A tale by mail

Sylvia Linsteadt is a writer unlike any other. For one thing, her writing is almost organic; it springs from the brush and the creeks of the Bay Area in San Francisco, smelling of fennel and juniper. Sylvia spins yarns both figuratively and literally, wrapping her tales in skeins of hand-spun and dyed thread, creating story cases from hand dyed and felted fabric. And when she's done, these cases, along with beautifully wrapped, thoughtful packages of tales are sent out to the world. One of these found its way to me; the story Our Lady of Nettles wended its way here earlier this week.


To call Sylvia's work mere mail order stories would be doing her a great disservice. So much love and care was put into my little envelope; stamped with images from her tales, sealed with a dove wax stamp, the tale bound with a hand spun and nettle dyed thread.
The tale itself is a curious thing, partially narrated by nameless nettles. I am taking my time to soak it up, hoping it will inspire me in the writing of a tale of my own.
Sylvia's stories and felted story cases can be purchased at Wild Talewort. Her rather excellent blog can be read here.


Write again soon.

Letter writing is the only device for combining solitude with good company.”  ~ Lord Byron
I received this gorgeous handcrafted letter whilst a mutual friend of the correspondent and myself were settling down to a cup of tea. All of a sudden the scene became something out of Austen; the letter was read aloud and had us all a-flutter; we swapped recent news on the letter writer and remembered her fondly.
I don’t know if my recent shout out for penpals via my Tumblr was borne out of reading too much Pride and Prejudice, or a long-held love of all things analogue. For years I’ve taken and developed film and Polaroid photographs, bashed away at a couple of old typewriters, and more recently, stitched like mad, only for the products of each endeavour to wind up showcased on the internet. I realise the irony in digitising work I’ve taken pains to do the “old fashioned way”, and there is a danger that some of its original charm is lost in translation, but how else to reach a wide audience? 
Letter writing gives me the opportunity to reach out just as far, but in a far more intimate fashion. As one of my penpals observed in her first letter to me, exchanging letters is a wonderful way to get to know someone. A letter may be deliberated over in a way that a text or email never could be, and does seem to go awfully well with tea! (There I go reading too much  Austen again!)
A week or so ago I was having something of a dreadful day and staggered through the front door ready to collapse on to the sofa, when I discovered a letter waiting for me on the front door mat. The fact that someone had taken the time to write to me, and the excitement of not knowing what the letter would contain, instantly raised my spirits (not to mention the generous stash of glittery goodies contained within!) I was so cheered up, in fact, that I got on with a number of creative projects rather than collapsing in a heap.
So go on, pick up the pen and make someone’s day. You might just make a new friend in the process.
It’s to bed with (what else?) Pride and Prejudice for me for now, but I promise to write again soon.
Letter Batch # 2
Letter Batch #2
Letter Batch #2
An embroidered patch I made as a gift to a penpal
Letter Batch #1: A Halloween card
Letter Batch #1: A Halloween card
Halloween envelopes
Sealed with gingham tape