viola tee

I grew up with a sister who played the viola, and spent a lot of her time telling people that no, it is not a violin, and no, it is not pronounced like the flower, or the name. Until this year, I had no real need to pronounce them the other way, and I had nothing to do with the flowers really. Or anyone called Viola, which is hardly a common name in my country. This all changed this spring, when I decided I wanted to put some ground-cover flowers into my garden, and violas were my favourites of the options in the store. I think they’re rather a sweet flower, actually.


This fabric has been sitting in my stash with the intention of becoming a Scout tee for rather a long time, but I always thought it was just a little boring to stand alone – much as I love the fabric. My initial plan was to block print some leafy pattern onto it, but that was not happening and not happening, so when I was going out to my Granddad’s house for a day I decided to bring along the fabric and some embroidery threads, and see what might happen. And this all happened just a little after I planted my tiny wee violas in the garden. So when it came to deciding what to embroider, that was top of the list. (I’ve only ever embroidered two garments, and both of them are based on my favourite garden plant at the time…)


I admit that the vine and other flowers are based on nothing in particular, just a general sense of floralness. I feel a little sad about this, but they did give the impression I wanted, and I still think it looks lovely.

I did the embroidery by tracing out the pattern onto the fabric, but only cutting it very roughly around the neck area, so that I had enough fabric for the hoop without it distorting anything. For anyone who’s interested, the technical details are: stem stitch for all the stems, french knots for the tiny flowers, and Anundsjö stitch (this was a new one to me) for the leaves, big flower, and butterfly. I like this stitch because it gives a colour fill in the same way as a satin stitch, but it’s lighter in weight and therefore fits better with the very lightweight cotton lawn for the tee – real satin stitch would be far too stiff.


I am pretty proud of my insides. I wanted to make them as neat as possible – there was no way I was lining this, it’s designed for the heat, but I need to be able to wash it without anything snagging or pulling out.


(admittedly the butterfly was the best, as it was the last I did But nothing’s very messy)

I guess I should also include some photos of it on me…


but, I mean, you’ve seen Scout tees before, on me. It’s exactly the same in the fit and the way it sits.


and it’s FANTASTIC in this heat. I need everything I own to be made out of this fabric. (Unfortunately, you have to wear pants or a skirt with a tee like this, and none of the ones I have are quite as good in the heat as this top. But they’re ok.)

This week, actually, has been a really interesting demonstration of how much humidity affects the heat. I spent five days in Gulu last week, which is in the north of Uganda; it’s a good 5-6 degrees hotter there, but it also has very pronounced wet and dry seasons, and this is the dry season. Returning to Kampala, I’m noticing that I actually find the heat more difficult here, because it’s humid. There are certainly other factors – such as that I live on the top of a hill, whereas Gulu is flat – but I really miss the dry, clean heat up there, compared to Kampala.

Actually, I just miss Gulu. I was visiting some New Zealanders there, friends of a friend of mine – I had not met them before, but we had a wonderful week together, and I really enjoyed seeing what they do and where they live and just getting to hang out with people who also enjoy card games and chat and have some similar values and (of course) cultural backgrounds, being also from my country. I was originally only going to be there for three days, but I pushed it out by a day twice. Not a very hard decision.

The photos show where I was staying; they live in a mud hut, with a second one for guests (which was filled by someone else). The third photo was my room, in a house on the same clearing – I spent very little time there though. As you can see it is rather basic, with only a mattress and mosquito net, and did not even have electricity (this is a drama, as I gather, there have been problems with getting the electricity connected – the mud huts run on solar).

For some reason today I have rather a lot of outtakes, so here are a few!

Have a great week.

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