Sewing: Gonfalon of the Pilgrims from Omelas

There’s a short story by Ursula K LeGuin called “The ones that walk away from Omelas” which I liked but didn’t really understand at the time that I read it. I mean, at the time I really understood it, and I got it, and I had a great deal of clarity about what LeGuin meant and what she was getting at.  But it wasn’t until many years later that I understood.  And it wasn’t until many years after that, that I realized that I hadn’t understood, and that maybe I had never understood.

Good short stories are like that.  John Keats (died 1827) once wrote to his brother and said something like “A good poem wounds the hearer in a way that makes them never quite whole again.” That’s not an exact quote, but it was something like that; and “The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas”  wounded me in that way.

A while back, I made a series of bags as a private commission. There were quite a lot of squares left over from that project, but no clear way to use them; if you dedicate fabric to a particular use, you want to make sure that the use of the scraps and leftovers is in keeping with the original intent of the material.  So these squares have been waiting patiently for a project that was aligned with the original goals of the original fabric.

I’m not sure this can be a baby quilt, though it’s certainly of the right size.  I think I’ll make it as if it were a baby quilt, too, with batting and backing and binding and so on. A baby quilt for a baby that will never have a baby quilt. Something like that.  But it feels more like a banner.  It feels more like a banner or an emblem, though, something more akin to a tabard or a flag, at least to me.  Maybe a set of loops along the top, so it can be hung as a wall hanging.

But if it’s going to be a wall hanging, I think it should have a title, a little card or plaque on the wall, something like:

“The Gonfalon of the Pilgrims from Omelas”
cotton fabric, batting, polyester thread. 51″x 33″
Andrew Watt, 2018.

Obviously it’s not finished yet, but sometimes you have show a work in progress.  To get people reading, and thinking, and considering.  Sometimes you want an idea to turn over in people’s minds, long before they decide if this is the banner for them.

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