Tuesday, December 13, 2011


As I've been working with eco dyeing and leaf printing for the last month...

my thoughts have continued to return to Gerard Manley Hopkin's poem:

Spring and Fall: To a Young Child

Márgarét, are you gríeving
Over Goldengrove unleaving?
Leáves, líke the things of man, you
With your fresh thoughts care for, can you?
Ah!  ás the heart grows older
It will come to such sights colder
By and by, nor spare a sigh
Though worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie;
And yet you wíll weep and know why.
Now no matter, child, the name:
Sórrow's spríngs áre the same.
Nor mouth had, no nor mind, expressed
What heart heard of, ghost guessed:
It ís the blight man was born for,
It is Margaret you mourn for.

The child Margaret is sad about the autumn leaves dropping from the trees (unleaving), and the poet appreciates her innocent sorrow, but knows that other sorrows  will eventually cause her to weep.  Death and loss are part of the cycle of nature, and in the end, with each loss it is ourselves for whom we mourn.  

As I outlined the leaves on the eco prints, I kept thinking about the term "unleaving," and decided to make an Alzheimer's Art Quilt using leaf prints and the word "unleaving."

Memories fall away from our loved ones as the colorful leaves fall away from trees in autumn. Our loved ones recede from us gradually...


As their memories ebb, the singular, distinctive persona also fades because experiences, memories make us all who we are.  The unique individual, the person we remember even if they no longer remember us, begins to disappear, to retreat, to unleave while the body remains.   And, yes, it is ourselves for whom we grieve as we contemplate the loss of a parent or loved one.  

The habotai silk on which the leaves are printed was dyed in a leaf dye pot, a variety of leaves went into it.  The muslin was dyed with rosemary (just long enough to knock down the white a bit) and so was the cheesecloth which covers portions of the quilt like a web.  The beads represent the brightness, the uniqueness of the memories that are being lost.

I think I'll make another quilt or two before registering this one, and oh, I have one left over from September that I hadn't quite finished when I mailed in the others.

I've been reading again, after a month or more of a pretty dry spell in the reading category.  I've ordered a few more bargain kindle books from Amazon and have an order of real books that should be delivered soon, but I need to get to the library!

What's on your agenda today?  Any good book suggestions?


  1. Absolutely lovely! My eco dying this past summer was a bit of failure..nothing was very dark and I ended up dumping dye into the carrot tops etc.combos. Yours is just lovely and it makes a fabulous AAQI quilt!

  2. I just reread Not Becoming My Mother. I have really liked it both times :)

    And I just started The Help, very good so far.

  3. Wonderful post, and enjoyed 'unleaving'- the poem, the thoughts and the idea.

  4. So thoughtfully stitched, JenClair. Thank you!

  5. Michele - I've had more failures than successes. Some pieces have been through multiple dye baths in attempts to get something pleasing. A few of the leaf prints are pretty clear, but still not as intense as I'd like. I'm still experimenting!

    Nancy - I'll add Not Becoming My Mother to my list (although I do wish I had more of my mother's good qualities, I'm sure my children would be interested in not becoming me!)

    Suz - Thanks, Suz. Hopkins has long been one of my favorite poets, and I love this poem.

    Debra - Thanks, Debra. Stitching can be a thoughtful exercise, can't it? Hands busy, mind free...

  6. That is really beautiful. And the leaves falling, one by one, is so symbolic of the fluttering away of one's memories, leaf by leaf.

  7. Unleaving, what an interesting poem and a lovely piece of stitching! As for books, have you read Cutting for Stone? It's a good one.

  8. Just popping in to wish you and yours a Beautiful, Blessed Christmas. I need to work on posting more, been babysitting my new grandson and it's seems more involved than I remember!! Love the quilt and the new dolls too.......y'all take care!

  9. Rian - Thanks, Rian. Yes, a gradual, but relentless process. The leaves just seem symbolic.

    Judy - I haven't read Cutting for Stone, but I've seen several very positive reviews. Thanks for the recommendation!

    suesue - :) You've had your hands full, then. A Merry Christmas to you and yours and your precious new grandson!

  10. A lovely piece! I've always liked that poem and have wanted to put it in a quilt. Your version is wonderful.

    What I've read recently that I liked: The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes; The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach; 11/22/63 by Stephen King; The Scorpio Races don't know the author, it's a YA book. Also The Better Angels of Our Nature by Stephen Pinker. Currently reading 1Q84 by Murakami. As you can see I've been doing more reading that sewing, but hope to change back after Christmas.

  11. Kay - Thanks, Kay! It is such a lovely spill of words, but Hopkins is so good at that.

    Thanks for a great list of books that I'm adding to my list. 1Q84 was already on my list, but I need to move it up closer to the top. I like Stephen Pinker, too, but wasn't familiar with this one. I love stuff about how the mind/brain works and on language, which Pinker always does well. The Scorpio Races sounds like my kind of thing, too. I'll have to check on the others as well. Thanks again for sharing!


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