The Empress’s New Umbrella

Happy Beltane, May Day or what you will!

Late Spring/early Summer is my favourite time of year and for many years, I’ve had it in mind to make a sunny May Day quilt bursting with flowers and, of course, a May Pole full of ribbons and dancing children…

But this is not that year!

Today is an Endeavourers’ Reveal Day and our theme this quarter was ‘Raindrops keep falling on my head’. I’m sure I’ll be bowled over, as always, by the innovation and creativity of the other group members’ responses but I found it the hardest theme to do anything interesting with so I settled for a very literal illustration of the theme.

If you don’t like stories, please skip the following section :)

***

I’m sure you are familiar with the story of the Emperor’s New clothes.

My quilt shows an Empress, who fell victim to those self-same fraudsters. Once they had spent all the Emperor’s gold on high living, they travelled far over the seas until they reached her kingdom. They arrived during the sunny season, which, as they said, is the best time to acquire an umbrella because once the rains start it’s too late, and they set themselves up as makers of the finest umbrella covers money could buy, so fine indeed, that foolish people couldn’t see them all.

They took a common frame from the market and spent many days weaving and stitching. And, naturally, no one wished to appear foolish so everyone who saw them marvelled at their exquisite workmanship and wondered at the fine detail and the beautiful sheen of the fabric.

And, naturally, when they were done, the Empress presented them with an unseemly quantity of gold and many mules to carry it and the umbrella makers found they had an urgent appointment on the other side of the world and took their leave with more haste than you might expect of such respectable artisans and such laden down beasts.

And at last the winds turned and the rains came and the court and commoners alike gathered on the hill to look at and marvel on the wondrous umbrella. Suddenly, their own umbrellas seemed ugly and cumbersome and the foolish people wished for an umbrella like the Empress’s, which would keep them dry even if, secretly, they couldn’t see the beautiful cover themselves.

So there were, the secretly foolish people, standing in the rain, sad but dry under their shamefully ugly, cumbersome umbrellas and wearing their shamefully ugly, cumbersome rain coats. And there was the Empress under her wondrous umbrella and wearing a wondrous ballgown.

And then a very strange thing happened.

For all the world, it looked as if the raindrops were falling right through the wondrous umbrella frame onto the Empress’s head.

More than one of the foolish people rubbed their eyes in amazement. It really looked, to them, as if the Empress was getting soaked right through.

They began to shuffle and shift about uncomfortably.

And, suddenly, the littlest child called out, “The Empress’s umbrella has no cover!”

Her parents were mortified and tried to hush her but soon a murmur was buzzing among the crowd, “What did the child say?”

“Really?”

Can’t you see it?”

Can you see it?”

“The child’s right!”

“Yes. The child’s right!”

All at once, everyone who had been afraid of looking foolish realised that that very fear had led to them being very foolish indeed.

And the Empress, who saw that she had been the person most afraid of looking foolish and had behaved the most foolishly of all, decreed that the foolishness must end straightaway.

And she hung the umbrella frame over the palace gate as a reminder to everyone in the kingdom that worrying about what other people think is the surest way to make fools of us all.

***

This quilt is not as textured as my last one but I did include felt, which was a first for me and was surprisingly easy to applique. I also used some upcycled needlecord as well as scraps of quilting cotton and I added stitching to vary the texture. The raindrops are detached chain stitch and Empress’s umbrella frame is threaded running stitch. I found it quite a fun piece to make, though I always aspire to making something more arty and abstract one day!

I hope you will visit my fellow Endeavourers and see what they have made for this challenge :)

Janine @ Rainbow Hare

12 thoughts on “The Empress’s New Umbrella

  1. Kim Sharman says:

    I always look forward to reading one of your whimsical and fabulous stories, Janine. The chain stitch raindrops are inspired and love those umbrellas. I love the composition of this lovely quilt.

    Like

  2. Anonymous says:

    I always look forward to reading one of your whimsical and beautiful stories, Janine. This new Endeavourers’ quilt of yours is another fabulous masterpiece. The chain stitch rain is inspired and as for the umbrellas…..love them.

    Like

  3. Flashinscissors says:

    A great take on the story of The King’s New Clothes”! Lovely stitching too!
    Truly a beautiful interpretation for “Rain”
    I’m off to visit the other Endeavourers now.
    Hugs,
    Barbara xx

    Like

  4. Benta @ Slik Stitches says:

    It’s been too long since I read one of your lovely stories! Grandma Alice and I thoroughly enjoyed it!

    Like

  5. Janie says:

    Beautiful embroidery and fun story to go along.
    There are so many great projects going on in the Endeavourers challenges, I’m enjoying myself with all the creativity.

    Like

  6. Carol DeLater says:

    I am speechless at your creativity! It’s a fun and engrossing story. A tale well told in both prose and picture.

    Somehow I got my post scheduled for May 1 12AM British Summer Time. Yet another mess up on my part.

    Like

  7. piecefulwendy says:

    What a fun story, and those cheerful little umbrellas all lined up make me smile. This theme was a definite challenge to me. I think it will be fun to see the different interpretations!

    Like

  8. Catherine says:

    I think your quilts, and imagination, are genius! What a lovely story, and how beautifully you’ve captured it, with all the little details. It’s wonderful.

    Like

Leave a Reply to Carol DeLater Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.