Sunday, March 27, 2011

French Knots as Life Metaphor

Southern girls learn to do handwork. It doesn't really matter if you have an aptitude for it or not, you learn some basics. You don't have to know everything, but you should know how to sew, crochet, knit or embroider - hopefully more than one of those.

My mother was not a fan of doing handwork, other than sewing, which she found practical and useful. However, she did teach me to embroider. I'm sure she wouldn't mind me saying that I showed more interest in it than she did, even from the beginning.

My favorite thing was the French Knot. It requires a little bit of technique to make one, but it's very forgiving in the finished project. You wrap the thread around the needle a few times and then put it back through the fabric, leaving a nice little "lump" there.

As you can see from this piece I picked up at a garage sale recently, you can do beautiful things with this one technique. I love the pointillism effect of them gathered together.

It's somewhat unusual to find them on a vintage piece, especially in a quantity like this. French Knots have had an undeserved reputation of being very difficult.

You must remember people were learning to embroider before we had the internet with instructions and patterns for everything one might want to try just a few clicks away. Fortunately, Mama knew how to make French Knots and she taught me.

I was in love with them from the beginning. I'm not sure why, exactly, except that they seemed significant. With just a thin bit of thread and a needle as a tool, we were creating something more ample and beautiful than you would imagine possible looking at the raw components.

French Knots are substantial and yet delicate at the same time. That's a lovely metaphor for how I've always wanted to be as a person. French Knots have, no doubt, succeeded at blending those qualities far more than I ever have. But as Scarlet says, "Tomorrow is another day."

Indeed it is, Ms. O'Hara. And if I could spare the time I'd make a few French Knots.