Friday, February 26, 2021

A Red Wool Flannel Welsh Dragon

 This winter has been so extremely difficult. Anxiety and restlessness and despair settled into, it seemed, my very being. Logically I know there is no justifiable reason for this and it is probably related to lack of sunshine and the cold weather (warm days and sunshine put me into an immediate cheerful mood) but the last few weeks have been so, so hard. It has been hard to force myself to become very interested in anything and the smallest tasks have seemed exhausting.

Since I know this happens, to some extent, each winter I kind of plan for it. In January I ditched social media for a time (I did reactive Instagram, but am much happier and calmer being off of facebook). I picked up work again on my family tree on and started researching more into my fathers direct line - the Edwards - a hard line to research and such a common name! - but felt it was the right time to do that. My 3x grandfather immigrated to America from Wales in the 1880's and was, himself, born in Wales in 1854. 

I had been reading a book about Welsh superstitions / folk stories around that time in relation to my studies in OBOD - British Goblins: Welsh Folklore, Fairy Mythology, Legends and Traditions by Wirt Sikes - and felt it was a cool connection to be reading about an area my family came. The more I read the book and researched my ancestral connections the more excited and interested I became. I was so grateful at the time to have this to kind of hold onto, to carry me through the dark days of winter and give me motivation to do more than just sort of exist and mechanically go about my days. 

I fell down a few rabbit holes I'm still fascinated by and continuing my research in - Welsh National Dress (yes, there will definitely be a Welsh outfit in my future!) and Welsh cooking - and discovered that Wirt Sikes wrote another great book about daily life in Wales, Rambles and Studies in Old South Wales and once I'm finished with my current book I will begin that one. 

Anyway, I have had little motivation for sewing lately. I have plenty I could and should be doing but it's been hard to even think about threading the machine and getting to work on anything. I did, however, briefly feel interested in making a little stuffed dragon from some red flannel scraps I've had forever. I found Jennifer Carsons etsy shop and fell in love with her whimsical and lovely patterns for all kinds of fantasy creatures. I sensibly bought what seemed to be an easy pattern and what she calls a perfect choice for a first time dragon charmer and I printed it out. The Laying Western Dragon pattern would be a nice little project to work up during the cold dark days of February, or so I thought. 

It took SO. LONG. for me to finish this project. I ended up feeling completely overwhelmed by it and I had to break it down into so many manageable chunks to get it done. This has nothing to do with the pattern, which is well written and clearly illustrated, but everything to do with my own mental state at the time. Little by little though, I kept at it. A seam here, turning a sewn piece there, stuffing later, then sewing the stuffing hole shut a different time.

I used my 1920s treadle to sew together the main pieces and the rest was done by hand. I ended up mostly sewing Dewi - for so I came to call him -  in various half hours of dark evenings after dinner and while everyone else was watching tv in the living room. 

The past week the weather has warmed up and the snow has mostly melted and I feel 100% better and completely different than I did at this time last week. I want to start work on more serious projects so yesterday I sewed the back legs and attached them - something that probably would have taken me a week to do when I was still struggling so much with the winter. 

The red dragon is featured on the Welsh flag and is symbolic of a folk tale in which a red dragon (the Welsh, or Cymry) fights against a white dragon (the English). Red wool flannel is itself very symbolic of Wales, as wool production was extremely important to the Welsh economy. (Even the shifts rural women wore in the early 19th century were often of wool flannel, rather than linen or cotton!) 

If you have never heard the story of the Red Dragon, I highly recommend this Youtube video (and the channel itself  is definitely worth a subscription!) The Story of Lludd, Llyfelus & Y Draig Goch 

Dewi the dragon seemed to evolve into his own sweet  natured person as I stitched him together. He is certainly not a fierce dragon like the one prancing across the flag but I adore him as he is. He has blue eyes, for my father and grandfather Edwards and his name came from the youngest son of my great-great-great grandfather Edwards who came to America with his wife and oldest son in the 1880s. I remember when I first read the names of his children I was suprised to see Dewi at the end of a long line of traditional, "sensible" names. What kind of a name was Dewi? Then I came to find out that Dewi is a common Welsh name, which is a form of the name David. My grandfather Edwards was David and David is my own fathers middle name. 

The background in these pictures is a painting my own son, David, made for me. I want to do a post on all David's paintings soon. He is an amazing artist and I love his work so much! This particular scene of a still lake with trees and hills, in shades of blue and white and green, is so calming and serene. 

So very happy that spring is in a few more weeks! I am so happy to be going into a warmer time of year. 



1 comment:

  1. Oh my goodness. I am in love with this dragon! Such a fun way to further the connections with your ancestors.


Thank you for your lovely thoughts!