Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Dreams Captured in Thread

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.


  1. That is gorgeous, Connie! I'm super impressed! I can knit, but only scarves--my talent stops there :)

  2. Beautiful work! I love the history of it in your family. How cool is that. There's a story in there somewhere - I'm sure of it :)

    I think I could quite happily write from a private chalet in the Alps too :)

  3. I love crocheting in the winter but I have to say, that embroidered case is amazing. I wish I had the time to take up more crafts.

  4. My mom used to do all those "womanly" arts. Now she just quilts (which is very timing consuming).

    I love embroidered linens. I just don't have time to do them (um, or the skill). Your one is gorgeous.

  5. beautiful job! Yeah, it always sounds so relaxing and satisfying in Austen novels. But I usually just end up poking my finger with the needle and making knots. Oh well!

  6. That's a beautiful design. :)

    I love needlework; it takes time, but the end products can be amazing.

  7. This is an extremely good looking design. I really like reading through your blog. Nice job with writing.


  8. I want to save up for a large format embroidery machine. I know doing it by hand is more meaningful, but I barely have enough time to sew as it is.

    One thing I'd like to get into, which is sort of like embroidery, is smocking.

  9. Kimberlee,

    When my daughter was little, I smocked a dress and a bonnet for her. It was so much fun!

  10. That embroidery is beautiful, Connie. I too grew up sewing and knitting and "making things" because that's what my mother did. I rarely do any of it now (I prefer to paint), but I know I can if I want to. Perhaps it is a creative basis out of which writing can grow!