Mourning cloak


I stitched a strip of lovely peaceful blue and brown scraps, thinking the robe would move in a direction full of color and light. I felt like I was on vacation in Mexico or the Caribbean.

Then I draped the robe over the guest bed, where a cloth had been resting for a long while. This cloth, a thin black wool (?) with muted tan, red and blue strips and metallic threads woven in, was waiting to see if it wanted to become a pillow cover. So far, it didn’t.

When the cloth met the robe, there was an immediate affinity. Something really appealed to me about wearing this beautiful cloth wrapped around me. I thought of cutting it to coat the robe in linear strips. I realized the feeling of this cloth was in direct opposition to the peaceful blues. I couldn’t reconcile it, so I went to sleep on it.

In the morning, I had new vision — the cloth as a drape, around the shoulders of the robe, maybe asymmetrically, maybe stitching down the wrinkles as Jude shows on her blog. I hate wearing shawls because I can’t keep them on and they interfere with tasks, but this could become a stitched-down shawl shape.

I tried it out. Then I made a hood by pulling the back of the cloth around the sconce light. The way it looked actually frightened me. It reminded me a lot of the image of the Abu Ghraib torture victim. Ominous, scary, dark, terrible.

Gradually the associations shifted and later that morning the words “mourning cloak” came to me. One of my favorite butterflies that I don’t see much anymore. These words seemed to free up a feeling, a way to stitch into the unimaginable concept of so much death, so much suffering, so much injustice, so much degradation, so much cruelty. The construction I was thinking of started to feel more right, although it still looks damn scary.

I worked a bit more on the draping. It’s going to be tricky. I could get a pleasing arrangement of triangular wings down the sleeves, while leaving enough for a hoodlike semi-circle in the back. Maybe.

I still don’t know what to do with the peaceful blue pieced strip. Include, as a contrast – dark and light? Lining? I think the robe needs a lot more pale tones actually. To set off the beauty of that cloth (a gift from Suzanne) and to honor the solemnity of the time.

It also reminds me of an academic gown.

I really don’t like the purple sheet surface and have to remind myself it’s going to be transformed.

A lot of thought and feeling work involved in a handmade garment. This one anyway. I’m wanting to start another one, an easy pleasant summer top.

8 Responses

  1. jude says:

    love what happened with the draping, how beautiful…

    • Catherine says:

      I’m loving the draping too. Basted yesterday, but something’s not hanging right… giving it a rest.

  2. Grace says:

    Thank you for the Story of your making

  3. Marilee Reyes says:

    I think it’s going to be quite elegant and comforting when you are finished. It seems to be a sheltering garment. Perhaps the drape of the darker fabric resembles angle wings enfolding the future wearer.

  4. Cheryl Fillion says:

    I came over out of curiosity from Jude’s Spirit Cloth blog. I’m mesmerized by the seriousness, yet serendipity of this garment. Mourning brings transformation when allowed, doesn’t it?

    • admin says:

      Thank you for visiting, Cheryl. I have my blog set to auto-approve comments after my first approval, so hope to see you again! My robe is taking a break right now, while I make some small things.

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