Monday, April 12, 2010

Of Flowers and Frocks

I haven't shown you one of these for a while -- but several days lately have begun with stunning sunrises. Just as well. Our car died, very suddenly and without warning, on Friday. Fine before we went out for dinner, it merely sputtered when we came out. A weekend's worth of anxiety, but my very trusty mechanic reassured me today that all will be fine once a new battery is installed (this cyber-electronic generation of vehicles have very different symptoms than their predecessors! we would not have guessed battery based on the strange start-up sounds).

So lovely spirit-lifting sunshine was even more welcome than usual, although it made the marking sessions more difficult. I took regular breaks to garden, weeding, pruning, and peering both with my own eyes and with my camera. Warning: pretty photos may cheer you; if you're committed to grumpiness for the day, avert eyes. . .

A bed of mauve anemones in one of my shady patches.

Purple corydalis in a sunshine spotlight.Clematis alpina bells nodding against their own foliage and crisp green rose leaves.
Noticing a pattern? The charming combination of mauve/purple and fresh spring green? Yes, this captivates me every spring, and it reminds me of a dress I once smocked for Daughter #2

I've saved a garment or two from each of my children's early years, trying for something handmade. Daughters Two and Three benefited from my introduction, while living in Prince Rupert, to the dainty art of smocking AND, especially, to my good luck in having a friend who had a pleating machine (this meant that I only needed to do the smocking embroidery rather than set up the underlying pleats by hand, quite a fiddly and time-consuming process).
While the computer screen doesn't quite capture the colour of fabric and floss, it gets close enough that you can see the likeness to my spring garden favourites.
Compare these buds with the dress . . . .Or these shiny green rose leaves and nodding c. alpina bud
with this close-up of the yoke's greens and purples . . .
I do love to see little girls in smocked dresses. Can't wait to try this one on Nola in another year or two. And perhaps I should see if my friend still has her pleating machine -- I'm quite sure I'll remember how to smock and it might be a pleasant change from knitting . . .
Meanwhile, though, I'll be in the garden . . .

when I'm not marking essays . . .
Coming up soon: I respond to Karen's -- Of a Certain Age-- challenge re styling a not-worn-enough item to get it into more regular circulation. . . .


  1. My mother smocked dresses for us when we were little. I didn't even come close to doing this for my children. How wonderful that you could.

  2. Beautiful flowers and what amazing smocking work! We had smocked dresses when we were little, but they were purchased that way. I think the brand was Lanz? Something like that.

    But I love the comparisons of nature's colors with those in the dress. Nicely done!

  3. Temporary death of a car with the birth of Spring. Nice counterbalance! As always, I love seeing how your garden grows.

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  5. I have not smocked myself...but have friends who do. I remember those classic photos of Diana and William from the BBC lovely...bDespite the fact that grandbaby is due in is too late for me so I keep knitting...
    I welcome the sunset, and the garden is live in a wonderful spot.

  6. Beautiful dress. I love the colors. My mother smocked 13 dresses before my daughter was born 29 years ago. Good thing I gave birth to a girl ha ha. I think she just knew. I saved them all and hope to have a granddaughter one day. The new sweater is fabulous!

  7. LPC: I was lucky to be in a place where I had the chance to learn . . . it's a really satisfying craft, actually.
    Pseu: I do remember a name something like that -- 'the smocked dress is such a pretty, classic look.
    Belette: I was definitely not thinking about any kind of balance on Friday night when the car died, but since its revival I'm much more zen . . .
    HHB: Your grandbaby will be well clothed, I'm sure! Such an exciting time ahead of you!
    Julianne: 13! Wow! That's a lot of smocking! How lucky your someday-granddaughter will be. . .

  8. I loved the smocked dresses on my little girl, who now will only wear ripped hotpants and Ugg boots. Ugg indeed...Where do those sweet little girls GO?? I am so ready to be a grandmother.

    Can't wait to see your next post. Check out mine for a little Mater-spiration!


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