altogether lovely

Mulberry silk
Handpainted by Paradisaea
Summer / Fall 2017

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This warp was created especially to celebrate the arrival of our third child and our first baby girl.

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The Big Kid has been slightly worried about the possible concept of having a sister.

“But girls always want to play princess”, he told me one day. “And they want me to join them!"

I told him princesses are a great thing to have. And that it might be that this specific princess is the kind that likes climbing and jumping in puddles too, like her brothers. That seemed to ease him a bit.

He made a good observation there, though. Something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately.

Gender stereotypes are something that is to be avoided. Each girl can be a girl in their own way. Same is true for boys. I have however noticed from the children of friends that a certain phenomenon might often happen when small girls get together. If there is any possibility to play dress up, they’ll easily grasp the chance - and if there’s anything like dresses, necklaces or tiaras around, all the better. Quite many - not all, but many - of the small girls I know have lately been playing Anna and Elsa, non stop.

There’s something about this princess thing that seems to draw them in.

I remember it too - how everything that had a bit of glitter in it, anything that was pink, used to make me feel pretty. And I loved it. I vividly remember eating a four-leaf clover one summer (don’t ask me why I ate it, I was for some reason under the impression that it’s the thing to do) and solemnly wishing to become a princess when I opened my eyes again. Princesses were the best thing I knew.

I know little girls who don’t play princesses. Who are not so drawn to glitter. But then I know girls who like the “rough” things, but when they climb a tree, they do it with a tiara on their head. There is something in the idea of… being lovely that speaks to the heart of a small girl.

It seems to work for us bigger girls too. Just think of wedding days. How to pick a wedding dress. Or a prom dress. Or any dress for a grand party. It’s no light business. It’s serious. I dare say many of us love to possibility to… be as lovely as we can be. Like a grown up version of the dress up game.

Again, generalisations are dangerous and not useful. But what if this princess thing is something that should be taken seriously?
What if there’s something… profoundly meaningful there?

Many of us start this journey of life dreaming to be a princess. Wishing to be lovely. Many of us are sure of our own loveliness when we are young. We wear the worn out play dresses and act like queens because our little hearts KNOW we are queens if we choose to. But then something happens. Some moment along the journey the knowledge starts to waver, and doubt sets in.

Maybe it’s us facing the opinions of the world about ourselves. Maybe it’s a voice - external or internal - telling us that we are not princess-like enough. That we are not lovely. Too big. Too heavy. Too loud. Too opinionated. Too clumsy. Anything. Maybe it’s someone treating us like we are not lovely. Maybe it’s lies we start to believe, maybe it’s life getting so hard that the crown just falls from our heads. At some point it might feel easier to just give it up, the whole thing - to think that the princess was a silly childhood dream and life is not like that and better stop that woolgathering and get serious with life. With a wounded heart we continue, leaving the princess behind, convinced that we were never good enough to qualify as one. I know I’ve been there. I still am. I still feel awkward if any kind of frills are involved. Lace is just barely ok. It took me ages to be ok with using high heels. It’s so much easier to be diminished than be glorious.

Seeing the little girls in their play dresses has made my heart ache. They still believe. They still KNOW. If only their hearts could be protected so that they could keep on believing, that they could always know they are lovely - trough and trough. If only they could stay princesses. The tree-climbing sort or the other sort.

Now, what if we’ll have one of them in the house?
A girl who loves twirling skirts? Glitter? Princesses of any kind?
She would be lovely. And she’d have to know that.

The thing is I am rather versed in all things that have to do with the tree climbing, robots, Spiderman and the sort. But I’ve lost the princess. She fell somewhere and I left her behind. But if I’m to have a girl, I need to be able to give her the princess. I need to pick it up. The utter loveliness of girlhood.

As a way to get there I’ve wanted to re-claim the princess. To dive into the world of pink, so to say. We’ll see if Poppy is drawn to it or not, but in order to prepare myself and somehow… be reconciled with the princess I’ve wanted to just… dive in.

Out of those thoughts was born the idea of a colourway called “Altogether Lovely”. Dyeing Lea’s weft for the Unseen was the last missing piece of the puzzle. The name of the colourway comes from the Song of Solomon in the Bible, where those words frequently appear; the lead lady is called “altogether lovely” multiple times by the one who loves her.

My heart responded to that. Yes, that’s what I want my daughter to believe. What I want all girls to believe. That they are utterly, altogether lovely.

I am waiting for some four kilos of mulberry silk to arrive to start working on the colourway: it’ll be my first silk warp. The colours might be slightly different from this inspiration collage, but there will be roses and gold, white, ivory, maybe soft silver, maybe lavender… What ever a princess needs.