It’s been a while since I really got to do some embroidery work. If you follow us on Instagram you’ve seen there is all kinds of creative work going on around Casa Craftypodes, but very little of it has been my embroidery. I’ve really been enjoying working on EPP hexies in my time between projects (yes, I have projects to work on while I’m taking time off from working on projects). I’ve made a few gifts for friends, and we’ve managed to get Christmas gifts for family finished before Christmas Eve this year! We won’t be releasing more patterns until next year, so I have some time to work on something that does not come from one of our To Do lists.
There’s this map I’ve been in love with for a very long time. In fact, it’s the map that made me realize how much I love maps as pieces of art. I’ve wanted to stitch this map for some time now, so the first step was to draw it.
Yes… THAT map! I know some people will question my geek cred for saying this, but geekdom is huge and there’s plenty of room for variety… I don’t like Tolkien’s writing and have never managed to read his books. I’ve tried! I have The Hobbit , the LotR trilogy, The Silmarillion, and a very small companion book titled Understanding Tolkien and The Lord of the Rings. My grandfather gave them all to me when I was much younger and I’ve kicked myself for years for not being able to just force myself to keep reading until I finish them.
The story is wonderful! I have enjoyed the movies, and I’d love to be able to compare and contrast them with the books the way I do with other movie adaptations of literature. I have a lot of feelings about individual characters like Boromir and Gollum, and I’m very firm in my opinion that Samwise Gamgee is actually the hero, not Frodo Baggins. I just hate Tolkien’s writing style. It puts me to sleep. I much prefer reading his friend C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia.
But that map! I’ve spent hours just looking at Thorin’s map inside the cover of the book. The maps in Tolkien’s books were the first fantasy maps I ever saw and I’ve always been disappointed when other fantasy novels don’t have maps, or the maps just don’t really stand up as a piece of art.
Here’s my drawing of the map after I finished going over it in ink. I need the lines to be very dark so I can use a lightbox and trace over them again on the fabric with a special washable pen.
It’s especially frustrating to me that I can’t force myself through The Hobbit (I last tried just a couple of years ago) because it’s really about the dwarves. I love dwarves… they’re tiny barbarians! I’m really not a fan of elves. That doesn’t apply to House Elves or Christmas Elves, who are really brownies. One could point out that Tolkien’s elves aren’t really elves, either. He reluctantly used the word because of other trends at the time, but had been calling them fairies before. Yeah… I don’t trust fairies, either. My feelings about various fantasy creatures have largely been shaped more by folklore and mythology than Disney movies. (Though I do love Disney movies, and let’s not forget Maleficent is not a friendly fairy!) I’m really more of a sword-and-sorcery fantasy fan than high fantasy. If it weren’t for dwarves, I might not care about high fantasy at all. So in the eternal battle for dominance between elves and dwarves, I will always be Team Beards and Hammers.
I love Tolkien’s world, even if I don’t love his actual writing. I like discussing characters and events with people, but I do caution that I’m only coming from the point of view of having seen the movies and played LOTRO. I cannot discuss the books. I have friends who would say anyone who wants to stitch Thorin’s map has a place somewhere in the fandom. Maybe my place is just a little hole.
“Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort.”