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More About Tapestry Unicorns

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lady0001I did not begin with unicorns.  My fascination with the tapestries began when a friend gave me a souvenir bookmark from her trip to Paris.  This lady is at the center of one of the six panels of the “Lady and the Unicorn” series.

What entranced me was her fly-away hair.  Why would a weaver of tight threads fuss with such a detail?  Why would a lady be portrayed this way?

Each of the six ladies in these panels is flanked by a lion and a unicorn.  These unicorns are not hunted.  They are tame as can be.

This set of tapestries had no original connection with the Hunt of the Unicorn Series in the Met.    Yet writers who discuss one set usually also refer to the other. Their connection is that they are close in age and have survived.

There is much to discuss: style, technique, symbolism, significance.  My reading went in many directions.

I learned that guilds are basically conservative.  Innovation was frowned upon because it may give one artisan an advantage over the others.  Designs and methods did not change quickly.

 

I also learned about the dyes:

From “Colors”:

Red made from roots of madder,
yellow from everything but the roots
of weld, the challenge is blue:
woad leaves dried, fermented, spread
on stone for nine stinky weeks.

From India Vasco da Gama
brings indigo, a better blue.

Before science can prove
the chemical’s the same, central heat
warms walls; tapestries are not needed.

Other colors were made from these three, as we learned from the color wheel in grade school.  The lion is some shade of yellow.  The unicorn stands out because he is white.

Project Linus

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I’ve sewn many of my own clothes over the years, and kept the leftover fabric, saying “Some day I’ll make a quilt of this.”  I didn’t know how to make a quilt.  I bought a book about quilts and admired all the complex designs.  I had no idea where to begin.

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With this background it is surprising that I only discovered Project Linus a few years ago.  Members of Project Linus make blankets of all kinds: fleece, flannel, knitted and quilted, for children who are ill or in times of stress.  The local sheriff carries a bag of Linus blankets in his car because he never knows when the need will arise.  Local agencies are glad to receive them.  The local chapter is very active, but the supply never exceeds the need.

I began working with flannel, making small blankets for infants.  The quilting part – stitching the layers together – isn’t difficult. Maine Quilt

Gradually I learned to do piecing. Squares are still the easiest thing, but I did learn how to do triangles, which create diamonds.  Gradually I worked with larger sizes, though I don’t have space to do full size quilts.

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What I like best is looking at colors and mixing and matching them.  I’ll never win prizes for my quilting, but I take pictures for my own remembering, and decided to share them.

Project Linus is easy to find at http://www.projectlinus.org.

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