Aspasía S. Bissas
Aspasía S. Bissas
I think I’ve mentioned before that I’m a huge fan of embroidery (AKA needlepoint, although it’s not quite the same thing). It’s not only that I find the results visually appealing, but it’s one of my favourite pastimes, as well. I was taught tapestry needlepoint when I was five, after which I forgot about it until I was a stressed university student and decided to take it up again. I’ve since tried other types of embroidery, including cross stitch, but tapestry is still my favourite; I’ve completed at least a couple of dozen over the years.
It occurred to me that embroidery and writing have a lot in common. In both cases you put together small units (stitches/words) in a precise and harmonious way over the course of weeks and months (sometimes years) until you’ve created a completed piece that tells a story. I also get a similar sense of satisfaction when I’ve completed an embroidery as I do when I’ve finished a story. Maybe needlepoint and writing activate similar parts of the brain. Then again, maybe it’s just me.
Whatever the case, books have definitely provided all kinds of inspiration for the embroiderers of the world. I thought I’d share some of the best literary-themed embroidery I’ve found. Are you a fan of embroidery/needlepoint? Share in the comments…
My first choice has a cute design, good colours, and a message you can’t argue with 🙂
This next piece came from an article on embroidered book covers. Check it out to see some other gorgeous works (although this one is my favourite).
For those who prefer a pattern, there’s also this classic cover in cross-stitch…
I couldn’t decide between these two Shakespearean cross-stitch pieces, so I’m sharing both. The first is a quote from “As You Like It,” and features what could basically be my personal coat-of-arms (books, comfy chair, cat, coffee/tea). The second is stage directions from “The Winter’s Tale,” and is just funny.
O.M.G. I don’t think I could find a better bookmark than this cross-stitch mashup of book culture and pop culture…
I love this tapestry portrait of Virginia Woolf (although I could do without the cigarette, and really, a pen would have made more sense).
A character portrait is also a good option…
Cats, books, colour– what more could you ask? And this looks like it would be a lot of fun to work on.
I love this updated take on the needlepoint classic of pink roses on a black background. And it’s always good to be honest 😉
Lastly, this cross-stitch that honours my favourite genre…
If you prefer a good paperback to an ebook, order Love Lies Bleeding from Bookshop – a portion of each sale goes directly to independent bookstores, as well as to myself. Thank you for supporting indie! ♥
Aspasía S. Bissas
Love Lies Bleeding‘s readers know that main character Mara is both a vampire and a botanist. Trained in botany and herbalism when she was still human, she continues to study plants and have a garden. This post is eighth in a series exploring Mara’s plants. Are you interested in botany, gardening, or plant lore? So are some vampires…
Please note: Medicinal uses are given for informational purposes only. Always consult a medical professional before diagnosing or treating yourself or anyone else.
Read more of the WHO’s coronavirus/COVID-19 advice here.
Botanical Name: Allium sativum
Common Names: Ajo, Allium, Clove Garlic, Camphor of the Poor, Poor Man’s Treacle, Stinking Rose, Serpent Garlic, Spanish Garlic, Common Garlic
History: Native to Central Asia, garlic has naturalized in many areas and can even be a weed in some places. Garlic has been used in food, medicine, and in religious rituals for thousands of years. Ancient Greeks left it at crossroads as an offering to the Goddess Hekate. Medieval European folklore claims that garlic can be used to repel demons, vampires, and werewolves. Historically, garlic has been used to improve strength and endurance; to treat snake bites, arthritis, and respiratory illnesses; as a cure-all; and as an antibiotic (it was used in both World Wars to prevent gangrene in wounds).
Victorian Language of Flowers Meaning: Courage, strength, or as a ward against illness or “evil spirits” (unwanted suitors).
Cultivation: Perennial. Hardy in Zones 4 to 9, but can be grown in Zone 3. Prefers full sun and loose, dry, well-drained soil high in organic matter. There are two sub-species of garlic: hard necked and soft necked, as well as hundreds of varieties and cultivars. Hard-neck garlic generally grows in cooler climates and produces larger cloves; soft-neck varieties are smaller and tend to be grown in hotter climates. Garlic can be grown year-round in milder climates. In colder climates, plant individual cloves about 6 weeks before the ground freezes. To plant, loosen soil to a depth of 8 inches and plant cloves (pointy end up) 3 to 4 inches deep. Garlic can be planted close together (as long as there’s room for the bulb to mature) and can also be grown in pots. Cover planting area with about 6 inches of straw to help protect the cloves over the winter. Harvest in late spring or early summer. Garlic bulbs are susceptible to a few diseases, as well as to leek moth (AKA onion leaf miner).
Culinary: The bulb and scapes are edible and used in a wide variety of savoury (and some sweet) dishes. The flowers are also edible, although they have a much milder flavour than the bulb or scapes. Immature (or “green”) garlic can be pulled and used like scallions. Black garlic is heat aged over several weeks to create a subtle sweet flavour that can be slathered on bread or added to vinaigrettes and sauces. Garlic can be dried or stored in vinegar, but storing in oil can result in botulism poisoning (see below for link on safely storing and preserving garlic).
Some popular garlic recipes include:
Traditionally served as a sauce with fish or roast meat, skordalia is also good as a dip with vegetables, french fries, and pita bread triangles.
2-3 medium to large potatoes, peeled, and cut in half
10 large cloves garlic, minced or grated finely
scant 1/4 cup white vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup olive oil (or vegetable oil for a milder flavour)
1/2 cup reserved cooking water (optional)
Place potatoes in medium saucepan over high heat. Add enough water to cover. Bring to boil and lower heat to medium. Cook until potatoes are soft (about 30 minutes). Drain potatoes, reserving cooking water. Leave potatoes in saucepan and mash. You should have about 2 cups of mashed potatoes. Add minced garlic to mashed potatoes. Add vinegar and salt, stirring briefly after each addition. Add oil. Stir well. If serving as a dip, no further additions are necessary. If serving as a sauce, add reserved cooking liquid, a little at a time, until desired consistency is reached. Serve at room temperature. Note: This keeps well refrigerated for 4-5 days.
Makes 6 to 8 servings
Tip: Garlic breath can be most effectively minimized by drinking milk with the garlic (it doesn’t work if you drink milk afterwards or with skim milk).
Companion planting: Garlic is said to repel rabbits and moles, and to improve roses when planted near them.
Mosquito repellent: Anecdotal evidence suggests that eating garlic makes you less attractive to mosquitoes. Research shows that garlic may repel ticks, although not as well as commercial tick repellents.
Crafts: You can braid soft-neck garlic (see link below).
Medicinal: Garlic supplements vary widely in quality and efficacy– make sure to buy one (preferably enteric coated to protect the stomach) from a reputable manufacturer. Cooking garlic may remove some of its medicinal benefits, while raw garlic can cause indigestion or gastrointestinal distress, although black garlic retains its medicinal benefits without causing irritation. Garlic is most commonly used to boost immunity against infection, for lowering cholesterol, to prevent atherosclerosis, and to both prevent and help recover from heart attacks and other cardiovascular diseases. Research has shown that it may lower your chances of developing some kinds of cancer.
Caution: Don’t take garlic supplements if you’re taking anticoagulants (blood thinning medication) or have a clotting disorder. Garlic can also interfere with some medications, including some antibiotics and hypoglycemic drugs. Avoid taking garlic medicinally while pregnant or breastfeeding.
Caution 2: Applying raw garlic to the skin can cause burns, especially in children.
Mara’s Uses: Mara does not use garlic in any form because it is toxic to her and other vampires (find out why in Love Lies Bleeding). Blood from humans who take garlic supplements is unpalatable to vampires. Blades are sometimes coated in garlic oil as a way of exacerbating a vampire’s wounds.
Aspasía S. Bissas
If you prefer a good paperback to an ebook, then order Love Lies Bleeding from an independent bookshop and support small businesses when they need it most. Click here and scroll down for the full list of available online shops.
How to Braid Garlic (video)
“Creativity is an inherent human quality of the highest order. When we create, we become more than the sum of our parts.” –Yanni
Aspasía S. Bissas