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"Just be who you are, calm and clear and bright." - Richard Bach, Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah

On the Nature of (Beautiful) Things


Here’s the very belated Christmas present I mentioned in my post on selfish knitting.



It’s for my dear friend Jill, who gave me some really beautiful vintage clothing after she moved from Minneapolis to the D.C. area last spring.

IMG_6681One of the pieces was her wedding ensemble—embroidered linen, since apparently she was a bit of a hippie! I knew I wouldn’t wear the blouse, so I asked her if it was okay to cut it up and turn it into something else, and she was cool with that. On our Turkey trip we were reading about Lucretius in a New Yorker that got read cover to cover at least twice, so this project was inspired by a line from De Rerum Natura:

Thus things for things shall kindle torches new.

As I ruminated on this line in particular, I became enchanted with the idea of one form of love turning over into another—one kind of love creating another. Elliot and Spencer’s parents, like ours, are no longer married, and as a child of divorce I think about this from time to time: that my parents had to come together because we wanted to enter into the world through them, and that in a cosmic sense they may have had very little choice in the matter. (I don’t actually believe that, but it’s always fun to ruminate on these Big Questions, right?)

So as I stitched, I enjoyed the symbolism in cutting up Jill’s wedding blouse to make something completely different (and equally pretty, I hope).


I did the embroidery 100% freehand. I didn’t have a plan, and I didn’t trace a design onto a piece of Sulky Solvy (though that was my original intention). I wanted to see how it would turn out if I took a more organic, “type B,” anti-perfectionist approach. Actually, I can’t see that it would have turned out any nicer if I had sketched something out beforehand. I’m very happy with it!



I used my all-time favorite calico for the backing.



7 Comments to On the Nature of (Beautiful) Things

  1. September 26, 2013 at 12:48 pm | Permalink

    This is beautiful. I am sure Jill will love it.

    I love the thought of reincarnating things from other things. I don’t know if this is a unique thing, but I converted my wedding veil into my children’s baptismal gown.

  2. September 26, 2013 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

    Love the details you added, they brought it to life. Do you have plans for the rest of the ensemble?

  3. September 26, 2013 at 11:02 pm | Permalink

    Amazing work! Beautiful detail and stitches!! Jill will adore it!

  4. Kate's Gravatar Kate
    September 26, 2013 at 11:51 pm | Permalink

    It looks so beautiful and such great photography of it!

  5. October 16, 2013 at 10:01 pm | Permalink

    beautiful. love the point of inspiration too: Thus things for things shall kindle torches new.

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Hi! I'm Camille. I only write stories that could never ever happen in real life, though I do believe in real-life magic. If we were in the same room I'd fix you a cup of tea, but for now we'll have to settle for a virtual connection. I'm really glad you're here.