Hi, welcome to String Revolution. I'm Léan, I live in Dublin with my husband and two little boys, and I am a dangerous stringy subversive.
My job is to radiate my creative truth, and to help you radiate yours. I create, without exception, every day. I write here when I have something to say.

(learn more about me).

A Beaded Box

Beaded box, with lid on

That cluster of beading I showed you, from the Cork workshop – what did I do with it next?

It became the lid of a little box, which holds some earrings I made for my mother’s birthday.

The outer part is made of high-moral-fibre organic fair-trade cotton velvet, and the box is lined with some silk that I bought at that same event in Cork. I used two weights of card for the structure: some thicker stuff from the box our new router came in, and some thinner stuff from a cereal packet. Each piece is separately padded and glued, and they’re then sewn together.
Continue reading A Beaded Box

String Songs: The Weaver and the Factory Maid

Look, look, it’s a series!

A little while ago I published my first audio post, featuring me singing “Tuirne Mháire”, a traditional Irish song about a spinning wheel.

This week I recorded a second song, “The Weaver and the Factory Maid” – as performed by those linchpins of English electric folk, the fabulous Maddy Prior and Steeleye Span. We had their Parcel of Rogues album when I was growing up, and this was always one of my favourite songs.

My version doesn’t have any of the gorgeous crunchy instruments or harmonies, obviously, since it was just me and my phone (…in the bathroom, on account of the acoustics), but I rather like how it turned out.
Continue reading String Songs: The Weaver and the Factory Maid

Big Messes

Beady doodle 1

Right. About that veiled reference in a recent post to other things I made in March.

It was all rather lovely, actually.

Some time in February, I saw a notice about the Cork Textiles Network‘s 2011 conference, Function & Form in Textiles, to be held on 5-6 March in Cork city. As soon as I read the details I realised that I really, really wanted to go.

So I did.
Continue reading Big Messes


Root & Branch quilt hanging in IPS Eastern Branch exhibition, Dalkey Heritage Centre, April 2011

Yesterday I went to see my quilt in an exhibition.

Here’s how it was

I parked opposite the Dalkey Heritage Centre, and everyone (self, two children, mother-in-law, friend) got out of the car. I hoisted the Feaster onto my hip and we all crossed the road.

As we entered the lobby, there was a sudden, breathless hush. After a few moments, I began to hear whispers – “Is that her? Really? I think it might be! I think it really is! Oh, my. I’ve never seen her before. I was expecting someone taller.”

Respectfully, a staff member approached me and asked if I might perhaps be the auteur of “Root & Branch”.

“We’ve been expecting you,” she said, when I graciously confirmed that I was. “Please – come this way.”
Continue reading Hung!


Twenty-seven spools of thread

Today I’m going to tell you a story.

It came to mind when I was thinking about why I’d been so reticent in March (because actually, the quilt of great joy isn’t the only stringy thing I did last month).

There are all sorts of strands to that particular tangle, and this story illustrates one of them. It’s about a conversation I don’t remember; it was recounted to me years later by a family friend, a college-mate of my parents.
Continue reading Twenty-Seven

Quilt: Root & Branch

Quilt detail

It is difficult to exaggerate how much I have been not posting here this month.

Yes, my friends. Whereas you might have thought I merely haven’t been posting, in fact I have been actively and positively not posting.

I have a problem.

It’s about visibility.

It’s about showing my process.

It’s about some very old fears and monsters.
Continue reading Quilt: Root & Branch

String Songs: Tuirne Mháire

I’ve been wanting to try out audio here at String Revolution for a while. Recently, I had a flash of what may be inspiration – and may equally be idiocy – and decided to combine two of my Grand Passions.

String (obviously). And singing.

Songs featuring the stringy arts.

About as obscure a little niche as you could hope to meet.

Of course, it turns out that I know, like, two songs that centrally feature textiles. And maybe, when I’ve sung those, I’ll stop. But maybe … maybe … you’ll help me discover more! That would be marvellous.

Here we go

Anyway, I’ve recorded the first song. To compound the nichiness, it’s in Irish: it’s a sean nós song called Tuirne Mháire (“Mary’s spinning wheel”).
Continue reading String Songs: Tuirne Mháire

The Fibre of My Being

Medieval capital, somewhere in rural France

[Photo by the incomparable Niall Murphy.]

I sometimes wonder what it is about textiles that makes me swoon. (Swoon!)

When I was a child, summer after summer my medievalist academic parents took me and my siblings around the castles, museums, walled towns, and cathedrals of France, Italy, and surrounding countries. It was marvellous. I loved it.

(My little brother didn’t, so much. One year, on our long drive from Dublin to the Continent, we stopped off in Birmingham to visit his version of a cathedral – Villa Park, home ground of his favourite soccer team – on condition that he then come quietly for the rest of the trip.)

I had a well developed aesthetic hierarchy by the time I was eight or nine. Paintings were all very well but rather dull after the first few rooms full. Frescoes were a little more exciting – possibly because of the egg yolk, the urgency, and the antiquity of the technique. Gilding was pretty, in its place (or breathtaking, in Venice); trompe l’oeil was amusing, if done well – and faintly pitiable if not. Intricate medieval statuary was absorbing and endearing, particularly when my mother explained the stories.

The best bits of cathedrals were the stained glass windows (the shapes and – my god – the colour!) and the patterns – floor tiles, pillar capitals, ceiling bosses, window borders. Those were my bits.

It’s a human thirst, this thirst for pattern, balance, repetition, order. I have it bad.
Continue reading The Fibre of My Being

Welcome to the String Revolution

Last week I had a free “marketing checkup” with the fabulous Catherine Caine of Cash & Joy. (Get a checkup of your own by signing up for her excellent newsletter.)

Am I doing a good enough job, Catherine asked, of letting people know what this site is all about? For example, have I explained why it’s called String Revolution in the first place?

And I had to concede that one mention, in my fifth post, way back in July 2009 when this blog was just a few weeks old, might not be entirely sufficient.

So I’m here to repeat myself.
Continue reading Welcome to the String Revolution

Quilting Through the Dark

Squares cut and ready to piece

Well, I seem to have tumbled off the Internet for rather longer than I intended, there. There’s something about midwinter that makes me want to pull into myself, retreat, regroup, curl up in a ball and come to a full stop, just for a little while.

Back in my more overtly Pagan days, I understood this as a simple effect of the Wheel of the Year: the time between Samhain and Solstice is all about spiraling inwards. In recent years I’ve tended to ignore that, powering grimly through the winterval season with two-fisted festive cheer. For whatever reason, though, the need for silence and solitude really hit me at the end of 2010.

I have been mostly

My urge to connect has taken its time to reemerge, but I have not been idle! By no means! In fact, I’ve done more patchwork and quilting in the past six weeks than (possibly) ever before.
Continue reading Quilting Through the Dark