that Stephan and my kids are going to get tired of me goobing over it.

A very happy Solar Eclipse to you all.  I hope it sees the start of something good for each and every one of you.

Going with the Flow

Yesterday was Mabon, the Autumn Equinox, a time of contemplation and thanksgiving.  I was going to walk to the library and work on a project for a client.  I was going to do all the dishes that have piled up and tackle the to do list that had grown longer every day.  I was going to have a bonfire to celebrate the sabbat.  Instead I slept.

I didn’t intend to sleep.  Not at first.  The past week I’ve been spectacularly busy.  My done list has been filled will several entries each day.  I’ve managed to keep the house clean.  At night I would climb into bed and fall asleep excited about what I was going to be working on the next day.  I’d wake up, sleepy, but able to get Ben’s lunch packed and walk him to school.  It was proof, I was sure, that this whole four month plan was the right one.

Wednesday, though, saw an interruption to that productive flow.  I was worn down.  I decided to keep things low-key, to keep working but not push myself.  A reading and writing day would be just what I needed to keep moving forward, if at a slower pace than I was accustomed.

I polished a short story, ready now for feedback.  I finished up a blog post for next week and got started on another.  I even fit in reading, making some headway into a book that is proving a challenge to get through.  The entire day was a struggle.  I downed copious amounts of caffeine to stay awake.  By the end of the day, despite the work I had done, I was exhausted and cranky and not satisfied.  There were dishes in the sink.  There were items on my to do list that hadn’t been checked off.

My anxiety went into frantic hamster mode.  Doing things my own way is all good and fine, but I have to actually do things.  I have to work!  I have to justify this experiment!  I had to shake off this low energy and get back to productivity!  It went on and on, flagellating me with the determination to get! things! done!

Instead, I slept.  I thought about how I had traded the anxiety of churning out inventory for conventions for that of marking off a to do list.  I’m supposed to be living by my own life patterns, and yet, within the first week I’ve fallen into another trap of “going with the flow”.  This emphasis on making every moment count monetarily is so ingrained in my psyche that it is near impossible to root out.

So I slept.  I sat in the same chair I had occupied the day before, reading and writing and struggling against somnolence.  I pulled several throws over my body, and I slept.  I knew I’d lose the whole day.  I’m not a thirty minute napper.  I’m the kind of napper who sleeps for hours and wakes up questioning what just happened.  I slept from 10 am to 3 pm, waking up a half an hour before the kids got home from school.

nap meme
Me in meme form.

I can’t say that I had some magical epiphany and now everything is all better.  I can’t even say that I felt completely rested.  I ended up going to bed that night earlier than usual.  But what I can say is that the world didn’t end just because I decided to sleep instead of work.  I can say that I gave myself permission to explore a different flow: one without judgement that allows me to find my own rhythm.

Today I am still tired.  The exhaustion lurks behind my eyelids.  It is a companion that has been with me most of my life.  I acknowledge its presence.  I acknowledge that it is a tool I can use to shape a flow of loving kindness.  And I tell it, “Not today.”  Then I make myself another bottle of caffeine and get to work.

 

Snippet: John and Mary

The bride was having a meltdown over the demon in the lobby.  “I don’t care if he’s with a conference!  I don’t want a blue guy in the background of my wedding photos!”

Mary and John watched, amused, as the bride’s parents, groom and hotel personnel all failed to calm her.

“I bet she finagles a comped suite and brunch for the family,” Mary whispered to John.  They stood several feet away, outside the Oak Room.  The bride’s raised voice had stopped them on the way into the Friday night meet and greet.

“You think she’s faking it?” John asked.

“I think she’s exaggerating.”

“You think or you know?”

“I’m not going to waste my time trying to read the mind of a bridezilla.  Whenever no one is looking she rolls her eyes.”  As they watched, the bride slapped away her mother’s conciliatory hands.

“No!  This is my day!”

“See what we missed out on by eloping?”  John kissed Mary’s forehead as she laughed at him.

“Middle-aged brides look ridiculous in white gowns.”

“You would have looked lovely.”  John leaned forward and whispered in her ear, “You do look lovely.”

“Thank you.  You aren’t half bad yourself.”

“Think we should find the offensive demon and ask him to change color?”

“I have half a mind to ask all the demons to take on the rainbow.”  They left the bride to her problems and entered the room.

The meet and greet was already in full swing.

 


A snippet from the beginning of a novel about demons, magic, witches, Dante’s Inferno and a bunch of other stuff. I might even finish it one day.

Snippet: The Slope

(A piece of fiction written about a LARP character.)

The rats screech and squeak in fear as Alice tosses them into the web. They struggle, clawing and biting, tiny nails scratching the air in a vain attempt to escape. Alice notes that the monstrous spider waits before skittering along the web, dancing to her dinner. Perhaps the thrashing tenderizes the meat, or maybe terror is a succulent marinade.

Alice watches the spider quickly wrap each rat in silk. They make neat, lozenge shaped packages. They are tiny compared to the massive bulk of the spider. Pet store rats can’t be all that satisfying.

Alice tilts her head, considering. Cats would be only slightly more difficult to obtain. The same goes for dogs. But they could be gotten, and would provide better fare. Alice imagines the struggles of a tabby or mutt. She calculates the size of a mummified retriever.

Of course there are even larger prey she could obtain.

Little tow-headed toddlers, lured from the playground or bright-eyed teen-age girls promised a chance at modeling. With the start of the school year there are plenty of freshmen hanging out in parking lots stoned or drunk. The streets are full of homeless men, unemployed and desperate for money who could be overpowered with a taser.

Alice imagines all of them wriggling and crying, pleading to be released. The glamour to be reaped would be oh so delicious.

The spider has withdrawn to its hole at the roots of the dead and withered oak. All that remains of the rats is the cardboard box in which Alice transported them. Alice gives herself a shake, slightly disgusted by the fantasies she entertained, mostly saddened by them.

There’s so much talk of the slippery slopes, of destroying fetches leading to the wholesale murder of humans, she thinks. But it’s not a slope. It’s a drop off.

An unmarked drop off.

And so one must occasionally feel one’s way to the edge, moving slowly, and with deliberation to mark where the ground falls away, or else one risks imitating the cartoon coyote, running on air, solid ground just out of reach. At that point one must remember not to look down.

They hardly ever remember.

Alice backs away from the ledge. The way is clearly marked, the lines apparent. A rat is a rat. A human is a human. The former is for eating, the latter not.

Alice picks up the box and leaves. She’ll not revisit the pet store any time soon. The spider can catch its own meals.

Snippets: Transylvania Community College

“You said to ‘kill my darlings.'”

“That’s not—!”  Prudella pinched the bridge of her nose and closed her eyes.  “I didn’t mean literally.  It’s a saying.  It means to cut out those phrases you love.”

“Well, I didn’t know that!”

Prudella counted to four, took a breath and opened her eyes.  The ghoul sitting across the desk from her wore a wrinkled, pained expression, accented by the jagged scar that ran like a fissure across her face.  It was a toss up as to whether the ghoul was more concerned about the bodies in the wheelbarrow behind her or her grade in Fiction Writing 101.

“It’s okay.  A beginner’s mistake.”  Prudella pushed the box of tissues across the desk.  On the cubicle wall opposite a poster reminded her that that everyone at Transylvania Community College was there to help students succeed.

“What should I do?”

“Go over your manuscript again and bring it to the next class.  Oh, and maybe talk to Irving.  He’s a necromancer, I think.”

“The term is ‘resurrectionist,'” the ghoul said around her soggy tissue nose blowing.

“Do they?”  Prudella watched the ghoul maneuver her load between the adjunct professors’ cubicles and made a mental note to ask Irving at the next class what term he preferred.  Then she reminded herself she had another dozen Composition 101 papers to grade before her next student conference.  This week’s assignment had been “how-to” articles.   Already she’d read three point by point grave robbing tutorials.

“Back into the fray,” she sighed.  But first, coffee.