Every writer adds bits of their interests into their novels—things that fascinate them. At the end of Screwing Up Time, Miranda gives Mark an embroidered gift. And, guess what, embroidery fascinates me. I love the Bayeux Tapestry, which is more embroidery than weaving and details the Norman conquest of England--see not all embroidery is flowers.
So what’s the story behind my fascination? My mom was old European so I had to learn skills that Europeans viewed as important womanly accomplishments—stuff like cross-stitch (yuck), needlepoint (really yuck), embroidery, and sewing. Somehow I missed out on knitting, crocheting, and tatting (which actually looks kind of cool). Maybe my lack of interest—if you’re bad at something, people stop teaching—made her give up before we got to knitting. I did do a bit of weaving. My Swiss aunt was a professional weaver and helped me weave a scarf made out of heavy raw silk. Actually, I only did a small bit and it looked terrible--she finished it for me. At any rate, my uncle was an architect and designed a house around her looms. She could weave and look out the glass walls down the mountain and into the village of Altdorf below. (BTW, I’m sure I could write a bestseller/weave silk/embroider the Bayeux tapestry from a private chalet in the Alps—just sayin’)
Though I've given up most of the "womanly" arts, I’ve gone back to sewing and embroidery. I sew for myself, and for my kids I sew the Renaissance costumes that they wear when their Shakespeare troupe puts on a play. And I do embroidery because I like beautiful linens. I love embroidered tablecloths and napkins, sheets, and pillowcases. I even have a very old embroidered linen napkin that belonged to my great-great grandmother. Even though it’s age-stained, I love to feel the butter-soft fabric and dream about the summer villa where my grandmother used to go as a child. For me, beautiful linens are embroidered with dreams. And that’s why Miranda gives the gift to Mark—it’s embroidered with her dreams.
Here’s a photo of a pillowcase I embroidered for my daughter’s 20th birthday.
I was recently interviewed on the blog Searching for Heroes. Here's the link.